Bible Study: Romans 5:12-21

Read Romans 5:12-21

This last section of Romans 5 gives us the greatest explanation short explanation of original sin, its effects, our need for justification, and how justification is brought about.  This is what Romans 5 has been leading up to.  It shows us the depth of the sin of Adam, how affects all of us, and how God in his great grace and love sent Jesus to bring justification to those whom the Father has predestined.  Verse 19 sums up what Jesus work is in simple language that we can all understand “For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.”  Jesus did what no one else could fulfill the law for us perfectly, being without sin, yet taking our sin, so that the elect are justified.

Now some of you know that I love all different kinds of music from many genres and artists.   One artist I discovered about ten years ago was a man named Shai Linne.  Linne is a Christian Hip Hop artist whose lyrics are thought very provoking while still having a great beat.  The reason I bring him up today is that one of his songs “In Adam All Die” is an explanation of Romans 5:12-21.  If you have a chance go to YouTube and listen to the song, but if you can not look at these lyrics:

Chorus

We’re cursed from our birth, sinning from the beginning
The womb to the tomb, depraved to the grave
Astray every day, every breath brings death

In Adam all die, In Adam all die

We’re rebels like the devil, scheming like demons
Prideful with our idols, disgusting with our lusting
Twisted and sin-sick, selfish and helpless
In Adam all die, In Adam all die

Verse 1:
Everybody knows that they’re guilty
Our conscience condemns us, shows us we’re filthy
Truth be told, we really have no answers
For why we fall short of our own moral standards
The evidence for God is simply bountiful

And it’s illogical to think we won’t be held accountable
A universal day of judgment approaches
Any rational notion of justice would presuppose this
And deep down inside, everybody knows this
But we disregard it because our deeds are atrocious
We prefer the vicious, our words are malicious
Our slurs pernicious, we find the absurd delicious
Depraved in our appetites- the things we crave are lacking light
Because sin’s got us enslaved and shackled tight
And if we are to understand the fruit
We need to go back and examine the root
Chorus

Verse 2:
The world we live in wasn’t always like this
The early days had perfect righteousness and bright bliss
Man and woman under God-ruled government at first
Bubbling with mirth, immersed in loving with no hurts
God gave what theologians call the covenant of works
Forbidden fruit- the day you eat of it you’ll be cursed
Husband wasn’t alert; wife lacked discernment
Entrapped by the serpent and that was the first sin
The consequences were monumental
In fact, I’m not convinced they had a clue of what they’d gotten into

Their eyes were opened more- truth in the lies
To their surprise, they didn’t get the prize they were hoping for
They see their nakedness and now regret it
They tried to cover their guilt and then blame shift- how pathetic
And it’s a true story- you want some evidence?
We’ve been doing the same thing ever since
Chorus

Verse 3:
We talk Adam and Eve, cats think we’re “throwed off”, really
They don’t think it relates to thugs in North Philly
But it’s like Switchfoot said- we were meant to live
But in the garden Adam was our representative
So when the Judge executed the sentence
Adam’s guilt was imputed to his descendants
Global calamity

Major debt, pain, regret, the reign of death- total depravity
And yes, I’m aware that cats were not there
Which opens the door to charges of “that’s not fair”
But God is not subject to fallen notions of fairness
Besides, when it comes to God’s glory, most could care less
We can’t measure how we chase sand treasures
And banned pleasures- similar to our ancestors
So instead of saying if you were there what you would do
Seek your refuge in Adam number two

Chorus 

Now like Shai Linne who uses the talents that God has given him to share the gospel with others how are you sharing the Gospel with the talents the Father has given you?  How can you be doing more?  Why aren’t you?  What steps can be taken to rely on God’s sovereignly in spreading His Word?  How has this section of this chapter helped you understand original sin?  Why is that so important?

