Christ Was Justified by What He Did By His Death, Christ’s Death Resulted in His Resurrection

1 Timothy 3:16 “By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory.”

If you are going to have two kinds of righteousness, it certainly would make sense to have two kinds of justification.  NT Wright does have two. He has a future justification based on what his politically active self  will do. But there is only one justification, and it is based on Christ’s death alone.

I Timothy 3:16 is a very interesting verse to think about. Christ was justified. Now, how was Christ justified? Certainly not by becoming born again. Christ was justified by satisfying the righteous requirement of the law for the sins imputed to Christ. Christ was justified by His death. Christ needed to be justified because Christ legally shared the guilt of His elect, and this guilt demanded His death.  Christ was not justified because of His resurrection. Christ’s resurrection was Christ’s justification, and that declaration was because of Christ’s death.

Romans 6:9–“We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.”

So Christ was justified by His own righteousness. Christ was declared to be just, not simply by who He was as an incarnate person, but by what He had done in obedience and satisfaction to the law. Remember that “imputed” has two senses, one which is legal sharing and the other is declare. No righteousness was  shared from somebody else to Christ, because Christ had earned His own righteousness by His own death.

The justification (vindication, if you want) of Christ is God’s declaration (in the resurrection) that Christ was just on the basis of what Christ did in His death.. Christ was imputed as righteous. Christ was justified. Romans 4:24-25 –Righteousness will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord,  who was delivered up because of our trespasses and raised because of our justification.

We do need to say that the justification of the elect sinner is different from the justification of Christ. The legal value and merit of Christ’s death is shared by God with the elect sinner, as Romans 6 says, when they are placed/baptized into that death.

So only one righteousness. In Christ’s case, no legal sharing. In the case of the justified elect, that same one death is legally shared, and this one death is enough, because counted to them it completely satisfies the law for righteousness. (Romans 10:4)

Romans 6:7–“For one who has died has been justified from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.”

I submit to you that Romans 6:9 is saying exactly the same things as “justified in the Spirit” is saying in I Tim 3:16. Gaffin (also Darby and Edward Irving)  is wrong to think of justification as being a result of resurrection and “union” with the resurrected Christ. Fesko is right to think of resurrection as the declaration of justification.

The Norman Shepherd (“federal vision”) problem creeps in when people begin to think that since Christ was justified by what He did, then the elect also must be justified by what they are enabled to do. But there are NOT two justifications, one now by imputation, and another in the future, where we will be justified like Christ was. We are ONLY justified by what Christ did, and NOT by what Christ is now doing in us. Christ alone was justified by what HE HIMSELF DID .  Christ is not to be justified by what Christ WILL DO, because Christ has already been justified by  what HIS DEATH DID. .

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10 Comments on “Christ Was Justified by What He Did By His Death, Christ’s Death Resulted in His Resurrection”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    What does “For I through the law died to the law” mean? Galatians 2:19

    Machen, Notes, p 159 “The law . . . led men, by its clear revelation of what God requires, to relinquish all claim to salvation by their own obedience. In that sense, surely, Paul could say that it was through the law that he died to the law. The law made the commands of God so terribly clear that Paul could see plainly that there was no hope for him if he appealed for his salvation to his own obedience to those commands.”

    Machen: “This interpretation yields a truly Pauline thought. But the immediate context suggests another, and an even profounder, meaning for the words.”

    Machen: “The key to the interpretation is probably to be found in the sentences, I have been crucified together with Christ, which almost immediately follows. The law, with its penalty of death upon sins (which penalty Christ bore in our stead) brought Christ to the cross; and when Christ died I died, since he died as my representative.”

    Machen: “The death to the law… the law itself brought about when… Christ died that Since He died that death as our representative, we too have died that death. Thus our death to the law, suffered for us by Christ, far from being contrary to the law, was in fulfillment of the law’s own demands. “

  2. markmcculley Says:

    Bavinck, Last Things, p 133—“The resurrection of the dead is primarily a judicial act of God.”

    Daniel 12 “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. 2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt

    the justified elect will not be found “naked” on that day, will not be like Adam after his first sin

    II Corinthians 5—to be found “clothed” in two ways

    1. to be found resurrected (a body from heaven, not a body always to be in heaven)

    2. to be found righteous before God, justified

    but here’s the point

    if found resurrected, then also found justified, no point to a future judgment after that

    if clothed with resurrection, then clothed with Christ’s righteousness

    the resurrection itself is the reward of Christ’s righteousness

    Galatians 5:5
    For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness

    this does not mean that we now hope for righteousness
    this means that we hope because we are already now counted righteous

    even so, on resurrection day,
    we won’t be hoping to be justified at the judgment
    our justification will already be visible to all

  3. markmcculley Says:

  4. markmcculley Says:

    Acts 10 They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead

    Luke 24: 38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish,[b] 43 and he took it and ate before them.

    John 20: 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.

