AMAZING GRACE BAPTIST CHURCH, HAMBURG, BIBLE STUDY MATERIAL – LESSON 26, PREPARED BY REV. JOHN KWASI FOSU

Topic: Four Pictures of the Christian reminding us of our spiritual duties
Text: Romans 12
Memory Verse: Romans 12:2

Introduction
As already noted in the previous studies, Romans 12-16 entails the practical section that mainly focusses on our worship of God and service to one another. Thus in these final chapters, Paul tells us how to put our learning into practice. Today’s lesson focusses on Romans 12:1 – 21. Here, the apostle gives us four pictures of the believer that reminds us of our spiritual duties and service.

A Sacrifice on the Altar (12:1 – 2)
True service must begin with dedication to the Lord. The motive for dedication is love. Paul does not say, “I command you” but “I urge you,” because of what God has already done for you. We do not serve Jesus in order to receive His mercies, because we already have them (3:21-8:39). We serve Him out of love. True dedication is the presenting of body, mind and will to God day by day. It is daily yielding the body to Him, having the mind renewed by the Word, and surrendering the will through prayer and obedience. Believers either conform to the world, or they are “transformed.” If we are being transformed, then we are daily becoming more like the Savior (The Greek word for “transform” is the same as the one for “transfigure” in Matthew 17:2.).

When the believer is thus dedicated to God he can know God’s will for his life. God does not have three wills (good, pleasing and perfect) for believers in the way that there are three choices for merchandise such as “good, better and best.” Rather, we grow in our appreciation of God’s will. Some believers obey God because they fear chastening and discipline. However, the deepest devotion is in those who love the Lord God and know that His will is perfect for them.Amazing Grace Baptist

As priests, we are to present “spiritual sacrifices” to God (1 Peter 2:5), and the first sacrifice He wants each day is our body, mind and will in total surrender to Him.

A Member of the Body (12:3 – 8)
In 1 Corinthians 12 we find the same truth spoken of in these verses, that the believer is baptized by the Spirit into the body and is given a gift (or gifts) to use for the benefit of the church. There is a “universal body” made up of all believers in Christ. There is also the local body, through which each believer ministers to the Lord. Most of the 112 references in the New Testament to the church refer to a local assembly of believers.

Service in the local body begins with personal dedication (verses 1-2) and then an honest evaluation of the spiritual gifts the believer possesses (verse 3). Paul tells us that we should not think of ourselves more highly than we ought. When a man is called to serve, God will reveal to him how to use his spiritual gifts. Our gifts differ, but they all come from the Spirit and are to be used for the glory of the Lord. We are saved “by grace, through faith” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Likewise, we must exercise our spiritual gifts “in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you” (verse 3) and “according to the grace given us” (verse 6).

Then, in verses 6 – 8 and in verse 13, Paul lists eight spiritual gifts as follows:

(1) Prophecy – defined in 1 Corinthians 14:3 – the ability to proclaim God’s truth without compromise.
(2) Serving – performing tasks that benefit others and meet practical needs.
(3) Teaching – explaining God’s truth so that others can understand.
(4) Encouraging – helping and comforting those in times of need. Helping to motivate others toward greater spiritual growth.
(5) Giving – giving material goods and money so that the needs of the work of the Lord are met. This is done in singleness of heart, from pure motives.
(6) Leadership – given to those with vision who will help govern the local church.
(7) Mercy – Having compassion for those who are suffering.
(8) Hospitality – making guests feel comfortable and at home.

In addition to this list of spiritual gifts, Ephesians 4:11 describes the gifted people that Jesus has given to His church. First Corinthians 12 (as well as Romans 12) has a list of gifts that the Spirit has given to the believers in the local church.

A Member of the Family (12:9 – 13)
Each believer has his or her own spiritual service to perform. Verses 9-13 tell us how every believer should behave in the family of God. Love should be honest and sincere, without hypocrisy (1 John 3:18). We should hate evil and cling to the good. Love should lead to kindness and humility and faithfulness. “Spiritual fervor” (verse 11) means “boiling,” or “aglow with power”. The characteristics mentioned in this section resemble the fruit of the Spirit Paul described in Galatians 5:22-23.

