06
Apr
10

EASTER AND GOD’S COURTROOM

     A Bible verse that contains a great deal of comfort but one that is not that well-known is Romans 4:25.  Talking about Jesus it says, “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised to life again for our justification.”  It consists of two parallel parts which could be formatted like this:

            “Who was delivered for our offences,

              and was raised to life again for our justification.” 

     Most people quickly understand the first half.  Jesus was delivered to death, not because of anything he had done, but because of what we had done.  He was delivered for our offences, our sins.  As John wrote, “He is the propitiation for sins; not only for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”  (1 John 2:2)

     But it has been my experience that people don’t as quickly see the point of the second half of this verse.  Just as Jesus was delivered because of our sins, so also he was raised for, or because, of our justification.  Just as our sins were the cause of his death, so our justification was the cause of his resurrection.  That statement gives us tremendous comfort – that statement sheds a wonderful new light on Easter.

     This is so comforting because justification is nothing other than a verdict of acquittal.  Paul borrowed this term from the courtroom.  It was the term used whenever a judge formally pronounced a “not guilty” verdict.  By pronouncing that verdict, the judge was justifying the defendant.  He was not making him just, he was declaring him just.  Justification refers to God declaring us “not guilty”.

     The exciting thing this verse brings out is how God’s verdict of us is tied to Easter. Note the cause and effect.  It’s not that because Jesus rose from the dead, we are justified.  No, it is the other way around.  Because God justified us acquitted us, Jesus could rise from the dead.  Therefore Easter is God’s wonderful proof that we have already been justified, acquitted, in Christ.  Our justification is a past event, not a future one.

     This shows just how completely Jesus took responsibility for our sins.  He became so identified with our sins that Paul could write, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin.”  (2 Corinthians 5:21)  But this also shows how completely his payment for our sins becomes our payment for our sins.  God looked on it so thoroughly as our payment that, on the basis of Jesus’ sacrifice, God justified us, acquitted us way back then – a point he dramatically makes by raising Jesus from the dead.

     Thus Easter reassures us that nothing is left for us to do in order o be justified by God.  Jesus has done it all!  May you always treasure the fact that he “was raised to life again for our justification.”

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13 Responses to “EASTER AND GOD’S COURTROOM”


  1. April 6, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    For, NOT because.
    Huge difference.

  2. April 6, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    Hallelujah!!

    Thank you, Lord!!

  3. 3 faithoffathers
    April 6, 2010 at 10:26 pm

    Mark,

    I hope you don’t mind my disagreeing with you on two points:

    I find issue with your following statement:

    “It’s not that because Jesus rose from the dead, we are justified. No, it is the other way around. Because God justified us acquitted us, Jesus could rise from the dead. Therefore Easter is God’s wonderful proof that we have already been justified, acquitted, in Christ. Our justification is a past event, not a future one.”

    How in the world do you get to this conclusion? Your logic leaves much to be desired here.

    The verse you quote simply says Jesus “was raised to life again for our justification.”

    Your conclusion that our justification is a “past” event and by implication that we have nothing to do toward that end is in no way warranted in the text.

    Also, I would not say that we are all acquitted- that implies that we are not guilty. In reality, we are all guilty. Justification means that our debt to the law is paid in full, not that we are not guilty. I think you would probably agree with me there, and I don’t mean to be petty about wording, but it is an important point, I think.

    fof

  4. 4 ADB
    April 6, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    FOF

    “Also, I would not say that we are all acquitted- that implies that we are not guilty.”

    And that is where the LDS take differs from the Christian perspective, because “we are all acquitted” is exactly what God has said, even if FOF will not. The passage says that Christ’s resurrection had a purpose, and that purpose was our justification, or being declared not guilty. Has Jesus risen from the dead? Yes. Have I then been declared not guilty? Yes. Heavenly Father wants me to see Jesus’ resurrection as proof.

  5. 5 markcares
    April 7, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    FOF
    The Greek word translated “justification” is dikaiwsis. The Bauer, Arndt, Gringrich Greek – English Lexicon, probably the most respected of all Greek-English lexicons, lists the following as meanings of dikaiwsis: justification, vindication, acquittal. On what do you base your definition?
    The Greek word translated “for” is dia. In this passage it is used, not with the genitive case, but with the accusative case. Robertson’s Greek Grammar, the most extensive of Greek grammars, says that dia when used with the accusative means “because of”, “on account of”. You say that my logic leaves a lot to be desired here. My logic is based on the very words and grammar of Scripture.

  6. 6 faithoffathers
    April 8, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    Mark,

    I suppose I am using the term “acquittal” in the sense it is used in our courts. A person is acquitted when the charges against them are not founded (or when their is not enough proof, etc). The assumption is that the accused is innocent.

    My point is that we are not acquitted in the same sense- we are all actually in reality guilty of breaking the law(s) of God. And I think you agree. Ultimately, yes, those who repent and accept Christ will be innocent, but it is not of their own doing or lack of offense.

    Don’t mean to be too nit-picky. Just wanted to point this out.

    I stand by my objection to your statement that Christ’s resurrection is proof that there is nothing left to be done for our salvation- that is in no way justified by the text (pun intended).

    ADB- “And that is where the LDS take differs from the Christian perspective.” Don’t be too hasty about making broad, sweeping statement like that. I am one person speaking for myself about a nuance in one verse.

    fof

  7. 7 markcares
    April 8, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    FOF:
    As even the title of my post shows I am also taking acquit as it is used in the courts. And when its somebody fate that is involved, isn’t the court’s verdict the most important? We all have heard of innocent people who were found guilty in court and suffered years of imprisonment. The judge’s verdict is what counts. Therefore being acquitted in God’s courtroom is all important.
    As I read and reread your comment, for me, the key word in it is “ultimately”. According to the Bible, this acquittal won’t ultimately take place, it already has taken place. That is the beauty of Easter. Because Jesus, as our Substitute, paid for all our sins we can say that God no longer has a case against us because, by washing away our sins, there is now no evidence against us. As Paul said in Romans: “It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth?” Romans 8:33-34 Or again, “There is therefore now no comdemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

  8. 8 faithoffathers
    April 9, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    Mark,

    Forget my point about “acquittal”- it is not worth the headache.

