Welcome to Bible Study of the Week, where every Sunday we give you the free first sessions of new video Bible studies from leading authors, pastors, and Bible teachers.
This is session one of Romans: In the Grip of Grace, our upcoming FREE online Bible study with Max Lucado starting June 21st!
There is a problem that every human being faces called sin. It leads to consequences that are bigger than we realize. Try as we might, we can’t solve this problem on our own. Thankfully, God has a solution, and He desires to deal with our sin.
When you look at the top-grossing movies of all time, there is one fascinating common trait that stands out: heroes! From the Star Wars movies to the Lord of the Rings trilogy to the Avengers franchise, about 60 percent of the top movies are stories of heroes. Even The Ten Commandments, which was made in 1956, shows up in the top ten-grossing movies of all time and presents Moses as a type of hero — and God as the ultimate hero.
All of this raises the question as to why we people are so drawn to heroes. But before we can answer that question, we first have to consider what a hero is. One simple definition is, “A person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.” In movies, these characters tend to do things that are far and above what “ordinary” people could or would choose to do. A war hero rushes back into battle to drag injured soldiers out of harm’s way. A superhero f lies in to save the day, or summons sea creatures to do their bidding, or throws a massive hammer that returns to their hand after defeating their enemies.
We are drawn to heroes because they have the courage, noble qualities, and power to change the world that we desire for our own lives. We admire these traits because they are rare in this world today. In fact, most of us would likely say we have never met a true hero.
Or have we?
If a hero is truly someone who lives with courage, achieves great things, and does that which is noble, then maybe we have met more heroes than we have recognized. When a person loves Jesus and follows His will, he or she might just qualify as a hero. Maybe your prayer-warrior grandmother was a hero. Maybe that faithful Sunday school teacher who opened the Bible and shared with middle school kids for three decades was a hero. Perhaps ordinary people who dare to follow God and obey His Word can become heroes.
Movies are nice, but what we need to see in this life are real people who live heroically as they follow Jesus, the ultimate hero. As we begin our forty-day journey through the book of Romans, we meet such a hero in the apostle Paul. His devotion to Jesus, his boldness to speak (and write) the truth, and his understanding of God’s grace all serve as examples that we can seek to follow as we walk through the book of Romans.
Think about the definition of a hero as being someone who has lived courageously with outstanding achievements and noble qualities. Who is someone you know who has lived such a heroic life? What is it about this person that makes them a hero in your eyes?
Play the video for session one. As you watch, use the following outline to record any thoughts, questions, or key points that stand out to you.
Paul, an unusual but true hero (Romans 1:1-2)
Setting the scene: a prelude to a visit from Paul
A clear presentation of Christian doctrine from an unlikely source
The bad news first: the reality of sin and wrath (Romans 1:18-20)
How do we respond to sin?
Hedonism: pretending God does not exist (Romans 1:18-23)
Judgmentalism: ignoring our sinfulness and condemning others (Romans 2:1-3)
Legalism: trying to use religion to earn our way to God
The bottom line: grace!
Take a few minutes with your group members to discuss what you just watched and explore these concepts in Scripture. Use the following questions to help guide your discussion.
- What impacted you the most as you watched Max’s teaching on Romans 1-2?
- Paul was profoundly aware of his sins and broken past. Why is awareness of our need for grace so critical if we are going to have sound biblical beliefs (theology)?
- Max described the suit of good deeds and religious works he wore for many years. How would you describe a garment of self-righteousness you wore before you came to really understand the good news of the grace of Jesus?
- Read Romans 1:21-32. What are some of the consequences that a person faces who lives as a hedonist (as if God does not exist)?
- Read Romans 2:1-4. What are signs or indicators that we are focusing on the sins of others while ignoring our own failings? Why is this so dangerous?
- Read Romans 2:17–24. If we compare ourselves to people who are living deep in sin and are rebellious toward God, how can this bolster a false sense of self-righteousness? If we compare ourselves to Jesus, what does this do to our arrogance and self-reliance?
In each session, you will be given a key verse (or verses) from the passage covered in the video teaching to memorize. This week, your memory verse is from Romans 1:16:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.
Have everyone recite this verse out loud. Then go around the room again and have everyone try to say the verse completely from memory.
What will you take away from this session? What is a practical next step you can take that will move you toward fully embracing the grace of Jesus rather than being hedonistic, judgmental, or legalistic? Take a few moments to write down your thoughts.
Close your group time by praying in any of the following directions:
- Ask God to forgive you for the times you have pursued your own hedonistic desires and forgotten to surrender to God’s will for your life.
- Ask for the power of the Holy Spirit to help you stop judging others and look honestly at the need for repentance in your own heart and life.
- Pray for freedom from legalism and for deep under- standing of God’s grace in your life.
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Let us know your thoughts about the Romans study in the comments. We want to hear from you!