Believers should care for each other and share with each other. Note how the prayer of verse 12 is followed by the care of verse 13. “Practice hospitality” is literally (in Greek) – “pursuing hospitality.” Concerning hospitality, also look at Luke 14:12-14, 1 Timothy 3:2, 5:10, Hebrews 13:2, 2 John 9 – 11 and 3 John 5-8.

A Soldier (a Believer) in the Battle (12:14 – 21)
Believers have battles as well as blessings. Paul instructs us how to handle those who oppose the Word. We are to bless them (Matthew 5:10-12) and not curse them. We are to bless those who persecute us (verse 14) and never take revenge on our opponents. Rather, we should wait for God to “repay” (verse 19), either in this life or in the future judgment.

“Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody” (verse 17). This suggests that the believer must be aware of the watchful eyes of others. People are watching us, and as much as possible, we should live peaceably with all people. Of course, we cannot compromise with sin. The attitude and spirit of Matthew 5:38-48 will help us be “peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9).

In verses 19-21, Paul refers to Proverbs 25:21-22 and Deuteronomy 32:35 (also Hebrews 10:30). The principle stated here is that the believer has turned himself over to the Lord (12:1-2), and therefore the Lord will take care of him and help fight his battles. We need spiritual wisdom (James 1:5) when it comes to dealing with the enemies of the Messiah. Otherwise, we may be a bad testimony for the Lord Jesus and cheapen the Gospel.

Conclusion
This study has sought to introduce the practical aspect of Paul’s letter to the Romans. In this chapter, Paul has drawn our attention as believers to the fact that our true service of God demands our dedication of our body and mind. Thereafter, we are to recognize that we are members of the body of Christ and so we have been given spiritual gifts for the edification of all the entire parts of the body. It has also been studied that we are members of a family and as such love must reign in our fellowship. And lastly Paul encourages us as to how to handle our enemies. Finally, if we practice the principles given in this chapter of Romans 12, we can be sure that God will direct us in all things.

Questions
1. Which areas of your life demand total renewal of your mind?
2. Explain the statement that “love should be honest and sincere.”
3. Is it possible to bless your enemies even as they continue to hurt you?
4. How can you identify your spiritual gifts and develop them?

 

 

AMZING GRACE BAPTIST CHURCH, HAMBURG BIBLE STUDY MATERIAL – LESSON 25, BY REV. JOHN KWASI FOSU

Topic: God’s redemptive future plan for Israel
Text: 11:1 – 36
Memory verse: Romans 11:26a

Introduction
From Romans 9-10, we respectfully learnt about Israel’s past and present. Romans 11 discusses Israel’s future and answers the question – “Has God permanently cast aside His people, or is there a future for Israel?” Paul says the answer is “Yes, there is a future.” He then presents four specific proofs.IMG-20171009-WA0007

First – The Personal Proof (11:1)
“I am an Israelite” – writes Paul. In 1 Timothy 1:16, Paul states that his conversion (told three times in Acts) was to be an example for other Jewish believers. It is worth noting that Paul’s pattern of salvation is not to be seen as a pattern for the conversion of a Gentiles today, for no lost sinner literally sees the glorified Jesus, hears Him speak and is blinded for three days. Paul’s experience is perhaps a picture of the way Israel’s people will be converted in the last days. Like the apostle, they will be in rebellion and unbelief. Then, they will see “the one they have pierced” (Zechariah 12:10 and Revelation 1:7) and will repent and be saved. In 1 Corinthians 15:8, Paul says he was “one untimely born.” That is, as a Jew, he saw the Messiah and was saved long before most of his people would have that same experience.

Second – The Historical Proof (11:2 – 10)
Paul refers to 1 Kings to show that God has always had a faithful remnant even in times of great unbelief. In fact, as we read Old Testament history, we see the fact that it was always the remnant that God used and blessed. See Isaiah 1:9, for example. It is a basic teaching of the Word that when the majority falls from the faith and cannot be reformed, then God takes the remnant and starts again.

