Questions 2 Day 10 Close Enough: Digging Deeper

Digging Deeper Days

Finding the original intent of Scripture and making good application to our everyday lives as we become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

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The Questions

1) Why did Paul feel the need to address both the Jews and the Gentiles? (verses 22-24 and 29-30)

2) How does the cross simultaneously display God’s righteousness and His mercy. Why  is this important? (verses 25-26)

3) Since we are justified by faith, can we ignore the Law and live however we choose? (verse 31)

Romans 3:21-31

21 But now, apart from the law, the righteousness of God has been revealed, attested by the Law and the Prophets. 22 The righteousness of God is through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe, since there is no distinction. 23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; 24 they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. 25 God presented him as the mercy seat by his blood, through faith, to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his restraint God passed over the sins previously committed. 26 God presented him to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so that he would be just and justify the one who has faith in Jesus.

27 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. 28 For we conclude that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then nullify the law through faith? Absolutely not! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

Original Intent

1) Why did Paul feel the need to address both the Jews and the Gentiles? (verses 22-24 and 29-30)
Paul wrote the book of Romans to encourage the church in Rome, which was made up of both  Jew and Gentile Christ-followers. He had not yet physically traveled to Rome at the time of this writing, but he intended to visit so he could encourage the believers in person. (Romans 1:11-12) A growing tension existed between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians. Jews, who had been given the Law by God and strictly adhered to it, felt they were more justified to have access to God than the Gentiles, who had been grafted into God’s family without keeping the law. Paul made it clear in his letter that the only justification came by faith through Jesus Christ, for no one can keep the law whether Jew or Gentile. Every person, regardless of heritage or pious good deeds, has sinned, and is therefore guilty of breaking the whole law. (James 2:10) Only because of the blood of Jesus, who perfectly fulfilled every requirement of the Law for us, is anyone able to stand before the Holy God. Every person in Paul’s audience was a sinner, therefore no one had the right to brag before God. All had failed the litmus test of righteousness, which is perfection. Paul wanted them all to understand they couldn’t rely on anything or anyone outside of Christ. Jesus was their only hope to having access to God.

2) How does the cross simultaneously display God’s righteousness and His mercy. Why  is this important? (verses 25-26)
The Law was given in the Old Testament so that those who believed God during the time before Jesus and obeyed Him would receive salvation based on their belief in God’s future redemption. We   know that in His mercy, not wanting any to perish (2 Peter 3:9), Jesus took on our sin, and the sins of the world, at the cross paying the penalty of sin, which is death for us. (1 John 2:2) However, in order for anyone to be declared righteous, the sins of the entire world, past, present and future, had to be punished. Animal sacrifices of the Old Testament were not sufficient to pay for sin. (Hebrews 10:4) Complete payment wasn’t accomplished until, on the cross, Jesus took every sin ever committed on Himself, and bore the full wrath of God. It is vitally important for us to remember the cost of our salvation, for if we do not, we minimize          the seriousness of our sin and the price our offenses against a Holy God cost. God considers every sin a big deal! There is no such thing as a “little white lie” or a small offense. Even the smallest sin separates us from God! This reality was true in the         Old Testament and it’s true today. It is not enough to accept the grace of the cross without understanding the righteousness of the One who provided that grace. To speak only of God’s mercy is to adhere to what Dietrich Bonhoeffer calls “cheap grace”. Bonhoeffer defines cheap grace in his book, The Cost of Discipleship, as “grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.” We need to understand the depth of our depravity before we can embrace the grace and mercy of God. 

3) Since we are justified by faith, can we ignore the Law and live however we choose? (verse 31)
This is a common question, and we aren’t the first to ask it. In Romans 6:1-2, Paul dramatically silences our attempt to skirt the God-intended process of becoming more like Jesus by denying godlessness and being remade by the Holy Spirit living within every believer. “What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” In Matthew 5:17, Jesus said He did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it perfectly. Jesus        took on the sin we owed, but could never repay. Because the blood of animals, enacted by Old Testament law, could never pay for our            sin, Jesus became sin for us, effectively taking our place and exchanging our sinfulness for His blameless righteousness. Ephesians 2:10 tells us we were created for good works God prepared for us to live out in our everyday lives. We work from salvation not for salvation. Work is the  evidential fruit of our relationship with Jesus, intended to show gratitude and to draw others into a relationship with Him as well, not the requirement in order to gain God’s favor.

