[vc_row el_position=”first”] [vc_column] [vc_column_text el_position=”first”]

GRACE LESSON EIGHT

LAW AND GRACE IN THE NEW TESTAMENT EPISTLES

INTRODUCTION

As we learned in Lesson Seven, Jesus and his disciples were careful to obey all the Old Testament laws throughout their lives. Even though the story of Jesus’ life is found in the New Testament, the four Gospels of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) reflect a time when Old Testament laws were still in effect.

This Lesson deals with the teachings of the New Testament letters or Epistles which were written after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus and after the sending of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.

These letters were, for the most part, written during the period of time covered in the New Testament book called Acts (sometimes referred to as Acts of the Apostles).

One of the main concerns on the part of early Christians was how they should deal with the laws of the Old Testament. Were those laws still relevant? Did Christians have to obey them? Did Christian Jews and Christian Gentiles (non-Jews) now have exactly the same standing before God? Were they really now “one” in Christ?

These and other questions were of great concern to early believers. They truly wanted to serve and honor the Lord, but they weren’t sure what God required of them. Many of the Jewish Christians felt strongly that believers should continue to obey all the laws of the Old Testament. Most Gentile believers felt they didn’t have to. The apostle Paul, as well as others, wrote rather extensively on these delicate and controversial matters.

In this Lesson we will consider the answers which were provided by the Holy Spirit to Christian leaders who were appointed and approved by God. We will begin our study with some events in the book of Acts and will then focus on the epistles to the Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews, while adding a few quotations from other epistles as well.

THE BOOK OF ACTS

The book of Acts gives us a brief history of the early church from the time of the ascension of Jesus into heaven until the time of the imprisonment of the apostle Paul. The first believers in Jesus were almost all Jews, direct descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Many of the Jews who had gathered in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost had come from various other nations where they had scattered over the years. They were still observant Jews, but they lived far from the “Promised Land” where Jesus lived, died, and rose again. On the Day of Pentecost, God sent the Holy Spirit from heaven upon the disciples of Jesus, enabling them to speak powerfully and boldly about Jesus in the languages of the Jews who had come from other parts of the world.

When the people heard Peter speak, their hearts were stirred and they were “cut to the heart” and asked the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do” (Acts 2:37). Peter’s answer was clear and direct. He said:

“Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off– for all whom the Lord our God will call.” Acts 2:38-39

The very first sermon after Jesus went back to heaven emphasized that forgiveness and salvation was a gift of God to all those who were truly sorry for their sins and who trusted in Jesus Christ as their Savior. Those who did repent and believe were immediately baptized and began to live a new life of fellowship, obedience, celebration, praise and sharing with those in need. (Acts 2:41-47)

This marked a wonderful new time in the life of believers. These early days would soon be followed by many miraculous signs and wonders, powerful demonstrations of the presence of the Holy Spirit, rapid growth of the church among both Jews and Gentiles and, regrettably, divisions among the new Christians. Some taught that all believers should continue to observe all the laws of the Old Testament while others taught that these laws were no longer binding.

This problem intensified as the number of Gentile (non-Jews) believers continued to increase. When the Holy Spirit sent Peter to the home of a prominent Gentile named Cornelius, Peter was very much aware of the fact that he was violating a strict Jewish law. When he entered Cornelius’ home, Peter began his presentation with these words: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean” (Acts 10:28). When he ended this part of his message Peter said, “All the prophets testify about him [Jesus] that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:43).

Cornelius believed and received the gift of the Holy Spirit—just as believing Jews did earlier. A short time later, however, “the circumcised believers criticized [Peter] and said, ‘You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them’.” (Acts 11:2-3.) When Peter explained what had happened, the believers “had no further objections and praised God, saying, ‘So, then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life’.” (Acts 11:18).

As Paul and Barnabas went out on one of their early missionary journeys, they spoke first, as their custom was, to the Jews in their synagogues. In the Gentile city of Iconium many people, both Jews and Gentiles, believed. But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up opposition to the message of the missionaries and poisoned their minds” (Acts 14:2). As a result, “Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous sings and wonders” (Acts 14:3).

In spite of all this, however, some Jewish Christians continued to emphasize the importance of obeying the Old Testament laws if a person wanted to be saved. They taught the new Gentile believers, “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved” (Acts 15:1).

To resolve the confusion caused by this significant difference of opinion, the leaders of the church met together in the city of Jerusalem under the leading of the Holy Spirit. Peter, among others, spoke powerfully about what God had done and the importance of being saved by grace alone. He said:

“Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciple a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are” (Acts 15:7-11).

