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Romans 4:21-25


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Heavenly Father,


I've been in a wierd state of mind the last couple of days. I'm struggling a little to get this study done...I'm just not wanting to do it again today. I guess that should be a red flag, because spending time in Your Word is critical for me.


So, help me Father...bless this 'footwork'. I'm a little upset with myself cause I don't normally feel so resistant to doing this study, and the thought keeps crossing my mind that this might be the newest interruption from the enemy...anything to get my eyes off of You and out of Your Word.


So, I press on.


In Jesus Name I pray,




21. and being full of assurance that what He had promised, He was able to perform.


22. Therefore also it [his faith] was reckoned to him as righteousness.


23. Now this was not written for his sake only, that it [his faith] was thus reckoned to im;


24. but for our sakes likewise; for it [our faith] will be reckoned [for righteousness] to us also who are believing on Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead;


25. Who was delivered up for our trespasses, and was raised for our justifying.


The rvbv writes about verse 21: "Being full of assurance that what He had promised, He was able to perform. What a blessed assurance of faith, resting wholly upon God's performance of what He had promised, - how that puts us to shame! Since Abraham's day we have the written Word; and Christ has come. Yet how often we doubt!


Verse 22: Now God tells us that His word concerning Abraham, that "his faith was reckoned as righteousness," was written not for him only, but for us, also, - for all Abraham's children. There is no more striking description of the principle and process of faith than in this passage. Look at the "also" of verse 22: Wherefore also it was reckoned unto him as righteousness. That evidently looks toward Genesis 22; at the end of Abraham's testing time, when he offered up Isaac. Let us see what is here:


(1 ) We are not told that Abraham was reckoned righteous because of the vision of the God of glory that was vouchsafed to him in Ur of the Chaldees (Acts 7:2). Nor do we read that he was reckoned righteous because he forsook his own land and was brought to the land of Canaan, nor because he built altars to Jehovah and worshipped him; nor because he had such high courage as to slaughter the kings and deliver Lot. All these things occurred before the amazing scene of Genesis 15: where God proposed to him something absolutely impossible of accomplishment, except in God Himself.


(2 ) Abraham was reckoned righteous when he "believed in Jehovah," in His word, to bring about concerning Abraham something that could not humanly be - that he should be a "father of nations." God came to him years after this (Genesis 17), commanding him to change his name from Abram, "high father" (but desolate, like a lonely peak), to Abraham, "father of a multitude." And Abraham obeyed, and changed his name thus although God had just rejected Ishmael, the only offspring he had in sight, from being the seed of promise and covenant!


(3 ) Abraham "gave glory to God," because he counted on God's bringing to pass His word, about that which only His glorious power could effect; a thing completely outside human possibility, but which all God's faithfulness and truth were pledged to accomplish. Thus Abraham let God in upon the scene, to act according to His own truth and power. Probably at that time he was the only man on earth who was giving God His due praise as the God of truth, who has "magnified His Word above all His Name" (Ps. 138:2). Our reason, yea, and our conscience also, keep telling us that right living is essentially better than right believing; but both conscience and reason are wrong!


(4 ) Jehovah reckoned Abraham righteous not because he was either righteous or holy, but acting absolutely, and entirely according to Himself - who "giveth live to the dead" (Abraham was dead: he could beget no seed); and "calleth the things that are not" (Abraham was a sinner, not righteous in himself) "as though they were."


(5 ) The purpose then, of God concerning Abraham, Abraham thus allowed God to fulfil. Some day you will see Abraham just as righteous and holy in character and in evident fact, as His God, in that far day, reckoned him. It was not, however, on the ground of what God would make him in the future that He reckoned Abraham righteous when he believed Him. The ground, as we see plainly in Chapter 3:25, was Christ set forth as a propitiation, - through faith in Christ's blood. For "God set Him forth as a propitiation...because of the passing over of the sins done aforetime" (that is, by Abraham and by all who lived before Christ's death).


God had His own foreknown ground, Christ, as the Lamb "without blemish and without spot," foreknown "beofre the foundation of the world" (1Pet. 1:19,20). We keep repeating these things because of the continual tendency of our wretched hearts to find some cause in ourselves, or in our own faithfulness, for God's reckoning us righteous.


(6 ) Verses 23 and 24: Now it was not written for his sake only, that it was reckoned unto him, but for our sakes likewise, for it [our faith] will be reckoned [as righteousness] to us also who are believing on Him that raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. This is a blessed and sweet revelation for believers, that we, like Abraham, have righteousness reckoned to us; and that the story in Genesis was "written for our sake." The Old Testament is a living book for God's real saints!


