The Source of True Praise

No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God (Romans 2:29).

The rite of circumcision showed that God had set apart the Jews to obey Him and teach His law to others. Whereas the Jews had the law of God written for them by Moses, if the Gentiles were not taught God’s law, they had to learn it from using their reason, from observing natural laws, and from their conscience. However, Paul showed that neither the Jews, who had the written law, nor the Gentiles, who had reason, nature, and conscience, perfectly did everything they knew they should do. To truly obey God, people need a circumcised heart, a commitment to obey God and the divine power to do so. A rabbi can perform an outward circumcision, but only the Holy Spirit can perform an inward circumcision of the heart that will empower and teach people how to serve God and others. No law can give anyone the power to do what God’s law says. Laws will not fill people with love for the lawgiver. God’s law shows people how much they deserve to be punished by the King of the universe. However, when someone knows they are condemned by the law of God and then learns that the King of the universe sent His only Son to die as a sacrifice so He could mercifully forgive them, adopt them into His family, make Jesus their elder brother, and fill them with the Holy Spirit, their King wins their love. Their new lives may not please everyone, but they will receive praise from God.

Thinking Further

1. If you do not rely on the law, what do you rely on for your salvation. Describe your answer.

2. The Jews thought that in the law they had the embodiment of knowledge and truth (Romans 2:20). Do you agree or disagree? Give a reason for your answer.

3. Read Romans 2:23 again. How might you rephrase that verse to teach it to a persistently disobedient Christian?

4. Would you agree or disagree with the rephrasing or application of Romans 2:25 below?

“Baptism has value if you love and follow Jesus Christ, but if you walk away from Christ you are acting like one who was never baptized.”

5. Do you think Romans 2:29 could refer to both Gentile and Jewish Christians? Why?

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Letter to the Romans!

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by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.

We Can Benefit from God’s Patience

Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? (Romans 2:4).

When Paul wrote his Letter to the Romans, he proved that everyone has sinned against God. When John wrote one of his letters, he defined sin: “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4). I think everyone who has read the Bible must admit that they have disobeyed at least one of God’s revealed laws during their lifetime. Even worse, sometimes we have practiced lawlessness by doing what we have wanted to do irrespective of what God’s laws demand. Imagine what our world would be like if no local, state, or national governments enforced their laws; or, if they enforced some laws, but not others; or if privileged people never received just punishment for their lawlessness, but those who broke minor laws received extreme punishments immediately? God does not govern our world with partiality or show favoritism toward some, for God enforces all His laws equally and justly. In God’s kingdom, there is equal justice for all, whether Jew or Gentile. So, why does it seem to us that God does not equally enforce all His laws? In this life, God does not immediately punish us every time we break one of His laws because God intends His patience and kindness to lead us to repentance. The Bible says we deserve death for breaking God’s laws, and the fact that we still live indicates God is giving us yet another opportunity to turn around and follow Him. Happily, God sent Jesus to die as a sacrifice; therefore, we can place our faith in Jesus and receive eternal life.

Thinking Further

1. What are some consequences for us when we pass judgment on someone else?

2. On what does God base His just judgments?

3. What are some of the riches God bestows on all people in this life? What is the purpose of God when giving people these riches?

4. How can people store up God’s wrath for themselves in the future?

5. What did Paul say people should seek? How should they seek it? What will they receive?

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Letter to the Romans!

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by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.

God’s Solution to the World’s Problems

For though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened (Romans 1:21).

Paul described some of the consequences for people who refuse to glorify God as God and thank God. These consequences consist of enslavement to godless and wicked practices, which includes inventing evils, hating God, and unnatural behaviors. As unbelievers rebel against God, they become futile in their thinking; therefore, they make foolish choices. They “suppress the truth” in order to keep the truth from influencing their behaviors (Romans 1:18). When they darken their hearts, they lose the light of understanding and their actions become more destructive. Because they have destroyed their understanding, their reasoning is worthless. Unbelievers claim to be wise, but they become fools (Romans 1:22). Paul wrote that those who turn from God eventually become “foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless,” which explains the behavior of many today as we read about them in newspapers or see them on television (Romans 1:31). Many countries suffer increasingly from wicked and godless leaders and people, from those who have no understanding and whose thinking is useless. Therefore, some search for suggestions they hope will change their situations, but they ignore the only solution that will work. The majority have turned from the solution that is the theme of Paul’s Letter to the Romans. The only solution is the gospel of Jesus Christ which Paul was not ashamed to preach. The good news of Jesus’ life, sacrificial death, and resurrection from the dead has redeemed people, cultures, societies, and nations, because the good news of Jesus Christ is: “the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).

Thinking Further

1. Give Paul’s reason for not being ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Can you adopt that same reason for not being ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ?

2. How did Paul prove people need the gospel?

3. Toward whom does God express His wrath?

4. What might some of the consequences be in a culture or country where almost all of the leaders are godless and wicked?

5. What might you say to someone who said, “To sin is natural”?

Begin A New Study of Paul’s
Letter to the Romans!

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by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.

God’s Gifts of Grace and Peace — Romans 1:7

To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul’s letters make it possible for people to learn more about our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and their many gifts to us. Two of the most wonderful gifts every follower of Jesus Christ receives are grace and peace. With the help of the Holy Spirit, as we learn the truth about God’s wonderful love for us through the Bible’s teachings, we turn toward Jesus until we have completely turned about to trust and follow Him. The grace of God enables us to do this because we do not deserve God’s love, forgiveness, cleansing from sin, and the power to do the will of God forever. Because we have received these additional gifts of grace from God, we have also received the gift of peace that flows from them. Our faith in Jesus Christ transforms our minds and hearts, and we find that through our obedience we have peace with God. We no longer consider God our enemy. Our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have become our Friends. As we love and obey God, we also find that for the first time we are no longer at war within ourselves or constantly doing what we know we should not do. By grace, we also begin to look for ways to make peace with others or be at peace with others. Eventually, God’s grace has so changed us that we truly live as God has called us to live. We truly become what God has called us to be “saints.” We truly become those God has set apart to love God and others according to His will. As saints, God has set us apart and helps us share the grace and peace of Jesus in ways that others also come to love and trust in Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

Thinking Further

1. First and foremost, how do we identify or describe ourselves?

2. What did Paul say about Jesus?

3. What did Paul say the followers of Jesus have received from Jesus?

4. For what did Paul give thanks? For what do believers today give thanks?

5. How do you think Paul spent his free time as he waited to go to Rome?

Begin A New Study of Paul’s
Letter to the Romans!

Study the International Bible Study
Commentary and Lessons

by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.