Romans 3:19-20 Questions (Good News Study)

The questions for this week’s study were written by Russell Hollingsworth.

 

  1. Take a moment to pray.  Praise God for His Word and ask Him to teach you its truth, just as the psalmist prayed in Psalm 119:12-16, “Praise be to You, O Lord; teach me Your decrees.  With my lips I recount all the laws that come from Your mouth.  I rejoice in following Your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.  I meditate on Your precepts and consider Your ways.  I delight in Your decrees; I will not neglect Your Word.”
  2. Read Romans 3:19-20
  3. 3:19a says, “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law…” Who is Paul referring to here?  What was their primary advantage (Referring back to 3:1-2)?
  4. 3:19b says, “…so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.”  What do you think Paul means when he says the “whole world held accountable to God?”
  5. “…every mouth may be silenced… (Romans 3:19)” Of this statement, John Piper says, “No mouth anywhere in the world – from the primitive tribe to the university lecture hall – will be able to raise a legitimate objection against God’s judgement.”  Additionally, Tim Keller states, “To have your mouth silenced means no excuses…” How does Paul use Romans 1:20, Romans 2:15 and now Romans 3:19 to show that all will be silenced with no objection and no excuse?
  6. Paul uses 3:20 to bridge us from the very bad news he has been delivering since Chapter 1 to the very good news of the gospel. In his final point he states, “…no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law.”  What does Paul say the law does for us?  (Read Galatians 3:24. What ultimately does this understanding of the law do for us?)

 

 

To access the entire “Good News” Study, click here.

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Romans 3:9-18 Questions (Good News Study)

The questions for this week’s study were written by Russell Hollingsworth.

 

  1. As you prepare your heart for study, know that God desires to reveal Himself to you, and He has given you His Holy Spirit to guide you into truth.  Before you open in prayer, consider Jeremiah 9:23-24.  “This is what the Lord declares: ‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the Lord.”  Pray for this understanding and knowledge of God with the Holy Spirit as your guide.
  2. Read Romans 3:9-18
  3. In 3:9, Paul summarizes everything he has been teaching from 1:18-3:8. “What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin.” Paul answers his analysis of what is wrong with the human race. The answer is sin.  In your own words, write a summary of Paul’s statement about humanity’s desperate condition before God described in 3:1-9? (This is a doctrine often described as “total depravity”)  What does this indicate about our “earthly nature”? (See also Ephesians 2:3 and Colossians 3:5-6.
  4. Tim Keller says, “If you believe in the doctrine of total depravity, and you think it out, and you take it to the center of your life, it re-humanizes the human race.”  What do you think he meant by this?  As a follower of Christ, what are some practical ways this would play out in our attitudes toward and relationships with Christians and non-Christians?
  5. STUDY NOTE: In 3:10-18, Paul uses a collection of 6 Old Testament sections to drive home 3:9 and give a final summary of the affliction that affects all of humanity (both Jews and Gentiles): Psalm 14:1-3, Psalm 5:9, Psalm 140:3, Psalm 10:7, Isaiah 59:7-8, Psalm 36:1.
  6. In 3:10-18, Paul gives a great and vivid description of being “under sin”. List 8 characteristics of being “under sin” found in these verses.
  7. As many commenters have noted, in 3:10-18, Paul shows that being “under sin” has ruined our relationships. First, it has ruined our relationship with God. John Piper says, “Fix this firmly in your mind, sin is mainly a condition of rebellion against God…sin is, first and foremost, a resistance to finding joy in God.” How does Paul depict our ruined relationship with God in verses 10-11 and verse 18?
  8. Secondly, it has ruined our relationships with other people. John Calvin says, “…so inhumanity commonly follows where there is ignorance of God, as every one, when he despises others, loves and seeks his own good.”  How does Paul depict our ruined relationships with other people in verses 12-17?

 

To access the entire “Good News” Study, click here.

