Hopefully I will have time to post some more this weekend, but just in case I don’t, here’s the Easter post for this weekend.
For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” (Rom 4:3)
That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring–not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”–in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. (Rom 4:16-25)
Our justification is tied directly to Christ’s resurrection by Paul in these verses. Beginning with Scripture, Paul tells us how Abraham was counted righteous before God. It was by faith alone.
Abraham did not earn righteousness, perform a ceremony to gain righteousness, or live righteously. He may have been a good man, but he did not live up to the standard of righteousness required by God.
Next Paul tells us that the one who works is not graced with righteousness, but rather, he gets what he earns. The sad thing is, we have earned judgment because of our sin. But Christ has earned life.
His life that He earned was taken from Him. We find out why in verse 25. He was delivered up (to be crucified) for our trespasses, and raised for our justification.
Here we must understand imputation. There are two aspects of imputation, one positive and one negative. ‘Positive Imputation’ says that Christ put in our account the righteousness that He had earned, while ‘Negative Imputation’ says that Christ took our sin into His account. ‘Positive Imputation’ says that Christ makes us righteous, while ‘Negative Imputation’ says that Christ pardoned our sins.
Imputation is the backbone of substitutionary atonement. Without positive or negative imputation, Christ’s death and resurrection is just a fanciful story that means nothing. But with imputation, both positive and negative, Christ’s death becomes effectual on our behalf. He actually took our place on the cross. Not that you or I were destined to die on a cross, but that we were destined to experience the wrath of God, and Christ experienced that wrath for us. While Christ was on the cross, He underwent physical, emotional, and spiritual pain. But He also experienced something much deeper. He experienced His Father’s wrath. He experienced what we had earned. He took our earnings (wrath) and gave us His own earnings (righteousness).
Our sins were put into Christ’s account, and His righteousness was put into our accounts.
Into whose accounts? Into the accounts of those who would believe and trust in his death and resurrection as their only hope of salvation. By faith alone in His finished work are we declared righteous (in spite of ourselves) before God.
Now, Paul takes all of that and summarizes it in two statements.
1) Christ was delivered up for our trespasses, and
2) He was raised for our justification.
Paul here does not mean to say that Christ’s death took care of our sin, and then separately His resurrection made us righteous before God. He means to say that both His death and His resurrection together remove our guilt and grants His righteousness. Resurrection is impossible without death, and forgiveness of sins is impossible without a risen Lord.
“To the point then”, you say? Alright.
Christ has been raised from the dead, having suffered our penalty in His own body, and then ascended to the Father, to set down at His right hand, having become our righteousness. Trust in Him.