Now Live It Out – Romans 12:1-8 – Bible Study Notes

This study features notes from Enduring Word.

Recap Romans 11 (the passage starts with ‘therefore’).

Read 12:1-8.

J.B. Phillips has an outstanding and memorable translation of Romans 12:1-2:

With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship, to give Him your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to Him and acceptable by Him. Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the Plan of God for you is good, meets all His demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.

1. Paul says ‘in view of God’s mercy’ or ‘by the mercies of God’ in v1. What are some of the mercies of God Paul has explained so far in Romans?

Justification, adoption, placed under grace (not law), assurance, confidence of coming glory/no separation/God’s continued faithfulness.

2. In light of all this mercy, what are we to do?

Offer our bodies as a living sacrifice.

3. What’s significant about this phrase?

It calls to mind priestly service. Spiritually speaking our bodies are brought to God’s altar. ‘Offer your bodies’ means God wants you, not just your work.

4. Why should our bodies be holy and pleasing?

God intends it to be a holy and pleasing sacrifice. The standard for sacrifices made to God under the new covenant are not any less than the standard under the old one.

5. Paul issues a challenge in v2. He’s saying Christians must think differently. How can we renew our minds? What can stop us from doing so?

Many Christians live life based on feelings or are concerned about doing. They ignore the renewing of the mind. God isn’t against these but they’re insufficient foundations for the Christian life. Instead of ‘how do I feel?’ or ‘what do I do’, we should ask ‘what is true here? What does God’s word say?’

6. What’s the result?

The proof is evident on the outside, as others can see what the good, pleasing and perfect will of God is through your life.

7. What warning does Paul give in v3?

He’s about to speak about spiritual gifts but a warning about humility is needed given the inordinate pride that can arise from those who regard themselves as spiritually gifted. Paul tells us to see the truth about ourselves.

8. What do v4-5 tell us about the church?

The church is a unified whole (one body) but we are distinct within that one body (members). There is unity and diversity.

9. What should our church look like if each member belongs to all the others?

Unity should never be promoted at the expense of individuality and individuality should never diminish the church’s essential unity in Christ.

10. How are spiritual gifts given (v6-8)?

The difference and distribution of gifts is all due to the grace that is given to us. Spiritual gifts are not given on the basis of merit, but because God chooses to give them.

11. What is prophecy?

Prophecy isn’t necessarily foretelling in a strictly predictive sense. It is more accurately forth telling the heart and mind of God, which may or may not include a predictive aspect.

12. Why does Paul give specific instructions for the some of the gifts he mentions, but not all of them?

Serving, teaching and encouraging don’t have specific instructions. Ministry is broad and highlights serving in practical ways. Teaching has instruction in mind whereas encouragement helps people to live out what they’ve been taught.

13. Do you think people use their spiritual gifts effectively at our church?

Open for discussion.

14. How does the foundation for Christian living Paul gives in v1-2 help us to live out the spiritual gifts we have been given?

Embrace the transformation that comes through Christ.

Believe it? Preach it! – Romans 10:1-21 – Bible Study Notes

This study features notes from Enduring Word.

1. Starter question (pairs/groups): What do you need to do in order to be saved?

Read 10:1-13.

2. What’s Paul’s problem with the Israelites (v1-3)? How does this make him feel?

They have refused to submit to the righteousness of God. He relates to his heart. He doesn’t just care, he prays.

3. What’s the outcome when zeal isn’t based on knowledge?

They were ignorant of God’s righteousness and had a moral problem in that they hadn’t submitted to it.

4. How is Jesus the end or the culmination of the law (v4)?

The law ends for the believer in the sense that our obedience to the law is no longer the basis for our relationship with God. The law has not come to an end in the sense of no longer reflecting God’s standard or no longer showing us our need for a Saviour.

5. How do we earn righteousness (v5-8)?

Only through Jesus. We don’t have to work – we believe and receive. Instead of having to go to great lengths to achieve righteousness by the law, we can immediately receive righteousness by faith, by trusting in the word of the gospel.

6. We don’t gain God’s righteousness by works. How does v9 say we get it?

By believing and confessing (or declaring).

7. What does it mean to confess or declare that Jesus is Lord?

The idea of agreeing. We agree with what God said about Jesus, and with what Jesus said about Himself. It means we recognise that Jesus is God, that He is the Messiah, and that His work on the cross is the only way of salvation for mankind.

8. Why does Paul emphasise the resurrection and not the crucifixion?

It is not that we believe the resurrection as opposed to the cross, but encompassing the work of Jesus on the cross.

