WHY MAN CANNOT KEEP HIS RELIGION Community Group Study Questions Desert View Bible Church He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose. Jim Elliot. October 1 –October 7: Romans 2:17--29 Overview: We continue in our study of the Book of Romans. What a wonderful and challenging book! This week Sandy looks at the last half of chapter two. . The passage is directed to the Jews, but particularly Jewish believers in Rome. The Jew carried tradition and the law forward into faith in Christ. This created some confusion. Paul adds clarity to the situation. Let’s take a look. General Question: If you have seen the play or movie Fiddler on the Roof, you remember the song: “Tradition! Tradition!”. Certainly the Jews have their traditions, but so do we. Think of one tradition you have in your family or home which you have carried forward from another generation. It could be something big or small. It doesn’t have to be a religious tradition. Tell us about it. Extra points if you can sing the tradition song like Tevia. Tradition! Pray: Before you begin, ask the Holy Spirit to aid you in this study and that you might see Jesus more clearly as a result. He will provide for you. Discussion Questions: 1. Read the passage for this week: Romans 2:17-29. Clearly, Paul is addressing those of the Jewish tradition. Paul was a Pharisee himself before encountering Jesus on the road to Damascus. See, Acts Chapter 9. Here Paul is attacking the very basis of Jewish thought – that a right relationship with God (and avoidance of God’s judgment) is through a certain pedigree (descent from Abraham) or a certain physical mark on men’s bodies (circumcision). Not so, says Paul. It is about conduct, not about status. Wow! What a thought. Find three things from the passage that Paul refers to as characterizing the Jew. For example, in verse 17, we see the Jew “relies on the law and boasts in God.” That’s two. Find three others and discuss what you find. Why are these things bad? What is Paul’s point here? Explain. 2. The key verse in this passage is perhaps verse 29. Read that verse again. The heart is involved, and the Spirit, says Paul, not just observance of the letter of the law. Discuss what Paul means by “circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter.” What does the heart have to do with it? How is the Spirit involved? And what does Paul mean by “the letter of the law”? Explain. 3. The Gentiles (non-Jews) of that time held the Jews in contempt. Historical accounts suggest the Jews were seen as clannish, holding other faiths in contempt, practicing unusual habits (avoiding swine flesh, not working one day a week). Of course, the Jews felt the same about the Gentiles. The Gentile was a barbarian, unclean and unrighteous. Look at the following passages of scripture and explain how each passage helps us understand the gap between Jew and Gentile and how the gospel bridges that gap. Matthew 6:32 Acts 10:45 1 Corinthians 1:23 Luke 12:1 Personal Application: Continue reading in Romans, particularly Romans Chapters 3 and 4. Try to stay ahead of the sermon passages because Paul often illuminates an earlier passage and thought with a later passage. Don’t just see part of the picture. Read ahead! Optional questions (do only as time permits): 4. We church people sometimes behave a little bit like the Jewish person described in this passage, don’t we? OK, it’s only me that behaves like that. We (me) seem to rely on certain outward traditions, like going to church regularly, or owning a bible, or serving in the church, even being an American to justify that we will go to heaven and be among the Christian elect. Discuss this controversial point. Does it have any validity? What is wrong with thinking like that, if anything? Explain.