The decisions made at this historic conference in Jerusalem settled the matter once and for all. Though some Jewish believers may have found it difficult to accept this momentous decision, the matter had officially been settled. Christians believe and teach that people are saved by grace alone.

The apostle Paul had also spoken at the Jerusalem conference and continued to preach and write about salvation by grace through faith. On one of his later missionary journeys, he preached to a group of believers from Ephesus whom he knew he would never see again, and said to them:

“’I have declared to both Jews and Greeks (Gentiles) that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus. . . I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace’” (Acts 20:21, 24).

In Paul’s mind there was never a question about the way of salvation. Though God-glorifying works would follow salvation, they would not bring salvation. As he wrote later to the church in Ephesus (to whom he had earlier spoken the words recorded above), “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

PAUL’S LETTER TO THE CHRISTIANS IN ROME

Before Paul ever visited the church in Rome, he wrote the believers there a powerful letter which we know as The Epistle to the Romans. In the very beginning of his letter Paul referred to “the Gospel of God” which “he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son” (Romans 1:1-3). The message of grace in the Gospel was therefore not “new,” since it had been promised already long before in the Old Testament. However, it was “new” in the sense that it represented the fulfillment of promises made long before. Concerning this Gospel, he writes:

“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,

just as it is written, ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” Romans 1:16-17

In chapter 3 of his letter, Paul writes powerfully and convincingly that the Old Testament law was a blessing to those who received and obeyed it (Romans 3:2), but the law also demonstrated the need for a Savior, since no one was able to perfectly obey the law and thus merit or earn salvation. He wrote:

“No one will be declared righteous in his [God’s] sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.” Romans 3:20.

But then Paul goes on to present some powerful truths concerning the necessity and possibility of becoming righteous in God’s sight through faith, a way to which the Old Testament Law and Prophets testified.

“But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. . . . for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. . . . For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. . . .since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith.” Romans 3:21-30

Paul then goes back to God’s promises to Abraham which were given more than two thousand years earlier.

“What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about –but not before God. What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. . . . Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? . .. [Abraham] received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then he is the father of all who believe . . . It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received] the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith . . .Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.” Romans 4:1-16

In the following chapters in his letter, Paul continues to emphasize the importance of the grace of God and our faith in Jesus Christ. In doing this he does not minimize the significance of obedience, love and service, but he emphasizes that justification before God is based solely on the merits of Christ and not on anything we do ourselves.

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” Romans 5:1-2

“But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 5:20-21.

Because believers now live by grace and have received new life in Christ, they are no longer bound by the law. As they once were slaves to sin, they have now become slaves of righteousness. Through grace and by the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit, believers are increasingly able to pursue holiness and enjoy the gift of eternal life. What we “earn” as the wages of our sin is death. What we receive as a gift of grace is eternal life.

“For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. . . . You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. Now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:14, 22-23).

Being set free to serve God does not mean that we no longer have to be concerned about how we live. We still must live in obedience to the Lord and seek to please Him in all that we do. However, our “guide” in helping us live for God is no longer the law of the Old Testament but rather the Holy Spirit who lives within us. Even then, however, we must be not forget that our old sin nature may continue to influence the choices that we make.

“But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.” Romans 7:6

“ I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. . . . So I find this law at work. When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind . . . Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord. . . . Therefore, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 7:18, 21, 24-25; 8:1-2.

“And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:3-4

We cannot live lives that are pleasing to God in our own strength or by our own effort. Living by the Spirit follows from our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires” (Romans 8:5). “Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God” (Romans 8:8). We do not earn or merit salvation by living in a way that pleases God. Rather, we live lives that please God only because we are saved!

Romans 10:4 teaches us that “Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.” This could mean that by His own obedience Christ has completely freed believers from the obligation to obey the Old Testament law. But it could also mean, and probably does, that Christ has fulfilled the law in every way in behalf of those who put their faith in Him for salvation. He did what we could never do. As our representative He did everything God required and commanded in the law. And He did it in our behalf so that we might be declared righteous in God’s sight!

Much of the teaching of Paul in his letter to the Romans on the subject of salvation can be summarized in the following words.

“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. . . . For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’” (Romans 10:9-13).

THE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS

The Christian believers in the area called Galatia were very troubled by the relationship between law and grace. They had accepted Christ and sincerely desired to follow Him in their daily lives, but they had come under the influence of some teachers who insisted that they had to keep the Old Testament law if they wanted to be truly saved. Many of the believers in Galatia had begun to believe this heresy and were turning aside from the message of salvation by grace through faith. To this group of believers Paul wrote in the strongest possible terms, describing them as “foolish,” “bewitched” (Galatians 3:1), “hypocritical” (Galatians 2:13), “thrown into confusion”(Galatians 5:9) and no longer living “in line with the truth of the gospel” (Galatians 2:14).

