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helping with packages December 7 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Romans 12:1–15:12

Because of Grace

Someone opens the door for you. A driver lets you in the flow of traffic ahead of him. You are carrying heavy packages and a person comes to your aid. A friend or acquaintance looks beyond your faults and foibles and accepts you. What would be your reaction to these situations? Would you thank the person who extended grace? You should, but don’t acts of grace also prompt you to return grace towards others? This is a proper response when we consider the grace God has given us.

In the book of Romans, we are learning that God is merciful and gracious to save all Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews), who realize their terrible nature and turn from their sins to him in faith (Romans 1-3). He provides salvation from sin, justification, peace and spiritual life through Jesus Christ (Romans 4-7, more...). God adopts us as his children, and his Spirit comes to live within us (Romans 8). Because of the mercy and grace shown to us whom he chose to save (Romans 9-11), it begs the question, how shall we then live?

In Romans 12 the Apostle Paul instructs the Christians in Rome, in view of God's mercy and grace, to offer their bodies as living sacrifices of service for him (12:1). They are not to be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of their minds (12:2).

Paul's' instructions also apply to us. Our American culture and media often teach us that we deserve what we get, even grace. It teaches us to live with pride; after all, we are entitled to whatever we receive! The Bible teaches, however, that we should live in humility toward one another because of God’s grace.

The Holy Spirit gives gifts to followers of Jesus Christ. This, too, is an act of grace, but it causes some of us to act with pride. However, because of grace we should exercise our spiritual gifts with humility and love. We should love our brothers and sisters in Christ and live in peace.

Because we now live by the law of grace under the lordship of Jesus Christ, do we still have to obey our government? Do we have to keep paying taxes? We may be disappointed with this answer, but Paul says yes to both questions. Here is why.

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves (Romans 13:1-2, NIV).

Therefore, we must obey civil laws, honor the governing authorities, and pay our taxes. One exception to obeying our government officials is regarding our religious liberty. If they tell us to stop sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, then we must not obey; we must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:28-29). However, everything should be done respectfully. A godly life is not a life that is argumentative and causes trouble—it is a life of grace. A life of grace does not permit us to act in whatever way we please. Instead, because of the grace shown to us, Paul tells us to make good use of our time and opportunities for God—not waste them with destructive living (Romans 13:11-14).

Because of grace, we must also live in love and consideration of one another.In Paul’s day many Christians were saved out of idolatry. Meat was sold in the market place which had previously been offered to idols. The immature believers would not eat this meat (1Corinthians 8). Perhaps, because of this reason some became vegetarians. The mature believers, however, said meat is meat; where it was last offered has no significance. It can be eaten with thanksgiving to God.

The principle in today's Bible reading and 1Corinthians 8 is that we should support the spiritually weak and not judge each other. Most of us do not face the same situation as the Christians in Rome, but the larger principle about questionable activities still applies to us. Paul instructs us, “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification” (Romans 14:19, NIV). For more discussion on this topic, go back to the November 27 Bible study.

Lack of unity in the body of Christ, the church, can destroy it. Racism and pride divide us. The Roman church and other churches in the Middle-East faced this danger and so do churches today, wherever they might be located. Paul’s parting prayer was that, because of grace they would live in unity as they follow Jesus Christ, “so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:6, NIV). To both Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews) Paul leaves these instructions, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God” (Romans 15:7, NIV). Let us remember God’s grace to us and be gracious to others.

Lessons to Live By

  • In view of God's grace to us (more...), let us offer our bodies as living sacrifices of service to him (Romans 12:1). Let us not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Roman 12:2).
  • We should exercise our spiritual gifts with love and humility.
  • We must obey civil laws, honor the governing authorities and pay our taxes. A godly life is not a life that is argumentative and causes trouble—it is a life of grace.
  • Because of the grace shown to us, we should live in love and consideration of one another. Let us be gracious.“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God” (Romans 15:7, NIV).

Focus Verse

Romans 14:19 (NIV) “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”

praying hands Write a private prayer response to today’s Bible study:

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A Look Ahead: Show acceptance and love for one another by giving a Christian Welcome. Learn more about this in our Next Lesson.

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