Monday, March 05, 2007

Romans 5

vs 1 - important to remember that "justified by faith" here is synonymous w/ "justified by Christ, to whom we are united through faith" or "justified by faith-union w/ Christ" - Christ is the one who justifies us, who does all the work - our faith in him is simply the instrument that unites us to him.

There are at least 3 distinct benefits of this "justification" mentioned here...
  1. peace w/ God (1) - what does that say about our relationship apart from Christ? That it's nothing less than war with God (which fits the 'wrath' and 'enemies' language down in vs 9-10).
  2. access to grace (2) - very important to recognize that while there is certainly such a thing as common grace (God's goodness to all), there is also a particular kind of grace (saving grace) which is only available to those who are in Christ Jesus (because he alone is the possessor and conveyor of that grace to us)
  3. hope of glory (2) - in Christ, we actually hope of getting back to where we were meant to be - getting forward, actually - only in Christ do we have the capacity to become fully human, to flesh out what it means to be image of God, to really reflect his glory by becoming truly glorious ourselves
  4. joy in suffering (3-4) - we don't just receive a future hope - we receive eyes to see the purpose of our present suffering - to see that it is for our good, producing something in us - just as faith is the instrument that unites us to Christ, suffering is the instrument that conforms us to Christ - it's the current of the river that wraps us around the rock in the middle of it, plastering us to it, shaping us in his image
vs 8 - vitally important to see how clearly Scripture states that "Christ died for us, while we were still ungodly sinners" - that statement expresses premeditation (eg. cross didn't just happen - God sent X there), and to that we must ask "why?" - Scripture consistently contends that the cross was necessary, purposeful, forordained - and that it accomplishes something.

vs 9 - also worth noting that the results of this act are not described in terms of potential benefits (eg. possiblity of salvation) but in terms of realized benefits (eg. since we have been justified... much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God).

vs 10 - interesting that reconciliation seems to come through X's death, while "salvation" comes through his life - this "salvation" here is not just "now you'll go to heaven when you die" but rather "now you'll have all the life in yourself that is also present in X" - so it's a full, robust, full-fledged salvation. What's his (life) becomes ours - he gives it to us as we are united to him.

vs 12+ - this raises a really interesting question - how on earth is it fair for God to give us all these things, when we ourselves did not earn/deserve them? (of course, most of us never bother to ask THIS question - we don't really care whether its legit for him to give us something, even though we'll protest loudly at the idea that we could be declared to be sinners on the basis of another)

This other is Adam, and Paul draws a clear connection here. Couple of basic points...
  • the historicity of Jesus would seem to demand the historicity of Adam - if A is not historical (real), then how are the effects of his death real? and why would we expect X's effects to be equally real? That said, we're not saved by faith in A - we're saved by faith in X (so someone could believe that A didn't exist and still be a real Christian)
  • whatever we think of salvation/sin, we need to be able to explain this connection between Adam and X - the connection is clearly there. So what is it?
  • the thrust of the argument - sin entered the world through one man, yet all die? How come? especially in light of the fact that there was a time when there was no law (Adam to Moses)? the text seems to be suggesting that they were suffering the judgment of A's sin...
  • death reigned from A to Moses - suggests that there was a law in place for A, nothing until Moses, and then another law in place w/ him ("covt of works") - so there is at very least a works principle in place w/ the Mosaic economy - I'd see it as a covt of works for Israel as a nation, Israel as God's son, but nevertheless a covt of grace for all Israelites as individuals
  • so A is a type of "the one who was to come", X - at the very least, then, we have to admit that both A and X seem to occupy special positions, they are a certain special "type" of people who's actions have consequences for all their heirs
And that brings us to the differences (15) - the free gift is also DIFFERENT from the trespass
  • instead of bringing death it brings life (15)
  • result of one sin was judgment/condemnation (deserved) --> result of X's ultimate act of righteouseness meant that many trespasses led to judgment/justification (gift/grace)
Receiving grace does not just "wipe our slate clean" - it is a rennovating grace - it cannot help but transform us, so that we reign in life - grace does not just get us back to a state of innoncence (eg. pre-fall) - it takes us beyond that to our destiny (to what A was intended to aspire to if he had passed the test).

vs 18 - so when we read "justification" in vs 18, we need to read much more than just "acquittal" - it IS that, but it's really the whole of salvation - it's the righteousness of God, LIFE. Also important to note that the "all men" in this verse is either a) universalistic, or b) shorthand for "all who are in X, as his heirs, which we know only happens through faith". Option B seems to be intended.

vs 20 - purpose of the law is to increase the trespass - to make it more obvious. We are all sinners in A; God proves it again by giving the law, which demonstrates that we are all sinners in ourselves as well.

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