Jesus was raised from death: To Justify Sinners

Steven D. Mathewson wrote a powerful book entitled Risen: 50 Reasons Why The Resurrection Changed Everything. He admits that though there may be more or less than 50 reasons, since most of it often overlap. Not to mention that “the biblical writers often look at the same reality from different angles” (25).

But here is another reason why the Resurrection changed everything: To justify sinners.

In the fourth chapter of the book of Romans, the apostle Paul wrote: “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” (vv. 23-25, italics added).

And the same speaker, who stood up and preached at Antioch in Pisidia, said that “by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:39, italics added). The italicized word “freed” that was repeated twice in the same verse was in the Greek to equally mean justified.

Mathewson argued that we are born with a deadly deficiency. “It is a righteousness deficiency. We have acquired it – along with every other person in the human race (Rom. 1:18-3:19) – because of the sin of Adam, the first member of the human race (5:12-14). This means that we are all condemned people, guilty before God” (26).

Matthewson then exclaims, “But thanks be to God there is a solution!” And emphasize three key points about God’s righteousness in Romans 3:21-26:

  • it comes solely through faith in Jesus Christ (v. 22)
  • this righteousness is needed by everyone (vv. 22-23)
  • this righteousness comes in the form of a legal declaration of acquittal from all charges brought against us because of our sin (v. 24)

“According to Romans 3:24-26, justification is possible through the death of Jesus Christ. However, Romans 4:25 presents both the death and the resurrection of Jesus as the cause of our justification” (28).

“In Romans 4, the apostle Paul presents Abraham’s faith as a model of faith for both Jews and Gentiles. . . . It is unusual for Paul to mention God as the object of faith rather than Jesus Christ. But he does this to make a strong parallel between Abraham’s faith and our faith. Both Abraham’s faith in God and our faith in the God who raised Jesus from the dead result in God credited to us the gift of right standing” (28).

Mathewson then personally concludes:

“What a difference this makes in our daily outlook on life. If we belong to God through faith in Christ, we do not have to wonder if God is angry with us. There is no reason to worry that God might count our sin against us. So remember Jesus’ resurrection when your mind gets bombarded with negative thoughts about God not accepting us because we do not measure up to his standards. Jesus’s resurrection changes everything. It gives us confidence that we have been freed from the penalty we deserve for both our past and future sins” (28).