• List Item

    Grace Reigns

     

    “just as sin reigned in death, so also grace will reign through righteousness, resulting in eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:21

    Have you ever read a story about an ancient kingdom with a terrible king? There are many great examples of this throughout literature, but my mind instantly goes back to the kings of Israel in the Old Testament. The majority of their kings did not honor the Lord, and it led to disastrous consequences for the people of God. The reign of a monstrous leader is oppressive for those under his control.

     

    In the second half of Romans 5, Paul explains that all of humanity exists under the cruel reign of sin and death. Just by virtue of being born into this world, we are subjected to the power of sin. There is no way around it. You and I are sinners, and we never got to check a box when we were born to determine whether or not we would be sinners. It’s natural for us because we are born into a world separated from God. By virtue of sin and separation, we are under the power of death. The very thing we were never meant to experience as the crown of God’s good creation. Sin and death are terrible rulers. They do nothing but add suffering to our lives and steal our joy.

     

    The wonderful news of Paul’s gospel message is that sin and death have been overpowered by a new ruler, grace. How incredible does that sound? Grace now reigns in our lives instead of sin and death. God’s unmerited, undeserved favor and love is now our ruler. That means forgiveness overflows to us. Our lives are no longer controlled by the consequences of our sin and our human nature, but by the goodness of God. By his death and resurrection, Jesus has assumed the throne, and those who place themselves under the reign of this ruler, will be free from sin and death while receiving the riches of God’s grace for all eternity.

     

    May the knowledge of God’s grace overflowing into your life bring you peace, comfort, and security. You are not defined by your worst moments, but by the grace of God. You belong to a King that exists for your good, not your destruction.

     

    Discussion Questions: Has there ever been a time when you felt like sin and death were powerful? When did you discover that God’s grace was more powerful? How can your family live by the principle of “grace reigns in our lives” in your home?

     

     

     

  • God proves his love for us

    “But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

    As a parent, you probably LOVE some of the friends that your children have. No doubt that some of their friends are kind, polite, and fun to be around. But what about those other friends that you aren’t such a fan of? The kids who happen to be a little bit annoying, or maybe they happen to be a “know-it-all.” When some of THOSE friends come over to your house, you are probably just as kind and nice to them, but in a “grit-your-teeth” kind of way, and you are secretly hoping that they won’t stay the night!

     

    Sometimes, I get the impression that this is how God thinks about me. I know that I have a relationship with God, and I know that he has invited me to be a part of his family because of what Christ has done for me. But, there are times when I don’t feel too holy or righteous, and I think God is just kind of tolerating me at the moment. There are days when I sinfully don’t desire to spend much time with God, so why would he want to be around me, right?

     

    In Romans 5:1-11, Paul teaches us that we have a new relationship with God by believing in the gospel of Jesus Christ. We’ve been forgiven of our sins and included among God’s people. Because of this, we have a relationship with God that’s very different than before we believed in Christ. This relationship is one of peace (V.1), closeness (V.2), joy (V.2), and hope (V.3-5). We know we have this type of relationship with God because God has shown us how much he loves us by sending Jesus to die for us (V.8). This relationship that Paul describes doesn’t sound like God is merely tolerating us as annoying house guests. It seems as if God actually desires us to be in a close relationship with us, despite the fact that we are sinners. Jesus didn’t wait for us to clean off our shoes before we came in the house. He loved us and died for us when we were covered in our sin. This is the kind of love our God has for us. Make it a point this week to remind yourself of God’s proven love for you and your family. This will help you follow Christ with confidence, knowing that God is for you and not just putting up with you.

     

    Discussion Questions: When are you most likely to feel as if God is annoyed with you? How can you remind yourself that it’s not true? As a family, try to memorize Romans subheading

    5:8 together.

     

    Sunday Night Catechism: What does God require in the first three commandments? First, that we only worship the one, true God. Second, that we avoid all idolatry. Third, that we treat God’s name with fear and reverence.

  • The authority of scripture


    “For what does the Scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for

    righteousness.” Romans 4:3


    Have you ever been in an argument and realized that there was no evidence or factual basis for

    your argument? You slowly start to realize that you are arguing from preference, opinion, or

    emotion. I’m willing to bet that didn’t stop you from arguing! More than likely, you continued to

    argue anyway because that’s what we do as humans. We love to argue because we love being

    right, and we hate to be wrong.


    In the first four chapters of Romans, Paul is making one big argument that we can only be made

    right with God by our faith in Jesus Christ. The great thing about Paul’s argument is that it is based

    upon a higher authority rather than his own opinion. Repeatedly, Paul appeals to Scripture in order to

    make and prove his argument. Paul doesn’t believe that we are justified by faith because it

    sounds good or even because he thinks that God has changed his mind from the old days.

    Justification by faith goes all the way back to the first book of the Bible for Paul. In the next few

    verses, Paul also makes an appeal to the book of Psalms. Paul makes it clear that what God has

    done for us in Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of everything God has always been doing and saying

    in the Scriptures.


