Sunday, October 24, 2010

Romans 3 -- escape clause / Santa Claus

"The man who pleads his own case at law has a knave for a lawyer, and a fool for a client." So goes the old proverb. It's a strange thing about us humans -- we can reorganize the world with in our own imaginations so easily -- but making ourselves do the things that need to be done can be a major project.

"Know the right and do the right, and you'll be all right." Sounds good in theory. "Looks good on paper," to quote another proverb. In practice, however, the gap between "knowing" and "doing" can be a real problem.
To be above, with saints we love,
now THAT will be the glory,
But here below, with saints we know,
now THAT'S another story!
I'm a technical writer, with a great deal of faith in written directions. I write them for a living, and do it well. It's fun to tell people what to do, to write in the 2nd person imperative. This optimism lasts until I start ordering myself around -- and soon bump into the limits of the doable. This is an issue Paul will discuss over and over again in this letter to the Christians in Rome. And, over and over again, he will celebrate the escape clause, the solution to this quandary:
Rom 3:20 Bu nedenle Yasa'nın gereklerini yapmakla hiç kimse Tanrı katında aklanmayacaktır. Çünkü Yasa sayesinde günahın bilincine varılır.
Rom 3:21 Ama şimdi Yasa'dan bağımsız olarak Tanrı'nın insanı nasıl aklayacağı açıklandı. Yasa ve peygamberler buna tanıklık ediyor.
Rom 3:22 Tanrı insanları İsa Mesih'e olan imanlarıyla aklar. Bunu, iman eden herkes için yapar. Hiç ayrım yoktur.
Rom 3:23 Çünkü herkes günah işledi ve Tanrı'nın yüceliğinden yoksun kaldı.
Rom 3:24 İnsanlar İsa Mesih'te olan kurtuluşla, Tanrı'nın lütfuyla, karşılıksız olarak aklanırlar.
Rom 3:25,26 Tanrı Mesih'i, kanıyla günahları bağışlatan ve imanla benimsenen kurban olarak sundu. Böylece adaletini gösterdi. Çünkü sabredip daha önce işlenmiş günahları cezasız bıraktı. Bunu, adil kalmak ve İsa'ya iman edeni aklamak için şimdiki zamanda kendi adaletini göstermek amacıyla yaptı.
Let's look at a few key phrases:

Çünkü Yasa sayesinde günahın bilincine varılır.
Because / the Law / by means of / of sin / the knowledge / there is. God's law gives us a beautiful picture of righteous living, for ourselves, our families, our civic lives together. But is that enough? A Steve Martin joke comes to mind, his easy recipe for becoming a millionaire: "First, get a million dollars."

Çünkü herkes günah işledi ve Tanrı'nın yüceliğinden yoksun kaldı. Because / everyone / sin / does / and / of God / his glory / nothing / attains. So what's new? People in Christian circles wrestle with guilt, with the sense of shame because of the ways we offend God and do harm to one another. In Islam, the issue is cleanliness. Before prayer, you need to wash yourself carefully. One can be rendered unclean by certain foods, or by violating any of many prohibitions.

Read on, though, to savor the escape clause, the "Santa Clause." That which we cannot do for ourselves, God is willing to do for us, and has already done for us, through the life and work of Jesus the Messiah, His "graphic user interface" with the created order. A sacrificed Prophet achieves something that no quantity of animal sacrifices could manage. We have a gift, we can receive it by faith ...

and then, we can "follow the directions." Not to earn God's favor, but because God has favored us.

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