But we must remember that God's methods with faith are always the same. Abraham's faith was tried: are not we also told to expect the trial of our faith? (Satan, our deadly foe, has one target at which he constantly aims, - the faith of a believer. We believe that Satan's whole effort is engaged directly against faith in Christ. Millions of demons - unclean spirits, dumb spirits, lying spirits - swam the air of this earth to carry on, together with those angelic principalities and powers who fell with Satan, the terrible program, with its "lusts of the flesh" and "of the eyes," and "the vainglory of life," called in Ephesians 2:2 "the course of this world" (literally, - the aion of this cosmos, that is, the present stage of this world-order). But satan himself, filled with hellish jealousy against the Son of Man who came and spoiled the strong man's house (in the wilderness temptation); and triumphed over all satan's hosts at Calvery, when He put away the sin of the world from God's sight (a fact which is true already, as satan, and instructed saints, well know, and which will be made good openly soon, in the new heavens and new earth), - satan himself, we say, is at present chiefly occupied in blinding men to the redemption and glory that are in Christ, and in preventing and hindering the progress of every believer. Every one who confesses the Lord Jesus is openly challenged by the prince of this world. It is well that "the God of peace shall bruise satan under our feet shortly!" But God meanwhile says, "Whom resist, steadfast in your faith!")


There is also a beautiful message in the literal rendering of verse 24 that can scarcely be supplied in English: It was on account of us also, unto whom it [righteousness] is about to be reckoned, to those who believe - as if God were eager (as indeed He is) to write down righteous those who believe His testimony concerning His Son!


Note two things here: First, it is upon God we believe. The very God who was, in the opening chapters of the Epistle, bringing all of us under His judgment, without righteousness and helpless to attain it, is here believed on; as our Lord Jesus indeed said in John 12:44: "He that believeth on Me, believeth not on Me, but on Him that sent Me."


But, second, it is upon Him as having raised Jesus our Lord from the dead that we believe on God in verse 24. It is not merely on the God who set forth Christ to be a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins, but it is on the God who has set a public seal to the truth of our Lord's last words, "It is finished," by raising Him from the dead. "He is not here, but is risen," was the angel's word that thrilled those saints early at His tomb. And since then He has been received up in glory, and the Holy Spirit has come, witnessing to the amazing fact that the One who hung on a Roman cross, numbered with transgressors by men, and forsaken of God in the just judgment of our sins, was raised and glorified by the same God who forsook him on Calvary. This glorious fact should be held fast by our hearts. For not only does God's raising up Christ prove our sins to have been put away; but a Risen Christ becomes a new place for us! We were justified from all things by His blood; we are now set by God in Christ Risen!


Watchman Nee comments in verse 24 in regard to the word "Him" and states: "The faith that is accounted to us as righteousness is our believing on God, who righteously judged Christ for our sins, righteously put Him to death in our place, and righteously raised Him from the dead."


And thus we are prepared for the last great verse in this blessed chapter.


Verse 25: Who was delivered up for our trespasses, and was raised for our justifying. Here we have Jesus our Lord delivered up for our offences. Now the Greek word for "delivered up" occurs again in Chapter 8:32: "God spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all." The meaning is evident: on account of our trespasses, of what you and I have done, our Lord was delivered up by a holy God to bear our sin, with its guilt and penalty, even to God's forsaking His Son: for He must otherwise have forsaken us forever! - yea, to His smiting our Substitute instead of smiting us: "He was bruised for our iniquities."


And was raised for our justifying - This must be the sense here: for we are not justified till we believe. Furthermore if Christ's resurrection was merely to prove that we had been justified (as some teach) a ver-construction would have been used, which would signify, on account of our having been justified. But God uses the noun-construction (dikaiosis) meaning, "the act of justifying"; showing that Christ's resurrection was for the purpose of justifying us, positively, in a Risen Christ. (Compare 5:10.)


Matthew Henry says: "In Christ's death He paid our debt; in His resurrection, He took out our acquittance." But Scripture goes much further in this matter of justification than the satisfaction of all claims of God's justice against us. We are set in a new place of acceptance, the Risen Christ, that has nothing to do with our old place. God will now go on to "create us in Christ Jesus." It will be "justification of life," as we shall see in Chapter Five.


Only, we repeat, let us always remember that we are justified as ungodly, and now we are "new creatures in Christ Jesus." Here, indeed, is a great mystery. God does not declare us righteous as connected with the old Adam - old creatures, we might say. Nor does He declare us righteous because we are new creatures. But God that calleth the things not existing as existing, acts in justification, declaring the ungodly who believe on Him, righteous: not because of any process of His operation upon the creature, but by His own fiat, reckoning to the believing one the whole work of Christ on his behalf. This involves God's giving this ungodly believing one a standing in Christ Risen; and God will go on by an at of creation, to cause him to share Christ's risen life, which is justification of life. But it is as ungodly that he is declared righteous. We must hold fast to this, the first point of the gospel.


We are indeed said to be justified by or in His blood (5:9), but if there had been no resurrection, His death would have availed us nothing. So Paul says that both Peter and he were "justified in Christ" (Gal. 2:17): that is, in the Risen Christ, in view, of course, of His finished work on the cross. When our Lord said, "It is finished," He announced the penalty paid for every believer that shall be. But He lay under the power of death for three days and nights, His body in Joseph's tomb and His spirit in Paradise.


