Introduction: Today I was in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan hiking
to some magnificent waterfalls. There has been a lot of rain and the
water going down the falls is just wild. The river’s power is
awesome. Looking at the beautiful scenery and the incredible power
of the river made me think about our Creator God. Paul talks about
this in the first two chapters of Romans. What Romans says about
the relationship of nature to God leads naturally into the subject
of the relationship between humans and God’s law. One of the hot
issues of Paul’s time was whether certain of the laws kept by the
Jews applied to the Gentile converts. Let’s jump into our study of
the Bible and see what we can learn about nature, law and grace!
- Nature and God
- Read Romans 1:18. If you are wicked, should you be
- Why? (God’s anger is seen as coming down from heaven
against wicked people (or at least their wicked
- What spurred this display of God’s anger? (The
wickedness of the people suppressed God’s truth.)
- Consider this statement just a moment. How can
wicked behavior in any way keep God’s truth
from being seen? In my experience wicked
behavior reveals reasons to keep God’s law.
- Can wicked people harm God’s truth? (It seems
so. The popular culture lobbies against God
and His law. The logical conclusion from what
Paul writes is that bad behavior interferes
with the advancement of the gospel.)
- I’ve had Christians tell me that because they
are saved by faith, their actions do not
matter. How can that be true? (The Bible tells
us that bad behavior suppresses the truth about
God to such an extent that a righteous God is
called to do something by directing His power
against the wicked.)
- Read Romans 1:19-20. Two questions: Why are the wicked
without an excuse? What excuse are the wicked seeking?
- When you get in trouble, what is the first thing
that you do? (Come up with an excuse to explain your
- What excuse do these verses suggest that the
wicked are making? (Sorry, no one told us that
there is a God who has rules about behavior.)
- Why are the wicked without the excuse, “Sorry, I did
not know?” (The Creation demonstrates that there is
a God. Just as I was marveling at a God who created
the mighty river and the spectacular views, so any
human should realize that a God exists simply
because of the order and beauty of what has been
- In light of this, what should we conclude about our
behavior? (That God is concerned about it. That if
people without a Bible are accountable for their
behavior, obviously Christians are accountable.)
- Read Romans 1:21-23. What specific behavior has made God
angry? (That humans are worshiping what has been made by
God (or made by humans to look like something made by
God)instead of worshiping the Creator God.)
- Do you agree that this is obviously foolish? To
worship something made by humans instead of
worshiping the God who made humans?
- Read Romans 1:24. What is the natural result of ignoring
God? (Bad behavior. It is this bad behavior that, as we
discussed previously, tends to suppress God’s truth.)
- Read Romans 1:29-32. What “righteous decree” of God is
Paul writing about? (God’s law.)
- Looking back over these series of sins, what law of
God comes to mind? (The Ten Commandments.)
- Grace and the Law
- Read John 1:17 and Romans 3:21-24. How are we saved? (We
have a righteousness apart from the law. This
righteousness comes through faith in Jesus.)
- Is the law part of this salvation? ( Romans 3:21 says
this righteousness is “apart” from the law. That
means our righteousness does not come from the law.)
- What are we to conclude about the other part of
Romans 3:21 which says that the law “testifies” to
this other source of righteousness? (The law
promotes and supports righteousness by faith in
Jesus – even though it is not part of this
- Let’s go back and reconsider Romans 1:18 which says
that the wicked are suffering God’s anger because
they suppressed the truth through their wickedness.
Does this teach us that the law promotes God’s
kingdom and disobedience to the law suppresses the
truth of God’s kingdom? (Yes!)
- Who would be more effective at suppressing the truth
– someone who did not believe in God at all, or
someone who claimed to believe in God, but did evil
things? (Someone who claimed to believe in God would
be more of a problem because you would assume they
were promoting God’s interests.)
- Does it logically follow that God displays His
wrath towards those who claim to be His
followers, yet undermine His law?
- What does this suggest about the
relationship between law and grace?
- Read Acts 15:1 and Genesis 17:9-11. Would you like to be
in a covenant relationship with God?
- How would you answer the charge brought in Acts
15:1? Or, would you agree with it?
- Read Acts 15:2. How did Paul and Barnabas answer this
question? (They decided to submit it to the church.)
- Read Acts 15:6, 11-20. What was required of the Gentiles?
- Is this all that is required of those saved by
- If you say, “yes,” tell me why refraining from
eating meat with blood in it is a condition of
salvation, but you can be saved if you kill
- If you claimed to be a Christian and claimed
you could be saved while advocating killing,
stealing and the violation of the rest of the
Ten Commandments, would you be obscuring the
truth? (We need to consider the context and use
some common sense. The context was the
circumcision issue and the resolution logically
had nothing to do with the Ten Commandments.
James was not announcing that Gentiles could
kill, steal or ignore any of the other of the
- In Acts 15:1-2 we see that Paul disagreed with
those who claimed that circumcision was
required for salvation. If Paul’s views were
that obedience to the Ten Commandments was no
longer an issue, how do we explain Romans 1:28-32? Paul said the people who do this deserve to
- Read Romans 2:12-13. If you believe that Paul teaches us
righteousness by faith, how do you explain this statement
that the “doers of the law” will be justified?
- Read Romans 3:10-11. Now what do we say? If only those
who do the law are justified, and no one understands the
law or seeks God, are we all doomed?
- Friend, we have now begun our journey into the teachings
of the book of Romans about law and grace. Law is
important. It is key in the battle between good and evil.
It, along with nature, testifies to the truth of God.
But, what, exactly, is the relationship of the law to our
salvation? Will you agree to continue our pursuit of this
- Next week: All Have Sinned.