Bible Study: Romans 5:1-11

Read Romans 5:1-11

Last week we looked at what it means to be justified by faith alone.  What does the word justified mean?  What does it mean to be justified by faith alone?  In chapter five of Romans we see what comes of justification by faith alone.  By this I mean the benefits of being justified by God not by works but by faith alone.  What does the word benefits mean?

When you think of the word benefits, a lot of ideas probably come to your mind, for example you have benefits from being in a certain family.  If you family is well connected, has lots of money, or power, at some point you will be able to tap into those connections, money, or power.  Additionally if you are like me you may have benefits that come from being friends with certain people.  A benefit from being in a friendship with a certain person may help you gain understanding about a certain subject, they may enable you to do certain things that you would not be able to do on your own.  Benefits are good things that a person can reap on account of being a part of something.  In the case with justification, there are benefits that God grants to the people he justifies.
 
God grants four benefits, the first of which is peace with God.  What is peace? When you think of the word peace, many ideas may come to your mind, like the opposite of war, no conflict, a surfer holding up a peace sign and saying “peace man”.  While our society helps understand the concept it is best understood in these terms.  Peace is having no conflict with a person, there may have been conflict in the past but it has since been resolved, there may be conflict in the future and that will break the peace, but in the current situation there is no conflict between two or more people.  When we look at Romans 5:1, we see that the first benefit of justification with God is peace with Him.  Paul teaches us that before we have been saved by the blood of Christ that we were at war with God.  We were at war with Him because of our sin, but because of Jesus sacrifice we now have peace with God.

This peace with God enables all the other benefits which we see from 5:1-11, the next of which is hope in our sufferings, in verses 2-5.  What is hope?  How do you find hope?  What is suffering? Why do you or others suffer?  When I think of the concept of hope, I always think of Batman.  Batman gave hope the city of Gotham, when all the city was in chaos He showed a light in the darkness to bring hope and peace to its citizens.  Justification likewise gives us hope, hope in the midst of our suffering.  It is weird for us to think that suffering is a benefit, but think of this because of being a follower of Christ you now the honor of representing Him on Earth and because not everyone loves Jesus, you now get to share his Word which may make you have present sufferings.   Now even though this benefit may not seem as great as the others, in the midst of our suffering for Christ, God gives us hope.  That hope is the certain hope of heaven.  Hope that can only come when we have died, that because of Jesus life, death, and resurrection, if you have Christ as your savior, you will go to heaven.  A place where there is no more pain, no more sorrow, perfect peace, and perfect communion with God, the one who loves you more than anyone can.  This is the hope that can only come from being justified all other hope pales in comparison.

The last benefit which we see in this chapter is that that of the certainty of salvation, found in verses 6-11.  What is certainty?  How can you be certain of something?  Why?  How can you prove certainty?  Certainty is a hard concept to give an example to.  There are not many things that we can have certainty about, since all earthly things have the ability to fail.  Yet above all else we can have certainty when it comes to the promises of God.  When God promises to do something He will always fulfill that promise.  That certainty we have with God’s promises is part of this benefit, that because God promised salvation to all who confess their sin and have Jesus as their savior, which justification comes from, you can have certainty of your salvation.  Many people today teach that you can lose your salvation.  They teach that your salvation can be lost if you continuously keep sinning.  These people are wrong on two accounts.  If you habitually keep sinning without remorse or want of confession then you are not saved to begin with and do not have any salvation to loose.  You must first confess and be justified for any salvation to occur.  Secondly they teach that your salvation is your own, that you somehow had any part in being justified before God. 

