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Lesson 12: Covenant Faith *

Introduction: Our series of lessons for the past 11 weeks has taught us that God's law, the Ten Commandments, still stands as God's standard for our lives. What has changed about the covenant (the contract) between God and humanity, is our side of the agreement. Instead of being required to perfectly keep the law, we are instead asked to accept, as our substitute, Jesus' perfect obedience to the law and His death for our sins. Does this make any sense to you? If it does, how should it affect our attitude towards others? Paul lays out a logical summary of this change in Romans 3 and 4. Let's explore the logic of Paul for our study this week!

  1. Justice


    1. Let's review a moment. Read Romans 3:21. We have been discussing the continuing importance of the Ten Commandments. What is this righteousness that is "apart" from the law?" (This is Jesus' sacrifice of His life for us. His perfect obedience to the law.)


      1. When the text says the "Law and Prophets testify" to this righteousness, what do you think that means? (The old covenant system of sacrifices pointed to, or symbolized, what Jesus would do on our behalf.)


    2. OK. Enough review. Let's move ahead. Read Romans 3:22-24. How do we obtain this righteousness from God? (Through faith in Jesus - if we believe.)


      1. What does Paul mean when he says "there is no difference?" Difference in what? Social status? Theological status?


      2. What does this say to those who claim to be "the remnant?" (We are all, according to this text, a bunch of sinners. We need to be shy, as sinners, about claiming to be the theological "betters" of other sinners.)


      3. Is it possible to be in exactly the same position as other sinners when it comes to sin and grace, but in a superior position when it comes to our understanding God's will? (No superior theological understanding will make one bit of difference on the grace side of things. However, there certainly are Christians who are serious about knowing God and who, as a result, have a superior knowledge of Him. Consider 1 Corinthians 3:10-15.)


        1. Are some of us superior in the sin area by having less sin? I once was in a meeting where I heard the speaker say that she had not sinned for the last twenty years. Didn't she have a claim to superiority in the sin area? (When I heard her say that I thought, "Well, I just heard you sin right now." Any sin separates us from God. The penalty for sin is death. (Romans 6:23))


      4. What quality do all those who are justified by the grace of Jesus share? (That they believe in Jesus Christ.)


        1. Why does Romans 3:22 refer both to "faith in Christ" and "all who believe?" Are these two separate requirements for grace? (Consider James 2:18-20 where he tells us that even the demons believe in Jesus.)


    3. Let's read on in Romans 3. Read Romans 3:25-26. How does Jesus' sacrifice for us demonstrate justice?


      1. How was it just for Jesus, who was sinless, to die a painful death for our sins? (When God told Adam that the penalty for sin was death ( Genesis 2:16-17), He was not kidding. The "justice" was that if we did not die for our sins, then our Creator must die for those sins.)


        1. Why did the Creator have to die? Why not someone else?


      2. God is God and He can do anything. Why didn't He just say, "A mistake was made (after all, you are only human!) and we will just forget all about this unfortunate incident?" Why make such a big deal about it? Why make His Son go through this unbelievably harsh experience because of the sin of Adam and Eve? (Our only conclusion must be that God's law was that important.)


      3. If you are ever tempted to think that the Ten Commandments are not important, and obedience to God doesn't really matter that much, consider the importance of the law to God the Father and God the Son. What was more important to God than the requirements of the law? (Apparently nothing was more important. Jesus gave His life because of it.)


      4. I often hear people say, quoting John 3:16, that Jesus gave up His life on the cross for us because He "loved us." Did Jesus love us or did He love the law? (Apparently, true love for us requires the preservation of the law. If God the Father just loved us without any standards, He could have simply changed the rules and let us live without having anyone die - much less His Son Jesus. I can only conclude that it would have been unloving for God to give us eternal life without preserving the integrity of the law. For that reason, God's ultimate act of love for us preserved the law at the same time as He preserved us.)


  2. Our Attitudes


    1. Read Romans 3:27. What should be our attitude about other Christians? Should we think that we are better Christians than others?


      1. If not, why not? (This verse tells us that boasting is "excluded" based on the principle that we were saved by faith, and not saved by our obedience to the law. Any obedience does not make us better than others, because we still do not perfectly obey the law and are therefore "entitled" only to death. It was only Jesus' sacrifice on our behalf that gave us the chance for life.)


    2. Read Romans 3:28-30. Who is eligible for this offer of grace and eternal life? (Everyone. The Jews thought they were special. They had a special relationship with God. However, if faith, rather than our merits, makes all the difference, then everyone who has faith can be saved.)


    3. Read Romans 3:31. Why does righteousness by faith uphold the law? (See the last three questions of the previous section (I (C)(2-4).)


  3. Righteousness by Faith


    1. Read Romans 4:1-3. Did Abraham have some great works? Did he do great things for God?


      1. Have you ever told God that you were doing some good things for Him? Have you ever thought that God should appreciate all you do for His kingdom?


        1. What is wrong with Abraham boasting to God about what He had done? For example, Abraham left his home to follow God. Can't Abraham say to God, "Remember, I did what you asked me to do. I left my home just as you asked." (Imagine I gave you a new car. You came to me and reported that you had shined up that new car, put air in the tires, vacuumed the carpet and filled it with gas. Would you dare tell me that you now deserved to be given the car? Would you say you had now earned the right to be given the car? I think that is what Paul is saying here about the idea of Abraham boasting to God about his good works.)


    2. Read Romans 4:4-5. Paul tells us that when a man works, his pay is not a gift. He earned it. Why does Paul make this argument? Why can't our works earn us some merit before God? (Read Galatians 3:17-18. Paul is telling us that God's original covenant with Abraham was that Abraham would be saved because of God's gift to him, not because he earned it. Giving the Ten Commandments did not change that gift. So, Paul's point is that if righteousness is a gift from God, we should not start saying that we can earn it. If we earned any part of it, righteousness would no longer be a gift.)


    3. Let's skip down and read Romans 4:16-17. When Paul says that God "gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were," what does he mean?


      1. In what way does God "call things that are not as though they were?"


        1. Does this have anything to do with giving "life to the dead?"(I love this text. God calls us righteous even when we are not. As a result of calling us righteous, he gives us life. By this God gives life to the dead. This shows that God's grace is an unmerited gift to us.)


    4. Friend, God has offered you the priceless gift of eternal life. You don't deserve it. But, because of Jesus great sacrifice for you, eternal life is offered as a free gift. Will you accept it?


  4. Next week: The New-Covenant Life


* Copr. 2003, 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.

© 2017 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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