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  • Jason Wilson

Community Group Discussion Questions: “Relational” Romans Chapter 12

Updated: May 8





Don’t forget to ask these 4 questions when reading the text:

Who is God?

What has He done?

Who are we?

What are we to do?

The following questions are intended to help individuals and groups learn from the Scriptures. 


Please use these questions as tools and not rules. As the Holy Spirit guides your time in Scripture, and as you have discussion with others, the goal is not finishing all of the questions but rather meeting with God through learning the Bible. Consider this time  more as a compass pointing you in a direction than a map that directs your every step


Summary:

THEREFORE... 

Jesus is the most significant person who has lived in world history. The Bible is the most significant document in world history. So, when Jesus was asked what the most significant portion of the Bible was, His answer must be incredibly significant. Mark 12:28-31 reports that one day, Jesus was asked “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 


Since the first five books of the Old Testament alone have more than 600 commands, there was a running debate as to what that  answer to that question might be hence why Jesus was asked. We  read, “Jesus answered, ‘The most important is, “Hear, O Israel: The  Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God  with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind  and with all your strength.” The second is this: “You shall love your  neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than  these.’”  Love God.  Love people. 


According to Jesus Christ, when these two things happen in this order, the rest of our life with God and one another tends to get sorted out by God’s grace thanks to the Holy Spirit. It seems that  the Apostle Paul may have had the priorities of Jesus in mind when  he sat down to pen his masterpiece, the epistle to the Romans; it  divides into exactly two sections about loving God and loving people. Paul gave us a clue that this would be his outline for Romans in 1:17 where he said that righteousness comes down from God to us in  relationship, and flows out from us in relationship with others saying, “the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is  written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’” 


 Romans 1-11 is largely vertically focused on how we can have a healthy, loving relationship with God as Christians. Romans 12-16 is  largely horizontally focused on how we can have a healthy loving  relationship with one another as the church. 

The transition from our relationship with God to our relationship  with others is denoted by the simple little word “therefore”. One Bible  commentator says, “‘Therefore’ must be given its full weight: Paul  wants to show that the exhortations of 12:1–15:13 are built firmly on the theology of chaps. 1–11. The English  verb ‘exhort’ captures well the nuance  of the Greek parakaleō in contexts such as this. Its semantic range lies somewhere between ‘request’ and ‘command’: an exhortation comes with authority, but the authority of a preacher who is the  mediator of God’s truth rather than the authority of a superior  issuing a command.” 


Another Bible commentator says, “Therefore is an important  word. Paul is not writing an essay in abstract ethics, but telling the Romans what their conduct must be in the light of what God has  done. We should probably not tie it in too closely to the immediately  preceding words (though there is a good sequence of thought), but take it as referring to the whole massive argument that has preceded  it.”2 


Sadly, some theologians have treated Romans 12-16 as something of an addendum or afterthought rather than a crucial  and vital application of everything Paul has taught in Romans 1-11. This is often because those who are brilliant scholars are not usually  the warmest and most relational people. This is not a criticism, but rather an honest evaluation. To spend your life mastering ancient languages alone in a library requires the kind of personality that will probably not get you voted as “Most Huggable” in high school.  Romans 1-11 is some of the most dense and intense theology in all  of the Bible, which explains why interpreting it was at the heart of  the battle for the entire Protestant Reformation. Therefore, rightly understanding the great doctrinal truths of Romans 1-11 is absolutely  critical for a right understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and a  healthy, loving, grace-based, Spirit-empowered relationship with God  the Father. 


What is equally important, however, is the application of these  doctrines to our relationships with one another in the church. Life in our fallen and sinful world is difficult, and the church has a unique opportunity to be a life-giving and burden-lifting place unlike  anywhere else. Furthermore, in our culture where family relationships  are often broken due to pain or distant due to relocation, it is more vital than ever for the church to be a place where there is emotional  and spiritual life in the Spirit as God’s family. Simply stated, sound  doctrine should lead to loving healthy relationships because a person  is not truly biblical unless they are relational. 


