In Romans 4, the Apostle Paul explains the nature of saving faith, using Abraham as the model — for believers from all nations and times –of one whose faith was “reckoned as righteousness.” He concludes this stirring discourse in verse 25 with two ringing affirmations about Jesus Christ. Jesus “was delivered up because of our transgressions and was raised because of our justification” (NASB). These truths so startle and overwhelm us that most Bible versions do not translate the verse literally, instead substituting the weaker, more colorless preposition “for” in both phrases.
These are parallel statements about Jesus’ saving work — the relationship between Christ’s experience and our condition is the same in each case. As surely as Jesus died on the cross, just that surely we are sinners. As surely as Jesus rose from the dead, just that surely God has declared us blameless and counted us among his People. These truths belong to every person who believes in Jesus.
It is certainly true that we must trust the gospel’s message to enjoy it here and now. That is the subjective reality of justification. However, that is not the first word but the second. The subjective reality rests on the objective reality which God brought into being through the life and death of Jesus Christ our representative. The gospel reports an event that happened long before we first heard of it: Jesus died because of our sins and he was raised again because of our justification. We can live with confidence that God has made us righteous in his Son (Habakkuk 2:4; Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38).