Everyday Application

1) Why did Paul feel the need to address both the Jews and the Gentiles? (verses 22-24 and 29-30)
The Jews and the Gentiles were at odds with each other over various “rules” in the church, causing conflict where none needed to exist. Faith in Jesus broke down the barrier wall and brought all people who trusted Jesus together. “But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility.” (Ephesians 2:13-14) The Jews were comfortable with their Law and their methods of worship, but Jesus came to level the playing field for Jew and Gentile, turning their attention to their heart attitude of faith instead of their methods of worship. Sometimes it’s easy for us to miss the main point just like the Jews did and focus on someone else’s outward appearance or action instead of their heart. How easy it becomes for us to judge another’s worship styles or lifestyle choices believing our way  is better or more holy! The bond believers have is through Jesus by faith alone, and we honor Him by welcoming others in love, remembering that salvation comes by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, not by outward appearances.

2) How does the cross simultaneously display God’s righteousness and His mercy. Why  is this important? (verses 25-26)
God knew before He created people that we would turn our backs on Him repeatedly. He knew the pain we would cause Him and ourselves. “God looks down from heaven on the human race to see if there is one who is wise, one who seeks God. All have turned away; all alike have become corrupt. There is no one who does good, not even one.” (Psalm 53:2-3) Still He chose us as His most valuable creation. Not only did He choose to create people, but also provided a way for us to be reconciled to Him after sin entered the world through Adam and Eve! He chose us! “…in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them…” (2 Corinthians 5:19) He knew the cross would be a necessity before He created even one of us! His righteousness, in justly paying the price for sin, and His mercy, in forgiving wretched sinners such as each of us, would both be displayed simultaneously on the cross. This extravagant love cost Him dearly. In order to make a way for sinners to have restored access to Himself, God the Father sacrificed His one and only sinless Son, pouring out His wrath upon Him in order to pay for our many sins! This one         act fulfilled the entirety of His wrath against our unrighteousness while displaying His infinite mercy! How wondrous that we are the recipients of such grace! May we never forget what it cost Him to love us, and may we each choose to accept such radical mercy by trusting Jesus as our personal Savior!

3) Since we are justified by faith, can we ignore the Law and live however we choose? (verse 31)
Because we are justified by faith in Jesus, our good works are the outward evidence that our inner selves have been given over to Jesus. When we submit to His work inside of us, His Spirit shapes us to become more like Him and outwardly, this inner work shows itself as being gentle, kind, loving, peaceable, patient, and many other attributes. This is the work of the Holy Spirit in us to make us new! Out of love and gratitude for what God has done for us, we will naturally want to serve others and to follow the example Jesus set for us. Following rules and trying hard on our own to be right with God will never work, because our insides still carry the DNA of sinner. However, Jesus came so that our standing with God isn’t based on what we do, but in Whom we trust and choose to follow. When we give ourselves to Him, He frees us from slavery to sin, inserting His new DNA inside of us, making us like Him! Only then are we free to do the good works God has prepared for us in the beginning. We are saved from sin for good works, not by good works. The works we do should also be used to draw others to Christ because just as we have been reconciled to God, so has He amazingly given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, extending this gift to the world! “…and He has committed the message of reconciliation to us. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God!”” (2 Corinthians 5:19-20) As our friends and neighbors see us living for Jesus and wonder what is different about the way we serve, the way we respond, and the way we care for others, the door is open to share the hope we have and how they, too can experience the same new life in Jesus!

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Digging Deeper is for Everyone!

1) Take this passage (or any other passage).
2) Read it, and the verses around it,
several times
3) Write down your questions
as you think of them.
4) Ask specific culture related questions and be ready to dig around for your answers. Google them, use www.studylight.org, or look them up in a study Bible and read the footnotes (click on the little letters next to a word and it will show you
other related verses!). (www.esvbible.org)
5) Check your applications with other trusted Christians that you are in community with and embrace the fullness of God
in your everyday!

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Why Dig Deeper?

Finding the original meaning is a huge deal when we study Scripture and can make all the difference in our understanding as we apply God’s truths to our everyday lives.

In our modern-day relationships, we want people to understand our original intention as we communicate; how much more so between God and humanity?!

Here’s a little bit more on why we take Digging Deeper so seriously.

Study Tools

We love getting help while we study and www.studylight.org is one of many excellent resources, providing the original Hebrew (Old Testament) or Greek (New Testament) with an English translation.

Want to know more about a specific word in a verse? Click on “Strong’s Interlinear Bible” then click the word you’d like to study. Discover “origin”, “definition” and hear the original pronunciation – That Is Awesome!

Want more background? Click “Study Tools”, then pick a few commentaries to read their scholarly approach, keeping in mind that just because a commentary says it, doesn’t mean it’s true. (just like the internet :-))

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