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Lesson 2: Jew and Gentile *

Introduction: Today I was in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan hiking to some magnificent waterfalls. There has been a lot of rain and the water going down the falls is just wild. The river's power is awesome. Looking at the beautiful scenery and the incredible power of the river made me think about our Creator God. Paul talks about this in the first two chapters of Romans. What Romans says about the relationship of nature to God leads naturally into the subject of the relationship between humans and God's law. One of the hot issues of Paul's time was whether certain of the laws kept by the Jews applied to the Gentile converts. Let's jump into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn about nature, law and grace!

  1. Nature and God


    1. Read Romans 1:18. If you are wicked, should you be afraid? (Yes.)


      1. Why? (God's anger is seen as coming down from heaven against wicked people (or at least their wicked actions).)


      2. What spurred this display of God's anger? (The wickedness of the people suppressed God's truth.)


        1. Consider this statement just a moment. How can wicked behavior in any way keep God's truth from being seen? In my experience wicked behavior reveals reasons to keep God's law.


        2. Can wicked people harm God's truth? (It seems so. The popular culture lobbies against God and His law. The logical conclusion from what Paul writes is that bad behavior interferes with the advancement of the gospel.)


        3. I've had Christians tell me that because they are saved by faith, their actions do not matter. How can that be true? (The Bible tells us that bad behavior suppresses the truth about God to such an extent that a righteous God is called to do something by directing His power against the wicked.)


    2. Read Romans 1:19-20. Two questions: Why are the wicked without an excuse? What excuse are the wicked seeking?


      1. When you get in trouble, what is the first thing that you do? (Come up with an excuse to explain your bad behavior.)


        1. What excuse do these verses suggest that the wicked are making? (Sorry, no one told us that there is a God who has rules about behavior.)


      2. Why are the wicked without the excuse, "Sorry, I did not know?" (The Creation demonstrates that there is a God. Just as I was marveling at a God who created the mighty river and the spectacular views, so any human should realize that a God exists simply because of the order and beauty of what has been created.)


      3. In light of this, what should we conclude about our behavior? (That God is concerned about it. That if people without a Bible are accountable for their behavior, obviously Christians are accountable.)


    3. Read Romans 1:21-23. What specific behavior has made God angry? (That humans are worshiping what has been made by God (or made by humans to look like something made by God)instead of worshiping the Creator God.)


      1. Do you agree that this is obviously foolish? To worship something made by humans instead of worshiping the God who made humans?


    4. Read Romans 1:24. What is the natural result of ignoring God? (Bad behavior. It is this bad behavior that, as we discussed previously, tends to suppress God's truth.)


    5. Read Romans 1:29-32. What "righteous decree" of God is Paul writing about? (God's law.)


      1. Looking back over these series of sins, what law of God comes to mind? (The Ten Commandments.)


  2. Grace and the Law


    1. Read John 1:17 and Romans 3:21-24. How are we saved? (We have a righteousness apart from the law. This righteousness comes through faith in Jesus.)


      1. Is the law part of this salvation? ( Romans 3:21 says this righteousness is "apart" from the law. That means our righteousness does not come from the law.)


      2. What are we to conclude about the other part of Romans 3:21 which says that the law "testifies" to this other source of righteousness? (The law promotes and supports righteousness by faith in Jesus - even though it is not part of this righteousness.)


      3. Let's go back and reconsider Romans 1:18 which says that the wicked are suffering God's anger because they suppressed the truth through their wickedness. Does this teach us that the law promotes God's kingdom and disobedience to the law suppresses the truth of God's kingdom? (Yes!)


      4. Who would be more effective at suppressing the truth - someone who did not believe in God at all, or someone who claimed to believe in God, but did evil things? (Someone who claimed to believe in God would be more of a problem because you would assume they were promoting God's interests.)


        1. Does it logically follow that God displays His wrath towards those who claim to be His followers, yet undermine His law?


          1. What does this suggest about the relationship between law and grace?


    2. Read Acts 15:1 and Genesis 17:9-11. Would you like to be in a covenant relationship with God?


      1. How would you answer the charge brought in Acts 15:1? Or, would you agree with it?


    3. Read Acts 15:2. How did Paul and Barnabas answer this question? (They decided to submit it to the church.)


    4. Read Acts 15:6, 11-20. What was required of the Gentiles? (Not circumcism.)


      1. Is this all that is required of those saved by faith?


        1. If you say, "yes," tell me why refraining from eating meat with blood in it is a condition of salvation, but you can be saved if you kill people?


        2. If you claimed to be a Christian and claimed you could be saved while advocating killing, stealing and the violation of the rest of the Ten Commandments, would you be obscuring the truth? (We need to consider the context and use some common sense. The context was the circumcision issue and the resolution logically had nothing to do with the Ten Commandments. James was not announcing that Gentiles could kill, steal or ignore any of the other of the Ten Commandments.)


        3. In Acts 15:1-2 we see that Paul disagreed with those who claimed that circumcision was required for salvation. If Paul's views were that obedience to the Ten Commandments was no longer an issue, how do we explain Romans 1:28-32? Paul said the people who do this deserve to die!


    5. Read Romans 2:12-13. If you believe that Paul teaches us righteousness by faith, how do you explain this statement that the "doers of the law" will be justified?


    6. Read Romans 3:10-11. Now what do we say? If only those who do the law are justified, and no one understands the law or seeks God, are we all doomed?


    7. Friend, we have now begun our journey into the teachings of the book of Romans about law and grace. Law is important. It is key in the battle between good and evil. It, along with nature, testifies to the truth of God. But, what, exactly, is the relationship of the law to our salvation? Will you agree to continue our pursuit of this issue?


  3. Next week: All Have Sinned.
* Copr. 2010, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2014 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
Website by Blake Cameron, M.D.
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