Paul responded to their situation by emphasizing clearly and repeatedly that salvation does NOT come from obeying the Old Testament laws, but by grace alone. Obedience was important, but no one can gain eternal life by doing what the law demanded.

“We . . . know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Jesus Christ that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.” Galatians 2:15-16

“The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” Galatians 2:20-21

“Did you receive the Spirit by observing the laws, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?” Galatians 3:3

“All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.’ Clearly no one is justified by the law, because, ‘The righteous will live by faith.’ . . . [Christ] redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.” Galatians 3:10-14

“The law, introduced 430 years later [than the promise given to Abraham] does not set aside the covenant previously establish by God and thus do away with the promise. For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise, but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.” Galatians 3:17-18.

Throughout this letter, Paul writes passionately about the freedom we have in Christ and his great disappointment that the people in Galatia were so intent on trying to gain merit by obeying the law. He felt so deeply and so strongly about all of this that he exclaimed with intense feeling: “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!” (Galatians 4:19-20).

In Galatians 5:1-26 he wrote about the freedom we have in Christ and how we should follow the leading of the Spirit rather than trying to fulfill all the demands of the law. He wrote:

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. . . . if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. . . . You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. . . . For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. . . . if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.” Galatians 5:1-6, 18

THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS

Already in the Old Testament, the prophet Jeremiah, writing about six hundred years before the coming of Christ, told about a “New Covenant” which would replace the Covenant made at Mt. Sinai with the Israelites. This covenant would be based upon God’s promises to Abraham and would be fulfilled in Christ. He wrote:

“This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the LORD. ‘I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. . . . they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest . . . For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Jeremiah 31:33-34

To this, the author of Hebrews adds: “By calling this covenant ‘new,’ he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.” (Hebrews 8:13). He goes on to remind his readers that the “the gifts and sacrifices being offered [under the old covenant] were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying until the time of the new order [the new covenant].”

Hebrews 9:9-10

The entire Old Testament of laws and sacrifices and offerings would have accomplished little if it were not for the coming of Jesus who “was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people” (Hebrews 9:28). What the law could never do, Jesus did! Through faith in Him “we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10). “And where [sins] have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin” (Hebrews 10:18).

OTHER NEW TESTAMENT REFERENCES TO SALVATION BY GRACE ALONE

The apostle Paul who wrote most of the Epistles in the New Testament grew up as a very observant Jew who was extremely diligent in observing the Old Testament laws. He even went so far as to claim that he, as a Pharisee, was faultless in regard to legalistic righteousness (Philippians 3:3-6). But he also wrote that “Whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. . . . for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith” (Philippians 3:7-9).

To Titus, Paul wrote: “When the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, . . . so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:4-7

And in his letter to the church in Ephesus, Paul wrote these stirring and compelling words:

“Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace your have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:4-8

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION

The New Testament epistles repeatedly and emphatically teach that salvation is by grace alone through faith. We as believers can not and need not add anything to the work that Jesus Christ has already done for our redemption. Though we are called by God and equipped by the Holy Spirit to live a life of gratitude and obedience to the Lord who has saved us, our guide for living is not found primarily in laws and rules. Rather, we are guided by the Holy Spirit to do what is most pleasing to the Lord. The New Testament gives us many laws, commands, and guidelines for Christian living, and God expects us to obey them, but obedience follows salvation and is not the cause or the source of our salvation.

_________________

In the next two Lessons we will study what it means to have “freedom” in Christ. Since we are no longer “under” the law and are “free” in Christ, is everything now permissible for us? Are there no longer any written guidelines for us to follow? Can each of us decide on our own how we should live? Or are there some definite principles which can guide us as we seek to enjoy our “Christian liberty” without misusing it? These are some of the questions we will consider in Lessons Nine and Ten.

[/vc_column_text] [vc_accordion title=”QUESTIONS FOR LESSON ONE” el_position=”last”] [vc_accordion_tab title=”Review Quiz”] [vc_column_text el_position=”first last”]

Click the plus buttons to see the answers to the questions.