Verse 5 states that God has “a remnant chosen by grace.” Though not a large number, there are Jews in the church today. Of course, all national distinctions are removed in the Messiah. But if God is saving Jews during this age of the church when Israel is blind, how much more will He do in that coming age near the end of time? God has never forsaken His people – this is the testimony of history.

We need to remind ourselves that during this church age, God is not dealing with the nation of Israel as such. According to Ephesians 2:14-17 and Galatians 3:28, we are all one in Jesus. No Jewish group can claim to be God’s elect remnant. In verse 8, Paul shows that this “blinding” of Israel as a nation was prophesied in Isaiah 29:10 and Deuteronomy 29:4. (Compare these with Matthew 13:14-15 and Isaiah 6:9-10).

Third – The “Olive Tree” Proof (11:11 – 24)
In these verses, Paul is discussing Jews and Gentiles, not individual sinners or saints. In this section he proves that God has a specific purpose behind the fall of Israel – namely, the salvation of the Gentiles. Gentiles do not have to become Jews before they can become believers.

Paul argues that if the fall of the Jews has brought such blessing to the world, then how much greater will the blessing be when Israel is restored. The restoration of Israel will bring “resurrection” to the world (verse 15). In other words, Paul seems to be certain that there was a future for Israel as a nation. Paul looked forward to the day when Israel would be received into fullness of blessing as a nation.

“Again” is a very key word (verse 23). God will again restore Israel. The Old Testament makes it very clear that Israel is going to turn to God again. As an example, read Jeremiah 23:3–8, which is one of the many remarkable prophecies of the restoration of Israel. Also, Zechariah speaks of the great Day of Atonement. Israel will turn to God in repentance, and God will save them just as He saves us—by His marvelous mercy and grace.

The parable of the olive tree must be examined carefully. Paul is not talking about salvation of individuals, but the position of Jews and Gentiles as peoples in the eyes of God. Israel is the olive tree (Abraham is the root) that did not bear fruit. God then broke off some of the branches and grafted the Gentiles into the tree. They were “a wild olive shoot” (verse 17). This was done “contrary to nature” (verse 24), for it is the usual practice to graft the good branch into the poorer stock. But God grafted the poorer, weak Gentiles into the good stock of Israel. This act shows the kindness and the sternness of God. His kindness was in saving the Gentiles. His sternness was in cutting off rebellious Israel.

Fourth – The Scriptural Proof (11:25-36)
Paul has used the Old Testament often in these three chapters, and in this final section, he turns to Isaiah (59:20-21 and 27:9) to show that the Old Testament promised a coming Deliverer who would cleanse and restore Israel. He states the “mystery” of Israel’s blindness. The mystery was a truth hidden in past ages but now revealed in its fullness in the New Testament.

“The full number of the Gentiles” (verse 25) refers to the number of Gentiles that will be saved during this church age. When the body of Jesus is completed, He will catch it away in the air. Then will begin the seven-year Tribulation period here on earth – “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7). At the end of that period, the Deliverer will come, and the believing remnant will enter into its kingdom.

“All Israel” does not mean every single Jew. Rather, it means that the nation of Israel at that day will all be saved. It will be a redeemed nation. God’s promised covenant is quoted (Jeremiah 31:31-34) in verse 27. This “new covenant” will apply to Israel when it trusts the Lord Jesus as its Redeemer. Though the Jews may seem like enemies of God’s will today, they are still loved by God. He will not break the covenants He made with their fathers. People may change, but God cannot change or revoke His promises (verse 29).

In verses 30-32, Paul explains that the Gentiles at one time rejected God (Romans 1:18 – 32), yet now were being saved by faith. Even today the Jews appear to be in unbelief, but shall one day receive grace and mercy. God “has bound over all men to disobedience, so that He may have mercy on them all” (verse 32).

