AMAZING GRACE BAPIST CHURCH, HAMBURG BIBLE STUDY MATERIAL – LESSON 6, By Rev. John Kwasi Fosu

Topic:  Divine principles of judgment that prove the Jew is equally condemned with the Gentile

Text: Romans 2:12-29

Introduction

In the previous lesson, we studied that  the Jews, in the view of Paul, are equally condemned as sinners before God. We also learnt about two main divine principles of judgment that prove that the Jews are equally condemned with the Gentile. These principles included the fact that God’s judgment is according to truth and God’s Judgment is according to persons deeds. Today’s lesson continues the theme of the Principles of Divine Judgment.

Principles of Divine Judgment

 

 3.       God’s Judgment is Impartial (2:12-15)

Romans 2: 12-15 shows that God will judge people according to the light they have received. But never think that the Gentiles (who were unaware of Moses) lived apart from law. For the moral law of God was written on their hearts (see 1:19). Humankind will be judged according to the knowledge of God, which they possess and never according to any higher standard that they do not possess. The Jews hear the Law but refuse to do it, and will be thus judged more severely. The same will happen to those who hear   God’s Word today but will not heed it.

It is interesting to observe that  Paul in verse 15 notes that Our hearts is the place on which the requirements of the law have been written. Our consciences play the role of prodding and reproving us and our thoughts usually accuse us, although, it sometimes even excuses us.

 

4. God’s Judgment is According to the Gospel of Christ (2:17-29)

Twice now Paul has mentioned a Day of Judgment (vv. 5 and 16). Three truths about Judgment day – the Day of God’s Wrath (vs. 5):

 

  • God’s judgment will include the hidden areas of our lives. The Judgement will be of the heart, when God will reveal all secrets. God will judge men’s secrets (cf. I Sam. 16:7; Psa. 139:1ff; Jer. 17:10; Luke. 16:15; Heb. 4:12ff.).
  • Judgement will take place through Jesus Christ (cf. Jn. 5:22, 27). Christ will be the judge
  • And the issue will be: What did you do with the Gospel of Christ.

 

 Some Important Commentary

 

  1. The Jews boasted of their racial and religious privileges. Because God had given them His Word, they knew His will and had a finer sense of values. They looked upon the Gentiles as blind, in the dark, fools and babes (vv. 19-20).
  2. The Jews considered themselves to be God’s exclusive favourites; but what they failed to see was that these very privileges obligated them to live holy lives. They disobeyed the very law they preached to the Gentiles. The result was that even the Gentiles blasphemed God’s name because of the sins of the Jews. Paul is referring perhaps to Isa. 52:5,  Ezek. 36:21-11, or Nathan’s words to David in 2 Sam. 12:14. If any people had religion, it was the Jews; yet their religion was a matter of outward ceremony and not inward reality.
  3. They boasted of their rite of circumcision, a ceremony that identified them with the living God; yet what good is a physical rite if there is no obedience to God’s Word? Paul even goes so far as to say that the uncircumcised Gentile who obeyed God’s Word was better off than the circumcised Jew who disobeyed it (v. 27), and that the circumcised Jew who disobeyed God was looked upon as uncircumcised. For a true Jew, is one who has faith inwardly, whose heart has been changed, and not one who merely follows outward ceremonies in the flesh.

Verse 27 boldly states that the Gentiles who by nature, though uncircumcised, fulfil the Law are going to judge the Jews who transgress God’s standards.

The Gospel of Christ demands an inward change (John 3:7). It is not obedience to religious systems that will allow one to pass the test when Christ judges the secrets of men’s heart. It is the Gospel of Christ that is God’s power unto salvation, both to the Jew and Gentile (Rom. 1:16). If a person has never believed the Gospel and received Christ, then he or she stands condemned. The Jews, with all their religion and legalism, were (and are) just as much under sin as the Gentiles – and more so, because to them were given greater privileges and opportunities to know the truth.

Conclusion

This passage therefore states clearly that God does not judge according to human principles, but according to His Truth, according to our deeds, and according to the Gospel of Christ. Thus, in chapter 1 Paul proves that the Gentiles are without excuse, and here in chapter 2, that the Jews are without excuse, and here in chapter 2, that the Jews are without excuse. In chapter 3, he will prove that the whole world is under sin and condemnation, desperately needing the grace of God.