Last week we learned that we are only justified by faith alone, and that this justification cannot be bought and any type of work fails to attain it, justification can only be granted by God, because of Jesus life, death, and resurrection.  We cannot attain justification because of our complete and utter depravity of sin.  Therefore if we cannot attain justification on our own, needing it to be given to us by God, then it is not ours in the first place and we cannot lose it.  Our justification is kept by the work of Christ.  If we think that we can lose our justification by something that we can do, we are saying that Jesus sacrifice was not good enough, that the love that God has for Man is not sufficient for our sin.  Because God is perfect in his love and because Jesus’s sacrifice was perfect than nothing that we can do, can make us loose our salvation, for it was not ours to begin with.  To me this is the greatest part of this chapter, knowing that God’s perfect love and works are greater than anything I can do try to loose, what cannot be lost.  As we look into the rest of this chapter I hope you will think about the benefits of justification and how what once seemed like a academic subject is so practical and important to our daily lives that we must understand it to truly understand the depth of what God has done for us.

Bible Study: Romans 4:18-25

Read Romans 4:18-25

In this section of Romans 4 there are two ideas which Paul teaches.  The first is the character of our faith.  To explain this Paul continues with the example of Abraham.  Abraham’s faith was known by all of the Jews.  His faith was seen as an example to all of the people of God to follow.  Yet it is not just for the Jews to emulate the faith of Abraham but also us as Christians as well. 

Abraham’s faith was strong.  When you think of something that is strong, who or what do you think of?  Why? What comes to mind myself it is that of an hippo.  A hippo is one of the strongest creatures on earth.  It’s jaw can snap a grown man in half.  Our faith must be like that strong and can withstand any doubt.

We see in Romans 4:18-22 that Abraham’s faith was more than just strong but it was it was determined.  It says in verse 18 that “in hope he believed against hope” meaning that even though everything told him that the promise that God made to him would not come true he still believed anyway.  The promise that a old man (almost 100 years old) would not only have a son but that Abraham would be the father of many nations.  This would be hard to anyone to swallow.  Even though it seemed impossible Abraham believed and trusted in God.

What is trust?  How can you have trust in someone who you cannot see?  Why is that harder than in someone you can see?  What do you know about Abraham?  What was his faith like?  How can you have faith like Abraham?

The second idea which Paul teaches us in Romans 4:18-25 is about the validity of our justification.  In Romans 4:23-25 Paul shows us that God gave Abraham confidence in the validity of His promises that He would fulfill them even though the promises seemed impossible.  This confidence that Abraham had in the promises of God is for us as well.  We can and must feel confident in the promises of God that we are justified in our whole self, that if we confess our sins and have Jesus as our savior.  These promises are no less viable than the day when God gave them. 

We tend to think that as something gets older it gets worse, or that it always becomes useless.  For instance on my bookshelf when I look at some of my older books they do not look as flashy or as nicely bound as others but the words are still as valid as when they were written.  The promises that God has made to us are still as valid the day that He made them and we can trust in Him and have the faith like Abraham that He will fulfill all His promises to us for He is the covenant keep and never ever breaks His word.

Who do you know who has a strong faith in God?  Why do you think they do?  How is this demonstrated?  How do you think they have the strong faith?  Why don’t you? How can you have the strong of faith in God?  

Bible Study: Romans 4:1-17

Read Romans 4:1-17

This year, 2017, is the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.  On October 31st 1517 Martin Luther nailed his “95 theses” to the door of Wittenberg Church, these were 95 problems that Luther had with the Roman Catholic Church (RCC), which sparked a revolution that formed the Protestant Church.  The Protestant Reformation hinged on 5 key doctrines, Sola scriptura (By Scripture Alone), Sola Fide (By Faith Alone), Sola Gratia (By Grace Alone), Solus Christus (Through Christ Alone), Soli Deo Gloria (To God Be the Glory Alone).  Today we are looking at the key doctrine of Sola Fide, by Faith alone.

This doctrine of justification by faith alone, is one of the core doctrines which the Bible teaches us.  In Romans chapter 4 we see this taught clearly.  Now before we jump head long into this we must define a few terms.  The first term is “justification.” In previous weeks we defined justification as transforming our relationship with God, making our relationship with God one that is not antagonistic to one another but one of love.  Justification makes our relationship as if it was, “just as if I never sinned”.  We also need to understand what the word “Works” and “Faith” are.  Works are something that you do, it is something that you are not given in any way but done through your own ambition.  Faith on the other hand is something that you are given, trusting in the works of God and not relying on your own works.  Now that we understand the terms, let’s dig into the text.