  5. markmcculley Says:

    Smeaton, Apostles Doctrine on Romans 4:25, p 147—“The impetration of a righteousness which would be legally applied as the sole foundation of justification, was accepted on behalf of all to whom it WAS TO BE APPLIED, and this was the cause of Christ’s resurrection from the dead.
    I take Smeaton to mean
    1. righteousness is one thing, and justification another
    2. righteousness is the cause of justification
    3. the righteousness was accepted/ approved by God, even though not imputed to all the elect, justice demands that it must be and will be
    4. on this basis, Christ was raised (because of our justification)
    5. this doesn’t mean because we were justified when Jesus was raised
    6. this doesn’t mean atonement and justification are the same thing
    7. God is always righteous, has always been righteous, but Christ obtained a righteousness Christ did not have before Christ died
    John 16–“because you see him no more”
    Hebrews 9:28–”Christ, HAVING BEEN offered ONCE to bear the sins of many…to deal with sin
    so also Christ will appear a second time (not to bear sin) but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.

  6. markmcculley Says:

    Jesus was not a Christian
    Torrance argued for an “active obedience” in which Christ repented for us, believed for us, was born again for us, was converted for us, and worships for us. “We must think of him as taking our place even in our acts of repentance” (The Mediation of Christ, p 95)
    Donald Macleod responds (Christ Crucified, 2014, p 219)—There is a great discontinuity between Christ and those he came to save. They were sinners and Christ was not. Christ could not trust in God’s forgiveness because he had no need of forgiveness. He could not be born again because he required no changed of heart. He could not be converted because His life demanded no change of direction.
    If we move from the idea of Jesus as a believer to the idea of Jesus as the one who is believed IN, does Jesus believe, vicariously, in Himself?….It is not his faith that covers the deficiencies of our faith (as it is given to us by God). It is Christ’s death that covers the deficiencies of our faith…Our faith is not in the Son of God who believed for us, but in the Son of God who gave Himself for us

  7. markmcculley Says:

    Paul Humber–Calvin wrote Psychopannychia when he was in his mid-20s. Literally, the title may be rendered, Soul-All-Night. Calvin endorsed the notion that the souls of the wicked are not only active in hell after Judgment but also that wicked souls continue unendingly in hell. An online edition of the treatise is available on the Internet. Calvin explicitly affirmed Plato, “Plato, in some passages, talks nobly of the faculties of the soul; and Aristotle, in discoursing of it, has surpassed all in acuteness.” This pagan “surpassed all”—even Jesus and the Apostle Paul? He continued, “But what the soul is, and whence it is, it is vain to ask at them, or indeed at the whole body of Sages, though they certainly thought more purely and wisely on the subject than some amongst ourselves, who boast that they are the disciples of Christ.” How can unbelievers think “more purely and wisely on the subject” than followers of Christ? Further down, he wrote, “And it is a mistake to suppose that I am here affirming anything else than THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL”, and he went on explicitly to affirm Tertullian. He also asked a question, “Let us now learn this IMMORTALITY from Scripture. When Christ exhorts his followers not to fear those who can kill the body, but cannot kill the soul, but to fear him who, after he hath killed the body, is able to cast the soul into the fire of Gehenna (Matthew 10:28), does he not intimate that the soul survives death?” First, the phrase “after he hath killed the body…” should have been rendered “fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Calvin does not have the destruction of “both soul and body in hell.” Second, in response to Calvin’s question, we answer, “Yes, the soul does survive death, but that does not mean all souls survive death eternally. Unbelieving souls survive to experience “many” or “few” lashes (Lk 12:47-48). There is a huge difference between surviving death for a temporal period and a never-ending period.

  8. markmcculley Says:

    lots of people seem to think that regeneration has replaced justification in the new covenant

    after all, they say, regeneration is inside you and experienced

    but they say, justification is only before God, and nothing new about it

    justification they say, is satisfaction of the law, but regeneration has nothing to do with law

    i died to the law, they say, which means, my regeneration from God is enough without any doctrine about Christ’s death imputed to me

    Galatians 2: 19 For through the law I have died to the law, in order that I live for God.

    Romans 7:4 you also were put to death in relation to the law through the crucified body of the Messiah, in order that you belong to another—to Him who was raised from the dead—in order to bear fruit for God.

    Romans 6: 9 We know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, will not die again. Death no longer rules over Him. 10 For in light of the fact that He died, Christ died to sin once for all time

    Does that mean that Christ was regenerated and that His regeneration replaces justification and satisfaction of the law by Death?

    Does that mean that we trust Christ’s Spirit enabled experience of trusting and obeying instead of Christ’s death?

    Does that mean that we trust Christ’s resurrection and our regeneration by the Resurrected Christ?