Now justification involves not only, negatively, the putting away of our guilt; but, positively, a new place and standing. For the old Adam was utterly condemned , as his history, and the law, and finally the cross, fully showed. If I am a sinner, and my sins are transferred to the head of Christ my Substitute, and He bears the penalty of them in death, then where am I, if Christ be not raised? His death and resurrection are one and inseparable as regards justification. Christ being raised up, God announces to me, "Not only were your sins put away by Christ's blood, so that you are justified from all things; but I have also raised up Christ; and you shall have your standing in Him. I have given you this faith in a Risen Christ, and announce to you that in Him alone now is your place and standing. Judgment is forever past for you, both as concerns your sin, and as concerns My demand that you have a standing of holiness and righteousness of your own before Me. All this is past. Christ is now your standing! He is your life and your righteousness; and you need nothing of your own forever. I made Christ to become sin on your behalf, identified Him with all that you were, in order that you might become the righteousness of God in Him."


I must here quote the vigorous, triumphant words of Martin Luther, from his commentary on Galations, touching these words, "delivered up for OUR trespasses": "Christ verily is the innocent, as concerning His own person, and the unspotted and undefiled Lamb of God, and therefore He ought not to have been hanged upon a tree: but because, according to the law of Moses, every thief and malefactor ought to be hanged, therefore Christ also, according to the law, ought to be hanged. For He sustained the person of a sinner and of a thief: not of one, but of all sinners and thieves. For He being made a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, is not now an innocent person, blasphemer, and oppressor, a persecutor; of Peter, who denied Christ; of David, who was an adulterer and a murderer; and, briefly, Christ, who hath and beareth the sin of all men in His own body, not that He Himself committed them, but for that He received them, being committed or done of us, and laid upon His own body, that He might make satisfaction for them with His own blood. Therefore whatsoever sins I, thou, and we all have done and shall do, hereafter, they are Christ's own sins, as verily as if He Himself had done them. To be brief, our sin must needs become Christ's own sin, or else we shall perish forever.


"Also learn this definition diligently ('Who was delivered for OUR trespasses'), that this one syllable being believed, may swallow up all thy sins: that thou mayest know assuredly, that Christ hath taken away the sins, not of certain men only, but also of thee. Then let thy sins be not sins only, but even thy own sins indeed.


Thus may we be able to answer the devil accusing us, saying, Thou art a sinner, thou shalt be damned. No, say I, for I flee unto Christ who hath given Himself for my sins. Therefore, satan, thou shalt not prevail against me in that thou goest about to terrify me, in setting forth the greatness of my sins, and so to bring me into heaviness, distrust, despair, hatred, contempt, and blaspheming of God. Yea, rather, in that thou sayest, I am a sinner, thou givest me armour and weapons against thyself, that with thine own sword I may cut thy throat, and tread thee under my feet; for Christ died for sinners! Moreover, Satan, thou thyself preachest unto me the glory of God; for thou puttest me in mind of God's fatherly love toward me, wretched and damned sinner: "Who so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life' (John 3:16). And as often as thou objectest that I am a sinner, so often thou callest me to rememberance of the benefit of Christ my Redeemer, upon whose shoulders, and not upon mine, lay all my sins; for the Lord hath 'laid all our iniquity upon Him' (Isa. 53:6). Again, 'For the transgressions of His people was He smitten' (53:8). Wherefore, when thou sayest I am a sinner, thou doest not terrify me, but comfortest me above measure."


So Paul closes his setting forth of this great resurrection side of our salvation, saying, "He was raised for our justifying. Doubtless other, and eternal ends were in view in God's raising up Christ; but lay fast hold of this, that in your case it was for the purpose of declaring you who believe righteous, that God raised Christ. And further of giving you a hitherto unheard of place, to be in Christ, one with Him before God forever, loved as Christ is loved, seen in all the perfectness and beauty of Christ Himself, glorified with Him, association with Him as companions, that He might be the First-born among many brethern!


There is no limit to God's favor toward those in Christ!


Watchman Nee comments on the word "raised" in the 25th verse and says, "The death of Christ has fulfilled and fully satisfied God's righteous requirements; hence, we are justified by God through His death (3:24). His resurrection proves that God's requirements were satisfied by His death for us, that we are justified by God because of His death, and that in Him, the resurrected One, we are accepted before God. Furthermore, as the resurrected One, He is in us to live for us a life that can be justified by God and is always acceptable to God."



Heavenly Father,


Thank You for this study. While it was hard to start this morning, as I neared the end of it for today, I could feel Your peace flood my heart.


I have much to do today, so I just ask that You would pour out Your Holy Spirit over my life and my efforts, and all who read this study. Camp Your warring guardian angels about each and every one of us, and perfect the work that You are doing, individually, within us all.


I love You, I need and want You in my life.


In Jesus Name I pray,


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