9. How do you know if you believe something in your heart?

Agreement with the facts isn’t enough; there is accompanying action.

10. What results in salvation?

Believing and confessing go together.

11. Can we forget how simple this is?

We can attempt to justify ourselves by our actions or think we’re doing the right things.

Read 10:14-21.

12. What are we to do in response to our salvation (v14-15)?

We have a human responsibility. Preachers must be sent – both by God and the church. People need to hear the gospel. God could have chosen any method.

13. If salvation is so simple, why does Israel seem to be cast off from God (v16-17)?

Many among them had not believed his report because they did not trust in God’s word through Isaiah and other messengers of the gospel. Therefore they are not saved.

14. How do the quotes that Paul references show that Israel are accountable for their rejection of the gospel?

Psalm 19: The word of the gospel went forth and people heard it.

Deuteronomy: God told Israel that He would bring others close to Him and make them jealous.

Isaiah made a bold prophecy that Israel ignored. They are a disobedient and contrary people, and all the more so because of their great responsibility before God.

15. What do we need to do in order to be saved? What should we do as a result?

Believe and confess. Preach the gospel.

Securely Loved – Romans 8:18-39 – Bible Study Notes

This study features notes from Enduring Word.

Romans 8 has been described as the peak of the Bible. Recap last week: life in the Spirit contrasted with life in the flesh and our obligation is to live in the Spirit.

Read v18-30.

1. What does Paul conclude about our present suffering and our future glory?

They can’t be compared to each other. He wasn’t blind to the sufferings of human existence but considered that the future glory far outweighs present suffering.

2. How is the future glory revealed in us?

God has put this glory into Christians right now. In heaven the glory will simply be revealed. “The glory will be revealed, not created. The implication is that it is already existent, but not apparent.”

3. Why is creation eagerly awaiting the children of God to be revealed?

Creation was subjected to futility on account of man’s sin, and will benefit from the ultimate redemption of men.

4. What are the firstfruits of the Spirit?

We have a taste of the glory to come.

5. Paul says we’re waiting for adoption (v23). How does this compare to what he said in 8:15?

Romans 8:15 suggests a sense in which we are already adopted. There is also a sense in which we wait for the consummation of our adoption which will happen at the redemption of our body. God doesn’t ignore our physical bodies in his plan of redemption.

6. How should we wait for it?

The fulfilment of our redemption is something still distant, yet we hope for it in faith and perseverance, trusting that God is faithful to his word and the promised glory will be a reality.

7. How does the Spirit help us (v26-27)?

When we’re weak and don’t know exactly how we should pray, God himself, through the Holy Spirit, helps by making intercession for us. This may include praying with the spiritual gift of tongues, but it isn’t limited to praying in an unknown tongue. The idea is simply of communication beyond our ability to express.

8. What does Paul show us about the way God works in v28-30?

God’s sovereignty and ability to manage every aspect of our lives is demonstrated in the fact that all things work together for good to those who love God, though we must face the sufferings of this present time (8:18). The eternal chain of God’s working is seen in the connection between foreknew, predestined, called, justified and glorified. God is the author of our salvation.

Read v31-39.

9. Why does Paul start this section in the way that he does?

Paul has shown the lengths that God went to save man from his wrath and equip him for victory over sin and death. Who can doubt that God is for us?

10. What evidence is there that God is for us?

If God already gave his ultimate gift, how can we think that he won’t give us the smaller gifts?

11. How are we secure in God’s love?

We are secure from every charge against us. If we are declared not guilty by the highest judge, who can bring an additional charge? We are secure from all condemnation. If Jesus is our advocate, promoting our benefit, who can condemn us? 

None of the sufferings of this present time can separate us from the love of God. This makes us conquerors and more. Nothing which appears to be good or nothing which appears to be evil can separate us from the love of God. 

The Bottom Line – Romans 7:1-25 – Bible Study Notes

This study features notes from Enduring Word.

Read v1-6.

1. What point is Paul making in v1-3?

The law has authority only over the living. Death ends all obligations and contracts.

2. Paul has explained previously in 6:3-8 our death to sin. How is it that we have died to the law (v4)?

Paul makes it clear that believers are dead to the law as far as it represents a principle of living or a place of right standing before God.

3. What’s the problem with the law (v5)?

We didn’t bear fruit to God. Instead we bore fruit to death.

4. How are we delivered from the law (v6)?

Because we died with Jesus at Calvary, we are dead to the law and delivered from its dominion over us as a principle of justification or sanctification.

Read v7-12.

