Introduction: In the last several lessons we winced when we learned
that “good” Christians may well be like the older brother in the
story of the prodigal (Luke 15), or the religious Jews in the story
of the “Good Samaritan” (Luke 10), or the friends of the king in the
Matthew 22 story of the wedding feast. The “less righteous” readers
of the lesson, on the other hand, were rejoicing. Salvation by grace
is good reason to rejoice and keep on rejoicing. But, Jesus gives
us all (“good” and “bad” Christians alike) sobering news when He
describes ( Matthew 7:13-14)the path to salvation as being “narrow”
with “only a few find[ing] it.” How can it be “narrow” when it is
given to all who believe? Is putting on the wedding garment of
salvation a one-time event which we can later forget? Or, is it
more? Let’s dive into our Bible study and find out!

  1. Smart Salvation

    1. Read Romans 10:1-4. What is wrong with the Israelites?
      Are they lazy? (No. They are “zealous,” meaning “hard
      working.” The problem is that they do not understand the
      gospel. They have a gap in their knowledge.)

    2. If you continue to read Romans chapters 10 and 11 you
      will learn that salvation is by belief, but the problem
      is understanding it. Read Romans 12:1-2. Against what
      failing is Paul warning us? (Do not to be conformed to
      the world.)

      1. Why is this be a problem if we are saved by grace?
        (Notice that Paul is still talking about knowledge.
        If we are transformed by the gospel, then we “will
        be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His
        good, pleasing and perfect will.” To “test”
        something is to learn more about it.)

        1. This sounds like a science project – we test
          something to be sure it is true. Why do you
          think that conforming to the world means we
          cannot properly conduct the test? (The problem
          with the Israelites of Paul’s time is that they
          did not properly understand God’s will. We have
          the same challenge – how to understand God’s
          will. If we are transformed by the gospel,
          rather than conformed to the world, we are
          given the tools to test who is accurately
          describing God’s will. If you are in the world,
          you testing ability is too dull.)

  2. Sincere Love

    1. Read Romans 12:9-13. Is there an insincere love? (Yes!)

      1. If you love evil, is your love for God insincere?
        (This text suggests a series of standards for
        sincere love. It seems that sincere love involves a
        serious commitment.)

      2. Considering the texts that we have read, would it be
        fair to conclude that the misunderstanding of the
        Israelites who rejected Jesus arose from an
        insincere love?

        1. Are a lack of knowledge and a lack of sincere
          love the same thing in this situation? If not,
          are they related? (Let’s continue on, we need
          more information!)

    2. Let’s continue reading Paul’s argument. Read Romans 13:1-5. If we love God, what should be our attitude towards
      government? (We should not be rebels!)

      1. Why is there a link between a sincere love for God
        and a submissive attitude towards authority? (Romans
        13:1 says that God instituted authority.)

    3. Read Romans 13:6-8. What do taxes and debt have in
      common? (Loving God means that we are good citizens. We
      pay our taxes and we pay our debts.)

    4. Read Romans 13:9-10. Do those who are saved by grace obey
      the Ten Commandments? (Yes!)

      1. Why? (They arise from our obligation to love

        1. Let’s revisit our “sincere love” conclusion. Is
          obeying the Ten Commandments and showing
          kindness to our neighbor a test of the
          sincerity of our love? (If we are transformed
          by the gospel, rather than conformed to the
          world, we can see this is a true test.)

        2. Let’s also revisit the issue of whether a lack
          of knowledge and a lack of sincere love are
          related? (Yes, they are related. If you do not
          understand that a sincere love is reflected in
          a changed life, you do not understand the

    5. Recall the older brother in the prodigal story? Read Luke
      15:28-30. Would you consider the older brother’s attitude
      to be one of “sincere love?” (He did not feel loving
      towards his father or his brother. He viewed his service
      and obedience to the father as slavery!)

      1. Does grace get us out of obedience? (By no means.
        Grace means our obedience is motivated by love, not
        obligation. The older brother knew about obligation,
        he did not seem to know much about love. For further
        proof of the idea that grace, love and obedience are
        linked, read Romans 6.)

