Introduction: Do you sometimes feel “harassed and helpless?” You hear
all sorts of different points of view and they cannot all be right.
Even if you think you have the correct view, there are all sorts of
people who think you are obviously wrong. Even if you are confident
that you have the right understanding, are you helpless to change
things? Let’s dive into our study of the Bible and see what it
teaches us about properly living the gospel of Jesus Christ!

  1. Hope and Glory

    1. Read Romans 8:14. How does this suggest that we can be
      confident in our point of view? (Children of God are lead
      by the Holy Spirit.)

    2. Read Romans 8:15. When you think about helping the “least
      of these,” does it make you cringe a little? Does it make
      you think that you should do this even though you do not
      want to?

      1. What do these verses suggest about our attitude? (The
        attitude that “I must grit my teeth and do this” is
        the attitude of a slave. These verses suggest that
        our relationship with God will cause us to want to
        help. We will not cringe.)

    3. Read Romans 8:16. Will God give us direction with what to
      think and who to help? (The Holy Spirit speaks to us to
      help us know when we should and should not help. My wife
      has some great stories about times when the Holy Spirit
      impressed her to give, and this was later confirmed.)

      1. These texts say that we are “God’s children.” Do
        children always get things right? (When I was in law
        school there was a student who wore the same ragged
        jeans every day and flimsy rubber soled shoes with no
        socks. As the weather got colder, I decided that I
        must buy some socks for him and, if I could also
        afford it, regular shoes. When I spoke to him about
        helping out, it turned out I was embarrassingly
        ignorant about fashion styles among the rich. His
        folks owned a nationally known company, he had
        graduated from Yale University, his rubber soled
        shoes were Sperry boat shoes – the kind you would
        wear on a yacht. His shoes cost more than mine!)

    4. Read Romans 8:17. What kind of “sufferings” are these?
      (Jesus’ sufferings had to do with helping us!)

    5. Read Romans 8:18. What does God promise His children if
      they suffer as a result of following Him? (Glory.)

      1. Is this glory given only when we get to heaven? The
        text says, “will be revealed in us.” Could that mean
        that the generous soul, or the self-sacrificing soul,
        will see glory here?

      2. What kind of glory is this? Is it having money?
        Honor? Or, it is better reflecting Jesus?

        1. Could it be all of these?

    6. Let me share my life experience and you decide. For many
      years I drove very inexpensive cars that God put in my
      path. (I like to walk and these cars were literally along
      my path.) Once I purchased a Honda for the price of shoes.
      I got it running and was convicted I should offer to sell
      it to a poor woman in the church for the same price I
      paid. She looked at it, and asked me why, as a lawyer, I
      would drive such a humble car? Then she turned it down! I
      drove that car to work for years, and ultimately gave it
      to relatives I thought could use it. A few years ago, I
      purchased a very nice car that was recently destroyed in
      an accident. My wife tells me that the “glory” of my
      recent car flows from “suffering” through my poor cars.
      What do you think?

    7. Read Romans 8:19-22. Some suggest that the creation is
      frustrated, suffering, and groaning because of our failure
      to adequately protect the environment. Is that what is
      meant here by the “bondage of decay?”

      1. Notice this decay is due to the “will” of some
        unstated being. Who is that? (I consulted two word
        studies and they suggest “the will of the one,” is a
        reference to God. Humans sinned against the law of
        God, thus triggering the decline of everything. This
        is the impact of sin, not any specific environmental

    8. Read Romans 8:23. What will fix our suffering and our
      decaying world? (The Second Coming of Jesus.)

      1. What does this suggest about living the gospel? (The
        gospel is one of hope. Feeding someone who would
        otherwise starve is an important immediate need. But,
        giving a person hope for the Second Coming is the
        greater goal.)

  2. Balanced Teaching

    1. Read Matthew 9:35. How does Jesus model our “greater
      goal?” (First, Jesus does is “teaching” and “proclaiming
      the good news.”)

    2. Read Matthew 9:36-38. What is the relationship between
      proclaiming the gospel and helping the hurting? (While
      Jesus is proclaiming the gospel, He sees hurting people
      and has compassion on them.)

      1. Undoubtedly, Jesus heals because He has compassion.
        But, the language of verse 36 attributes Jesus’
        compassion to something else. What is it? (“They were
        harassed and helpless, like sheep without a

      2. What remedy does Jesus suggest? (Send out more
        workers into the “field” so they can “harvest.”

    3. Look again at Matthew 9:36 and the statement that the
      people were “harassed and helpless.” How are they harassed
      and helpless, and what should we workers do to fix that
      problem today? (Jesus does not seem to refer to physical
      problems so much as harmful religious teaching and a lack
      of proper leadership.)

      1. What do you see as harmful religious teaching? (The
        harmful teaching then is the same as the harmful
        teaching now. So-called shepherds are focused on
        minor matters, rather than justice, mercy, and
        faithfulness. This gives an undue emphasis to things
        that matter little, and ignores things that matter a
        lot. See Matthew 23:23. Jesus says everything

    4. Another story for you to consider. At a Bible retreat I
      was eating at a table next to a famous evangelist. A
      church member came up and showed me a condiment that was
      available for our meal. He thought it was unhealthy and
      should not be offered at a church meal. When he walked
      way, the evangelist said to me, “There are a lot of nuts
      in our church.” I laughed in agreement. Our focus was on
      grace, not ingredients. Many years later, I was in a
      meeting with this same evangelist. He was still very
      overweight, and I could see that he was struggling with
      his health. It occurred to me that if he had paid a little
      more attention to health issues, his life would be better
      now. What do you think?

    5. Read Ephesians 2:8-9 and Matthew 7:3-5. I just wrote
      something negative about an evangelist who devoted his
      life to preaching the gospel. What do these texts teach us
      about our attitude towards others? (We need to accept that
      none of us is perfect. We should avoid being critical.
      Between the condiment “nut” and the unhealthy evangelist,
      I think the evangelist had the better understanding of the
      Bible. The Bible says that we are all flawed, and are
      saved by grace. No one should be boasting.)

      1. How would a “no boast about my works” attitude help
        us to advance the gospel? (It would focus the light
        on Jesus.)

    6. Read Galatians 3:24-28. This text is often cited, but I’m
      not sure it is clearly understood. Why was there formerly
      a distinction between Jew, Gentile, slave, free, male and
      female? (The law.)

      1. Why would the law create such a distinction? Normally
        the rule of law brings equality! (The Jewish people
        believed that they were superior because the law was
        given to them. They believed they better kept the

      2. What is the great equalizer now? (Righteousness by
        faith in Jesus’ work on our behalf.)

      3. What attitude should result from this? (We all need
        salvation. We all stand equal before the cross.)

        1. What is the status of those who do not accept

    7. Friend, Jesus calls us to obedience in all things so our
      life will be better. But, our priority should be salvation
      by faith in Jesus and sharing that faith with others. Why
      not ask the Holy Spirit to work on your heart so you can
      move from feeling “harassed and helpless?”

  3. Next week: Living the Advent Hope.