5. Why is the law good (v7)?

It reveals sin to us. The law is like an x-ray machine; it reveals what is there but hidden.

6. What do we learn about our hearts from v8?

The weakness of the law isn’t in the law, it’s in us. Our hearts are so wicked that they can find opportunity for evil from something good like the law. When we’re told not to do something, we want to do it.

7. How does Paul go from being alive to dying (v9)?

Children can be innocent before they know what the law means, but when we do, it excites our rebellion, bringing more sin and death.

8. What does sin do (v10-12)?

It corrupts the law and defeats its purpose of giving life. Once law is corrupted by sin, it brings death.

Read v13-20.

9. What’s the purpose and character of the law (v13-14)?

The law exposes and magnifies sin. Sin becomes exceedingly sinful in contrast to the law and because the law provokes its evil nature. A spiritual law cannot help a carnal man.

10. What’s Paul’s problem (v15-20)?

It’s not a lack of desire – he wants to do what is right. His problem is a lack of power, because the law gives no power.

Read v21-25.

11. How does Paul describe this battle between two selves (v20-23)?

“No man knows how bad he is until he had tried to be good.” CS Lewis. Paul knows they his real inner self has a delight in the law of God. He understands that the impulse towards sin comes from another law at work. He is caught in the powerlessness of trying to battle sin in the power of self.

12. Why does Paul describe himself as ‘wretched’ (v24)?

He’s worn out and wretched because of his unsuccessful effort to please God under the law. He’s desperate for deliverance.

13. Where does Paul look (v25)?

Finally, he looks outside of himself and unto Jesus. He sees him standing between himself and God. He acknowledges the state of struggle but thanks God for the victory in Jesus. The struggle isn’t gone – Jesus works through us, not instead of us in the battle against sin.

Summarise.

Living Gracefully – Romans 6:1-14 – Bible Study Notes

This study features notes from Enduring Word.

Recap Romans 1-5.

1. How does Paul continue his train of thought from 5:20?

He wonders if someone might take the truth of ‘where sin abounded, grace abounded much more’ and imply it doesn’t matter if a Christian lives a life of sin, because God will always overcome greater sin with greater grace.

2. How is our relationship with sin changed (v2)?

When we trust in Jesus, it’s changed because we have died to sin. Therefore we should no longer live in it. Before, we were dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1) but now we are dead to sin.

3. How do Christians show that they are dead to sin (v3-4)?

The Greek word for baptised is ‘to immerse or overwhelm something’.

4. What is Paul expressing in v5? What does it mean for us today?

The phrase ‘united with him’ expresses a close union. It’s both in his death and resurrection.

5. What is our old self (v6)? When did the death of our old self happen?

The self that is patterned after Adam. The death of the old self is fact. It happened spiritually when we were identified with Jesus’ death at our salvation.

6. Paul says the body ruled by sin might be ‘done away with’. If the old self is dead, why are we still drawn to sin?

It comes from the flesh, which is distinct from the old self. The screen on which the inner self is displayed. Our inner being has desires and impulses; these are played out in our mind, our will and our emotions. The flesh is what acts out the inner self.

7. How does Paul describe the new life we are granted?

The new self not only has life, but eternal life. It isn’t given so we can live unto ourselves.

8. In light of our death and resurrection with Jesus, how should we live in the freedom he has given us?

We must not present the parts of our body to the service of sin. They must be enlisted in the service of righteousness.

9. How does grace change everything?

It’s the path by which we can live in this freedom. God makes us safe for grace by changing us as we receive his grace. He sets us free and equips us to live righteously before him.

Benefits of Believing – Romans 5:1-11 – Bible Study Notes

This study features notes from Enduring Word.

“In the whole Bible there is hardly another chapter which can equal this triumphant text.” – Martin Luther

Recap what we’ve seen in Romans so far. Up to now, Paul has convinced us that the only way of salvation is to be justified by grace through faith. Now he moves on to tell us what the practical benefits of this are.

1. Notice in v1 Paul says we have peace with God, not the peace of God. Why is Paul making this distinction?

Because the price is paid in full by the work of Jesus on the cross, God’s justice towards us is eternally satisfied. The battle between God and our self is finished – and he won, winning us.

2. Why can this peace only come through Jesus?

He and His work is our entire ground for peace. Jesus is our peace (Ephesians 2:14).

3. Paul says that we have a standing in grace, which is given through Jesus and gained by faith. What does it mean to have a standing in grace?