Questions

 

1.       What is the meaning of the moral law of God?

 

2.       Why is it that God’s Judgment is impartial?

 

3.       God’s judgment is according to Jesus Christ and it includes every area of our lives. Do you agree?

 

4.       Have far are you prepared for God’s Judgment?

 

 

Prepared by:

Rev. John Kwasi Fosu

Pastor in Charge,

Amazing Grace Baptist Church, Hamburg

 

 

 

AMAZING GRACE BAPIST CHURCH, HAMBURG BIBLE STUDY MATERIAL – LESSON 5, By Rev. John Kwasi Fosu

Topic:  Describing the sins of the Jews  – Divine principles of judgment that prove   that  the   Jews are equally condemned with the Gentiles

Text: Romans 2:1-11

Introduction

In the last week lesson, the universal sinfulness of humankind was introduced by studying the sins of the Gentile world. In today’s lesson, Paul continues the subject by turning his attention  on the Jews. Romans 2:1-11 is, however, not quite clear whether Paul was still thinking about the Gentiles or Jews. There are three possible interpretations. Some scholars are of the opinion that Paul was still speaking to Gentiles  because he did not mention Jews until verse 17. Others think he was referring to anyone, Jew or Gentile, who thinks that for some reason he is better than other people in the sight of God, because verses 9-10 refer to ‘every human being.’ Others also say Paul was speaking to Jews, because they were particularly aware of the special blessings they had received (2:4), and believed themselves to be superior to Gentiles (2:1). In this study, we shall follow the last interpretation remembering that these words are often as true of Gentiles today as they are of Jews.

Principles of Divine Judgment

In this chapter, Paul returns the searchlight on his own people, the Jews, and shows that they are equally condemned as sinners before God. For though they have the law, they do not do uniformly or consistently live up to the law, and therefore they, too, stand guilty before God. In 1:20, he states that the Gentiles are  without excuse, and in 2:1 he states that the Jews are without excuse. In this second chapter, Paul points out four divine principles of judgment that prove the Jew is equally condemned with the Gentile.

  1. Judgment is according to God’s Truth (2:1-5)

Verse 1: No excuse: Paul’s teaching about judging agrees with that of the Lord Jesus Christ (cf

7:1), who did not condemn judging as such, but hypocritical judging. You who pass judgment, a warning that had special relevance for  Jews, who were inclined  to look down on Gentiles because of their ignorance of God’s revelation in the Old Testament and because of their immoral lives.

Verse 2: God’s judgement of men is not according to hearsay, gossip, our own good opinions, or man’s evaluations; it is according to truth (v2). How easy it is for us today,  as in Paul’s day, to condemn others, yet have the very same sins in our own lives.  People are often   quick to see the faults of others, but slow to see the same faults in themselves (cf. Nathan’s story in 2 Samuel 12:1-9). Do you know of a similar story?

But the Jew may have argued back: Surely God would not judge us with the same truth he applies to the Gentiles. Why, see how good God has been to Israel. But they were ignorant of the purpose God had in mind when He poured out His goodness on Israel and waited so patiently for His people to obey: His goodness was supposed to lead them to repentance. Instead, they hardened their hearts and thus stored up more wraths for that day when Christ will judge the lost (Rev. 20).

It is common to hear people say: Oh, I’m sure God isn’t going to send me to hell. Why, He’s done many good things for me. Little do they realize that God’s goodness is the preparation for His grace; and instead of bowing in humble gratitude, they harden their hearts and commits more sin, thinking that God loves them too much to condemn them.

 

These same two excuses that the Jews used in Paul’s day are still heard today:

    • I am better than others, so I don’t need Christ;
    • God has been good to me and will certainly never condemn me

But God’s final judgment will not be according to men’s opinions and evaluations; it will be according to His truth.

