Summary: Application questions for small group study.
Recapping last week (verses 1-20)
1. What advantages are there in being a Jew? (v1,2)
2. If God’s chosen people are the Jews, does this mean He is unfaithful in letting the unbelieving ones perish? (3-8)
3. In verse 1 Paul affirms the word ‘advantage’ (Gk perissos, above and over) to describe the Jews.
The footnote for verse 9 is a better rendition according to Vine who says that it should say, “Are we in worse case than…” or “Are we surpassed?” This makes more sense, because a Jew might say, “Well hold on, if we have all these ‘benefits’, and they only bring God’s wrath on us (5), then maybe we are worse off for having them?” Instead of comforting words, Paul makes the situation even starker and says, “No, you’re not worse off because you can’t really be worse off. Everybody is ‘under sin’”.
We are advantaged, like the Jews in the OT, in that especially since Wycliffe and Tyndale (the earliest translators of the Bible into English) we “have been entrusted with the very words of God”(2). Compare people who have no Bible to those that do. Will the second group be judged (a) less harshly (b) more harshly (c) the same?
4. Gee explained to us the Bible’s teaching of Total Depravity (i.e. that every part of every human is affected by the Fall of Man) and how this can be seen in verses 10-18, culminating in “having no fear of God” which is surely the stupidest thing we could do (compare Psalm 53:1 with Psalm 111:10).
The five points of Calvin concerning grace are TULIP:
• Total Depravity (Romans 1-3)
• Unconditional Election- i.e. God chooses whom He chooses, that’s it (Romans 9)
• Limited Atonement- i.e. Jesus’ blood pays for the sins of all who have faith in Him, but not for those who don’t (John 3:18)
• Irresistible Grace- i.e. when God’s Spirit regenerates a person, they cannot resist this (Romans 9, especially verse 16)
• Perseverance of the Saints- i.e. all true Christians will complete their race because God always finishes what He starts (Phil 1:6, 1 Cor1:8, Rom 11, esp. verse 29).
This requires a longer discussion (so I promise not to go into detail on it!), but what is initial your response to these teachings?
LAW can’t save, only condemn (no power to make us good, only to show us how we’re bad)- v19-20. Therefore we should never present ‘Christianity’ as a textbook for good living; we should present…
JESUS CHRIST ALONE
This week: FINALLY! THE GOOD NEWS! Romans 3:21-31
One of the best words in the Bible is “but” because it quite often follows a rather crushing passage with a piece of resounding good news. And there is no better news than Jesus, who has been unmentioned since 1:9.
If faith alone is the means of salvation, then what is the point of obeying the law?
2. GRACE saves everyone who is saved. There is a level playing field, because we’re all off the pitch to begin with (22b-23). You can’t boast (27) about something you didn’t do!