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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12 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:

    Hebrews 5: 7 Christ offered prayers and appeals with loud cries and tears to the One who was able to SAVE FROM DEATH….9 After He was perfected, He became the source of lasting salvation for all who obey Him

    Christ was not saved from dying, Christ was resurrected from death

    Hebrews 6:2 the elementary message—the resurrection of the dead, and permanent judgment

    Hebrews 7: 16 Christ did not become a priest based on a legal command concerning physical descent but based on the power of an indestructible life

    Hebrews 11: 19 Abraham considered God to be able even to raise someone from the dead

    Hebrews 11: 35 Some were raised to life again. Some were tortured to death, in order to gain a better resurrection

    Hebrews 13: 20 The God of peace brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus—the great Shepherd of the sheep—with the blood of the lasting covenant

    I Samuel 2: 6 The Lord brings death and gives life;
    He sends some to Sheol, and He raises others up.

    I Samuel 2: 9 man does not prevail by his own strength.
    10 Those who oppose the Lord will be shattered
    The Lord will give power to His king
    He will lift up the horn of His anointed.

    Romans 6: 4 Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father… 5 For if we have been joined with Him in the likeness of His death,we will certainly also be in the likeness of His resurrection.

  11. markmcculley Says:

    The widow of Zarephath’s son (1 Kings 17:17–24). Elijah the prophet raised the widow of Zarephath’s son from the dead. Elijah was staying in an upper room of the widow’s house during a severe drought in the land. While he was there, the widow’s son became ill and died. In her grief, the woman brought the body of her son to Elijah with the assumption that his presence in her household had brought about the death of her boy as a judgment on her past sin. Elijah took the dead boy from her arms, went to the upper room, and prayed, “Lord my God, let this boy’s life return to him!” (verse 21). Elijah stretched himself out on the boy three times as he prayed, and “the Lord heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived” (verse 22). The prophet brought the boy to his mother, who was filled with faith in the power of God through Elijah: “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth” (verse 24).

    The Shunammite woman’s son (2 Kings 4:18–37). The prophet Elisha raised the Shunammite woman’s son from the dead. Elisha regularly stayed in Shunem in an upper room prepared for him by this woman and her husband. One day, while Elisha was at Mount Carmel, the couple’s young son died. The woman carried the body of her son to Elisha’s room and laid it on the bed (verse 21). Then, without even telling her husband the news, she departed for Carmel to find Elisha (verses 22–25). When she found Elisha, she pleaded with him to come to Shunem. Elisha sent his servant, Gehazi, ahead of them with instructions to lay Elisha’s staff on the boy’s face (verse 31). As soon as Elisha and the Shunammite woman arrived back home, Elisha went to the upper room, shut the door, and prayed. Then he stretched out on top of the boy’s body, and the body began to warm (verse 34). Elisha arose, walked about the room, and stretched himself out on the body again. The boy then sneezed seven times and awoke from death (verse 35). Elisha then delivered the boy, alive again, to his grateful mother (verses 36–37).

    The man raised out of Elisha’s grave (2 Kings 13:20–21). Elisha is connected with another resurrection that occurred after his death. Sometime after Elisha had died and was buried, some men were burying another body in the same area. The grave diggers saw a band of Moabite raiders approaching, and, rather than risk an encounter with the Moabites, they threw the man’s body into Elisha’s grave. Scripture records that, “when the body touched Elisha’s bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet” (verse 21).

    The widow of Nain’s son (Luke 7:11–17). This is the first of the resurrections that Jesus performed. As the Lord approached the town of Nain, He met a funeral procession leaving the city. In the coffin was a young man, the only son of a widow. When Jesus saw the procession, “his heart went out to [the woman] and he said, ‘Don’t cry’” (verse 13). Jesus came close and touched the coffin and spoke to the dead man: “Young man, I say to you, get up!” (verse 14). Obeying the divine order, “the dead man sat up and began to talk” (verse 15). And thus Jesus turned the funeral into a praise and worship service: “God has come to help his people,” the people said (verse 16).