[/vc_column_text] [/vc_accordion_tab] [vc_accordion_tab title=”1. Only one of the three following statements is true. Choose A or B or C. A. Most Jewish and Gentile converts believed that all of the Old Testament laws were still valid. B. Some Jewish converts believed that most of the Old Testament laws were still valid and some did not. C. Neither Jewish nor Gentile converts believed that any of the Old Testament laws were still valid.”] [vc_column_text el_position=”first last”]

1. B

[/vc_column_text] [/vc_accordion_tab] [vc_accordion_tab title=”2. When the people asked Peter on the Day of Pentecost, “What shall we do?”, what did Peter tell them? (Acts 2:38-39)”] [vc_column_text el_position=”first last”]

2. “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off– for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

[/vc_column_text] [/vc_accordion_tab] [vc_accordion_tab title=”3. A. When Peter went to the home of the Gentile Cornelius, what was the first thing he said to them in his presentation? (Acts 10:28)”] [vc_column_text el_position=”first last”]

3. A. “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean.”

[/vc_column_text] [/vc_accordion_tab] [vc_accordion_tab title=”B. What did Peter say as he ended the first part of his presentation to Cornelius? (Acts 10:43)”] [vc_column_text el_position=”first last”]

B. “All the prophets testify about him [Jesus] that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

[/vc_column_text] [/vc_accordion_tab] [vc_accordion_tab title=”4. A. How did the early believers respond when they heard what Peter did at the home of Cornelius? (Acts 11:2-3)”] [vc_column_text el_position=”first last”]

4. A. “The circumcised believers criticized [Peter] and said, ‘You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them’.”

[/vc_column_text] [/vc_accordion_tab] [vc_accordion_tab title=”B. What did they say when Peter explained what had happened? (Acts 11:18)”] [vc_column_text el_position=”first last”]

B. When Peter explained what had happened, the believers “had no further objections and praised God, saying, ‘So, then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life’.”

[/vc_column_text] [/vc_accordion_tab] [vc_accordion_tab title=”5. What did some of the Jewish Christians teach the Gentile believers about circumcision? (Acts 15:1)”] [vc_column_text el_position=”first last”]

5. They taught: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.”

[/vc_column_text] [/vc_accordion_tab] [vc_accordion_tab title=”6. What did Peter say about this matter in Acts 15:11?”] [vc_column_text el_position=”first last”]

6. “Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciple a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are” (Acts 15:10-11).

[/vc_column_text] [/vc_accordion_tab] [vc_accordion_tab title=”7. A. What did Paul say to the Ephesian believers when he preached to them about the way of salvation? (Acts 20:21)”] [vc_column_text el_position=”first last”]

7. “’I have declared to both Jews and Greeks (Gentiles) that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.”

[/vc_column_text] [/vc_accordion_tab] [vc_accordion_tab title=”B. What did Paul write to the Ephesian believers about salvation in Ephesians 2:8-9?”] [vc_column_text el_position=”first last”]

8. “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written, ‘The righteous will live by faith.’”

[/vc_column_text] [/vc_accordion_tab] [vc_accordion_tab title=”9. What did Paul write in Romans 3:20 about the possibility of being saved by observing the law?”] [vc_column_text el_position=”first last”]

9. “No one will be declared righteous in his [God’s] sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.”

[/vc_column_text] [/vc_accordion_tab] [vc_accordion_tab title=”10. Fill in the blanks in this quotation from Romans 3:21-30. “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known. This righteousness comes through ________________________________ to all who ______________. For we maintain that a man is justified by ___________ apart from ___________.””] [vc_column_text el_position=”first last”]

10. . . . through faith in Jesus Christ . . . believe . . . faith . . . observing the law

[/vc_column_text] [/vc_accordion_tab] [vc_accordion_tab title=”11. In Romans 4:16, Paul writes: “Therefore, the promise comes by __________, so that it may be by ___________.””] [vc_column_text el_position=”first last”]

11. . . . faith . . .grace

[/vc_column_text] [/vc_accordion_tab] [vc_accordion_tab title=”12. In Romans 5:1-2 we read: “Therefore, since we have been justified through ___________, we have _______________ with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by ____________ into this _________in which we now stand.””] [vc_column_text el_position=”first last”]

12. . . . faith . . . peace . . .faith . . . grace

[/vc_column_text] [/vc_accordion_tab] [vc_accordion_tab title=”13. In Romans 6:23 we read: “For the wages of sin is ___________, but the _____________of God is _________________________ in Christ Jesus our Lord.””] [vc_column_text el_position=”first last”]

13. . . . death . . . gift . . . eternal life

[/vc_column_text] [/vc_accordion_tab] [vc_accordion_tab title=”14. What does Paul teach in Romans 8:-2?”] [vc_column_text el_position=”first last”]

14. “through Jesus Christ the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”

[/vc_column_text] [/vc_accordion_tab] [vc_accordion_tab title=”15. Which of the two following statements is correct? Choose A or B. A. We love and serve and honor God so that we may be saved. B. We love and serve and honor God because we are saved.”] [vc_column_text el_position=”first last”]

15. B

[/vc_column_text] [/vc_accordion_tab] [vc_accordion_tab title=”16. According to Romans 10:9-13, what is the difference, if any, between Jews and Gentiles in regard to the way of salvation?”] [vc_column_text el_position=”first last”]

16. There is no difference.

[/vc_column_text] [/vc_accordion_tab] [vc_accordion_tab title=”17. What are some of the words which Paul used to describe Galatians who were starting to challenge the truth that we are saved by grace alone?”] [vc_column_text el_position=”first last”]

17. foolish . . .bewitched . . . hypocritical . . . thrown into confusion . . . no longer living in line with the truth of the gospel.

