When we are on a long journey, sometimes it is wise to pull over, reflect, rest and rejoice of the progress we have made. We have taken over a month to get to chapter 5, and there has been significant material covered during our meetings. This week we reflect on some of the highlights and attempt to pull out nuggets and discuss insights and challenges, as well as testimonies.
In a high level overview, these are some of the areas we have covered:
- The Apostle’s Attitude (1:1-17)
- The bad news (1:18-32)
- Judgement of God (2:1-16)
- Dangers of Religion (2:17-3:8)
- All Together Now (3:9-20)
- The Genius of God (3:21-31)
- Facing Up to Faith (4:1-25)
The Apostle’s Attitude
Paul opens the letter with great respect and admiration for the people of Rome that He writes to. We all like to be welcomed and acknowledged when we come together. Even in our gathering of fellowship, we expect to be greeted and acknowledged. Paul makes it clear that he has desires to go to Rome, but wanted to send the letter on ahead of him.
Like all good readings, we get the foundation of the book at the beginning, verses 16 and 17.
16 For I am not ashamed of the Gospel (good news) of Christ, for it is God’s power working unto salvation [for deliverance from eternal death] to everyone who believes with a personal trust and a confident surrender and firm reliance, to the Jew first and also to the Greek,
17 For in the Gospel a righteousness which God ascribes is revealed, both springing from faith and leading to faith [disclosed through the way of faith that arouses to more faith]. As it is written, The man who through faith is just and upright shall live and shall live by faith. – Romans 1:16-17 AMP
The Message version is a bit more simplified:
It’s news I’m most proud to proclaim, this extraordinary Message of God’s powerful plan to rescue everyone who trusts him, starting with Jews and then right on to everyone else! God’s way of putting people right shows up in the acts of faith, confirming what Scripture has said all along: “The person in right standing before God by trusting him really lives.” – Romans 1:16-17 MSG
How does God reveal himself to people?
God reveals himself through creation. We all see this when we see a sunrise, a sunset, the beauty of nature. God also reveals himself through the bible. He shares his character with us.
The Bad News
Paul concludes the first chapter by jumping right in and pointing out how people suppress the truth, rejected God, actually replaced God with their own gods and the appreciation man has for evil.
What happens when God lets people go their own way?How can we find freedom from the bondage of sin?
We learned a lot about righteousness in chapter 1. What can be take away from this chapter?
How would you explain righteousness to an unbeliever?
What is required to be right with God?
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. – John 14:6 ESV
Judgement of God
Paul, is not shy in his communication. In our society today, Paul probably would not have been a great communicator or speaker. He is direct, raw and to the point. The opening of chapter two is a classic example of Paul. He calls them out as hypocrites. Then he lays out the true foundation of the judgement of God.
Why did Paul advise the Romans to avoid judging others?
What guidelines will God use to reward and punish people?
If hearing the law does not make people right with God, what does?
Dangers of Religion
We have all been caught up in it from time to time. We are associated with a religion and we can even be hurt by our own religion.
What is one of the painful topics that seems to always come up when religion is discussed in a casual atmosphere or with non-believers?
As discussions go, they will always hit on of the following areas: Profession without performance, ritual without reality; privilege without perception; objections without objectivity.
What is the difference between being religious and being right with God?
In what subtle ways does Satan try to corrode your relationship with Christ?
How can you guard against Satan’s attacks?
Use the Warrior’s Prayer for encouragement and support!!
Why is hypocrisy harmful to the church?
All together Now
Some of the most powerful and convicting scripture in the whole bible can be found in chapter 3, it does not single anyone out, but circles us all up.
In what way are people all alike?
The Genius of God
When we get into a predicament, the best thing to do is turn to the truth. Just like a good personal trainer, after showing us what we need to work on, Paul brings the solution for us.
How can people be made right with God?
How does God’s plan demonstrate fairness?
How does Paul describe salvation?
What should prevent believers from bragging?
Facing up to Faith
We learned in chapter 4 that it is not by what we do, but what God has already done. Paul uses some great examples of bible characters, Abraham and David to show us and the Jews he was writing to that it takes faith to receive salvation. The whole chapter is on faith.
Think of a person in your life that has been a great example of faith. What are the evidences of the person’s faith?
How did Abraham become right with God?
What obstacles did Abraham overcome to believe God’s promise? What have you overcome? What do you still struggle with believing today?
How can our life of faith influence others?
What things can keep our faith growing?
What do you usually do when you face doubt?
Describe a time when someone’s faith made a difference in your life.