    Jairus’ daughter (Luke 8:52–56). Jesus also showed His power over death by raising the young daughter of Jairus, a synagogue leader. The Lord was surrounded by crowds when Jairus came to Him, begging Him to visit his house and heal his dying twelve-year-old daughter (verses 41–42). Jesus began to follow Jarius home, but on the way a member of Jarius’ household approached them with the sad news that Jairus’ daughter had died. Jesus turned to Jarius with words of hope: “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed” (verse 50). Upon arriving at Jarius’ house, Jesus took the girl’s parents, Peter, James, and John and entered the room where the body lay. There, “he took her by the hand and said, ‘My child, get up!’ Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up” (verses 54–55). Jesus and His disciples then left the resurrected girl with her astonished parents.

    Lazarus of Bethany (John 11). The third person that Jesus raised from the dead was His friend Lazarus. Word had come to Jesus that Lazarus was ill, but Jesus did not go to Bethany to heal him. Instead, He told His disciples, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it” (verse 4). A couple days later, Jesus told His disciples that Lazarus had died, but He promised a resurrection: “I am going there to wake him up” (verse 11). When Jesus reached Bethany, four days after Lazarus’ death, Lazarus’ grieving sisters both greeted Jesus with the same words: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (verses 21 and 32). Jesus, speaking to Martha, promised to raise Lazarus from the dead (verse 23) and proclaimed Himself to be “the resurrection and the life” (verse 25). Jesus asked to see the grave. When He got to the place, He commanded the stone to be rolled away from the tomb (verse 39), and He prayed (verses 41–42) and “called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’” (verse 43). Just as Jesus had promised, “the dead man came out” (verse 44). The result of this miracle was that God was glorified and “many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him” (verse 45). Others, however, refused to believe in Jesus and plotted to destroy both Jesus and Lazarus (John 11:53; 12:10).

    Various saints in Jerusalem (Matthew 27:50–53). The Bible mentions some resurrections that occurred en masse at the resurrection of Christ. When Jesus died, “the earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open” (verses 51–52). Those open tombs remained open until the third day. At that time, “the bodies of many holy people . . . were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people” (verses 52–53). On the day that Jesus was raised to life, these saints were also raised and became witnesses in Jerusalem of the life that only Jesus can give.

    Tabitha (Acts 9:36–43). Tabitha, whose Greek name was Dorcas, was a believer who lived in the coastal city of Joppa. Her resurrection was performed by the apostle Peter. Dorcas was known for “always doing good and helping the poor” (verse 36). When she died, the believers in Joppa were filled with sadness. They laid the body in an upper room and sent for Peter, who was in the nearby town of Lydda (verses 37–38). Peter came at once and met with the disciples in Joppa, who showed him the clothing that Dorcas had made for the widows there (verse 39). Peter sent them all out of the room and prayed. Then “turning toward the dead woman, he said, ‘Tabitha, get up.’ She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet” (verses 40–41). The overjoyed believers received their resurrected friend, and the news spread quickly throughout the city. “Many people believed in the Lord” as a result (verse 42).

    Eutychus (Acts 20:7–12). Eutychus was a young man who lived (and died and lived again) in Troas. He was raised from the dead by the apostle Paul. The believers in Troas were gathered in an upper room to hear the apostle speak. Since Paul was leaving town the next day, he spoke late into the night. One of his audience members was Eutychus, who sat in a window and, unfortunately, fell asleep. Eutychus slipped out of the window and fell three stories to his death (verse 9). Paul went down and “threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him” (verse 10). Eutychus came back to life, went upstairs, and ate a meal with the others. When the meeting finally broke up at daylight, “the people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted” (verse 12).

  12. markmcculley Says:

    The resurrection of Christ was something new in history, not a revelation of what has always been true.

    The death of Christ was something new in history, not a revelation of what has always been true.

    The justification of a sinner is something new in history, not a revelation of what has always been true.

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