Week 1: Set Apart for the Mission
- The book of Romans opens with Paul’s apostolic calling. Have you ever experienced a sense of “calling” in your life? What did you feel called to and why?
- Read Romans 1:1-6. How do verses 5 and 6 contradict the belief that only church leaders are called to fulfill Christ’s mission?
- How is your personal calling to follow Christ different from your pastor’s calling? How is it the same? Why do you think we tend to distinguish between Christian leaders and lay people when it comes to fulfilling Christ’s mission?
- One of Grace’s House Rules is Modern Liturgy: We build history into modern services because we are called to carry an ancient faith into the future. What are some ways you are carrying your faith into the future?
- Read Romans 1:8-11. What stands out to you in these verses? On a scale of 1-5, how much can you relate to Paul’s longing for Christian fellowship? Would anyone like to share about a time when you longed for the “mutual encouragement” of another believer’s faith?
Week 2: I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel
- Have you ever been embarrassed by Christianity? What embarrassed you?
- Read Romans 1:16-17. What’s the difference between being embarrassed by the behavior of Christians and being ashamed of the gospel? Why might a Christian be ashamed of the gospel?
- What are practical ways we can influence the next generation to be unashamed of their faith?
- Imagine a neighbor asks, “How do you become a Christian?” How would you respond? (You’re not allowed to give them your pastor’s phone number! Instead, explain the gospel as simply as you can.)
- Recently, we studied the book of James. Refer back to James 2:19. Why is belief in God not enough to save someone? Based on the sermon this weekend and our discussion today, would you say you are a true follower of Jesus? Why or why not?
Week 3: What We Lost
- Read Romans 1:18-20. Before listening to the sermon, would these verses have bothered you? If so, why? What is the main point of these verses? Try and paraphrase them using simple language.
- Read Romans 1:21-25. What root sin led to rampant immorality?
- What does it look like practically to “serve created things rather than the Creator”? Give some everyday examples.
- Is there an area in your life where you are “serving created things rather than the Creator”? Can you trace your idolatry back to the underlying lie? (In other words, what truth about God have you exchanged for a lie?)
- Read Romans 1:26-32. One of our core values is Grace-Centered Truth: We challenge people to be their best and love them at their worst. Imagine someone living a sinful lifestyle joins your gC. What does Grace-Centered Truth look like in action?
Week 4: Who Can Judge?
- Think about the ways in which people are judged. Put the following categories in order based on how the world judges people: morality, appearance, wealth, power, intelligence. Now put the categories in order based on how you’re most prone to judge others.
- Would you add any categories to this list? How else have you felt judged, or caught yourself judging someone else?
- Read Romans 2:1-4. What stands out to you in these verses? Which indictment convicts you the most?
- What are some ways Christians take advantage of God’s kindness and patience? How do we take His goodness for granted?
- Tell us about a time when the kindness of God led you to repentance.
Week 5: Requirements of the Law
- Read Romans 2:12-13. What’s a modern example of a person sinning “apart from the law”? What’s an example of a person sinning “under the law”? At the end of the day, why are these two people in the same boat?
- Would anyone be willing to share about a time when you were sinning “apart from the law” (meaning, you were sinning because you didn’t know any better)?
- What about a time when you were sinning “under the law” (you knew better but did what you wanted anyway, OR you kept the “letter of the law” but not the “spirit of the law”)?
- Read Romans 2:14-15. There’s a sense in which God’s truth is at the core of our being; it’s “written on our hearts” even when we’re far from God. Is there a truth written on your heart that you’re suppressing? Is God telling you to do something, give up something, or change something in your life? Why are you reluctant to obey?
- The law reveals our need for Jesus. We are powerless to obey without Him. Share one next step you’d like to take this week and commit to praying for one another in regard to these steps throughout the week.
Week 6: The Heart of the Law
- “Congruence” is a psychological term that simply means being the same way on the inside as you are on the outside. Based on this definition, what are everyday examples of “incongruence”?
- Read Romans 2:17-20. What four roles do the Pharisees take it upon themselves to assume? (See verses 19-20). What do all four roles have in common?