[/vc_column_text] [/vc_accordion_tab] [vc_accordion_tab title=”18. What does Galatians 3:10 write about those who are relying on obedience to the law for their salvation?”] [vc_column_text el_position=”first last”]

18. “All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.’ Clearly no one is justified by the law, because, ‘The righteous will live by faith.’ ”

[/vc_column_text] [/vc_accordion_tab] [vc_accordion_tab title=”19. Where in the Old Testament do we read that the Lord was going to establish a “new Covenant” which would replace the Covenant He made at Mt. Sinai?”] [vc_column_text el_position=”first last”]

19. Jeremiah 31:33-34

[/vc_column_text] [/vc_accordion_tab] [vc_accordion_tab title=”20. Write out two other New Testament passages which teach that we are justified by grace through faith.”] [vc_column_text el_position=”first last”]

20. Students may choose a number of different verses here.

[/vc_column_text] [/vc_accordion_tab] [/vc_accordion] [/vc_column] [/vc_row] [vc_row el_position=”last”] [vc_column] [vc_column_text el_position=”first last”]

FOR FURTHER REFLECTION

1. Why do you think some of the early Jewish converts continued to stress the importance and necessity of circumcision and the keeping of the Old Testament law?

2. What are some possible reasons why many people, even today, seem to prefer the idea that we are saved by our “good works” rather that the Biblical teaching that we are saved by grace through faith?

3. How would your own life be changed if the Bible taught that we are saved by works and not by faith? Would you live a more obedient life? Would you be less inclined to please God and live for Him? Or wouldn’t it make any difference? Please give the reasons for your answers.

4. As you seek to know and do the will of God, do you think it is easier to “follow the leading of the Holy Spirit” or to follow a set of laws? Please give the reason for your answer.

5. A. What is your favorite Biblical passage concerning salvation “by grace alone”?

B. Why do you especially like this particular passage?

1. For centuries, the Jews regarded circumcision to be of crucial importance in their relationship to God. Jews who neglected God’s command in this regard were considered disobedient and were cut off from the people of Israel. (See Genesis 17:14 and Exodus 4:22-26). Also, God had given His laws only to the Jews, so having those laws was also a distinguishing mark of being among God’s chosen people. Even Jesus himself had been circumcised and obeyed the law. So, for the Jews it was very hard to believe that these things were now no longer of important or significance.

2. There are no “correct” answers to this question, so a variety of valid answers may be given by students. Among the answers given may be the following. People feel a sense of “self-worth” if they earn something and feel of less worth if they are given some kind of “hand-out.” Also, many people feel that they really aren’t so bad or sinful and therefore think they can do enough things to please God. They may feel “put down” somewhat if they are told they cannot do anything to merit forgiveness or eternal life. Some people might also feel that it’s not “fair” if salvation is by grace, because then even some of the most sinful people can be saved—and many people don’t want them to happen.

3. Again, there are no “correct” answers here. Students will very likely give very different answers to this question. Quite possibly some students will indicate that they would be more careful how they lived if they knew that salvation was going to be determined by their works. Others might indicate that they are so grateful for the gift of salvation that they are very highly motivated to give thanks to God and live for Him, even if they will not be given any kind of special “reward” for it.

4. This question also can be answered appropriately in many different ways. Some students will probably be inclined to say that they find it easier to have some clear, definite, and unquestioned laws to follow because then they would know for certain what God wants them to do. However, they would still have to deal with the question of motives! Those cannot be “measured” by any kind of law. Others will be joyful for the freedom they have to live as they are led by the Holy Spirit and as they seek to please God in every situation. When their fundamental motive is correct (loving God above all and their neighbor as themselves), they usually will not have to be afraid of “going astray” or “doing too little” or failing in some other way.

5. It should be interesting to see which texts students students choose. There may be quite a variety of them, but it’s quite possible that Ephesians 2:8-10 will be listed by many.

[/vc_column_text] [/vc_column] [/vc_row]