In Romans 4:1-5 Paul shows that some people are saying that there are two ways that you can attain justification, either by works or by faith.  Paul explains to his readers the truth by using the example of Abraham.  He shows us that the Jews of the time were teaching that a person could attain justification by following the law of Mosses (the 10 commandments and all other laws given to us by God).  That by following the law they were gaining righteousness before God, and gaining their justification.  They were trying to teach this by saying that Abraham was justified by his works, that he was justified by being circumcised.  Paul then proceeds to completely dismantle this teaching, showing it not only to be false but completely unfounded.  Paul teaches us the correct understanding of justification.  That we can only be justified before God, one who demands holiness, for He is holy, by being given justification as a gift received by faith alone.  Only faith in God can bring us justification.

This doctrine is so important for us to understand because if we believe in any way that we can be justified by our works, than what was the point of Jesus’s death.  Jesus torture, crucifixion, and death, all the bold that was split by Him was for our justification.  If we could be justified by our works we are saying that Jesus was tortured, crucified, and died for no purpose.  If we do not believe this than we are cheapening Jesus death, we are making the gift that God has given us like a worthless piece of trash.  This is why Paul shows us from the example of Abraham that it is by faith alone that we are justified. 

Paul further teaches us this in verses 6-8 that God justifies us apart from works.  That there is no amount of works that we can accomplish that are enough to grant us justification.  Even if we could do enough then that would negate justification as a gift from God.  That would mean that we are not in need of God that we can save ourselves.  That would mean that Jesus died in vain.  This could not be further from the truth.  Because God sent Jesus as a gift, fulfilling his promise to us in Genesis 3:15 anyone who repents and believes in Jesus as their savior will be justified, they will be forgiven.

This is why it is so important for us to know how bad we are, and the consequence of our sin, to see how good God has been to us.  That while we were still sinners Christ died for us.  Before we can do anything good we must be justified.  This is so important for us to understand for without the love of God we would we alone, scared, and be destined for hell, everyone without and hope of escape.

The best part about this doctrine is revealed in verses 16-17, that justification is a onetime action.  Once you have been justified you can never lose it.  This is contrary to what the RCC teaches that you can lose your salvation.  But this doctrine of justification by faith alone, shown to us in Romans 4 teaches us beyond the shadow of a doubt that once we have been justified by the blood of Christ that we are fully forgiven, and no matter what we do from this point onward we can never go back to being what we once were.  Because of Jesus death, which only needed to happen once, of salvation is secure and the promises that God gave to us in the Bible, all of them, will be kept.  For God does not break His promises, he can’t for He is perfect, holy, and pure and never takes back His word, meaning all that he says he will do, from justification, to sanctification, from provision to peace, everything that God says He will do will or has been fulfilled.  Therefore when we read Romans four which is as deep as the ocean we must see who God is and the love that He has for His people, and the cost of that love as well as our need to respond to His love.

What is justification?  Why is it so important?  How is Jesus sacrifice related to justification?  Why is Jesus sacrifice so important?  How can you use this knowledge of justification to help in your own walk with the LORD?  How can you use this understanding of justification in sharing the gospel with others?

Bible Study: Romans 3:21-23

Read Romans 3:21-31

In this chapter we have tackled two very hard to understand but core doctrines of the Christian faith, Sanctification and Total Depravity.  We are now going to focus on a third, justification. 
Now justification sounds like a hard word but when you boil it down it can be understood by this phrase.  “Justification means just as if I never sinned.”  When we repent of our sins and take Jesus as our savior, Jesus takes the punishment of our sin away and justifies us, making it as if we never sinned.”  As we look deeper into this important doctrine today, I want you to keep this simple definition in mind.

