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!

  1. Nature and God

    1. Read Romans 1:18. If you are wicked, should you be
      afraid? (Yes.)

      1. Why? (God’s anger is seen as coming down from heaven
        against wicked people (or at least their wicked

      2. What spurred this display of God’s anger? (The
        wickedness of the people suppressed God’s truth.)

        1. 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.

        2. 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.)

        3. 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.)

    2. Read Romans 1:19-20. Two questions: Why are the wicked
      without an excuse? What excuse are the wicked seeking?

      1. When you get in trouble, what is the first thing
        that you do? (Come up with an excuse to explain your
        bad behavior.)

        1. 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.)

      2. 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

      3. 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.)

    3. 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.)

      1. Do you agree that this is obviously foolish? To
        worship something made by humans instead of
        worshiping the God who made humans?

    4. 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.)

    5. Read Romans 1:29-32. What “righteous decree” of God is
      Paul writing about? (God’s law.)

      1. Looking back over these series of sins, what law of
        God comes to mind? (The Ten Commandments.)

  2. Grace and the Law

    1. 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.)

      1. 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.)

      2. 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

      3. 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!)

      4. 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.)

        1. Does it logically follow that God displays His
          wrath towards those who claim to be His
          followers, yet undermine His law?

          1. What does this suggest about the
            relationship between law and grace?

    2. Read Acts 15:1 and Genesis 17:9-11. Would you like to be
      in a covenant relationship with God?

      1. How would you answer the charge brought in Acts
        15:1? Or, would you agree with it?

    3. Read Acts 15:2. How did Paul and Barnabas answer this
      question? (They decided to submit it to the church.)

    4. Read Acts 15:6, 11-20. What was required of the Gentiles?
      (Not circumcism.)

      1. Is this all that is required of those saved by

        1. 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

        2. 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
          Ten Commandments.)

        3. 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

    5. 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?

    6. 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?

    7. 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

  3. Next week: All Have Sinned.