Raised For Our Justification
Christ Raised
In a Brief Survey of the Epistle of Paul to the Romans
Based on sermons preached in PCC Worship Services, July 2003 to Sep 2005
Part 20b of 83


23  Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was reckoned unto him; 24  but for our sake also, unto whom it shall be reckoned, who believe on him that raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25  who was delivered up for our trespasses, and was raised for our justification” (Romans 4:17-25).

[In our previous study, we saw how Christ was delivered by God for our our trespasses or offences. This was so because our sin was imputed to Him. Christ died for our sin. But He did not remain in the grave. Paul tells us that He was “raised for our justification.” But what is it to be raised for our justification? This is the question we must answer in this second instalment - JJL]

2. Christ was Raised
for our Justification

a. A common interpretation for this phrase is that Christ was raise in order that we may be justified. But why is that so? Isn’t His death sufficient to justify us since the wages of sin is death? Why does Christ need to be raised for our justification? This interpretation does not seem right.

Others suggest that the resurrection of Christ proves that His sacrifice was accepted by God. Now, I believe this is quite correct. But how is that so? Why does Paul say that Christ was raised for our justification?

If the resurrection of Christ is merely to prove that His sacrifice is accepted, why does it need to be mentioned in the context of the doctrine of justification?

Why does Paul always mention the resurrection when he speaks about justification?

·  Why does he say in verse 24 that God’s righteousness shall be imputed to us if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead? Why not “if we believe on him who delivered Jesus for our offence”?

·  Why does he say in Romans 10 that if you believe that “God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Rom 10:9)? Why not: “If you believed that God delivered him for your offence, thou shalt be saved”?

·  Why does Paul say in 1 Corinthians 15 that “if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins” (1 Cor 15:17)?

Why does the resurrection of Christ figure so prominently in our salvation if it is merely to show that the atonement of Christ was accepted?

Let me put it this way: Suppose you commit a traffic offence and you are slapped a fine. You go to the post office, and you pay your fine. The cashier gives you a receipt. Now, which is more important? Is it the receipt or the payment? The receipt is insignificant compared to the payment isn’t it?

If the resurrection of Christ is merely to show that God has accepted His sacrifice, then the resurrection of Christ is insignificant compared to His death. Yet the Scripture gives it great prominence. Why?

Let’s look at what Paul says again in verse 25. He says that Christ, “was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.”

Now, the word “for” is rather ambiguous in the English. But in the Greek it is quite precise. In this verse, the word “for” cannot mean “for the purpose of” or “on behalf of.” It means, rather, “because of” or “on account of.”

So, Christ was delivered “for”, that is, “because of”, or “on account of” our offences. But what does it mean by “Christ was raise for our justification.” Well, you must realize the two “for”s in this verse are the same in the Greek.

·  That is, if the first part reads, “Christ was delivered on account of our offences,” then the second part must read “Christ was raised on account of our justification.”

·  If the first part reads, “Christ was delivered because of our offences”, then the second part must read “Christ was raised because of our justification.”

·  Or let me put it this way: Paul is saying: “Because we offended, Christ was delivered.” So likewise he is saying “Because we are justified, Christ was raised!”

It is a tremendous thought isn’t it? Christ was raised because we are justified. If we were not justified, Christ would not be raised! We are not justified because Christ was raised. Christ was raised because we are justified!

What the apostle Paul is saying, in other words, is that the resurrection of Christ proves that what Christ came to do has been accomplish. And he came not just to make salvation possible for us. He came to justify us. When he died, he paid for our sins and justified us.

b.   Think for a moment. This explains, does it not, why Christ rose from the dead? Christ went to the Cross to die for our sin. The wages of sin is death. Why is it that Christ did not remain dead? It is because sufficient payment has already been made by His death.

Think of it this way: When Christ died, He was ungodly. He was ungodly in the sight of God. The wages of sin is death, so He died. But why was He raise? Did God change His mind about punishing Him? No, no; God is not a man. He does not change His mind.

What has changed? If God did not change His mind, then it must be that the state of Christ was changed. Christ was ungodly when he died. If He remained ungodly in God’s sight, He would remain in the grave.

But thanks be to God, Christ was ungodly not for His own sin, but for the sin of His elect. And so when His death as the God-Man has made sufficient payment of the sin of His Church, He had no more sin. His church, was made righteous; and so was He. This is why He could be raised from the dead.

Let me illustrate what I am saying so that we are clear in our minds about what is going on. Think of death in terms of going to prison. If a sinner were to go to prison for his sin, he will be there forever as a condemned criminal. But Christ went to prison on behalf of His Church. Now if Christ were an ordinary man he would be in prison forever as a condemned criminal. He would never get out of prison. And what’s more, his church would not be completely free because their sin has not been fully paid for. A sentence would still be hanging on their head. If Christ were to leave the prison before He completes the payment, His church would have to pay for what remains to be paid.

But Christ is the God-Man. Therefore His momentary death was sufficient to pay for all the sin that were imputed to Him. He paid it all. And all He represented were justified. They are freed from their obligations. This is why he was raised from the dead. He was raised on account of our justification. He was raise because our debt have been cleared!

What a tremendous thought! We must never think that Christ died only to make salvation possible for His people. Christ came to save sinners! He went to the cross bearing the sin of His people. Were His people not justified in God’s eyes, Christ would never have risen from the dead.

Christ and His Church is one. He is the head, she is the body. Had Christ not died, the Church is still in sin. Had the Church not been justified, Christ would still be in the grave.

Thank God that Christ rose from the dead. Thank God that we are justified on account of what Christ has done.

But let us pause for a moment. Paul speaks about Christ being raised for our justification. We say that we are justified when Christ has completed His sacrifice. But Paul also says that we are justified by faith. He says in verse 23—

23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; 24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him…

What this means then, is that the benefit of justification is not known to us until we receive it by faith. In other words, there is sense in which the elect of God were already justified before their conversion. But we do not experience justification or receive God’s declaration that we are righteous until we receive it by faith.

This is what Paul means when he says that righteousness of God “shall be imputed, if we believe on Him.”

But what does it mean to believe on Him?

 

…to be Continued Next Issue

—JJ Lim