God offers redemption to all, though some resist and others are called as special agents to bear the message of salvation.
Connecting with the Scripture Topic
A. Are you an early or a late adopter? Did you camp out in a long line to get the first iPad or the latest iPhone, or did you wait to see how it actually performed before you jumped on board? Go around the circle and ask group members to identify themselves as either “early” or “late” adopters.
B. Now go around the circle again. How easily did you receive Christianity? How do you respond when you’re asked to help in a ministry in the church? Are you easily persuaded, or does it take some convincing for you to say “yes”?
Sharing and receiving Scripture
A. Using the word CHOICE as an acronym, write a description of yourself (examples: Cheerful, Hospitable… or Careful, Hopeful...). Include elements you like and some you’d like to change. Those who choose to may read their lists. Discuss briefly what you can do to improve those less-desirable qualities.
B. Thought Questions
When Paul speaks of “my brothers, those of my own race” in Romans 9:3, why does he then use the terms “they/theirs” in verses 4-7 rather than “we/ours”?
- He is separate because of his calling as “apostle to the Gentiles.”
- He has accepted Christ and “they” haven’t.
- He doesn’t want to be associated with “those” who have rejected God’s call.
- He wants to include himself with his brothers, but it’s “they” who have snubbed him.
- He implies that those who reject Christ are cursed, and he does not belong in that category.
Isn’t God being arbitrary in the judgments “The older will serve the younger” and “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” (vs. 12, 13)?
- Yes. Esau’s fate was sealed before he was born, so he had no freedom of choice.
- No, this is descriptive, not prescriptive.
- Yes. God chose Jacob and rejected Esau without any physical evidence on which to base that selection.
- No. Paul says in verse 14 that God is not unjust, so that settles it.
- There are some aspects of God’s behavior that will always baffle us (see vs. 17, 18).
In your opinion, what is the best answer to the hypothetical question in verse 19?
- Verse 20: Those who ask the question have unrepentant hearts.
- Verse 21: Not between the saved and the rejected, but those called to a higher (nobler) purpose
- Verse 22: God exhibits great patience with everyone before passing judgment.
- Verses 23-24: God is trying to deal equitably with both Jews and Gentiles.
- Verses 25-29: Some who should be saved will choose to be lost; others without the same advantages will be saved.
How do you relate to the faith/works concept in verses 30-33?
- No wonder the Jews were upset—the Gentiles got off easy, not having to deal with the levitical laws.
- Everyone has the same opportunity to accept Christ by faith; the Jews just didn’t get it.
- Everyone will stumble over Jesus (the “stumbling stone”), but we don’t all have to fall.
- God wants to save everyone, but salvation can’t be on our terms.
- Even when everything seems confusing, I can still put my trust in Jesus.
Applying the Message of Scripture
Gather in groups of two or three. Choose one of the following options and work on a solution. After several minutes, report back to the larger group with your findings.
Option 1: As a group, make a list of what you think are your highest spiritual gifts. Then list the spiritual gifts you see in the other group members. Be prepared to share your lists with the others and explain why you see the gifts at work in their lives.
Option 2: Suppose someone said to you, “God has rejected me and I have no hope of salvation.” How would you respond? What clarifying questions would you ask? What Bible texts could you reference in your response?
Option 3: Is there a socio-ethnic group in your area that seems neglected or rejected by the rest of your community? What can your church do to reach out to this group? If you could snap your fingers and make an immediate difference for them, what would you do?
Valuing Scripture in Your Life
A. For the next three minutes, consider your status with God. Are you a “common use” person or a “noble purpose” person? Are you comfortable with your conclusions?
B. After three minutes, those who choose to may share their thoughts. Conclude with prayer.
Next Week’s Scripture Focus:
Romans 10; 11