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Good News (part 5) Sermon Audio & Video

On Sunday, September 13, 2015 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Romans 2:17-29.  This message was part 5 in the “Good News” series.  Below is the sermon audio and video for those who may have missed the message or want to listen to it/watch it again.

 

 

To download the audio to listen to later, click here:

Good News #5

 

 

To listen to the audio online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the sermon video, use the Vimeo video below:

 

 

To access the entire “Good News” study, click here.

 

 

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Romans 3:1-8 Questions (Good News Study)

The questions for this week’s study were written by Russell Hollingsworth.

  1. As you pray for your study today, ask God to use His word in your life as the Psalmist says in Psalm 25:5 to, “Lead me in your truth, and teach me.
  2. Read Romans 3:1-8
  3. STUDY NOTE:  As we saw last week at the end of Romans 2, Paul made the provocative point that Jews and Gentiles are on equal footing – both are under the power of sin and in need of the gospel. Expressly, a right standing with God made possible by Christ’s death and resurrection. In verses 1-8 of Ch. 3, Paul takes the opportunity to answer the challenges that He knows will arise from saying that even though outwardly you may be a Jew, you are not really a Jew and that some Gentiles can really be a right with God even though not circumcised (2:25-27).
  4. In 3:1-2, Paul asks (or uses an imaginary objector/challenger to ask) – “What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision?” Paul answers by saying, “Much in every way!…they have been entrusted with the very words of God.”  How did this “advantage” shape the Jew’s view of their relationship with God?  How has this “advantage” given the Jews a feeling of security in their relationship with God?
  5. What is the great benefit of being entrusted with the very words of God? As Christians, what does it mean to us that we have been entrusted with the oracles of God- The Bible?
  6. In 3:3, Paul brings about the second objection/challenge – “What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness?”  Is God’s faithfulness dependent on man’s faithfulness? (See 2 Tim 2:13)  How is God’s punishment of Israel’s sin and unbelief consistent with His promises and righteous character?
  7. In 3:4 Paul answers the second objection, “ Not at all! Let God be true and every man a liar.” Paul also quotes Psalm 51:4 to support that God is still faithful and true even if He judges the Jews along with all other sinners. Read Psalm 51:4.  What is the reason David uses in saying that God would be just to judge him? How does this reasoning apply to us?
  8. STUDY NOTE:  Many commenters have expressed that 3:1-8, and in particular 3:5-8, are an extremely difficult passage to wrap our minds around. John Piper stated, “I found this passage to be about as hard a paragraph to deal with as any in this letter. The difficulty of following the train of thought in this paragraph is enormous.” I tell you this as an encouragement as you dig in deeper to God’s word. As Paul presents the final objections in vs. 3:5-8, it is good to remember that at this point in Paul’s ministry he has had countless debates with Jews and Gentiles and knows what they will say at this point in the argument and he wants to present a final answer leading into his summary in vs. 9.
  9. To the best of your understanding, summarize in your own words the objections/challenges that are presented by Paul’s objectors in vs. 5-8.
  10. What are Paul’s answers in vs. 6 and at the end of vs. 8? How does this coincide with what Paul wrote in Romans 1:18-21, 32?

To access the entire “Good News” Study, click here.

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Good News (part 5) Sermon Audio & Questions

On Sunday, September 13, 2015 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message based out of Romans 2:17-29.  This message was part 5 in the “Good News” series.  Below is the sermon audio and a set of questions for those who want to go deeper for personal study or with their small group.