Now in deepening our understanding of this concept of justification we must remember what we have learned so far this week, specifically about total depravity.  Now because we are totally depraved in our being and can do nothing but sin, we are in need of a savior, and this applies to all of us.  We see this in Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  We need to be justified because of our radical depravity of sin.  But we see that, if God has chosen us to be saved, that we are justified by the death of Christ, and by His death alone.  Every drop of blood that came from Jesus was to save anyone who will believe from their sin, not a single drop was wasted.  And this was done for you, and we receive this justification for our sins, by faith alone, through Christ alone, because of Grace, which we see in scripture alone, so that we can glorify God alone.

Now you may already know all of this and it may seem old hat to you, but it always bears repeating for we cannot underscore the importance of not only knowing and understanding this doctrine but also explaining it to others, for it is the core of our relationship with God.
Now in verse 3:27 Paul tells us why he explained justification to us in this way and it all goes back to boasting, as it did in the being of chapter three. Paul keeps hammering that we must not be arrogant and boastful.  

Why does He do this? Why is it so important? Why do we need to not boast in our justification? Can we boast about our justification in any sense? What is the difference in boasting about your justification and boasting in your justification (meaning that Christ is so great, that he saved a wretched sinner like me!)? 


How is this important to your personal relationship with Christ? Do you understand the doctrine of justification better? What about total depravity? What about sanctification? Do you feel more competent in your ability to explain this to others and use this in sharing the gospel? Why or why not?

Bible Study: Romans 3:9-20

Read Romans 3:9-20

Last time we read Romans 3 we talked about the privilege/advantage of being a Jew or a covenant Child.  We talked about how while there was an advantage we must not boast in it.  In this section of Romans 3, Paul is teaching that while we may have an advantage in having the law, we and all mankind do not follow the law, and are completely and totally depraved from righteousness because of sin.

Now in most of our youth group and Sunday school times, I will bring up the term total depravity, which if you do not remember, means that because of Adam’s sin in the garden of Eden, all people are full of sin, and have no good in us, none at all.   Any “good things” that we do help the poor, give to the needy, help an old lady across the street, they are not righteous actions in the eyes of God unless you are forgiven of your sins by Christ and Christ alone.  Romans 3:9-12 show us this in great depth.

Now you may have noticed in Romans 3:10b-18 that there is a lot of quotation.  Now almost every time in the Bible that there is a quotation it is from somewhere else in scripture.  (There are a few times where the Bible is not quoting itself, but there are not in this passage.)  In this passage every quote with the exception of one is from the Psalms, the other is from Isaiah.  The most blatant of these quotes from scripture dealing with total depravity is the first one which states “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands, no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless, no one does good, not even one.”

Without God calling us to Him, we cannot see His love, without God sending Christ we cannot understand His love, without God having Christ sacrificed we cannot experience the depth of His love.  This is why without Christ we are totally depraved for we radically rebel against God and actively reject His love for us. 

This is also why we must share the Gospel of God’s grace with others.  For since everyone who does not repent will go to Hell for their sin, God tasks us with the job of spreading His Gospel of grace, for without them having received the good news of the Gospel their utter depravity,  makes them have the punishment of total and inescapable separation from God in Hell for all eternity.

What does it mean to be totally depraved?  Why is this so important?  Can we save ourselves from sin?  Why?  How does total depravity part of our inability to save ourselves? 

Can talking about total depravity be a starting point for sharing the gospel?  How?  How does understanding the doctrine of total depravity deepen your relationship with Jesus?

Bible Study: Romans 3:1-8

Read Romans 3: 1-8

If you remember reading from last week, I said that Paul is having acting like conversation with a factious person.  This person is the typical Jew of his time.  A Jew who knows the law, was circumcised on the 8th day, and knows the law of God, which he has been taught since childhood.  Therefore in this conversation Paul is debating this man, while the man gives the typical objections to Paul’s statements.  It is sort of like a presidential debate in which Paul is the moderator and one candidate and the Jew is the other candidate.