Grace isn’t only the way salvation comes to us, it’s also a description of our present standing before God. Not just the beginning principle of the Christian life, but the continuing principle. It also reassures us.

4. What is the ‘hope of the glory of God’ Paul mentions in v2?

This is the logical conclusion to such peace and such a standing of grace. When we relate to God on the principle of works, any rejoicing is presumptuous and any imagined glory goes to us, not God.

5. How can we rejoice in our sufferings (v3-4)?

They are the occasion to produce perseverance. God uses them and knows how much we can take.

6. Why is Paul joyful in this hope (v5)?

The hope that suffering builds in us isn’t a hope that will disappoint. We are assured of this because God has proved his intention to complete his work in us.

7. What is Paul emphasising in v6?

Paul describes the greatness of God’s love. It’s given to those without strength, to the ungodly. The reasons for God’s love are found in him, not us.

8. What’s Paul saying in v7? Is there a difference between a righteous man and a good man in his thinking?

God’s love is a love beyond even the best love among humans. A good man might die for the right kind of person but Jesus died for those who were neither righteous nor good. The difference seems to be that the righteous man is just that – righteous in his personal life but lacking feeling for others. The good man goes beyond the other man by also being kind.

9. How does the death of Jesus demonstrate God’s love (v8)?

It was harder for the Father to send his only son and because God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself. It’s seen in who Jesus died for – undeserving sinners.

10. Paul talks about reconciliation in v9-11. What does it mean to be reconciled to God?

What matters is what we have through Jesus. The reconciliation isn’t only helpful when we die, it also touches our life now. We can have triumphant confidence – joyful hope in God.

11. How can we have the same joy and hope that Paul does?

If God showed such dramatic love to us when we were enemies, think of the blessings we will enjoy when we are reconciled to God.

12. Summarise the passage. What’s the main point?

We have peace and stand in grace, through Jesus, which gives us great joy and hope.

Pray.

God is Righteous and We’re Not – Romans 3:1-20 – Bible Study Notes

This study features notes from Enduring Word.

Recap Romans 1-2. What has the message been so far? What has Paul been talking about?

1. How does v1-2 link to last week’s passage? What’s the advantage Paul is highlighting?

Paul has explained that the law or circumcision will not save a Jewish person. He knows there are many advantages God gave to the Jewish people. He gave the Jewish people his word and that’s an indescribable gift. Paul expands on this later in 9:4.

2. One way of translating verse 3 is ‘What if some did not believe? Will their unbelief nullify the faithfulness of God?’ What’s Paul reminding us of?

God will be justified in all his actions. Even our unrighteousness will somehow proclaim his righteousness and glory, even if only in judgment.

3. Why might some Jews have accused God of injustice (v3-8)?

Paul is familiar with the line of thinking that says ‘God is in control of everything. Even my evil will demonstrate his righteousness. Therefore God is unjust if he inflicts his wrath on me.’

Judas might ask the question ‘Is God unjust who inflicts wrath?’ He might try to justify his actions but the answer would be ‘God used your wickedness but there was no good in your heart. It is no credit to you that God brought good out of your evil. You stand guilty before God.’

4. How does Paul respond to these accusations?

Paul dismisses the question of his opponent easily. If things were as his opponent suggested, God could judge no one. Paul won’t even answer such an absurd twisting of the gospel. God rightly condemns anyone who teaches or believes such a thing.

5. Paul charges Jews and Gentiles with being under sin (v9). How does the Bible support this?

The OT witnesses to the universal depravity and guilt of mankind. The quotations from the psalms and Isaiah all support the opening statement.

6. Paul describes how the various parts of our bodies are involved in sin (v13-18). How does the language illustrate our condition as fallen people?

Paul calls virtually every part of man’s body into guilt. Every sin and rebellion against God happens because we don’t have a proper respect for him. Wherever there is sin, there is no fear of God.

7. Imagine a courtroom scene with God as the judge and the world on trial. From what we’ve seen from 1:18-3:20, can you summarise the charges against us, the supporting evidence, and the verdict?

Small groups? Sum up what we see so far.

8. Paul is about to talk about the grace of God (from v21 onwards). Why does he do this after he’s talked about the judgment of God? He doesn’t proclaim the good news until we’ve understood the bad news. Why does he follow this order?

To make it clear as to why we need the grace of God. Transition from judgment to justification.

9. What does Paul want us to understand about the law?

It can never save us. Even if we could begin to perfectly keep it, it couldn’t make up for past disobedience. Keeping the law is not God’s way of salvation or blessing under the New Covenant.

(10. How should Paul’s example affect our evangelism?)

