Friday, February 06, 2004

Romans 3 and 4 notes

Paul still is continuing his explanation and exposition of human depravity and God’s grace. Here are a few thoughts I’ve had regarding this near constant Pauline concern!

The CEV has been interesting, since it’s a version more than a translation, and often the words the committee chose don’t have the incisive impact they do in other translations.

In Romans 3 and 4, where we usually read justified or righteous, the CEV says “accepted,” but that is so too mild! Abraham – and all of us who live in Christ – actually was turned around from being the other – an Ivri, a Hebrew – one from the other side or out-side – to becoming one who belonged on the in-side of the people of God and who God measured and calculated righteous...and righteousness is one of God’s attributes! The Greek Ýëïãßóèç literally is “accounted!” – as in money and finance. Many of our biblical concepts have a decisive economic edge: debt, owe/ought, forgive, justice, free/freed/freedom, reckoned/reckoning.


* Sin is our human condition; because total death is the fair return we get from sinning against a holy God, no one can escape death, no one can cheat death

* Our humanity means mortality and our mortality makes us inevitably and invariably deathbound

* But because of Jesus Christ our mortality itself becomes gracious gift and by grace turns us Godward and finally makes us God-bound!!! But it all begins with God-with-us in Jesus of Nazareth that enables us-with-God. If not for “Adam’s transgression” in which we all sinned (remember “O happy fault?”)...

* With the immense influence Greek philosophy had on Ur-Christianity, it’s important we remember God’s promise to us isn’t immortality but rather something none of those “other” gods could do – resurrection from the dead!

* In American Westerns, the hero comes from outside the community


o Like other people, events and images the Hebrew Bible, Abraham is a Christ figure – in his outsider-ness, stranger-ness and his other-side-ness!

o In Christ Jesus, who entered human history from that very “other side” of heaven to be born as a stranger outside the city and die unknown outside the city gates – outside civilization...

o ...in Christ Jesus, God became the outsider but not a heroic figure in the way most humans imagine “heroic.”


* Since Jesus was born under the law – within the established legal and religious system – a
nd subject to all the law’s demands and structures, he could become sin for us, which he did by becoming a not-like-us.
* To paraphrase the Heidelberg Catechism: we move from Christmas, with the mystery of Spirit in flesh, to the Ascension, with the mystery of flesh in Spirit! And shouldn’t that be what happens to us during our journeys?

* Narnia: the Divine inevitable of death rolling backwards into life rather than the human invariable of life moving toward death!


o 430 years before the Sinai Covenant God accounted Abraham righteous/just[ified]:
Grace and faith – these “New Keys” to heaven really are old keys!

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