Now this debate started at the end of chapter 2 and continues into chapter 3.  In this section of the debate the Jewish person asks Paul “Is there any advantage to being a Jew?”  He asks this question for Paul has spent the last 13 verses sounding like he does not like the Jews.  (Which is weird for he is Jewish himself).

Paul answers like this that “Yes! There is an advantage to being a Jew”.   He goes on to say that the Jews have had the law since God gave it physically to them.  They were not like the Gentiles (non-Jewish people) who only knew that the law existed.  They had the law, they had been taught about who God was since birth, they had heard Scripture read to them, they had Scripture taught to them.  They grew up in a community that God said was His people.  They had every advantage, but they did not take advantage of it.  Most Jews were cultural Jews, they did not take the Word of God seriously, and they did not understand the laws which God had given them.  They had every advantage and most of them were arrogant about their status and their privilege of having the law given to them.

Does this hit close to home?  It should if you were born into a family who worships God; you were/are a covenant child.  Like the Jews you have every advantage, you are in church a lot, you were baptized as a child and became part of the covenant community, you hear your Pastor preaching every week from the pulpit, you may here it in your small group. You may read the Bible at home in your families or by yourself.  You know God’s Word, yet even though you know about sin, its penalty (eternal punishment in Hell), and the gracious sacrifice of Christ for your sins, you do not take advantage of the privilege you have.  Many times we (me included) become complacent.

We think that because we may have been followers of Christ as long as we can remember that we are better than others, who just recently became Christians or are better than those who are still followers of Satan.  This cannot be further from the truth.  The advantage that the Jews have and that we have shown us how much of a need that we have of Christ that it is only by his grace can we be saved.  Yes we have a privilege but this privilege does not give us the right to be arrogant.
Let’s now dive a little more of what it means to be a covenant child.  You can see in verses 3-8, that even though a person may be part of the covenant (being part of the life of the church) this does not mean that they are free from the temptation and the frequent falling into sin.  Just the opposite in fact.  While the blood of Christ instantly taken away the penalty of sin, it does not instantly remove our ability to be tempted to sin.  We as Christians are temped all the time.  

Before I said that you must not be arrogant if you are a covenant child, we see in these verses that even more than that we are held to a higher standard.  Because you are part of a Bible believing church, that teaches you the law, teaches you God’s loving grace, that Jesus sacrifice is complete for the remission of your sins, you are put on a pedestal.  Your public sins can many times feel like they are on public display for non-Christians to point out and say mock your inconstancy in saying that you say you follow the Ten Commandments yet I see you breaking them all the time.

What the unbelievers do not understand is the process called sanctification.  Sanctification is the process which was begun at your conversion, by the power of the Holy Spirit works in you to get rid of your temptation to sin, and make you more like Christ.  This process takes time, and will not be completed in your earthly life.  This cleansing process is slower than molasses on a cold day, yet it is necessary part of your relationship with Christ.  Because sanctification takes so long, non-Christians may be quick to point out our sinful actions yet, we know that the Holy Spirit is working in us. 

If someone calls you out on your sin this is a perfect opportunity to share the good news of the Gospel and how God is still working in you.  For God’s promise to cleanse you from all unrighteousness will not be broken because of you falling into sin, for God never breaks His promises, and if you are truly a follower of Christ you will be in your heavenly body completely sanctified of all your sin.  Until then you must let the Holy Spirit work in you as painful as that will be.

What does it mean to be a covenant child?  What advantage is there to being a covenant child?  How can that advantage be abused? 

Does our sin negate the promises of God?  Why or why not?  How does our sin affect our relationship with non-Christians?  How can it seem like your sins are on a pedestal for others to see?

What is sanctification?  Why is understanding this concept so important?  Will you ever bet totally sanctified?  Why or why not?  And if so how and when?  Who sanctifies you?  How?