  1. God’s Judgment is According to a Person’s Deeds (2:6-11)

The Jews thought they held the highest status among God’s people, not realizing that it is one thing to be a hearer of the law, and quite another to be a doer (v. 13). Keep in mind that these verses do not tell us how to be saved. They describe how God judges humankind according to the deeds performed in the course of life. Verse 7-8 are not talking about a person’s occasional actions, but the total purpose and drift of persons whole life, the “life-choice”. People do not get eternal life by patiently seeking it; but if they are seeking for life, they will find it in Christ.

Conclusion

As pointed out already, using the Jews as an example, Paul brings out some principles of Divine judgment that is applicable to all. Paul’s use of the phrases: each person (v.6), every human being (v. 9), everyone (v. 10)  show that God is no respecter of persons but judges all mankind on the basis of the lives they have lived.

Questions

  1. What is the meaning of divine Judgment?
  2. Explain the statement that the Jews are without Excuse before God.
  3. How does God judge humankind according to God’s Truth? Discus
  4. What is your view on the statement that, God is not a respecter of persons?
  5. Does God’s Judgment according to persons deeds relate to salvation? Explain

 

Prepared by:

Rev. John Kwasi Fosu

Pastor in Charge,

Amazing Grace Baptist Church, Hamburg

 

AMAZING GRACE BAPTIST CHURCH, HAMBURG, BIBLE STUDY MATERIAL – LESSON 4 Prepared by Rev. John Kwasi Fosu

Topic: Describing the sins of the Gentile world – Introducing the universal sin problem that Jesus came to solve

Text:    1:18-32

Introduction

From last week’s lesson, we learnt about the meaning of the Gospel and some reasons why we are not to be ashamed of it. It is common to hear, especially as we celebrate Easter, that Jesus is the answer. The question that then comes to mind is, what is the problem? In other words, what are the problems of the world that confront humanity that Jesus has come to solve? In Romans 1:18-3:20, therefore, Paul explains the Universal sinfulness of humanity  in order to point out the need for salvation in Jesus. In the closing verses of chapter 1, Paul explains how the Gentiles got into the awful darkness that engulfs them and how God’s wrath was revealed against them.  The following then paints the picture of the sins of the Gentiles in a systematic way:

  1. Though the Gentiles knew God (vv. 18-20)

Vs. 19: God had given them a two-fold revelation of Himself in conscience and in creation. God had revealed Himself from the very time of creation, so that people who have never heard the Gospel are still without excuse.

  • The creation is a visible disclosure of the invisible God and intelligible disclosure of the otherwise unknown God. This truth is a regular theme of Scripture (Psa. 19:1; Isa. 6;3; Job. 37-41; 42:5 cf. Acts 14:14ff.; 17:22ff; Matt. 5:45).
  • Rom. 1:19-20 is one of the key passages on the topic of General revelation

2. Yet they glorified Him not as God (vv. 21-23).

  • Vain thinking and foolish reasoning turned people from the truth to lies. We see indifference leading to ingratitude, resulting in ignorance.
  • The next step was idolatry, honouring the creature (including humankind) rather than the Creator.

3. Instead, they changed the truth of God (vv. 24-25).

This word changed (as used by the KJV) should really read exchanged (as used in the NIV). People  replaced God’s truth with Satan’s lie. Thus, worshiping the creature and not the Creator; worshiping man instead of God; worshiping things instead of Christ. Satan tempted Jesus to do this (Matt. 4;8-11). Note that in Rom. 1:18, the Gentiles suppressed  – held down the truth, and now they exchange the truth for a lie. The truth believed and obeyed sets us free (John 8:31-32); the truth rejected and disobeyed makes us slaves.

 

4. And thus rejected the Knowledge of God (vv. 26-32)                                                                                                                                                                                      

These people had begun with a clear knowledge of God (vv. 19,21) and His judgement against sin (v. 32); but now they reached the lowest level of their downward fall: they did not even want to have knowledge of God (cf. Psa. 14:1)

It is sad to see the tragic results of this decline. Evolutionists want us to believe that humans have “evolved” from primitive, ignorant, beast-like forms into the marvelous creature they are today. Paul says just the opposite: man began the highest of God’s creatures, but he made himself into a beast. Note the three judgments of God:

  • God gave them up to sinful desires and idolatry (vv. 24-25).
  • God gave them over to shameful lusts (vv.26-27).
  • God gave them over to depraved mind (vv. 28ff.)

