Reconciliation consequence of Justification?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

We had our class on Romans 5 today (and with that it only leaves me 2 weeks to complete my paper on Romans 6!). I was utterly confused for most of the time mainly because I did not do enough homework on the chapter and mostly because I am not Greek-y enough to understand much that was discussed. I have a feeling my session next round will be the most un-Greek-able session so far.

What I got from class was the discussion on Rom 5:3-4. The debate of Rom 5:1 though got us nowhere.

Romans 5:3-4
3More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Paul posited that the reason why we rejoice in our suffering (v.3) is because of the love of God (v.5) and this love of God is what Christ has d0ne for us on the cross (v.6-10). In the midst of all this, the suffering that we encounter also builds us: into endurance, into character and into hope. We already have that hope in Christ. It is through the suffering, endurance and character that our hope in Christ is strengthened.

On Rom 5:1, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, ” the presenter offered 3 options in meaning:

1. Peace, i.e. reconciliation with God is a consequence of justification
2. Justification and reconciliation are simply 2 metaphors saying the same thing
3. Justification involves reconciliation

I felt that much of what was discussed on this matter was really theological hair-splitting but I thought it would clear my head a bit by putting it down in words here.

The debate was initiated when the presenter felt that option no.1 an no.2 was untenable. His reasons being:

1. When Christ died on the cross, God in effect has both justified and reconciled with us at the same time and therefore there is no sequential time that would have taken place, hence God could not have justified us and then reconciled with us. It is therefore not a consequence.
2. Justification and reconciliation could not be 2 metaphors merely just to explain one thing because b0th justification and reconciliation are 2 different things that God has done for us. (I will have to revisit a couple of my posts on this as I do remember saying that they are 2 metaphors of the same thing.)
3. Justification is given us involving at the same time a reconciliation with God.

I could agree on no.2, for the fact that we cannot have one without the other, as we can if we regard them as 2 metaphors or 2 picture words.

But on no.1 and no.3, I am not so sure because v.1 says it quite clearly, “Therefore, since we have been justified, we have peace.” In other words, “because we have been justified, we are reconciled”. And if we look into the word used in trying to explain the relationship between these 2, “involves” it also carry the meaning of “consequence”.

And most importantly, does it matter, as in the most important question in any argument – so what?

Verse 1 clearly states it, even if it should happen at the same time, I felt that time is not the issue here but that it happened – we are justified and we are reconciled. To drive home the point I asked the question: can justification come after reconciliation? The rest of the class was with a loud “no”. Alright, why not? It is because we need to be made righteous first with God before we can be reconciled. Which clearly shows us that, no.1 is indeed tenable.

My conclusion of the Romans 5 discussion is this: the word of God can be so amazing that we can read it as simple or study it as deep as according to our needs and purposes. But I think somewhere in the middle would be a good position. As the adage would go – everything in moderation.

I know I am already in hot soup, having not spent time on Romans 6 lately – with my “hiatus” lasting for longer that I had planned it to. I will be eating, drinking and sleeping Romans 6 from now on until Jul 4th. God help me.

Picture by Dana H

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4 comment(s)

  1. Hiatus?!?!

    Is that what you call the wringer you've been through for the last couple weeks, a hiatus? Methinks you need to have a little mercy on yourself!

    I'll grant you that we Americans may be a little on the lazy side, but there is a wisdom in stopping before you go too far. For what it's worth, I hereby exonerate you of the need to score an A+ on your next assignment. :-)

    Lord bless your hard work! I know you are doing it from love, and so does your Master.

  2. Codepoke,
    LOLOL, thanks for the chuckle for my dreary cool morning. My "hiatus" is the Romans 6 hiatus. My daily ponderings are my daily devotion thoughts and as I have mentioned before this blog is really good in keeping my thoughts on my Master, by God's grace I think I am more disciplined lately to keep my daily devotion and the psalmic call to meditate daily on his word.

    Hey, I can be really lazy too - and truth be told, my mom just called me a lazy bum yesterday afternoon! I guess we all are lazy categorically.

    An A+ eh? Nah, I don't expect one at all, at least not for this Romans module ;o)
    Just not Greek enough to meet up to the standard, and I'm ok with it.

  3. Maeghan,

    You humble me. As you can see, I took a week off and went on vacation, and I didn't even turn on a computer.

    Godspeed on Romans 6. I really have loved the chapter 5 discussions.

    God Bless

  4. Doug,
    Great to have you back :)
    There is a time for everything ... there is a time for no computers! LOL