Sunday School lessons for Gospel Doctrine Class

Saturday, August 10, 2019

“The Power of God unto Salvation”







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The Apostle Paul set forth a compelling argument explaining the need that all people have for the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and that was his mission, to take the gospel to the gentiles. He was not unwilling, or too tired.  He did not complain, or have a too busy schedule.  He was not afraid, he was not...ashamed. Paul, simply, as instructed by Jesus Christ Himself, set forth to do as commanded, share the gospel with the world. 

Are we as the dicisples of Christ following the command to share the gospel with the world to the best of our ability?  In Romans 1–6  Paul gives us a great understanding for the meaning of principles of specific teachings of Christ, as well as what it means and how to share.  Let us as we press forward today with a study of  Romans 1–6 and a prayer in our hearts that the spirit will give us knowledge and guidance on these finer points that we may worthily complete all Father has for us to do.  

History and Background
After greeting the Roman Saints Romans 1:1–15, Paul stated the theme of his Epistle to the Romans: The gospel of Jesus Christ will bring salvation to everyone who lives by faith in Jesus Christ Romans 1:16–17.  Paul discussed the effects of living in a fallen world and described the plight of sinfulness that faces all humankind. All accountable people sin, and without the Atonement they stand condemned before God Romans 1:18–3:20. Gentiles were accountable for their sins because they had rejected evidence of the Creator manifest through His creations Romans 1:18–32. Jews stood condemned because they had failed to keep the law of Moses perfectly Romans 2:1–3:20.  Following this description of the true condition of people’s souls, Paul introduced the solution God had provided, which is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Through faithful acceptance of the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be justified, obtain remission of sins, and receive salvation Romans 3:21–31.

In the first three chapters of Romans, Paul focused on the need to enter into the gospel covenant.  Having taught that justification comes by faith in Jesus Christ and not by performances of the law of Moses Romans 3:21–31, Paul supported this doctrine by citing the example of Abraham, who lived hundreds of years before the law of Moses was given Romans 4.   Chapter 5 of Romans represents a turning point in the epistle, for Paul began to teach about life in Christ. In the gospel covenant, “we have peace with God” and “access by faith into this grace wherein we stand” Romans 5:1–2.  Paul clarified that God’s grace does not condone sin, but it empowers us to overcome sin Romans 6:1–8:13. Entering the gospel covenant through baptism symbolizes our death to sin and our “newness of life” in Christ Romans 6:4; see also verses 3–11.

Romans–Philemon

What are the epistles and how are they organized?  The epistles are letters written by Church leaders to Saints in various parts of the world. The Apostle Paul wrote most of the epistles in the New Testament starting with Romans and ending with Hebrews. His epistles are organized by length. Although Romans is the first epistle in the New Testament, it was actually written near the end of Paul’s missionary journeys. For more information about the epistles, see Bible Dictionary, “Pauline Epistles.”

Paul greeted the Saints in Rome. He declared that the gospel of Jesus Christ was the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believed, whether Jew or Greek (Gentile). Without the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the wrath of God rested upon those who were guilty of sins. Even Gentiles were accountable for their sins because they had rejected witnesses of the Creator manifest through His creations. 

Romans 2
Paul taught that because God is just and impartial, He will render (recompense or restore) to every person according to his or her deeds, whether they be good or evil. Some Gentiles had lived moral lives, while the Jews had failed to keep the law of Moses perfectly. Acts of religious devotion have meaning only as they reflect true inward devotion and sincerity. 

Romans 3
Paul quoted Old Testament scriptures to teach that all people are “under sin” and that no one can be justified by the deeds of the law of Moses. However, God has provided a way for all people to be justified through the redemption made available by Jesus Christ. Through faith in Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice, Jews and Gentiles may be justified.

Romans 4
Paul wrote about Abraham as an example of one who was justified by faith and was “strong in faith.” Rituals of the law of Moses do not bring justification. God will impute (attribute) our righteousness to us, as He did to Abraham, as we live by faith in Him. 