God gave them up! This is the revelation of the wrath of God (v. 18). The sins listed there are too vile to define or discuss; yet they are practiced today around the world with the approval of society. People know that sin will be judged; yet they take pleasure in it anyway. Were it not for the Gospel of Christ, we would be in this slavery of sin ourselves.

Concluding Remarks

Indeed there is a universal sinfulness of humanity that Jesus serves as an answer. In Taking the sins of the Gentiles as an example, it could be said that, humanity has no excuse because God has revealed himself to all even in creation. Romans 1:18-32 seeks to describe what Christian philosophers of the faith later developed and referred to as the cosmological and the moral arguments for God’s existence. In Rom 1:19-20 we read that all peoples of the world, whether or not they have the law, or God’s special revelation, should know from the creation that there is a Creator. Romans 1:32 then shows that there is a universal sense of morality – that is, all cultures have a standard of right or wrong. This shows that humankind was uniquely created in the image of one who has moral standards.

 

Questions

  1. What is the wrath of God and against what is God’s wrath revealed? Romans 1:18
  2. Did our forefathers know about God before Christianity came to Africa?
  3. Does Romans 1:26-27 deal with subject of Lesbianism and Homosexuality?
  4. What are the arguments for or against?
  5. What advice would you give to people in such relationships if you have such opportunity?

 

 

AMAZING GRACE BAPTIST CHURCH, HAMBURG BIBLE STUDIES MATERIAL, LESSON 3

Refusing to be ashamed of the Gospel: Learning from Paul

Text: Romans 1:14-17

Memory Verse: Romans 1:16

Introduction

In last week lesson, we attempted to explain what the Gospel mean. It was pointed out that in simple terms, Gospel means the Good News. It is the message that Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose again, and now is able to save all who trust Him (1 Cor.15;1-4). It is the Gospel of God (Rom. 1:1) because it originates with God and humans did not invent it. This lesson seeks to explain why Paul says he is not ashamed of the Gospel.

Why was Paul tempted to be ashamed of the Gospel as he desired to visit Rome?

In the letter to the Romans, Paul could be understood to be writing a letter to a church he did not plant or  has not visited before. Yet Paul writes that he is not ashamed of the gospel. In any way, why was Paul tempted at all to be ashamed of the Gospel?

First, the Gospel was identified with a poor Jewish carpenter who was crucified. The Romans had no special appreciation for the Jews, and the crucifixion was the lowest form of execution given a criminal. Why put your faith in a Jew who was crucified?

Second, Rome was a proud city, and the Gospel came from Jerusalem, the capital city of one of the little nations that Rome had conquered. The Christians in that day were not among the elite of society; they were common people and even slaves. Rome had known many great philosophers and philosophies; why pay any attention to a story about a Jew who arose from the dead? (1 Cor. 1:18-25).

Thus, to think of a little Jewish tentmaker, going to Rome to preach such a message, is almost humorous.

Reasons why Paul was not ashamed  of the Gospel

Paul was not ashamed in that he was confident in his message, and he gives us several reasons that explain why he was not ashamed. Four reasons are:

  1. Paul was not ashamed of the Gospel because of its origin. It is the Gospel of Christ (v. 16a and 1.1). The message of the Gospel is from and about the very Son of God! In his opening sentence, Paul called this message the Gospel of God (Rom. 1:1). How could Paul be ashamed of such a message, when it came from God and centred in His Son, Jesus Christ? I have ever lived in a village where although the gong-gong beater (that is the public announcer of the message from the Chief) is not well of, yet he or she is never afraid and all take him serious because everyone knows he carries messages from the king. He is never afraid or ashamed, because he knows where his messages comes from.
  2. Paul was not ashamed of the Gospel because of its operation. It is the power of God (v. 16b). Paul was not ashamed of the Gospel because he knew it was the one message that had the power to change people’s lives! He had seen the Gospel work in cities such as Corinth and Ephesus; and he was confident that it would work in Rome. It had transformed his own life, and he knew it could transform the lives of others. In Africa where some people are so much deeply rooted in Traditional religion, some who are even fetish priests, upon hearing the Good News about Jesus, are able to give up their fetishism.
  3. Paul was not ashamed of the gospel because of its outcome: It is the power of God unto salvation (v. 16c). The word salvation carried tremendous meaning in Paul’s day. Its basic meaning is deliverance, and it was applied to personal and national deliverances. The Gospel delivers people from the penalty and power of sin. Salvation is a major theme in the letter to Romans. It is also seen as the great need of the human race (see Rom. 10:1, 9-10). If men and women are to be saved, it must be through faith in Jesus Christ as proclaimed in the Gospel.
  4. Paul was not ashamed of the gospel because of its outreach. It is for  everyone who believes (vv. 15-17). This was not an exclusive message for either the Jew or the Gentile; it was for all people because all need to be saved (Mark 16:15). To the Jew, first does not suggest that the Jew is better than the Gentile; for there is no difference in condemnation or in salvation (Rom. 2;6-11; 10:9-13). The Gospel to the Jew first was seen in the ministry of Jesus Christ (Matt. 10:5-7) and the Apostles (Acts 3:26). How marvelous it is to have a message of power that can be taken to all people!

