Summary: Questions for application in small group Bible study
Romans chapter 2:1-16
Recap on chapter 1
A. God’s message: key aspects (1-6)
According to John Stott, we have learnt so far about the Gospel (Good News) that its…
1. Origin is God (1)
2. Record is the Bible (2)
3. Substance is the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the God-Man (3,4)
4. Scope is all the nations (5, 6, 13-16)
5. Purpose is the obedience of faith (5,11,12,17)
6. Goal is the honour of Christ’s name (5).
B. How we should treat each other as Christians (7-13)
1. Thank God for each other (8)
2. Pray for each other (9)
3. See each other as much as possible (10,11,13)
4. Encourage one another (12).
C. God’s message: definition (14-17)
The Gospel is
1. Our debt (as Christians) to the world, which we are always seeking to pay (14,15)
2. God’s power for salvation of all who believe(16)
3. A revelation of God’s righteousness (17)
D. God’s wrath (18-32)
1. WHAT: Against evil (18)
2. WHY: Because of deliberate ‘self-darkening’ (18-23, 32)
3. HOW: Revealed now in ‘handing over’ people to their wickedness and its results (24-32). We see in the next chapter that it will also be revealed later (2:5,16).
Introducing chapter 2: God’s judgement on the judgemental (1-16)
After we have read these verses, pray, then jot down the one thing that most sticks in your head:
You can compare the people in chapter 1 (who are really liberal) with the people in chapter 2 (who are outwardly strict and self-righteous). Both people have some kind of knowledge of God as creator or judge (1:20 cf. 2:2) and both contradict their knowledge with their behaviour (1:32 cf. 2:1).What is the difference between them? The first group love to approve error, dragging others down with them. The second group love to condemn error, which is hypocrisy since they are indulging in the same things they are judging others about.
“Paul uncovers in these verses a strange human foible, namely our tendency to be critical of everybody except ourselves. We are often harsh in our judgement of others as we are lenient towards ourselves. We work ourselves up into a state of self-righteous indignation over the disgraceful behaviour of other people, while the very same behaviour seems not nearly so serious when it ours rather than theirs. We even gain a vicarious satisfaction from condemning in others the very faults we excuse in ourselves. Freud called this moral gymnastic ‘projection’, but Paul described it centuries before Freud. Similarly, Thomas Hobbes, the 17th Century political philosopher, wrote of people who are “forced to keep themselves in their own favour by observing the imperfections of other men” (Leviathan). This device enables us simultaneously to retain our sins and our self-respect. It is a convenient arrangement, but also both slick and sick” (Stott).
God’s judgement is…
A. Inescapable because we are inexcusable (1-4)
• We are hypocrites (1)
• We know God’s true judgement (2)
• We will get it! (3)
• God is good, but He’s not a sucker, and we can’t trample on “the riches of His goodness” (4).
Q. Heinrich Heine said, “God will forgive me. It’s His job.” In what ways do you judge others for the things you do, and then presume God will forgive you anyway (4)?
B. Righteous and fair (5-11)
• The more hardness of heart = the more stored up wrath (5,6)
• Justification is by faith (1:17), but judgement is according to works, “doing good” (6-10). We are saved by Jesus’ grace through faith, but God will dispense punishment or blessing according to our works in Him (Ephesians 2:8-10; 1 Corinthians 3:11-15)
Q. We can’t earn our salvation: Jesus achieved this at Calvary when He said, “It is finished.” In what ways may we seek, glory, honour and immortality?
C. Impartial (12-16)
• Proportionate: People are judged according to how much they have heard of God’s law (12)
• Hearing is nothing without doing (13, cf. James 1:22)
• Natural law: everyone is born with a sense of morality (14) and a conscience which ‘kicks in’ when you break God’s law, even if you haven’t been formally taught it (15)
• Part of the Gospel is the final judgement: God will judge our secrets by Jesus Christ, who is both Saviour and Judge (16).
Q. How can judgement be part of the Gospel, since judgement is fearsome and the gospel means good news?
Q. How do we ‘sugar-coat’ the gospel? Why do we? Why is it dangerous to both us and our hearers?
The law (natural and Scriptural) is the basis of
1. God’s judgement: we are all under it, if we look in our consciences or in our Bibles
2. Christian mission: “In all evangelism, I find it a constant encouragement to say to myself, ‘The other person’s conscience is on my side’” (Stott). Until the law has done its work of exposing and condemning our sin, we are not ready to hear the gospel of justification.