Some Christians are very relational and practical. They tend  not to read or study much because they are busy with people  and projects. Conversely, other Christians are very theological and conceptual. They tend to read and study a lot and don’t have as much emotion and energy for people and projects. Just like most  people have a dominant hand, so too most Christians are strong on one hand and weak on the other. The model of Paul and his letter to the Romans is that God wants  us to learn from one another and seek to be strong with both  hands. 

 

A healthy, loving, vertical  relationship with God is the  only hope we have for healthy,  loving, horizontal relationship  with others for two reasons. One, our relationship with God  gives us the template for a healthy relationship as He wants  us to treat others like He treats us. Two, our relationship with God  gives us the resources for healthy relationships as things like grace, forgiveness, and love come from God through the Spirit for us to  share with others. 

 

One theologian says this well, “Romans has the reputation— well deserved—of being one of the most theological books in the Bible. Unfortunately, this reputation has led many Christians and even some commentators to wonder why Paul bothers with  all the practical stuff at the end of the letter. He has finished the theology section at the end of chapter 11. Why say any more? Such an attitude betrays a basic misunderstanding of theology and its significance. All theology is practical, and all practice, if it is truly Christian, is theological. Paul’s gospel is deeply theological, but it is also eminently practical. The good news of Jesus Christ is intended to transform a person’s life. Until individual Christians own and live out  the theology, the gospel has not accomplished its purpose.”3  For the Christian, salvation is something that God alone does.  This is the big idea driving throughout Romans 1-11. In these chapters,  the focus is on what to believe as a Christian. 


What Paul is talking about in Romans 12-16 are often referred  to by theologians as “cooperative commands” where God invites  the Christian to work out the new life of the Spirit in them. In these  chapters, the focus is on how to behave as a Christian. The choice  every Christian must make every day is between being “conformed  to this world” which is living Hell up, or being “transformed” to God,  which is living Heaven down. Indeed, the gospel of Jesus Christ is  about getting us to Heaven, but until we arrive there, it is also about  God bringing a little bit of Heaven into the world through His people.  



Opening Questions: 

Who helps you in your daily life? Who can you go to in an emergency? Who can you go to if you have a dire need? Do you know anybody who’s praying for you by name? Who in our church community is familiar with the specific needs in your family?


Read Romans 1

A Living Sacrifice

12 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.


Gifts of Grace

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.


Marks of the True Christian

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.



Discussion Questions: 

1What does it mean to present your bodies as a living sacrifice? How is this difficult for you? What is our motivation to live this way? 

2. How can you apply the call of not conforming to the pattern of this world in your own life?

3. How does the transformation by the renewal of mind look like in everyday life?

4. How can you use your spiritual gifts for the common good?

5. What are practical ways to show sincere love as described by Paul in verses 9-10? Who is God calling you to show that love to?

6. How does blessing those who persecute you challenge the typical human response to persecution?

7. What does it mean to live in harmony with one another? Where do you need to seek harmony in your relationships? 

8. How does Paul's command to overcome evil with good apply in our modern day?

9. How can we empathize with others in their joys and sorrows as Paul instructs? Who do you need to reach out to?

10. What role does humility play in following Paul’s instructions in Romans 12?

11. How can the teachings in Romans 12 guide your interaction with people who have different views or beliefs?

12. What steps can you take to better understand and use your spiritual gifts? Do you know what spiritual gifts you have?

13. How can we practice being devoted to one another in love in our communities?

14. How does the concept of being part of the body of Christ shape your understanding of community and church and your own life?

15. How can you practically "overcome evil with good" in a situation you are currently facing?

16. In what ways can you personally renew your mind to better discern the will of God?

17. How does Romans 12 deepen your understanding of what true and proper worship is?

18. How does Romans 12 challenge the way you relate to others?

19. How can you apply the teachings of Romans 12 in your daily life to align yourself more closely with God's will?


Spend time in prayer asking The Holy Spirit to give you and your group wisdom and courage to put into practice presenting yourself as a living sacrifice in all of your relationships and to lead you and your group in opportunities to serve our community, then make real, tangible plans to do it!


You. Are. Loved. 






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