Sabbath School Lesson for November 4-12, 2017
So far, in Romans, we’ve established the need for justification (because of our sin), and the reality of justification by faith through the life experiences of those who have gone before us (like Abraham and David).
Chapter 5 then encourages us to contemplate how sin, our faith in Christ, and our new life in the Spirit are all related. We must understand each phase of our salvation in order to reap the greatest spiritual benefit from our individual experiences.
Paul helps us grasp a vision of the big picture. We will see more clearly how by one man, Adam, sin was brought into our world, and how by one man, Christ, we can then be free from its bondage. The fact that Adam’s sin had such far-reaching results would never seem fair, without the knowledge that through one man, our Savior, we can all be released from the penalty of sin.
Love and justice streaming from the Cross is shown to be the only solution to the problem of sin in our world. One has only to reach out in faith and accept the promised gift to receive the greatest peace and hope available to mankind.
Memory Verse: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:1, 2 KJV
Three benefits from salvation are noted in this verse:
- peace with God, through Jesus (when we are justified or forgiven)
- access to God’s grace, by faith (when we are sanctified or made fit for heaven)
- joy and hope for the glory of God (when we are finally glorified and enter God’s heavenly kingdom)
This summarizes the reconciliation that comes when we are justified, or counted righteous, and our sins are forgiven. The blessings are noted immediately after our new birth, and grow with each passing day and year that we spend in God’s presence. The lines of this transaction are not precise; they all blend together though and create a wonderful summation of our life with Christ.
Sunday: Justified by Faith
One thing distinguishes the joy and peace a Christian feels, compared to someone who doesn’t know God. The faith of a Christian allows him to experience these blessings even when things are going badly in his life. Paul reminds us in Romans 5:1-5 that our trouble or tribulation produces…
- patience (steadfast endurance, perseverance),
- good character, and
- even hope.
How can we rejoice in our trials though? For one who has faith in Christ, who knows the suffering of our Lord, we can feel even closer to Him when we also suffer hardships on this earth. We feel a special bond, when we remember how He suffered for us. And, of course, the closer we are to Christ, the more of His character we’ll reflect and the stronger will be our hope in our future time with Him in heaven.
Discussion Questions: Read Romans 5:1-2. What benefits does justification provide for those who have experienced it? What reasons are there to rejoice?
Read Romans 5:3-5. How do our trials and suffering further the cause of God? Who else benefits from our hope and peace?
Read 1 Peter 4:12, 13. Why are Christians often the recipient of trouble? What helps you, as an individual, get through suffering and difficult times in your life?
Monday: While Yet Sinners
Paul takes a minute in Romans 5:6-8 to remind us that Christ didn’t just die for righteous, holy people. His sacrifice encompassed all of us, sinners included. This presents an image of someone who loves all of us dearly, completely, and without partiality.
In the midst of this love, Paul mentions…
“Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” Romans 5:9 NKJV
We wonder, whose wrath is this? Most certainly, God’s wrath is mentioned repeatedly throughout Scripture. And although it does appear that this anger or fury is aimed at sinners, it is more understandably focused on the sin that sinners have become identified with. The sin that has broken and destroyed so much of the beautiful world that God created for us.
God could not be merciful, or just, and ignore the ugliness that sin has brought to our planet. And although it appears He may be ignoring it, we can rest assured that God will handle sin and sinners in the time He has appointed that will most benefit the whole universe.
Discussion Questions: Read Romans 5:6-8 and John 15:13. Some would readily die for a loved one or even a stranger, but how hard would it be to give your life for someone who is your enemy? How does sin make us God’s enemies?
Read Romans 5:9 and Ephesians 2:13. What is the key ingredient for our justification and salvation? What does the blood represent?
Read Romans 5:10, 11 and 2 Corinthians 5:18. What should result from our reconciliation with God?
Tuesday: Death Through Sin
We were not meant to taste death. Adam and Eve were created with immortal bodies. Death was never meant to be the painful, dreaded thing it has become to mankind. It was not in God’s original plan for us.
Even Christians dread the thought of their loved ones missing them after they die. But with the death and resurrection of God’s Son, we can find peace in the hope of our own resurrection, and with the assurance of being reunited with many of our loved ones and never having to say good-bye again.
We recognize that the sin of “one man” (Adam) first brought death to our world. But we must also admit our own guilt. Because it is only through this admission that we can receive the cure. Only then can we be forgiven and live again with God in the close relationship He intended for us.