Sermon Audio:

To download the file to listen to later offline, click on this file:

Good News #5

 

To listen to the message online, use the online media player below:

Questions:

  1. Read Romans 2:17-29
  2. Imagine you are a Jew in the first century.  In what ways would you have been tempted to believe that your religion made you “better” than the rest of the world around you?
  3. Have you ever been tempted to think that mere church attendance alone could somehow save someone’s soul?
  4. Are you able to live out all the Bible verses that you have learned in your life?  Does this discourage you?  Does this remind you to trust in Jesus Christ?
  5. Paul’s argument is not that religious people should be perfect, but that religious people are sinners too.  If we had to rely on our religious activity to save us, this would be terribly discouraging news, however, Christians do not rely on their religious activity to save them . . . they rely on Jesus Christ!  If you grew up going to a church, was there a moment when you realized that you needed a Savior?
  6. The Jews were tempted to rely upon their ceremony (circumcision).  What are some of the external things Christians rely on for their salvation apart from Christ?
  7. Paul certainly was not against circumcision (he was circumcised and circumcised others) and he was not against baptism (he was baptized and baptized others).  However, Paul did not want anyone to be confused about what the true need for humanity was .  . . it was not membership in a club, but connection with the Christ.  Have you been baptized since trusting in Christ?  If not, what is keeping you from being baptized?  Though baptism saves no one, it is a great expression of what Jesus has done on the inside of our lives.
  8. Any applications you take away from this message?

 

 

To access the entire Good News study, click here.

 

 

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Much in Every Way (Good News week 5 Devo)

by Mark Robinson

The summers of the early 1980’s meant many things to me.  They meant long days playing baseball in the front yard.  They meant nights riding the mini roller coaster or bumper cars at the local “Kiddie Park.”  Ah, the American dream.  No, my dog was not named Lassie, and my parents were not Ozzie and Harriet, but in many ways, the hot summer days of my early youth looked a lot like Wally and Theodore Cleaver’s.

One other thing that the summers of the early 80’s meant to me was an opportunity to use my skill and cunning to decipher how to take lots of bounty from a local establishment.  Wait a minute . . . hold on!  This sounds a lot like a foray into organized crime, not a Norman Rockwell painting.  What on earth could I be talking about?  I’ll spell out very clearly what I am talking about for you in three letters . . . V-B-S.

These three letters, of course, stand for Vacation Bible School, and within this week of eating two oreos at snack time and making a diorama of the Sermon on the Mount out of paper mache, I had the opportunity to act the part, recite the memory verses, and walk out of there each Friday with gift certificates good for ice cream at the local 31 flavors.

I would always get lots of praise for most all of what I did at this day camp.  One teacher would comment on how I sang so well in the closing program (the louder you sing, the greater the chance at getting the gift certificates – my performance on this particular year earned me a chocolate shake.)  To another teacher I would recite my memory verse to every day . . . and each one led to another gift certificate (I’ll take Rum Raisin please.)  Within this week long culture, I knew how to play the game, and I played it well.  Interestingly, at the time I was not really thinking about an eternal God and the forgiveness offered through His Son (and this is really what all those teachers wanted for me.)  Though I acted the part, I missed the point.  Given that is the case . . . were these summers a wasted time?

Let’s put a hold on that thought for a moment, and let’s look at Romans 2:17-29.  In this section of Paul’s great letter to the Romans, he turns his discussion to the Jewish people, living in Rome and gives them a stinging critique.  At the time this book was written, the Church universal was at a crossroads.  For a couple of thousand years preceding the time of Jesus and Paul, God was primarily dealing with only one ethnicity of people in the world . . . the Jews.  Our Old Testament contains the basis of the Old Covenant that God had arranged to govern His dealings with the nation of Israel.  Jesus Himself was a Jew.  Beginning with the death and resurrection of Christ, however, the doors were blown off their hinges, as now Jews and Gentiles BOTH had equal access to God through Christ as participants in a New Covenant relationship with God.  I say all this to point out that when Paul wrote Romans 2, the Jews represented the people who had been a part of the “right” religious system for many years.  In fact the Jews of Paul’s day “relied upon the law and bragged about their relationship with God (2:17).”  They “knew His will and approved what was superior because they were instructed by the law (2:18).”  They had become “instructors of the foolish and teachers of infants” in the things of God (2:20).  When viewed this way, it is somewhat analogous to compare first century Jews to 21st century American church goers.  If you grew up in the church, you too grew up hearing of God’s law and attending many meetings where people instructed all in the ways of God.  If you grew up around the church as I did, at VBS and on Sunday mornings all your life you have heard the truth about who God is, and how we relate to Him.