 

Conclusion and Application

Perhaps the conversion experience of Paul motivated him not to be ashamed of the gospel. It is worthy of note that, the Gospel, and for that matter, the Good News about Jesus  has not lose its transforming power.  For it is this same Gospel that transformed Luther’s life.  We are therefore called upon to trust in this Gospel and in simple terms tell it to others. Like Paul did, we are not to be ashamed of the Gospel.

Study Questions

  1. What does the Gospel mean?
  2. Why was Paul tempted at all to be ashamed of the Gospel?
  3. In contemporary times, what are some circumstances that make us become ashamed to tell others about the Gospel?
  4. Explain four major qualities about the Gospel that should make us confident to tell the others

Give certain instances in your life that the

Reflections on the Gospel that Paul was not ashamed of (Romans 1:14-17), Presented by Rev. John Kwasi Fosu

 

Introduction

I think, there is no time in the history of the Church that the Gospel has undergone so many reinterpretations and different emphases than this era. The word Gospel has been interpreted and used in different contexts. For example, to those going through fear of witchcraft in Africa, message of deliverance is their gospel. To others who are victims of the caste system in India, message of liberation could be their gospel. To others who are human right activists, all policies that protect the right of humanity such as gay rights, lesbians’ right and children’s right  could also be a form of gospel. To some living in poverty who just need a message of hope, a prosperity message is taken to mean a kind of Gospel. To some others, policies protecting the right of animals is also a kind of Gospel. The list goes on and on. And depending upon one’s understanding of the Gospel, one could be described as conservative, liberal and fundamental or orthodox in theological orientation. But what does the Gospel actually mean from Pauline perspective especially as we read romans?

 

Explaining the passage

In Romans 1:16-17: Paul announces the theme of the letter: the Gospel of Christ reveals the righteousness of God – righteousness based on faith and not works, and available to all, both Jews and Gentiles. The word ‘righteousness’ is used in one way or the other over sixty times in this letter (righteous, just, and justified). What does the Gospel mean? In simple terms, Gospel means the Good News. It is the message that Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose again, and now is able to save all who trust Him (1 Cor.15;1-4). It is the Gospel of God (Rom. 1:1) because it originates with God and humans did not invent it. From the perspective of Pauline theology, God’s righteousness is revealed in the Gospel; for in the death of Christ, God revealed His righteousness by punishing sin; and in the resurrection of Christ, He revealed His righteousness by making salvation available to the believing sinner. And so the problem: How can a holy God ever forgive sinners and still be holy is answered in the Gospel. Through the death and resurrection of Christ, God is seen to be both just and justifier (Rom. 3: 26).

Why does Paul say he is not ashamed of the gospel at all? On the negative note, and on one side, I think that  Paul was suffering from a reasonable inferiority complex as he contemplated his trip to Rome. For unlike other of his letters where his critics had questioned his authority, it is not so in this letter. Once a story is told about the animal Kingdom. That all animals met and they were considering that the ugliest animal would have to carry a big barrel full of water. Then suddenly the monkey got up and started shouting, “as for me I can’t carry it o..” Then the lion, who was the king said, monkey but who has said that you are the one to carry the barrel?. I think the character of the monkey is the example of what inferiority complex can sometimes do. In the letter to the Romans, Paul could be understood to be writing a letter to a church he has not planted or visited before. Yet Paul writes that he is not ashamed of the gospel. In any way, why was Paul tempted at all to be ashamed of the Gospel?