- Read Romans 2:21-24. Grave incongruence existed in the lives of the Pharisees. How could we rewrite these rhetorical questions to address the incongruence within American Christianity today? (For example: You who boast on social media, do you experience genuine contentment internally?)
- Paul’s goal in writing Romans was not condemnation but freedom. He wanted his readers to develop awareness that leads to repentance and wholeness. With that in mind, where does incongruence exist in your own life?
- One of our House Rules is Genuine Family: Grace frees us from performance and lets us live unafraid. How does fear contribute to incongruence? Think of the incongruence in your life. Can you pinpoint the underlying fear? What does gospel grace have to say about that fear?
Week 7: What about Everyone Else?
- Read Romans 3:1-4. Share about a time when you were disillusioned by the unfaithfulness of a Christian.
- Reread verses 3 and 4. Paraphrase these verses in simple language. What point is Paul making?
- Why do we tend to look at the lives of Christians around us instead of focusing on God’s character?
- On the flip side, share about a time when you encountered a Christian who inspired and encouraged your faith. Would you say you’re this sort of example to others? Why or why not?
- The text this week dealt with human depravity. Broken people living in a broken world are bound to face sorrow and difficulty. Where do you feel brokenness most keenly in your personal life? (Is it in your marriage, parenting, work, dating relationships, habitual sin, etc?) Close by praying for one another in these areas.
Week 8: We Are Different and the Same
- We have officially crossed the halfway mark in part one of our study on Romans! What have been your biggest takeaways from this series so far? What have you learned, or how have you grown?
- Read Romans 3:21-24. Paul writes that “all are justified freely by God’s grace.” Have you ever struggled with something that happened to you, for which the guilty party was not justly punished? Eventually, were you able to come to terms with it? If so, how?
- Have you ever struggled with the concept of God being too forgiving? Why or why not?
- In his book Gentle and Lowly, Dane Ortlund writes, “That Jesus is friend to sinners is only contemptible to those who feel themselves not to be in that category.” How might a right view of our own sinfulness change the way we confront a friend, discipline our children, or view a flagrantly immoral person?
- In the same chapter on friendship with Christ, Ortlund writes, “Here is the promise of the gospel and the message of the whole Bible: In Jesus Christ, we are given a friend who will always enjoy rather than refuse our presence.” What is your gut reaction to that statement and why?
Week 9: The Foundation of Our Faith
- Share about a time when you believed God against all odds. What about a time when you struggled to believe God?
- In your opinion, what are the greatest cultural hindrances to faith in America? What are the greatest hindrances to your faith personally?
- Read Romans 4:1-5. If faith in Christ is enough, why do we always try to add to our faith?
- One of our core values at Grace is Constant Innovation: To reach people who are far from God, we hold a loose grip on our methods and a tight grip on our beliefs. We hold a tight grip on our beliefs because faith is foundational to Christianity. What are signs that a person or church is loosening their grip on foundational Christian beliefs?
- Imagine someone asks, “Why does your church have an online worship service? Are you trying to be like the world?” How could you use the principle of Constant Innovation to answer their question?
Week 10: To All Who Believe
- This week we saw the massive faith of Abraham, who “against all hope, in hope believed” (Romans 4:18). What stands out to you in Abraham’s story? What do you admire about him?
- What situation in your life feels less than hopeful right now?
- Read Philippians 1:4-6. Where do you feel the least confident that God is capable of changing you? How has He faithfully grown and matured you already?
- Read Hebrews 6:13-20. Why do we have “strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us”?
- What promises of God have sustained you through the hardest seasons? What one promise do you especially need to cling to in this season?
Week 11: Purposeful Suffering
- Read Romans 5:1-5. What can we learn about “hope” based on these verses?
- Where do you need hope right now?
- Have you ever experienced the reality of verses 3 and 4 in your life? If so, tell us about it.
- Read Romans 5:6. Notice the phrase “at the right time.” The Jews waited for the Messiah for over 400 years. Describe a personal season of waiting. What were the greatest challenges? Would you say you waited well? Why or why not?
