If you have read ahead, you may be thinking, what do I do with this passage? But do not fear – the passage break up is not a mistake!
I do hope you had a great discussion in Growth Group last week about righteousness, glory, justification, redemption and atonement. Therein lies the reason why we split this last section of chapter 3 into 2. We wanted people to have the chance to really dwell upon and ponder the wonder of salvation!
So what do you do with the tail end of the chapter?
It seems to me that this section (3:27-31) is Paul’s conclusion to his rhetorical argument with the Jews. He picks up on his criticism of their boasting from 2:17 and makes sure they know that there is no merit in them claiming merit! Their pride must be put aside and they must come to Jesus like anyone else. There is only one God and he deals with all people in the same way and he will save all people in the same way – by faith.
David Seccombe helpfully writes:
From this passage we learn somethign enormously important about faith: it is the opposite of achievement. We cannot be proud of faith. Faith is our acknowledgement that we are empty and disqualified. Faith is putting out dirty hands to receive a wonderful gift. Only the utmost perversity could make of it a virtue and a matter of pride.
You may want to ponder with your group the story of the arrogant man who goes proudly to the temple and how he is an example of what Paul is critiquing. (Luke 18:9-14)
You will want to unpack the last sentence in verse 27 – which I think is just saying that the Law never saved (see 3:20) but should have driven Jews to faith for salvation. (This will also bridge into the big idea of chapter 4 – faith!!)
You will probably need to unpack the end of verse 31 which Romans will do later. Perhaps the easy way of doing that is by opening the question to the group of “Do we have to obey the Ten Commandments?” and getting them to think about what they should uphold and what they should not uphold in the Law explained in Exodus and Leviticus and why. The answer is very complex but my simple way of thinking about it is “what does Jesus fulfil and what does Jesus intensify?” Have a Read of Matthew 5:16-end to help your thinking. I’m also happy for you to ask me a question on this as you prepare….
Finally, I am planning on making sure my group really understands and believes 3:29-30. In this age of pluralism and religious tolerance, I fear that many Christian people don’t want to stand on John 14:6 and there only being one God who saves through his one Son Jesus. All other so called God’s are just human constructs made up to help people ignore the reality that they need to trust in Jesus. (You could google the story about the one way Jesus man who lives next to the Harbour bridge – it was in the smh this week.)
I’m hoping this will lead us to prayer for those who are lost.
So in terms of structure of the night, I will probably…
1. Review 1:18-3:20 picking up on 2:17
2. Review the sermon from Sunday on 3:21-26
3. Work through the rhetorical questions one at a time (v.27,29,31) picking up on the issues above.
4. Lead to a discussion of there being only one God.
5. Pray for the lost.
I’m praying for you as you lead your groups this week. Please pray for me!