Paul writes in Romans 4:25 that Jesus was “delivered up for [διά] our trespasses and raised for [διά] our justification.” A stunning statement that locates our justification in the resurrection of Christ.
On this passage Geerhardus Vos (1862—1949) wrote:
“… it remains worth observing, that the Apostle has incorporated this idea of the resurrection in his forensic sceme. It seems a pity that in the more prominent associations of our Easter observance so little place has been left to it [the forensic]. The Pauline remembrance of the supreme fact, so significant for redemption from sin, and the modern-Christian celebration of the feast have gradually become two quite different things. Who at the present time thinks of Easter as intended and adapted to fill the soul with a new jubilant assurance of the forgiveness of sin as the guarantee of the inheritance of eternal life?” [The Pauline Eschatology (P&R 1930/1994) p. 153]
- Richard Gaffin, Resurrection and Redemption (P&R).
- Vos, essay: “Paul’s Eschatological Concept of the Spirit,” in Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation: The Shorter Writings of Geerhardus Vos (P&R).
- Vos, sermon: “A Sermon on 1 Corinthians 15:14”
8 thoughts on “Justification by Resurrection”
The first thing that comes to mind is those people who claim they don’t need to believe in an actual resurrection because ‘Jesus is risen in their hearts’ or because ‘the spirit of Jesus is risen”.
If they think it was a pseudo-resurrection then I guess they get pseudo-justification with it.
But I am one sinner who needs the ‘real deal’. I’ll go with a true and complete resurrection and take the imputation of true and complete justification; half-baked doesn’t cut it for my sinfulness.
One question: What is the connection between Christ’s resurrection and our justification? I’m not doubting it, I’m just trying to mentally synthesize why it is so.
Good question. I would encourage you to read Vos’ chapter on this. Unfortunately books on the resurrection are pretty rare in the reformed tradition. I do know of one sermon by Vos where he explains this a bit more:
Hope this helps!
Have you read Richard Gaffin’s Resurrection and Redemption? He builds on Vos’ insights and articulates them in a much fuller dimension. I think it is a helpful book for students and pastors alike.
It fleshes out the connection between Christ’s resurrection and our justification through the Biblical concept of Second Adam and Christ’s exaltation. Thus there is a solidarity between Christ (his resurection, justification, etc.) and his people who are united to them (their justification, sanctification, adoption, glorification, etc.).
You might also want to read Vos’ essay “Paul’s Eschatological Concept of the Spirit”
Gaffin is a good resource on the overall priority of the resurrection, too. Thanks for the comment and the recommendations Tim! Tony
From the sermon you suggested:
“On the other hand, as soon as at any point the process of death is suspended and life permitted to emerge from death, this will be equivalent to a practical declaration on God’s part that the curse has exhausted itself, the penalty been paid. Now Christ’s bodily resurrection was the only way in which this could be impressively declared…The resurrection is a public announcement to the world that the penalty of death has been borne by Christ to its bitter end and that in consequence the dominion of guilt has been broken, the curse annihilated forevermore…The principle of our justification was given here as an accomplished fact. It is just as impossible that any one for whom Christ rose from the dead should fail to receive the righteousness of God as it is that God should undo the resurrection of Christ itself. Consequently, knowing ourselves one with Christ, we find in the resurrection the strongest possible assurance of pardon and peace. Brethren, when Christ rose on Easter morning he left behind him in the depths of the grave every one of our sins; there they remain buried from the sight of God so completely that even in the day of judgment they will not be able to rise up against us any more.”
Very helpful. Thanks.
From The Glory of the Redeemer by O. Winslow: “The resurrection from the dead was God’s acknowledgment of the perfection, and His full acceptance of the obedience of His dear Son, as the basis of His people’s justification. By this stupendous act of His power and glory, He proclaimed the eternal acquittal of His Church. Never did the work of our great Surety appear so complete; never did the robe of righteousness, wrought by His life of obedience, and steeped in His own blood upon the cross, appear so truly Divine, so glistening with beauty, as when He broke the scepter of death, and rose, resplendent with living glory, from the tomb- “the Lord our righteousness.”
Great quote, Jude!