  9. markmcculley Says:

    Many folks (not only Barthians) teach strongly that Christ’s resurrection cannot be explained by His death bringing in the righteousness that satifies God’s law. They disagree with Romans 4:25 that Christ was raised from the dead because of the justification of sinners (some before, and some after) . Instead, these folks say that God’s raw sovereignty means that God has no reason for Christ’s resurrection (or death) and does not give us any reason (or need to give us a reason) . This makes it sound like God’s sovereignty makes it possible for God to save “illegally”. This makes Christ’s resurrection something God did “lawlessly”

    During “Lent”, some give this reason for Christ’s death–we killed him.
    God didn’t even plan the death for the sake of God’s justice (forget Romans 3:25)

    “Lent” turns Christ’s death into law–you all killed him
    Then comes the Arminian or universalism—therefore since you all killed him, Christ died “for you”, for everybody

    Rosaria Butterfield — The Romantic period is typified by an uncontested embrace of personal experience, not merely as self-expression but also as epistemology …Romanticism claimed that no objective opposition can challenge the primal wisdom of someones subjective frame of intelligibility. Solipsism is the belief that only one’s own mind and its properties are sure to exist. Romanticism took this one step further to declare personal feelings the most reliable means of discerning truth

    Ever since Kant, a distinction has been assumed between “fact and value” so that anybody who denies that we can give our own explanation to the fact of Christ’s death ( I Corinthians 15) can be accused of being “rationalistic”. Have you heard that stupid soundbites about the DIFFERENCE between “theology about the cross” and “theology of the cross”?

    No matter how scholastic and confessional most people are, they also have a theory about “experiencing the sacraments” without God teaching you a “theory” about how Christ’s death worked.

    Kant leads to Barth. The distinction between “fact and meaning” means that . “something has happened” apart from your “freewill”, so to Barth (and Van Til) this means we mere humans still don’t know how God thinks and why Christ died because of sins.

    many of the “neo-orthodox” ar offended at what the Bible says about propitiation, so they talk about “theories”. For example, they explain, there’s one theory about propitiation and expiation. But then they clarify— the offense of the cross is that we don’t have an explanation—the offense of the cross is that God doesn’t have an explanation.

    If you reject this explanation (which exempts itself from being an explanation) these experience preachers being to wonder about how real your experience. Maybe you only want to protect yourself from God and that that’s why you talk about doctrines like election

    Jordan Cooper’s review of the neo-orthodox Luthern theologian Forde—“Forde moves off of Luther’s path by moving from God’s suffering apart from us and turns inward to our own subjective suffering.In his explinations of Thesis 21-23, He equates the suffering of Christ with Luther’s spiritual suffering and presents it as an example thus pointing to the spiritual suffering of all Christians by extension. Forde writes, “Because in actual suffering all theorizing is over. One enters into contention with God. Precisely in his rash protest over his suffering Job unwittingly speaks the truth about God.” And with that Forde downplays the objective Word that is subjectively applied to the sinner.

    Luther himself destroys this opinion with Heidelberg Thesis 23 where the law kills, reviles, accuses, judges, and condemns everything that is not Christ… including Forde’s angst. The contrast between Luther’s objective focus and Forde’s subjective focus appears to be very stark. Forde, in his effort to divorce spiritual experience from revelation as unknowable and a distorted construct influenced by rationalism, conveniently leaves off the end of the Book of Job where Job’s sufferings do not lead him to any concrete answers except that which God choses to reveal directly to him on a theological platter.

  10. markmcculley Says:

    Tianqi Wu–Mr. Cooper, I read your article on atonement

    Argument: If I concede the following statement,

    P: “A man can be under the wrath and condemnation of God though Christ has died for all sins of that man including unbelief.”

    then I cannot object to the following statement,

    Q: “A man can be FOREVER under the wrath and condemnation of God though Christ has died for all sins of that man including unbelief.”

    This Argument fails to recognize the real point of “definite atonement”. The point of “definite atonement” is that Christ’s death for sinners MUST RESULT in their justification. It does not say anything about the TIMING of these two events.

    God is bound by justice to justify all for whom Christ died, but He can do this at the time He chose. Clearly, He didn’t have to do it immediately after Christ died, because He justified many sinners (e.g. Abraham, David) way before Christ died for their sins!

    So the TIMING is a red herring. The Calvinist’s real point is that Christ’s death for sinners MUST RESULT in their justification, that God is bound by justice to justify all for whom Christ died [at some point in time].

    Let me give a further reason why TIMING is not the issue. Let’s now look at the atonement itself.

    Consider all of the sins Christ died for. Were they in existence yet, when Jesus went to the cross? Some were, some were not! Jesus died for Paul’s sin of persecuting Christians, a sin that happened after Jesus was raised from the dead.

    How can Jesus die for a sin before it had occurred?

    If you think in this way, you will no longer ask me why God “waits” to justify sinners. No, the atonement itself is in a sense “at the end of the time”, where all the sins of all time, of God’s people, had been accumulated on Christ. The cross, though happened two thousand years ago, encompasses the span of all human history.

    This turns the table around. Instead of seeing God “waiting” to justify people, we see that God justifies sinners of their whole life BEFORE they have lived their whole life.

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