    Our faith is grounded in the Word of God. We believe what we believe because God has

    revealed himself to us in the pages of Scripture. We know that we have a right relationship with

    God by faith because the Bible tells us so. It’s always important to remember that when we want to

    know what to believe about God, we look to the pages of Scripture where God has made himself

    known to us. Above all, we should always look at the Bible through the story of Jesus because he

    is center of the Bible story.


    Discussion Questions: Why did Paul use Scripture to make his argument? If Scripture is our

    authority for life, how familiar should we be with what the Bible teaches? What kind of

    commitment can you make as a family to know God’s Word more fully?

  • No one Can boast


    “Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By one of works? No, on the contrary, by a law of faith.” Romans 3:27


    “I’m the most humble person I know.” No one really likes to hear anyone else boast, but we don’t seem to mind it all that much when we are the ones boasting. Bragging or boasting comes to us quite naturally. Students brag about their grades; athletes brag about their performances; parents even brag about their kids (some more than others). There’s nothing wrong with taking pride in your accomplishments, but our tendency is to take ourselves a little too seriously and attribute too much credit to ourselves when things go well for us. This is an unhealthy practice and an unpopular one.


    Paul spends the majority of the first three chapters in Romans dismantling any notion of boasting or pride in the Christian life. In chapter 1, he speaks at length about the sinfulness of the world at large. In chapter 2, he counters that even God’s people are sinful and are no better off than the rest of the world if left to themselves. In chapter 3 he concludes that everyone is equally under the power of sin, and no one has the ability to save themselves from sin. We’re all in the same boat when it comes to being a sinner, and no one can get themselves out of the boat any more than the rest of us. All of this comes to a head when Paul lays out the doctrine of “justification by faith.” This simply means that the only way any person can receive forgiveness from sin and be made right with God is through believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. We’re all sinners. We’re all separated from God. The only way that any of this gets fixed is by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. It doesn’t get fixed by our good works, behavior, or performance in life. We must look to Jesus Christ with trust and dependence. If we do this, then we will be right with God. This principle applies to everyone equally.


    If this is true, there is no place for attitudes of superiority amongst believers. No one is any better than anyone else, and if we have a relationship with God it’s only because of what God has done for us, not what we have done for him. We are all on the same playing field, and we all need God’s grace the same. We should pray for God to remind of this constantly so that we will have a right view of him, the people around us, and ourselves.


    Discussion Questions: When are you most likely to be boastful? Why do you think that is? How can Romans 3:27 help you remember to remain humble?


    Sunday Night Catechism: How can we glorify God? We can glorify God by enjoying him, loving him, trusting him, and obeying him.


  • Go YOur Own Way

    “And because they did not think it worthwhile to acknowledge God, God delivered them over to a corrupt mind so that they do what is wrong.” Romans 1:28

     

    There is a danger in ignoring the warnings your parents give you. There was a time when I was a teenager when I was in a sharp disagreement with my parents. I was interested in a certain course of action, doing what I wanted to do. My parents warned me constantly that what I wanted was unwise. They lovingly tried to remind me that they were wiser than me, that they knew better than me. When we are teenagers, nothing sounds further from the truth to us. There’s no way our parents could know more than us! After much delineation and disagreement, they finally threw their hands in the air. They said, “Fine! Have it your way.” They decided to let me learn a lesson the hard way. In the least shocking turn of events of all time, I did things my way and it didn’t work out how I thought it would. I got burned. Doing things my way, getting what I wanted, was actually the worst thing I could have gotten in that situation.


    We are always so concerned with doing things our way and getting what we want that we rarely stop to think about the consequences of our actions. It is the same with humanity’s relationship with God. In Romans 1, Paul makes it clear that he is calling people to be made right with God by trusting in Jesus Christ for salvation. This calling is so urgent because the world we live in is separated from God because of its constant rejection of God. This rejection of God has dire consequences. God lovingly reminds, warns, and pushes the world to listen to his ways and live. But in our sinful pride, we think, “What does God know?” Because of this, Paul argues that God gives us what we want. He lets us do things our way, and the result is a sinful, chaotic world that experiences the pain of suffering and death.


    The gospel message is exactly what this kind of world needs to hear. The gospel announces the forgiveness of sins. God is willing to forgive us for refusing to listen to him. The gospel message announces eternal life. In Jesus Christ, we are no longer held captive by death because he will raise us from the dead just like he was raised from the dead. The gospel message also announces freedom. Paul sees a world that is enslaved to its sin. Jesus has come to set us free from this terrible reality and give us a new way of life.

    In the gospel, we get a glimpse of how kind God is to us. So often, we refuse to listen to him. Yet, he extends grace and mercy to us so that we will repent. “...God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance.” Romans 2:4.

               

    Discussion Questions: Discuss a time in your life when you got what you wanted, and it didn’t work out well. Is God patient with people? Why or why not? What kind of hope does the gospel offer to a world that is trapped in its rejection of God?