I mentioned earlier that Paul leveled a strong critique at the Jews of his day, and by application, to the church goers of our day.  That critique comprises Romans 2:21-24.  In these verses, Paul describes how God is unimpressed with those who merely hear about the right thing to do, or are a part of the right religious system . . . He wants those who do the right things and have their heart trusting in the right plan of God.  I believe that if Paul had written this letter today to the believers here in Norman, he would have said, “It is not enough to sit under the regular teaching of Bruce Hess or attend Wildwood Community Church.  Sure you may know the right things to say, but Wildwood Community Church is still made up of a bunch of sinners.  Mere church membership is not enough to save anyone.”  In a sense, Paul was saying that salvation is not about what information you know or where you attend or how loud you sing in the service.  Salvation is not given out like 31 flavors.

Salvation is only found when we trust in the saving work of Jesus on the cross to provide forgiveness for our sins.  It is a gift of grace to an unworthy sinner, not a gift certificate to a hard working attender.  My VBS teachers knew this . . . my heart just was not ready to embrace it.  Perhaps you have come to view your relationship with God in this way.  What Paul wants us to know here is that no amount of church attendance or knowledge of right and wrong or even moral uprightness will ever be enough to save us.

On Easter Sunday in 1990, I came to understand the truth that I was a sinner and in need of the great forgiveness that Christ offered.  For the first time in my life, I realized my great need was met by Christ’s great provision, and I received His gift of grace.  I had attended church for over 16 years, yet it all came clear that Sunday night in April 1990.

Now at this point, I want to go back to my initial question.  Given the fact that I never really knew Christ during my years of attending Sunday school and VBS, were all those Sundays of attendance a waste of time?  I mean, what was the value of hearing the stories about Jesus each week, when my understanding was as flimsy as the flannel graph board on which the story was shared?  What was the value of making the paper mache mountain if I never really knew what Jesus said on top of it?  What is the value to growing up in the church?  If it is not enough to save you, is it doing more harm than good?

Absolutely not!  Growing up in East Cross United Methodist Church is one of the greatest gifts God has ever given me.  In fact, it is good in every way.  It is good that Mrs. May took the time to teach our Sunday school class every week for years and years, patiently telling us about God and telling us the Old Testament stories.  It is good that Duane Wakeley took the time to pray with a group of rowdy sixth graders who thought they were too cool for “Sunday School.”  It is good that Alice Doyle had me tell Bible stories to little kids with a puppet on my hand.  It is good that my parents took me to church all those years, when what I really wanted to do was watch the “NFL Today” pregame show with Jimmy the Greek and Brent Musberger.    These things were good because when my heart finally caught up to my head in the spring of 1990, I had the blessing of knowing much more about God than I ever realized . . . and I have carried that legacy into a life time of serving Him.

As Paul says of the Jews in Romans 3:1-2, “What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision?  Much in every way!  Foremost of all, they have been entrusted with the very Words of God.”  I am very thankful for how growing up in a Christian family and church have entrusted me with the very Words of God.  In a way, this letter is an open thank you to all who God has used to build into me before I ever knew what was going on.  Our heritage will never save us . . . but its value is immense.

I want to challenge all of you who have grown up in a Christian home or church to sit down sometime soon and write one person who impacted you a thank you note.  Thank them for entrusting to you the very Words of God in your early years . . . and thank God for the heritage He has raised you within.

 

 

To access the entire “Good News” Study, click here.

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Romans 2:17-29 pt 3 Questions (Good News Study)

The questions for this week’s study were written by Dee Graves.