  3. Getting to the Life of Grace – The Two Part Approach

    1. So, how does this happen in your life? How do we obtain a
      sincere love that results in a positive attitude towards
      God, government and those around us? Do we grit our teeth
      and hum? (Unless, like the Israelites, I’m confused about
      this, I’ve lived long enough to realize that this is easy
      to write about, but not so easy to do. Love is not
      something that comes from determination, sincerity or

    2. I believe that there are two parts to living a true life
      of grace. Read Romans 8:1-4. How do we satisfy the
      righteous requirements of the law? (Jesus satisfied “the
      righteous requirements of the law” for us. Jesus did it
      in our place. That is the first part. That was heavy
      lifting for Jesus, but not for me.)

      1. Notice that Romans 8:4 seems to say that Jesus
        fulfills the righteous requirements of the law “in
        us, who do not live according to the sinful nature.”
        Does that mean something else is required of us to
        qualify for the first part? (It sure seems that way.
        This sounds very much like the “sincere love” we
        previously discussed.)

    3. Read Romans 8:5-8. How do we avoid living in accord with
      our sinful nature? (We make a decision to set our minds
      on what the Holy Spirit desires rather than what our
      sinful nature desires.)

    4. Let’s jump ahead for a moment. Read Romans 8:12-15. How
      do we use the Spirit to put to death the “misdeeds of the
      body?” (This suggests a progression – living by the
      Spirit causes us to notice, and then reject (“put to
      death”), those things which are sin.)

    5. Read Romans 8:9-11. How important is it to have the Holy
      Spirit active in our life? (“If anyone does not have the
      Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” It
      determines the eternal outcome of our life – heaven or

    6. How, then, would you describe putting on Jesus’ robe of
      righteousness? (It is certainly not a one-time thing. It
      is not a “grit your teeth and obey” thing. It is first
      (first part) a decision to accept the sacrifice of Jesus’
      perfect life on our behalf. It is second (second part) a
      daily choice to be led by the Holy Spirit. This is what
      Romans calls “sincere love.”)

      1. What part of this did the Israelites of Paul’s time
        not understand? (They did not understand the first
        part (Jesus is the sacrificial Lamb of God). Jesus
        said they were like the older brother in the
        prodigal story – they were motivated by obligation,
        not love. That means they also missed the second

      2. Does this discussion of necessary parts destroy our
        confidence in our salvation? (No. We are saved when
        we decide to accept Jesus’ robe of righteousness.
        That decision can be undone if we continue to make
        the wrong choices. That decision is confirmed by
        making a decision to live a life led by the Holy
        Spirit. This is the “sincere” part of our love. What
        Jesus has done for us makes a difference in our
        attitude, thus a difference in our life. We still
        have “misdeeds of the body” to put to death by God’s
        power. But, we are on the right track. Praise God!)

  4. Reward

    1. Read 1 Corinthians 15:50-52. What continues until the
      “last trumpet?” (Our flesh and blood. The final and
      everlasting change comes “in a twinkling of an eye” at
      the Second Coming of Jesus. That is when our
      transformation is complete.)

    2. Read 1 Corinthians 15:53-57. What enemies are defeated?
      (The law, sin and death.)

      1. Why is God’s perfect law, the transcript of His
        character, an enemy that is defeated? (Because the
        power of sin is the law. The law saves no one. It
        simply condemns us and shows us our sinfulness. When
        Jesus perfectly obeyed the law, He destroyed an
        enemy that would have otherwise required our death.
        For that reason, the law, sin and death are all

    3. Friend, would you like to embark on the journey of
      transformation? Would you like to hear that sin and
      death are defeated in your life? If you want that, then
      accept by faith the sacrifice of Jesus on your behalf,
      and commit that each day you will ask the Holy Spirit to
      help you live a Spirit-led life.

  5. Next week: We start a new series of lessons on worship.