Pray.

Faithful Caring – James 5:13-20 – Bible Study Notes

This study features notes from Enduring Word.

Recap the last study. A call to patient endurance in light of the coming judgment.

1. Why do you think James highlights those who are suffering, cheerful and sick? What’s his advice?

James has the same advice for both the suffering and cheerful one – take it all to the Lord.

2. What’s your interpretation of anointing with oil?

Either seeking the best medical attention or an emblem of the Holy Spirit’s presence and power. Anointing the sick with oil is also mentioned in Mark 6:13 and Luke 10:34 mentions the use of oil in a medicinal sense.

3. How can we understand v15? Is James guaranteeing healing for the sick who are prayed for in faith?

The reference to sins being forgiven suggests a spiritual work and healing, not necessarily a physical one. We should pray for others in faith, expecting God will heal them, then leave the matter in God’s hands.

4. Why should we confess sins to each other?

Mutual confession and prayer brings healing, both physically and spiritually. It can free us from heavy burdens.

5. Why is much of our prayer not effective?

It isn’t fervent. It’s offered with a lukewarm attitude that asks God to care about something that we care little about.

6. What’s significant about the example of Elijah? Why do you think James chooses this particular case of answered prayer?

He is a model of earnest prayer that was answered by God. His heart was in line with God’s.

7. What does James remind us of in v19-20? Why does James conclude with this?

The need to confront those who have wandered from the truth. God uses humans to turn sinners back from the errors of their ways. Throughout the letter, James has been confronting those who have wandered from a living faith by demanding they not only hear the word, but do it, because a living faith will have its proof.

8. What can we pray about? What have we seen throughout the letter? What’s stood out?

Patience, loving others, living out the faith.

Patient Endurance – James 5:7-12 – Bible Study Notes

This study features notes from Enduring Word.

1. How does the opening statement in this passage (“Therefore be patient”) link to the previous section?

James talked about ultimate judgement in his remarks about the ungodly rich and their destiny. Now he calls Christians to patiently endure until the coming of the Lord.

2. How is the waiting of the farmer similar to the waiting and need for endurance in the Christian life?

He waits with hope and expectation, he waits for a long time while working, depending on things out of his power despite changing circumstances.

3. Why do we need to ‘establish our hearts’ or ‘stand firm’?

The soon return of Jesus requires that we have established hearts that are rooted in him and his eternal resolution of all things.

4. Why does James tell us not to grumble (v9)?

Times of hardship can cause us to be less than loving to our Christian brothers and sisters.

5. What’s significant about James’ next statement (v9b)?

Jesus comes as a judge, not only to judge the world, but also to assess the faithfulness of Christians (2 Cor. 5:10). In light of this, we can’t allow hardship to make us unloving towards each other.

6. What does James tell us about Job?

We see his perseverance. He refused to curse God despite his severe suffering. We see the end intended by the Lord, speaking of the purpose of God in allowing the suffering.

7. James tells us that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful. How was God compassionate and merciful to Job?

He only allowed suffering for a very good reason. He restricted what Satan could do against Job. He sustained him with his unseen hand. Job was a better man at the end of it.

8. James again echoes Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:34-37). What does this demonstrate?

That there is not enough weight in our own character to confirm our words.

9. What’s the main point of this passage?

A call to patient endurance in light of the coming judgement.

Rich Boasting – James 4:13-5:6 – Bible Study Notes

This study features notes from Enduring Word.

1. Who is James addressing in the first section?

Those obsessed with planning for the future.

2. What is it about life that James asks us to consider?

It’s fragile. We live and move only at the permission of God. James isn’t discouraging us from planning and doing, but from planning and doing without reliance on God.

3. Why is it such a serious thing to talk about our plans?

It’s arrogance that makes us think we can live independently of God. It’s the essence of sin, a proud independence.

4. What are we challenged to do in v17?

To live according to what we know in the Lord.

5. Who is James addressing in 5:1-6?

Rich people. He starts this section with the same phrase as the previous one – ‘Now listen’/’Come now’. The rich are most likely to live independently from God.

6. How important is material wealth to you? How would you live differently if you viewed it as rotten and corroded?

James probably refers to three kinds of wealth – food, clothes and gold and silver. Each comes to nothing.

7. How does James view the behaviour of the rich (v4-6)?

He condemns it. They lived indulgently without regard for others. The cries of the oppressed were heard by the God of might and power and judgment.

8. Do we exploit others in any way? What can we do about it?

We can take advantage of people who we view as worse than ourselves, because we think we’re better than them.