    So you have a free pass to sin as you like? Not that you will go out on a sin-spree. But ultimately, your sins really shouldn’t trouble you. Is that right? They will have no bare on what becomes of you, right? As long as you believe Christ is the Savior, your sins have no effect on you.

    Do you believe we will be judged according to our works? Hard to get around that Biblical teaching.

    And if we are judged by our works, how is that different from salvation? I have heard the EV explanation before, but in my opinion it comes off as extremely weak.

    fof

  9. 9 markcares
    April 9, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    FOF:
    It’s frustrating to try and carry on a dialogue with you. The main point of my post was about how Easter shows that we are acquitted. You first offer a different definition of acquitted which has no foundation. I reply with giving you a foundation for how I defined it. Now you just want to drop it.I repeat: this was the main point I was making. That is telling me that you have no refutation. Also you didn’t address the Bible passages that say we have no comdemnatin.
    Then you make the tired centuries old charge that people who believe in grace will then sin all the more. (Although you weaken the charge by saying that you don’t think I will.) Just the fact that you think that reveals to me just how drastically different our beliefs are. Love for the Lord and what he has done for us is a much stronger motivator than any law! And it’s so much more liberating. I only wish you could experience that. People who have never make that charge.
    I will refer you to my post on November 17, 09 where I addressed faith and works. One reason I am referring you to it is because some LDS commented that it was helpful.

  10. 10 faithoffathers
    April 9, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    Sorry for frustrating you. To me it seemed one of your main points in your article was that our justification was a done deal. And by implication, you are saying we have nothing to do with our justification. I am arguing that there is nothing in the verse you discuss that supports your argument that our “justification is a past event, not a future one.”

    That is in no way a clear conclusion from the text. I think your are reading into it.

    By the way- I still maintain that an acquittal in our legal system here has implications that are different than our acquittal at the throne of God. An acquittal here means we are innocent ON OUR OWN- it has nothing to do with whether somebody else interceded for us. While the latter does.

    Don’t mean to argue or be nasty.

    fof

  11. 11 markcares
    April 10, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    FOF
    Our acquittal before God’s throne rests on much more than intercession. It rests on Christ’s substitution. Substitution is the very heart of biblical salvation and justification. Because, Jesus as our Substitute paid the debt to God’s justice, the crimes, the sins, are gone. And nowhere in the Bible does it say that Jesus now becomes our creditor. Rather it says we are now justified.
    You say that there is no basis in the text for seeing justfication as a past act. The whole point of the passage is that Jesus’ resurrection rests on our justfication. Note also all the past tenses the Bible uses when it talks about justification in other passages.
    Once again I ask you how do you explain the passages that say that now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ? Do you think that people who are in Christ still need to worry about being condemned by God?

  12. 12 faithoffathers
    April 11, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    Mark,

    I believe that the Savior’s mission of salvation in atoning for sins and meeting the demands of justice and law are complete, and hence, can be spoken of in the past tense.

    My part of the equation in accepting Christ and following Him is not a done deal. It is something I have to work at every day.

    So in one sense, I suppose you can accurately say that Christ’s offering that makes my justification possible is complete. But the ultimate justification, which stills depends upon my acceptance of Him and my following Him, is not in the past tense.

    Here’s a thought: If Christ’s suffering (past event) was what made forgiveness of sin possible, why was the resurrection (a separate event and achievement) necessary for justification. The physical resurrection was not about payment for sin.

    Here is where the verse actually suggests that our ultimate justification is a future event. He was the first to be resurrected, and because of His resurrection, all mankind will too be resurrected. And it is at our resurrection that each of us will receive ultimate, final justification. That is how Christ’s resurrection in and of itself contributed to our final justification- the power of His resurrection is extended to each of us. And it is at that time that we will be judged and receive complete justification.

    Have you been judged yet? No. Me neither.

    Bottom line- the verse does not support your argument that our ultimate justification is a past event. It actually supports the opposite.

    Just because a passage can express a concept in the past tense does not mean that it has actually already occurred. If so, than Isaiah got it wrong around 700 B.C. when he famously proclaimed of the Messiah “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him.”

    Biblical scholars E. Kautsch and A. E. Cowley state that the past form—referred to as the ‘perfect’ in biblical Hebrew—is sometimes used ‘to express facts which are undoubtedly imminent, and therefore, in the imagination of the speaker, already accomplished. . . . [In] this use of the perfect . . . the prophet so transports himself in imagination into the future that he describes the future event as if it had been already seen or heard by him’ (Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar, Oxford: Clarendon, reprint, 1970), 312—13.

    We ain’t off the hook yet. There is yet plenty for us to do before judgement or final justification.

    fof

  13. 13 ADB
    April 12, 2010 at 4:28 am

    FOF,

    I may have missed your logic. If so, please help.

    You state that the use of the past tense doesn’t always mean something has occurred, but may sometimes refer to an event that is still going to happen in the future. You then go on to point out scholars who argue that the past tense is sometimes used of future events AS IF THEY’VE ALREADY OCCURRED. Whether you choose to see justification as a past, present, or future event (the Bible as a whole is quite clear that our justification is a past event), the point is the same: it’s a done deal. Isn’t that contrary to the very point you’re trying to make, that justification isn’t a done deal?

    What am I missing?


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