     

    Sunday Night Catechism: On Sunday nights, we have begun the process of going through the New City Catechism. This is a question and answer tool designed to help students learn and memorize great truths of the Christian faith. Be sure to help your student memorize the following!

     

    Question: What is your only hope in life and death?

    Answer: That we are not our own but belong, body and soul, both in life and death to God and to our Savior Jesus Christ.

  • The righteous live by faith

    “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written: The Righteous shall live by faith.” Romans 1:17

    If we were honest with ourselves, we would have to admit that we pay too much attention to what others think about us. The way we dress, the way we talk, and even the way we walk are all affected by our desire to impress other people. The movies we watch, the TV shows we like, and the music we listen to are all affected by our desire to gain the approval of others. Most of us think and act as if we are our own person, but the fact is, we can hardly make it through a day without thinking about what others are thinking about us. We all want people to think we are smart, funny, cool, etc. and we go to great lengths to ensure that we are thought of in this way. If we aren’t careful this can lead to an unhealthy cycle of trying to be someone or something we are not, all in an effort to impress other people and gain their approval.

     

    One great thing the gospel teaches us is that we can’t impress God. As human beings, we are weak and broken before God in our sin. There’s nothing we can do to make him love us more or less. We don’t have to spend our days worried about whether or not we have accomplished enough to be on God’s good side. We are completely dependent upon his grace towards us. Being aware of this fact is actually the way to gain God’s approval. The book of Romans teaches us over and over again that we are made righteous by faith. To be righteous is to be right with God. To be righteous is to have God’s approval on your life. In order to gain God’s approval, we must be willing to admit that we are absolutely dependent upon his Son, Jesus Christ. We aren’t smart enough, strong enough, or good enough to gain God’s approval on our own. But, if we depend on Christ’s perfect life, sacrificial death, and glorious resurrection in order to be right with God, then we have God’s approval on our lives.

     

    We waste so much of our lives worrying about the approval of others. The good news of Jesus Christ invites us to put this anxiety behind us. In the end, God’s approval of us is what matters. He is the righteous judge who knows all, and he has the final say about who we really are. The beauty of the gospel is that we can know God lovingly approves of us as his children if we would simply trust in his Son. There are no hoops to jump through, no ladders to climb, and no people to impress. Just faith in a gracious God who loves to graciously give his approval to those who desire it.

     

    Discussion Questions: Whose approval do you find yourself seeking most often? Does it ever get exhausting? How is seeking God’s approval different from the approval of others? Why is it better to seek God’s approval?

  • Resurrection? Seriously?

    Real events call for serious attention. Imagine that a young child runs to her parents’ bedroom at 2:00 AM. She screams, “There’s a monster under my bed!” Now, most parents aren’t going to be too alarmed because they know there is a greater chance of winning the lottery than finding a monster under the bed. These parents will probably console the child and do their best to convince her of the absurdity of the monster. Now imagine this same child wakes up at 2:00 AM, looks out the window, and sees a man walking in her backyard. Not only this, but the family dog is also running through the house barking like a maniac, as is his custom when someone enters the yard. These parents may pay a little more attention to the claims of their daughter now. The likelihood of monsters under a bed is less than zero, but an intruder in the backyard is a credible situation worth looking into. This real event calls for serious attention by the parents, and it calls for an immediate response.


    In the eyes of Paul, the gospel of God concerns a real event in human history. Not only is this event real, but it’s the most important event to ever take place. This event is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. This event reshaped Paul’s entire life. It provided real hope in a world of despair. It provided confirmation of God’s promises contained in the Old Testament that he would raise his people from the dead one day. It wasn’t a fairy tale to help him feel better about a meaningless life. It gave Paul a real purpose. This purpose was to let everyone know that Jesus is the true king of the world, and all people are called to faith and obedience toward this king. By trusting and obeying Jesus, anyone could share in this resurrection to eternal life in God’s work of new creation.


    I don’t know about you, but I’ve been to a lot of funerals. I’ve experienced a rush of emotions and thoughts at these funerals, but I’ve never thought that my loved one laying in that casket would suddenly wake up as if nothing happened. I might have wished for it, but in my mind, I know it’s impossible. People don’t come back from the dead. It just doesn’t happen. If we were to hear about someone coming back to life after several days of death, we would think about it just like our aforementioned parents thought about that monster in their daughter’s closet.


    Does the resurrection of Jesus catch our attention? Is it reality, or is it a story we tell ourselves to help us get through this life? Paul was convinced. His conviction was easy to see because he called everyone to believing obedience in the one, true king. If Jesus is alive, and if he is king, how has it reshaped our lives? If he is alive, let’s follow after him that we may find life. If he is king, let’s lovingly obey him. If it’s a message for the whole world, let’s start by sharing it with our neighbors.

     

    Question to consider: What specific areas of your life would look different if we took the resurrection of Jesus more seriously?