First, the Gospel was identified with a poor Jewish carpenter who was crucified. The Romans had no special appreciation for the Jews, and the crucifixion was the lowest form of execution given a criminal. Why put your faith in a Jew who was crucified?

Second, Rome was a proud city, and the Gospel came from Jerusalem, the capital city of one of the little nations that Rome had conquered. The Christians in that day were not among the elite of society; they were common people and even slaves. Rome had known many great philosophers and philosophies; why pay any attention to a story about a Jew who arose from the dead? (1 Cor. 1:18-25).

Thus, to think of a little Jewish tentmaker, going to Rome to preach such a message, is almost humorous.

On the other side and Positively, Paul was not ashamed in that he was confident in his message, and he gives us several reasons that explain why he was not ashamed. To begin, Paul was not ashamed of the Gospel because of its origin. It is the Gospel of Christ (v. 16a and 1.1). The message of the Gospel is from and about the very Son of God! In his opening sentence, Paul called this message the Gospel of God (Rom. 1:1). How could Paul be ashamed of such a message, when it came from God and centred in His Son, Jesus Christ? I have ever lived in a village where although the gong man (that is the public announcer of the message from the Chief) is not well of, yet he or she is never afraid and all take him serious because everyone knows he carries messages from the king. He is never afraid or ashamed, because he knows where his messages came from.

Second, Paul was not ashamed of the Gospel because of its operation. It is the power of God (v. 16b). Paul was not ashamed of the Gospel because he knew it was the one message that had the power to change people’s lives! He had seen the Gospel work in cities such as Corinth and Ephesus; and he was confident that it would work in Rome. It had transformed his own life, and he knew it could transform the lives of others. I come from Africa where some people who are so much deeply rooted in Traditional religion, some of which are fetish priests, upon hearing the Good News about Jesus, are able to give up their fetishism.

Third, Paul was not ashamed of the gospel because of its outcome: It is the power of God unto salvation (v. 16c). The word salvation carried tremendous meaning in Paul’s day. Its basic meaning is deliverance, and it was applied to personal and national deliverances. The Gospel delivers people from the penalty and power of sin. Salvation is a major theme in the letter to Romans. It is also seen as the great need of the human race (see Rom. 10:1, 9-10). If men and women are to be saved, it must be through faith in Jesus Christ as proclaimed in the Gospel.

Fourth, Paul was not ashamed of the gospel because of  its outreach. It is for  everyone who believes (vv. 15-17). This was not an exclusive message for either the Jew or the Gentile; it was for all people because all need to be saved (Mark 16:15). To the Jew, first does not suggest that the Jew is better than the Gentile; for there is no difference in condemnation or in salvation (Rom. 2;6-11; 10:9-13). The Gospel to the Jew first was seen in the ministry of Jesus Christ (Matt. 10:5-7) and the Apostles (Acts 3:26). How marvelous it is to have a message of power that can be taken to all people!

 

Conclusion and Application

As we go through the period of lent, let us continue to reflect through what the gospel means. And that demands openness of heart and mind. Well, may be as an African Christian, having personally  experienced transformed life just by hearing the gospel in simple terms, I will agree with Paul that the Gospel, and for that matter, the Good News about Jesus  has not lose its transforming power.  Although many contemporary Pauline exegetes have come to disagree with Luther’s interpretation of Paul, yet it is undoubtable fact that it is this same Gospel, that transformed Luther’s life. So also it did to John Wesley. We are therefore called upon to trust in this Gospel and in simple terms tell it to others. Like Paul did, we are not to be ashamed of the Gospel. The past mistakes of the early propagators of this Gospel should not make us ashamed. Neither should one’s cultural background serve as a barrier. For the Gospel knows no cultural limitations.

Presented by Rev. John Kwasi Fosu

As a devotional message, presented at the joint programme of Missionsakademie and Bossey Ecumenical Institute on 01/04/17