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To Yield with All Your Soul
By FRAN SCIACCA
NAVPRESSCopyright © 2001 Geoffrey Scott Sciacca
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTHE BELIEVERS AT ROME
The Work of God
ABIDING PRINCIPLE The purposes of God and the reflection of the redeemed heart meet in God's goal for every believer-Christlikeness.
"Salvation is not putting a man into heaven but putting heaven into a man." -Maltie D. Babcock
SNAPSHOT The apostle Paul had a passion to propagate and equip "epicenter" churches; local congregations in influential cities that would become radiating hubs for the gospel. He focused on cities like the international seaport of Corinth; Philippi, a Roman colony on the main east-west trade route; and Ephesus, the hub for 230 independent cities within the Roman province of Asia. Equal only to Paul's enthusiasm to see the gospel preached was his insistence that the message be both accurate and true. It was probably the combination of these two passions that God used to prompt Paul to write his most magnificent and exhaustive letter to the epicenter church at Rome-a body of believers that he had never met.
Because of its grand theological themes and thorough discussion of nearly every doctrine important to our faith, the book of Romans has often been called "The Magna Carta of Christianity." Clear instruction on how to live out the Christian faith in the warp and woof of everyday life is penned on every page of this letter. As a result, what God says to the believers at Rome also has widespread application for those of us living nearly twenty centuries later.
The subject of salvation is more clearly addressed in the book of Romans than any other letter written by Paul. He wanted this influential church to have an accurate understanding of the gospel, so that what radiated from it to the rest of the world was clearly the truth. Therefore, we, too, can study this letter to learn exactly what it means to be "saved."
SCRIPTURE: Romans 8
1. Read Romans 8:28. In simple words that you would use with a new believer, explain what you understand this verse to be saying.
2. Romans 8 may be Paul's most extensive chapter on the believer's assurance of salvation. Summarize what each of the following verses says about salvation by completing the sentence, "Being saved means... "
3. Read Philippians 1:6. How does Paul's statement to the believers at Philippi compare to what he said in Romans 8? Explain your answer.
What do you think is the "good work in you" that Paul is speaking about?
4. According to 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, is this "good work" completed, or is it a work in progress? Explain your answer.
5. The "good work" of Philippians 1:6 and "the good" of Romans 8:28 are the same. What is "the good" that God is working toward in our lives, according to Romans 8:29?
6. Paul made the following statements about sanctification to other first-century believers. Explain the process of becoming like Christ from each of the following passages.
2 Corinthians 4:7-11
2 Corinthians 3:17-18
7. Write a summary statement about how you would define "the good" in Romans 8:28.
Based on your findings, what do you think Paul is referring to with the phrase "all things"?
8. Since Romans 8 explains our salvation, summarize what we can expect, and explain about our life on earth from verses 28 and 29.
9. Return to question 1. How does your summary in question 8 compare with your response to the first question? Explain any changes you have made in light of what you've learned about your salvation from this study.
Contrary to popular opinion or wishful thinking, the phrase "all things God works for the good" is not Scripture's version of "every cloud has a silver lining." In a chapter virtually saturated with encouragement and assurance, Paul reminds his Roman readers and all Christians that God desires to enlist every circumstance, relationship, event, and choice in our lives to make us more like Jesus. In fact, God sent his Son in our likeness (verse 3) in order to transform us into His likeness. The joy of facing no condemnation (verse 1) as we await our final adoption as sons of God (verse 23) is made complete by the conviction that until we resemble Christ, God can and will use "all things" to deal with sin's residue in us. This ongoing process is our sanctification.
1. Paul sheds some very sobering light on the subject of sanctification in the following passages. Describe who is doing the work in each passage and what is being done.
2. Reread Ephesians 2:8-10. These verses address the total absolution of our guilt (justification) and our progressive conformity to the likeness of Christ (sanctification). Explain which verses apply to each, and why.
3. How do you see your sanctification as a partnership between you and God, according to this passage?
4. List five of the most difficult or significant things that have happened in your life this past year.
Place an X next to each event or circumstance that you honestly accepted as part of the "all things" that God was using in your life to make you more like Jesus.
5. How would you chart your level of cooperation with God's sanctifying purposes in your life for the past twelve months? (Place an X on the line below.)
"partnership" ______________________________ "sole proprietor" (me and God) (me alone)
6. Is there anything you need to confess to God regarding your attitude toward circumstances that He's allowed in your life this past year? If so, spend some thoughtful time in repentance and prayer. Ask the Lord for grace and wisdom to accept and embrace His good purposes for you.
7. Perhaps you've excluded a person either purposefully or unknowingly from the "all things" that God wants to use in your life to sanctify you. Take time to pray and acknowledge your failure to cooperate with God. Ask Him to give you a different perspective and attitude toward this person and His purposes.
8. Is there someone to whom you can explain what you've learned concerning the "all things" that God wants to use to make you more like Jesus? Write that person's name below. Ask this person to pray with you and for you, and to check on your progress regularly. Be specific about what you believe God wants to change in your life.
Sanctification's means and end-Romans 8:28-29 God's commitment to my sanctification-Philippians 1:6
Excerpted from To Yield with All Your Soul by FRAN SCIACCA Copyright © 2001 by Geoffrey Scott Sciacca. Excerpted by permission.
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