When listening to Tim Keller’s lectures on how to preach, what burned in my heart is that instead of telling listeners how to apply the sermon at the end and hope that they do, that transformation of the heart must happen during the preaching. Their hearts have to be melted by the beauty of Christ so that application is already happening. That happened for me during Paige’s introductory lesson on Romans, and I so pray it did for you as well.
And so we begin! Paige gave the analogy of how when building with Legos, you don’t take just one piece out and begin, but you spread them on the floor to get a scope of what you have. So this is our getting a scope week. In case you missed it, here’s a link to watch her:
We need to understand the foundation, the pillars of the book of Romans, before we begin.
Paul begins in Romans 1:16-17 with the central message:
And then, he begins to turn to diagnosis of our problem. This is a crucial pillar, for if we do not truly see what is wrong with us, we will not see the GOSPEL as truly good news. I had to look up the word “meh” she kept using! This is a dangerous attitude many have developed toward the GOSPEL:
Romans 1-3 is meant to revive us and see the gospel as the wondrous news it is, news that makes us so thankful we want to weep, news that makes us not approach Jesus as a “tonic” for our problems, but as our Savior for our desperate daily need. This turns “meh” into “grateful joy.”
So here we go. Paige reminded us to be like the Bereans, with our Bibles open, checking eveything she says.
Questions in purple are for those who are simultaneously reviewing Revelation, for we are taking a break with Romans, but want to keep our momentum, for we will return to the second half of Revelation in November. Those doing just Romans are free to do them or skip them. It is possible to link Revelation to Romans for the Bible is all one story.
Word Document for this lesson
Sunday: Getting Started
- What stands out to you from the above and why?
- Share one take-a-way from Paige’s lecture and comment.
Mon: Announcement Pillar
3. What is the thesis of Romans as stated in Romans 1:16-17? Look at it carefully and make observations.
Paige: “So often good news for us is not the righteousness of God but the usefulness of God.” We see Him as a tonic for parenting, health, money — which He can be, but miss the great Good News for we don’t really grasp our daily need. Our own Bing said the word “tonic” awakened her.
Questions preceded by a star are from Paige’s Questions for Discussion/Reflection
*4. Can you detect in yourself any “tonic” approach to Jesus? What do you most readily look to Christ for? What are you most eager for Him to do for you? What needs prompt your most immediate prayers?
5. How is Jesus Christ and His Gospel described in Revelation 1:5-7? What similarity do you see with the basis thesis of Romans?
Tues: Analysis Pillar – Part I. (Defining Sin)
Paige: “When there is not rejoicing over the gospel it means we aren’t grasping it.”
6. Definition of Sin: Read Romans 1:18-25
A. Make comments and observations
John Stott: “Sin is the negation of good — essence of sin is godlessness.”
B. What is the root of all sin according to this passage, which culminates in verse 25?
Tim Keller: “Idolatry is the root of all sin. Taking a good thing and making it an ultimate thing.”
C. What happens to our minds when we do not cling to God through the day but cling to idols according to verse 21?
D. Paige defined the wrath of God as anger against evil. The form it takes is handing them over to their idols. The word “Therefore” is important in Romans. How do you see it in verse 24?
E. She gave an illustration with how drowning happens. Do you remember it?
John Piper: “Sinning is any thought or feeling or action that comes from a heart that does not honor God. We talk about sin and brokenness and don’t talk about God. It’s all ultimately against God. Sin is a rejection before it is ever a transgression.”
*F. Before this study, how would you have defined sin in a conversation? Has 1:18-25 changed your understanding of sinfulness? Of your own sinfulness?
7. Analysis of our problem has to happen before there can ever be a solution. How did you see that in each of the letters to the seven churches in Revelation? Do you remember what the basic problem was in Ephesus? How does this relate to the analysis of the source of sin?
Wed: Analysis Pillar – Part II. (Dimensions of Sin)
8. Length: How long have the qualities of God been seen (and ignored) according to Romans 1:20?
9. Depth: Sin goes to the center of us: our love, our hearts, are worship. Paige said: “Worldliness is what makes sin look normal in any age and righteousness look odd.” Comments?
*10 Breadth: What are the most shocking sins erupting from sinfulness listed in 1:29-31? What are the strangest combinations to see together in this list? What mindset makes them strange? Why would this list follow the failure to acknowledge God, or the refusal to fit Him into our thinking?
11. Width: How does Paul show those us, if we are thinking of how this applies to others, our blindness in Romans 2:1-4? Why does he begin with therefore?
*12. Look at 2:1-4. Do you struggle with the tendency to be critical of everyone except yourself? Whose sin are you more aware of than your own? What is the basis of the difference you see between yourself and them?
13. In the book of Revelation there are four different perspectives of the wrath of God: We have been through the 7 seals and the 7 trumpets. Against what is God so angry? Is this only against unbelievers? How is this similar to Romans?
Thurs: BUT! (The Hinge)
How do we respond to the bad news? We can either despair, or run to one of our tonics (idols) or feel true desperation and turn to Jesus. If we accept God’s diagnosis MEH turns to tearful gratefulness. Romans 3:21 is the hinge. The Gospel has to be painted on a canvas of desperation and need. Then the grammar is reversed from therefore to but.
14. Meditate on Romans 3:21-22 and share your observations and comments.
15. Redemption — the gospel takes Jesus to the slave market. How do you see this in 3:24?
16. Reconciliation — the gospel takes Jesus to the mercy seat. How do you see this in 3:25?
17. Righteousness — the gospel takes Jesus to the law court. How do you you see this in 3:25?
18. In Revelation John was about to despair because no one, not one, was worthy to open the scroll. Then one of the elders told him good news in Revelation 5:5. What was it, and how does the picture of the lamb take us back to our great need and to the mercy seat?
19. Who receives this gift and access to God according to Romans 5:1-2?
20 Paige assigned Romans 4 to be read. Read it and make observations and comments.
21. Be sure to listen to Paige’s 2nd lecture. Here is the link: Take good notes for she takes it down Tues. night.
22. What is your take-a-way this week and why?