Olevianus: The First Benefit Of The Resurrection Is The Certainty Of Our Justification

102 Q. What benefits do believers receive from the resurrection of Christ?

A. Four in all. First, the resurrection of Christ is a sure testimony to us that God considers us to be as just and righteous in His eyes as the body of Christ was when He arose from the dead out of all of our sins. This is what St. Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 15[:17]: “If Christ were not risen, you would still be in your sins.” From that it follows that since Christ has risen, believers are no longer in their sins. Not that there is no more sin in them but that it is pardoned and not imputed to them. Christ died not in His own sin but in all of those sins of ours that we commit right up to our death, and He arose out of all of those selfsame sins. It necessarily follows, therefore, that every single one of our sins laid upon His body is completely punished and paid for. Otherwise Christ could not have arisen. For if even one sin remains, death, the penalty for sin, also remains (Rom. 6[:23]). This teaching is found in the verse mentioned a short while ago (1 Cor. 15[:17]) and in Romans 4[:25]: “Christ was delivered up because of our offenses and was raised because of our justification.”

Caspar Olevianus, Firm Foundation, trans. Lyle Bierma (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1995), 73.

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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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8 comments

  1. Because Christ rose from the dead, we are no longer IN our sins. Instead we are IN Christ. In Ephesians 1: 3-14 Paul breaks out in a rhapsody over the awesome significance of that little word, IN. Because we are IN Him, all that is His is ours! We are members in His body, the Church, through faith in Him. We are as good as seated in the heavenly places with Christ. Because He was delivered up for our sins and rose for our justification.

  2. Hello brother, as a new peadobaptist I am unconvinced by the arguments if many Baptists. However, one verse which interests me is Galatians 3:27, which Baptists say me as only believers were baptised by the Apostles as evidence by ‘as many of you as were baptised into Christ have put on Christ’. What are your thoughts?

    • T,

      Reading this verse in context really helps bring clarity:

      Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise (Gal 3:21–29; ESV)

      The question that Paul is addressing is the relation of the law and the gospel, justification and salvation by grace alone, through faith alone. He’s arguing against the Judaizers, who wanted to put the Christians back under the law for justification and salvation. He’s distinguishing between faith and works. He’s making the case that the function (use) of the law, is not to justify nor to save but to expose sin and condemn it thereby driving us to Christ. We call this the pedagogical use of the law. He’s arguing that believers are no longer under the law for their justification and salvation because Christ has met the terms of the law (the covenant of works) for them. He uses baptism to illustrate this truth. So, the question here is this: what is the function of baptism? How does it illustrate that we have been saved and justified sola gratia, sola fide? The answer is in vv. 28–29. It’s our new identity. Baptism is the outward sign of our new identity in Christ. The Judaizers were trying to divide the church along ethnic lines, to rebuild the wall (Eph 2) that had been torn down in the death of Christ. Now, in Christ, there is no Jew or Gentile etc. Baptism is the illustration of that. We were all baptized in the name of Christ, in the name of the Trinity. We all have the same name. Baptism is our outward identity. To appeal to this as evidence of believer’s baptism only is 1) to miss Paul’s point entirely re salvation sola gratia, sola fide; 2) To beg the question (i.e., to assume what must be proven), namely, that only believers were baptized; 3) To imply either that baptism confers regeneration automatically, a view that most Baptists reject or that the minister of baptism knows infallibly who is regenerate. Again, this misses the point.

      Paul speaks to baptized people on the basis of their profession of faith, on the basis of their external relation to the covenant of grace. He is not saying that all the baptized members of the congregation are necessarily regenerate. Paul himself teaches that there are two ways to be in the one covenant of grace: internally and externally. All who are circumcised/baptized are external members but only the elect, who’ve been regenerated and given true faith are internal members. Only God knows who they are. The rest of us operate on the basis of credible professions of faith and baptism.

      For more on this see:

      1. Two Ways of Being in the One Covenant of Grace
      2. Baptism and the Benefits of Christ (the double mode of communion)
      3. Resources for Those Studying Covenant Theology and Baptism
    • Context is key. It seems to me Paul is emphasizing a distinction, ‘you’ = ‘the baptized’ against ‘they’ = ‘the circumcised’. To load ‘only the elect’ into ‘the baptized’ seems quite a presupposition. It would ruin the analogy that follows, leaving the visible church full of Jews AND Greeks, men AND women, slave AND free, since only the ‘baptized/elect’ enjoy the obliteration of those distinctions. But that is what happens when we focus on 5-7 word phrases and overload them with our own desired meanings.

  3. Toluwan,
    What I didn’t know in the past, and what I think many people still don’t know, is how fundamentally many Baptists, especially the 1689 Federalists, differ from the truly Reformed in how they understand Scripture.