- Read Romans 5:7-11. How does God treat His enemies? How does this encourage, challenge, or convict you?
Week 12: Why We Struggle
- Our text this weekend compared Adam and Jesus. Do you think you would’ve committed the same sin as Adam? Why or why not?
- Why do people tend to feel good about one man saving us (Jesus), but not one man condemning us by his sin (Adam)?
- Read Romans 5:12. Sin always leads to death, whether it’s the death of trust, integrity, reputation, or relationship. Without using names, how have you seen sin lead to “death” in the life of someone you know? How have you personally experienced death as a result of sin?
- It’s easy to point the finger at Adam without recognizing how much our sin affects others. What are some ways we are actively messing up our lives and the world around us?
- Read Romans 5:17-21, pausing to clarify as necessary. This is the heart of God – His grace will always exceed our sin. John Calvin once wrote, “God is infinitely compassionate and infinitely ready to forgive, so that it ought to be ascribed exclusively to our unbelief, if we do not obtain pardon from Him.” What is Calvin saying? Have you “obtained pardon” from God? Do you tend to avoid Him or run to Him when you sin?
Week 13: Rights and Responsibilities
- Read Romans 6:1-4. Can you think of a sinful pattern that lost its appeal when you became a follower of Jesus? Why did it lose its appeal?
- Martin Luther described the theological concept of the “already / not yet” with the Latin words “simul justus et peccator,” meaning a Christian is simultaneously righteous and a sinner. We have “already” been given new life in Christ, but we are “not yet” free from sin. What are sinful patterns you’re still struggling to surrender?
- Read Romans 6:8-14. Verse 14 teaches that the “law” doesn’t free us from the tyranny of sin. Grace does. Imagine your child is a habitual liar. How might you use the “law” to motivate him or her to stop sinning? What would it look like to use grace instead? (If there are no parents in your gC, feel free to practice this exercise using an adult friend who is enslaved to a particular sin instead.)
- Famous pastor and hymn writer, John Newton, was a slave ship captain before experiencing conversion and writing Amazing Grace. Newton writes, “Our sins are many, but His mercies are more: our sins are great, but His righteousness is greater: we are weak, but He is power. Most of our complaints are owing to unbelief, and the remainder of a legal spirit.” Where do you see “the remainder of a legal spirit” in your life? Where are you still striving to earn God’s favor?
- What would change in your life if you woke up tomorrow fully assured of God’s love for you – fully reliant on His grace instead of your own effort? How might your attitude change? How might your priorities change? How might those around you be affected?
Week 14: What Are You Committed To?
- This week we conclude part one of our study on Romans, which was titled “Finding Freedom.” What were some of your favorite highlights from this series? What principles have given you a greater sense of freedom?
- One of our House Rules at Grace is Biblical Maturity: We expect to grow. We teach through the Bible verse-by-verse because it is the best way to know the Bible, and the Bible is the best way to know Jesus. How has your appreciation for biblical maturity grown through studying Romans? Are you encouraged or overwhelmed at the thought of finishing the book of Romans? Why?
- Our text this week taught that everyone is a slave to something. Read Romans 6:16. What are some of the things you’ve “offered yourself to” in the past? Why did you offer yourself to these things? What were you looking for?
- What are some of the most powerful “masters” in your life right now? Are these masters leading you to bondage or freedom?
- Read Romans 6:19-23. Practically speaking, how do you offer yourself to Christ as a slave of righteousness? Consider reading and discussing Ask Pastor Mike: How to Break Bad Habits in the digital Grace magazine.
Ice-Breakers and Extra Questions for Extra Time:
- How did God encourage you through our worship experience this weekend, whether through singing, giving, serving, communion, confession, or listening to the preached Word?
- What was your greatest takeaway from the sermon?
- Was there anything that confused you in the sermon?
- What has been your greatest joy and struggle this week?
- How can we pray for you?
- How can we hold you accountable?
- How have you seen evidence of God’s grace in your life this year?
- Share some ways you’ve been growing in wholeness lately.
- Share three things for which you’re thankful.
- Share one unexpected blessing from God you’ve experienced this week.
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