Discussion Questions: Read Romans 5:12 and John 8:44. Who brought sin to us–Adam or the devil? Just because they started sin, does this mean we are punished for their sin?
Read Psalm 51:5 and Romans 3:23. What makes us all sinners? How does this show us the seriousness of the sin situation, and why God chose to intervene?
Read Revelation 1:18. What are the keys He holds? How is Jesus able to save us from sin, and the death it brings?
Wednesday: From Adam to Moses
Paul confirms the existence of the law before Moses. The fact that sin and death were experienced from Adam to Moses tells us that there was a law to break and a penalty to pay. This law was known to man through the evidence of creation and the witness of patriarchs and matriarchs who passed down the definition of sin, from generation to generation.
Adam’s original sin in the Garden of Eden, however, was different from our sin in the fact that it resulted in the guilt and death of all humans born after him. This aspect of his sin made him a type of Christ. Christ, being one man, kept the law, but also suffered the penalty for breaking it, which resulted in all humans created by Him to be free from the guilt and penalty of sin.
We are free from guilt, because of Christ’s righteous life, and from death, because Christ died in our place. This is why Paul says “grace abounded much more.” Romans 5:20 Grace outweighs our guilt and wins out over death every time we claim it as our own.
Discussion Questions: Read Romans 5:13 and Romans 1:20. Give some examples of people sinning before the law was given at Mt. Sinai. How does this prove that the law existed before Moses and how was that law known?
Read Romans 5:14 and 1 Corinthians 15:21, 22. How was Adam’s transgression different than ours? What about the sins he committed after the Fall in Eden? In what way was Adam a type of Christ?
Read Romans 5:20-21. Why did God need to write the law down for the children of Israel during Moses’ time? How did God show them that they needed faith in a Savior in order to keep the law?
Thursday: Jesus, the Second Adam
In explaining the relationship between Adam and Jesus, we are made aware of the reason why justification is just. There is justice in this transaction. Although it doesn’t seem fair for one man’s sin to condemn the whole world (referring to Adam), we see how Jesus’ sacrifice and death, also one act, can then free the whole world from sin.
Until a person sees the redeeming aspect of Jesus’ sacrifice affecting his own life, it is very hard to understand why sin, supposedly the result of one man’s mistake, has been allowed to grow and fester.
Adam was called a type of Christ (in v. 14), noting the similarities in their work. As a matter of fact, Jesus may be seen as the Second Adam. He was, in essence, our second chance for eternal life with the Father.
Discussion Questions: Read Romans 5:15-17. How did Adam and Jesus both affect our world and the universe? Why is the word “gift” mentioned so many times in this passage?
Read Romans 5:18, 19 and Philippians 2:8. In what ways was Jesus obedient?
When have you seen in your life that the action you took had the most far-reaching effects?
In order to fully understand justification by faith, we must gain a sense of how this blessing is based on a fair and just foundation. It’s obvious that mercy and love are involved. But this week, we were able to see that justice also plays a part.
- we can always find a reason to rejoice, even in our trials, because Jesus suffered too (Sunday)
- the inclusive nature of our forgiveness; Jesus came to save all of us sinners (Monday)
- death is less frightening for someone who is justified (Tuesday)
- the law, sin, and death have all been in existence since Adam’s Fall in Eden (Wednesday)
- Jesus gives us a second chance for eternal life, making Him our Second Adam (Thursday)
With so much pain and suffering in our world today, we can find much comfort in Paul’s words about the blessings of salvation. We even find joy in our trials, which is very hard to do without God. Prayer is a powerful tool of help and healing, and is always available to us, in good times and bad.
When life is most severe and hard to bear though, our first impulse is to ask God for the trial to go away. We then also rightfully feel compelled to ask for God’s help to endure it. But, sometimes there’s a prayer that gets pushed to the side and forgotten.
How many times have we asked that our trial bring God glory? If we are truly His, then this should be our first prayer, shouldn’t it? God’s glory can be revealed by our suffering. Shouldn’t we desire this above all? Let’s remember to keep God at the forefront of our prayers. Desiring whatever outcome can best glorify and vindicate His name.
“but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” 1 Peter 4:13 NKJV
There is no sweeter joy than joy that is shared with the God of the universe.
Next Week: Overcoming Sin
To read the Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly or see more resources for its study, go to https://www.absg.adventist.org/
All Outlook blogposts by Teresa Thompson, are at http://outlookmag.org/author/teresathompson/