Conclusion
As the study of Romans 9-11 comes to an end, it is important to remember that the theme of chapter 11 is national and not personal. God will never “break off” true believers from their salvation. There is no separation between Jesus and His people (Romans 8:35-39). The church today is primarily made up of Gentiles. Gentiles benefit from the spiritual heritage of Israel. In a spiritual sense, we are children of Abraham, who is the “father” of all who believe (Galatians 3:26-29). After studying God’s gracious and wise plan for both Jews and Gentiles, now we may rejoice with Paul as he concludes with a hymn of praise to God in verses 33-36.

Questions
1. How do the following points show that God has a future redemptive plan for the Israelites?
a. Paul’s personal life as a proof
b. Historical proof
c. The Olive tree proof
d. The Scriptural proof
2. How does your personal salvation experience assure you of future hope for your family?

AMAZING GRACE BAPTIST CHURCH, HAMBURG BIBLE STUDY MATERIAL LESSON 24, BY REV. JOHN KWASI FOSU

Topic: The Rational of Preaching the Gospel of Jesus to Everyone
Text: Romans 10:14-21
Memory Verse: Romans 10:17

Introduction
We have studied about the fact that in Romans 9-11, Paul talks about God’s plan for Israel. In these chapters, Paul respectfully discusses Israel’s past, present and future. As this lesson focusses on Romans 10, special attention is paid to the result of Israel’s rejection of God’s salvation in Christ and what should be done about it, namely the need to preach the Gospel.

What should be done about the Rejection? (10:14-17)
Paul writes here simply that sinners cannot be saved apart from the Word of God, for “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word of Christ” (verse 17). In verse 15, Paul refers to Isaiah 52:7 and applies this passage to the taking of the Gospel of peace (peace with God and peace between Jew and Gentile – Ephesians 2:13-17) to the lost of Israel.

Though we often use Romans 10:14-15 as the basis for sending out preachers to Gentile nations, the basic meaning is that of taking the Gospel to Israel. We take the Gospel to the Jew, not because of Romans 1:16 (“to the Jew first”), but because of Romans 10:14-15. If we share Paul’s burden for the people of Israel, we will want to share the Gospel with them. The witness who takes the Gospel to the lost (whether Gentile or Jew) certainly has “beautiful feet” in the eyes of God.

The Result of the Rejection (10:18-21)
The result of Israel’s rejection is that God has turned to the Gentiles and is now taking out of them a people for His name (Acts 15). But even this should be no surprise to the Jews, for in Deuteronomy 32:21, God promised to use other nations to provoke the Jews to jealousy. In Isaiah 65:1-2, God announced that Israel would be disobedient, but the Gentiles would find Him and His salvation.

Keep in mind that the Old Testament did promise the salvation of the Gentiles, but it did not teach that Jews and Gentiles would be part of the same plan or that believers from both races would be one in Jesus. The Old Testament taught that the Gentiles would be saved through Israel’s establishment as a kingdom. But Israel fell. What then would God do with the Gentiles? Paul points out in Romans 9-11 that through Israel’s fall, salvation came to the Gentiles (11:11). God has mercy upon all through the grace made possible at Calvary (11:32).

Verse 21 certainly states God’s attitude toward Israel, even today. Though the nation does not believe (2 Corinthians 3:15 – 4:6 and Romans 11:25), God yearns after the lost Jew just as He does for the lost Gentile. No doubt, in the view of Paul, many Jews who are hearing the Word today will one day trust the Messiah.

Conclusion and application
As our studies on Romans 10 comes to an end, it is important to note the following important practical points. To begin, salvation is for all people and is it not difficult to obtain: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (verse 11).

Remarkably, it is important that the word of God be given to lost sinners since it is the Word that convicts. Thus it is the Word that gives faith and leads to Jesus. One can from this study observe that there are fundamentally only two “religions” in the world: works-righteousness and faith-righteousness. Here, No one can satisfy God by the first religion, but everyone can respond to God (in Jesus) by the second.

Questions
1. There are fundamentally two ‘religions’ in the world: works-righteousness and faith-righteousness. How far do you agree?
2. What is the result of Israel’s rejection of the gospel of Jesus with reference to Acts 15 and Deuteronomy 32:21?
3. Who has beautiful feet in the eyes of God and to what extent do you see yourself as having beautiful feet?