Friday, March 12, 2010

March Men's Study

I'm doing something I've never done tomorrow - reuse a study for the same group!  I was looking through what I had on the prodigal son for the youth group, and stumbled across a 4 year old study from the men's group at Lakeshore Lutheran Fellowship.  It was exactly what I needed to be thinking about at this point in Lent.  Interesting to look back and revise a study, too.

We meet at 7 (breakfast), 7:30-8:30ish study if you're interested, 2nd Saturday of each month.  It's not so much me teaching, as bringing questions that I want to hear these brothers talk about.

The Cross Is…
From In My Place, an article by Steve Brown.  Romans 5:6-11, verse by verse

Even radical bible scholars count this as an epistle definitely written by Paul.  His purposes in writing the letter include:  prayers for his coming journey to Jerusalem, Rome and then on to Spain, to outline his teaching, and to address the big conflict in the community.  The conflict between the Gentile and Jewish Christians developed because Emperor Claudius exiled Jews from Rome in AD 49, which resulted in Gentile Christians taking leadership positions.  The tension came when Jewish Christians returned in AD 54 after Claudius’ death and found the Gentiles not keeping Jewish food laws nor observing Jewish holy days.

Martin Luther described Romans as “the chief book of the New Testament… it deserves to be known by heart, word for word, by every Christian.”  His lectures on Romans in 1515-16 were probably what led to the 95 Theses of 1517.  In 1738, John Wesley’s reading of Luther’s Preface to the Epistle to the Romans began his conversion experience. In 1919, Karl Barth wrote a commentary on Romans which was a big influence on the German Christians who resisted the Third Reich.  Modern day evangelists use the “Romans Road” to present the case for salvation:  Romans 3:23, 6:23a, 6:23b, 5:8,10:9-10,10:13.  That’s a good epistle! 

Today we’ll look at just half of one chapter.  In the first four chapters, Paul uses a bunch of strong connections with the Old Testament to make the case that we are justified by faith.  Now he’s going to share the blessings of being justified.  First let’s look at Romans 5:1-5.
1-2 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. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3-4 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
1)    How would you sum up those first five verses to a fellow Christian?

2)    What are some of the blessings of justification?

3)    Can you think of any life examples of the benefits of suffering described in 3-4?

The CROSS is a…necessity
v6:  You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.
4)    If we are forgiven, why do we always pray to be forgiven?  In what ways were we powerless?  Are we no longer powerless?

The CROSS is a…surprise
v7:  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.
Brown notes: we deserve wrath, we expect anger, and yet  we find God offering love.
5)    What’s the difference between a righteous man and a good man?

6)    How would you feel if someone offered their life up for yours?  (Or, if you’ve experienced this in the military or elsewhere,  how did you feel when they did offer their life for yours?)  What if it was someone who was a better person than you?  Someone with more to lose?

The CROSS is a…demonstration
v8: But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
7)    Can we witness if we are miserable and bound?  God demonstrated his love to us that he might demonstrate his love through us.

The CROSS is a…promise
v9: Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!
This reminds me of the best teacher I ever knew.  She enforced complete discipline to make sure that her classroom was a safe place for her elementary students, but always, always any act of discipline was followed by an act of love.
8)    What does this verse mean to you?

The CROSS is a…reality
v10: For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
9)    Do you live in guilt? That’s living in a lie.  The reality is you are forgiven.  More than acquitted of the crime, we’re reconciled.  What difference does that make in how we live day to day?

10)    Are you afraid of death?  That fear is a lie.  The reality is you are going to live forever.  What difference can that make in our decision making?

The CROSS is a…celebration
v11: Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
11)    Consider the parable of the Prodigal Son.  What keeps the older brother from celebrating?

12)    In our happiness-obsessed culture, how do you explain joy?  How can accepting Jesus’ salvation result in joy if it doesn’t change anything about your circumstances?

Web Resources
Steve Brown is a former pastor, radio host and seminary teacher who concentrates on grace.  His teaching is very freeing because of this great emphasis on it's free and freeing nature.  You can find his resources on  Writings, podcasts, etc.

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