The Cross is empty if the Tomb is not

In Romans 4:25 Paul makes it clear that the resurrection is not merely God’s stamp of approval on the finished work of Christ in dealing with our sins. The empty tomb is not merely the affirmation that Jesus is indeed the promised Messiah. Look at the text: “he was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” Justification is inextricably tied to the resurrection. If the cross were not accompanied by the resurrection then we could not be justified. As Paul says elsewhere we would still be in our sins. The resurrection like the cross is a saving event. How then does the resurrection figure into the doctrine of justification? I. Howard Marshall does a great job explaining the connection in his book Aspects of the Atonement. He says, “In raising Christ from death after he has taken upon himself the sins of the world and died, God is not so much vindicating what Christ has done and saying that he approves of it, but is bringing him back from the dead as the One who is now just and experiencing the new life that God grants those whose sin has been taken away; this is happening representatively to Christ so that believers may share this new life. In the cross God’s condemnation of sin is demonstrated and carried out, Christ bears the sin and so God declares that sin has been taken away; and Christ is representatively justified so that those who believe and are united with him share in his justification. Hence the resurrection is essential to the saving act.”

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