    The truly Reformed see the covenant of grace as the principle under which God deals with all of His people. It was administered under types and shadows under the old covenant, but more clearly since Christ has been fully revealed. Since Adam failed the test of obedience, salvation has been by grace through faith in the new Adam who would crush the head of Satan, by faith in Jesus = Savior. The Reformed understand the Abrahamic covenant to be the formal ratification of the promise God first made to Adam, revealing that God alone would do all that the covenant required and to suffer the consequences of Abraham and his children in the faith’s inability to do what the covenant demands and He gave the sign of infant initiation to mark them as those who have received the sign promising salvation to those who believe. Not all of Abraham’s children had what the sign points to, Ishmael lacked faith. Only Isaac believed with the faith of his father, Abraham. So it has always been among the covenant community, the church, some are Ishmaels even though they have received the sign of the covenant. Baptism is the unbloody sign that replaces bloody circumcision since the blood has been shed once and for all time. The purpose of both circumcision and baptism is as promise, under the covenant of grace which unites all of Scripture, that if by regeneration by the Spirit, you believe like father Abraham, you will be saved.

    The Baptists, especially the 1689 Federalists, fundamentally disagree because they divide the the Word into law and grace, where they understand the old covenant as strictly a covenant of law, with an earthly people who were to obey the law of Moses for earthly rewards and tenure in the land. There is NO administration of a covenant of grace because it does not yet exist! The Abrahamic covenant was a promise to Abraham, that it was through his line, that the seed would come who would bring blessing to many nations when God would establish a new covenant. The old, Mosaic covenant was a national covenant of works, designed to ensure that the promise of the seed, made to Abraham, would be fulfilled. The only requirement for circumcision was that you were a male Israelite, and circumcision was a command of law that obligated you to obey the law of Moses. The Israelites broke God’s law even before Moses descended from the mountain by making and worshiping the golden calf. By doing so they lost their right to the land and earthly rewards, but God deferred their punishment until after the promise to Abraham, of the Seed, would be fulfilled. The punishment was brought down on the earthly people in 70 AD. According to this understanding, Sarah and Isaac were typological of the future new, spiritual people, the people to be born of faith in the Seed, under a future, new covenant of grace. Hagar and Ishmael were typological of Isreal the earthly people, under the Mosaic, law covenant for earthly rewards and tenure in the land. In this view, only the new covenant is a covenant of grace, and you can only become a member in this covenant if you are spiritually reborn by faith in Christ. It did not exist until the death and resurrection of Christ. Baptism is seen, especially by 1689 Federalists, as a totally new sign, with practically no connection to circumcision, except as typological of a circumcised heart. To them, infant initiation through baptism, as the sign of the new covenant, is to deny that the new covenant is THE covenant of grace, where regeneration through the Spirit is required, and where the church must admit only those who truly believe and are spiritual into membership. Hence believer’s baptism is the test to certify that you belong, that you have what baptism represents. This is based on a completely different hermeneutic from the Reformed.

    The Reformed have a completely different understanding of the church, and who are the people of God, some having only the sign of promise, but not the salvation it promises because they do not truly believe, and God alone knows who truly believe. Therefore the church will be a mixed community of believers and unbelievers until Christ returns and purifies the church. That is why the Reformed and Baptists read the passage so differently.

    • Thank you Angela. How anyone can see the Abrahamic covenant as one of works is beyond me. It bled grace. Even the Mosaic covenant, rigid as it was, was fundamentally gracious in nature, the sacrifices, ceremonies etc pointing to Christ even with the covenant being temporary.

    • Toluwan,
      Yes, I absolutely agree that the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants were gracious covenants.

      I find the 1689 Federalist Baptist hermeneutic very troubling because it raises questions that seem to me, impugn the character of God.

      Does God promise Adam that He will graciously send a new Adam who will crush the head of Satan, and then call a people, promising that they are His special possession, and then use them as a typological, unspiritual, earthly people under covenants that are only administrations of law for earthly rewards, with no administration of grace? And when they fail to obey because of their corrupt nature inherited from the first Adam, condemn them to destruction, only to preserve them long enough to keep the promise to Abraham that his line would produce the spiritual Seed, to be the Savior of the future spiritual people under a new covenant? And if there was no administration of grace under the old covenant, how was anyone saved? The 1689 Federalists claim they were saved under the new covenant, but how could they be saved under the covenant of grace, which they equate with the new covenant, which they claim does not even exist until the death and resurrection of Christ? Does God have two people and deal with them in completely different ways?

      This hermeneutic seems very problematic to me because of the dualism it imposes on the Scripture.

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