Monday, April 26, 2010

Justification is Resurrection

Every week Pastor Leithart or I quote the very end of Romans 4 when we declare the absolution. We remind you that God “has given his only son to die for you and has raised him for your justification.” Every week, we remind you and assure you of your forgiveness by pointing you to the resurrection of Jesus. You know that your God loves you because He sent His son for you. You know that this love cannot die, cannot be deterred by anything because Jesus was raised from the dead. Justification is resurrection. Paul says that when Jesus was raised, we were raised with Him. Your standing, your forgiveness is as sure and as real as the resurrected Jesus. If Jesus cannot die then you cannot be condemned. If death has no hold on Christ, sin has no power over you. But Paul knows and I know that you don’t always believe that. You look at your kids, you look at your life, you look at the challenges, the failures, the sin, and it looks big, it looks ugly, and frequently it looks insurmountable. And here’s the thing: It is insurmountable. Death is insurmountable. You can’t free yourself from it. Sin is death and death is inevitable unless we are delivered from it. But that is what justification means. Justification means that you have been delivered. You have been set free. You have been declared not guilty just like Jesus. When the rulers of that old world condemned Jesus to death and crucified Him, they did so accusing Him of blasphemy and evil and lies and insurrection. They accused Him of all kinds of wickedness, none of which was true. But at the same time, God laid on Him the iniquity of us all, so that He who knew no sin might became sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God. But when Jesus died He took our sins and failures and weakness, and He took it down into the grave where it was buried forever. And looking down upon His innocent Son, God the Father thundered from Heaven, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the declarative action that He was innocent. The way we know that Jesus was innocent is because death could not hold Him. And the good news is that He was not only raised in order to prove His innocence, He was also raised in order to enact our justification, our resurrection. This means that as you meditate on what the resurrection means during this season, one of the words that ought to come to mind with some regularity is forgiveness. Jesus was raised because He was innocent, and Jesus was raised so that you might be innocent, so that you might go free. The resurrection means that you are not guilty, that you have been raised from the dead, and your sins have been taken away.

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