Thursday, June 14, 2012

Theological Musings

Well... this sounds dangerous.......

      I was thinking this morning (another dangerous thing) about Romans 6:23 and I realized that I couldn't remember if it was "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord", or the "For the wages of sin is death; but the FREE gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord". well, as it turns out there are about 32 versions of the English Bible and 13 of them read FREE gift of God, some of which are perfectly respectable translations of the Bible (ESV, NASB, NLV). Well, people might wonder, "What does it matter if it says free gift or not?" That is an excellent question! Perhaps nothing.

     When I was thinking about this there was just something that bothered me about the phrase "Free Gift". What is a free gift that makes it different from a regular gift? Is it free in that it cost the giver nothing? Well we know that isn't the case. Christ paid the ultimate price for the gift of salvation: Philippians 2:6-8. Is it free in that it costs the one who receives it nothing? Here a lot of people might be tempted to say yes, but I would disagree. Christ calls his followers to sacrifice everything: Their possessions (Mark 10:17-25)*, Their friends and families (Matthew 10:37-39), and even their lives (Matthew 10:39). Followers of Christ are called to radical and intense sacrifice and change (albeit it's a good change and sacrifice). We "put off the old man" and "Put on Christ" (Colossians 3:5-10). What I believe it refers to is that salvation is free to the believer in the sense that we have done nothing to earn it prior t our salvation (and we can't even earn it after our salvation either).

     So, in this sense I think that the phrase "free gift" can be misleading. Man's salvation is not a free process, but it is an unearned one. I believe that when different translators were working on this verse they wanted to highlight that unearned nature of the gift of salvation, but I think that they chose the wrong adjective with which to do it. The phrase "free gift" has a connotation that makes it sound cheap. Either it cost nothing or it costs the receiver nothing which, as has been shown is not the nature of salvation at all. Of course, when a Christian reads this verse that's not what they think of, they understand the meaning. In our lives we work for sin, receiving a wage of death. God, however, has granted us salvation, despite the fact that we have spent all our lives working against His kingdom. The reward of salvation comes to us unearned.

     The word used in this verse for gift is Charisma. It means: A favor which one receives without any merit of his own. That word is also very similar to the word used for grace - charis (that which affords joy; goodwill, loving-kindness, favor). So, I'm not sure what adjective you can use in front of gift to convey that meaning. Maybe free is the best word to use, or maybe the word gift is fine by itself. In the end I think we should be humbled by this verse. God has taken those who worked against Him, who hated Him, and has, not only pardoned them, but has made them joint heirs with His son (Romans 8:17). It's always important to remember that "It is by grace (Charis) [we] have been saved, through faith - and that not of ourselves - ... so that no man may boast" it is "the [free] gift of God" "For... while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!" (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 6:23; Romans 5:10). 

*It may be noted that this demand was meant for demonstrative purposes.
** It may also be noted that these are merely my random theological musings. They are not (necessarily) the doctrinal teachings of the Christian church, unless, of course, they are. Nothing I say should be taken as authoritative, because, as a fallible human being, I may be way off the mark. I do think, however, (I would) that my logic is sound and my musings, even if they don't mean much, are fit for human consumption.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Ok children, here are some ground rules. Keep all posts clean and polite. Flamers and Trollers (unless they are legitimately funny) will be hunted down and destroyed. You are allowed to have, and express, your own opinion but make sure to keep it respectful or else I shall get very cross :).