  1. Take a moment to pray.  Praise God for His Word and ask Him to teach you its truth, just as the psalmist prayed in Psalm 119:12-16, “Praise be to You, O Lord; teach me Your decrees.  With my lips I recount all the laws that come from Your mouth.  I rejoice in following Your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.  I meditate on Your precepts and consider Your ways.  I delight in Your decrees; I will not neglect Your Word.”
  2. Read Romans 2:25-29
  3. In Genesis 17:9-14 circumcision was given to Abraham as a sign of his special covenant with his people.  However, Paul indicates that this outward sign was meaningless without obedience to the law.  Paul notes that circumcision need to be inward, a circumcision of the heart.  What does a “circumcision of the heart” mean?
  4. What outward acts do we as Christians today perform to demonstrate our Christianity?  Attending Church or becoming a member of a church?  Being Baptized or confirmed?  Doing good or even great things in the name of Christ?  In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers!’”  If performing miracles in the name of Christ is not sufficient, what is?
  5. What is the motivation for our actions according to Romans 2:29?  Do we seek praise from others or praise from God?  When praise is given, to whom do we give the credit?  (See 2 Cor 10:18)

To access the entire “Good News” Study, click here.

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Romans 2:17-29 pt. 2 Questions (Good News Study)

The questions for this week’s study were written by Dee Graves.

  1. As you prepare your heart for study, know that God desires to reveal Himself to you, and He has given you His Holy Spirit to guide you into truth.  Before you open in prayer, consider Jeremiah 9:23-24.  “This is what the Lord declares: ‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the Lord.”  Pray for this understanding and knowledge of God with the Holy Spirit as your guide.
  2. Read Romans 2:17-29
  3. In Romans 2:17-23, Paul says the Jews needed to teach themselves instead of trying to teach others.  Are there times, when you are presented with the depravity of others, that you have a prideful feeling of righteousness?  When you are listening to a sermon or a Sunday School lesson, do you ever catch yourself thinking “If my spouse (or my friend or my co-worker) would learn this, they wouldn’t be so difficult to deal with?”  We have an inclination to focus on how others need to improve.  What should we strive to consider instead?
  4. When we proclaim ourselves to be Christians, condemn the acts of others (think political leaders, celebrities, non-believers) then continue to sin ourselves, what message does this convey to non-Chirstians about Christians?  What message does it convey about Christ?  What do people think about God from watching your life?

To access the entire “Good News” Study, click here.

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Romans 2:17-29 pt. 1 Questions (Good News Study)

The questions for this week’s study were written by Dee Graves.

  1. As you pray for your study today, ask God for purity in your thought and motives. “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.” 1 Peter 2:1.
  2. Read Romans 2:17-29
  3. STUDY NOTE: At the time of the formation of the early churches, including the church in Rome, certain Jewish Christians were teaching the Gentile believers that “‘Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.’ This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them.” (Acts 15:1-2)  “Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, ‘The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses.’”  Acts 15:5.  In Romams 2:17-29, Paul gets to the heart of the problem with this way of thinking.  (See also Galatians 2:15-16.)
  4. What do you think is Paul’s MAIN POINT in Romans 2:17-29?
  5. Some of the Jewish Christians who were relying on the law for their salvation, were also holding themselves in higher esteem and bragging about their relationship with God.  Christ describes the hypocrisy of judging others in Matthew 7:3-5, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”  What does Jesus’s teaching tell you about the sinfulness of even the most religious people in the world?

 

To access the entire “Good News” Study, click here.

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Good News (part 4) Sermon Audio/Video

On Sunday, September 6, 2015 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Romans 2:1-16.  This message was part 4 in the “Good News” series.  Below the sermon audio and video are posted for you to listen to or share with others.

 

 

To download the audio to listen to later, click on the link below:

Good News part 4

 

 

To listen to the sermon online use the media player below:


To watch the sermon video, use the Vimeo video posted below:

 

 

To access the entire “Good News” Study, click here.

 

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