Paul wrote about the blessings that come to all who are justified by placing their faith in Jesus Christ. The free gift of the Atonement of Jesus Christ is a manifestation of divine grace. The Fall of Adam brought death and sin into the world; the Atonement of Jesus Christ overcame death and enables us to overcome sin. 

Romans 6
Paul countered the misconception that grace condones sin. Baptism by immersion symbolizes our death to sin and our new life in Christ. We yield ourselves as servants either to sin or to God.

Part 1: Romans 1:16–17  “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.”

Have you ever faced ridicule for your beliefs? Has that caused you to be afraid or ashamed of being a member of the Chruch?  Paul shows us in these verses that he was not ashamed of the gospel.

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

Paul declared that he was “ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome” (Romans 1:15) and then introduced what many have called the theme of the Epistle to the Romans—the gospel of Jesus Christ will bring salvation to everyone who lives by faith in Jesus Christ (see Romans 1:16–17). Much of the content of the rest of the epistle relates to key terms and ideas found in these two verses:

Gospel. The word gospel is the English translation of the Greek euangellion, meaning “good news.” Paul preached the message of the gospel, which is “God’s plan of salvation, made possible through the atonement of Jesus Christ” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Gospel”; scriptures.lds.org).

Salvation. Paul taught that salvation meant both resurrection (see Romans 6:5; 8:11; 1 Corinthians 6:14; 15:22) and forgiveness of sins (see Romans 3:25; 4:7–8). Salvation means “to be saved from both physical and spiritual death. All people will be saved from physical death by the grace of God, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Each individual can also be saved from spiritual death as well by the grace of God, through faith in Jesus Christ” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Salvation”; scriptures.lds.org).

Faith and believeth. “Believeth” (verse 16) and “faith” (verse 17) are translations of the Greek verb pisteuĊ and the related noun pistis. These terms can mean both “faith” and “faithfulness.” For Paul, faith in Jesus Christ was not just mental agreement with the idea that Jesus is the Son of God, but wholehearted acceptance of Jesus Christ and trust in Him as the One who offered Himself in Atonement for our sins. This deep trust leads to a life of faithfulness, manifested by repenting of sins, being baptized, and trying to live as Jesus Christ taught (see Acts 16:30–33; Romans 6:1–11; 1 Corinthians 6:9–11). “Faith in Jesus Christ … is manifested in a life of obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel and service to Christ” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Salvation”; scriptures.lds.org).
Jew and Greek (Gentile). The Jews were the surviving members of God’s covenant people, Israel, to whom He had revealed the law of Moses over one thousand years before Christ. Paul used both the terms Greek and Gentile to refer to people who were not born into the house of Israel.

Righteousness and just. These and other related terms in Romans (justify, justification, righteous) are translations of the Greek word dikaiosune, a legal term that refers to uprightness, justice, and that which is right. God’s work of justification means that He sets right all that is wrong, including restoring people to a right relationship with Him. To be justified by God means “to be pardoned from punishment for sin and declared guiltless. A person is justified by the Savior’s grace through faith in him. This faith is shown by repentance and obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel. Jesus Christ’s atonement enables mankind to repent and be justified or pardoned from punishment they otherwise would receive” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Justification, Justify”; scriptures.lds.org; see also Romans 3:21–28; 4:6–8; 5:10, 19). 
(New Testament Student Manual) 

According to verse 16, why was Paul unashamed of the gospel?

Why is the gospel is “good news.” The gospel is “good news” because through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all mankind may be saved by having faith in Him, repenting, being baptized, receiving the Holy Ghost, and enduring in faith. The gospel is “good news” because Jesus Christ has restored His Church in these latter days through the Prophet Joseph Smith. The gospel is “good news” because the Lord has revealed additional scripture and has called living prophets to guide us in our day.

What are some things that make us unashamed to be members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? 

How can we show that we are “not ashamed of the gospel of Christ”? What do these verses suggest about what can help us be unashamed of the gospel? Our faith in Jesus Christ and our knowledge that His gospel leads to salvation can help us be unashamed of the gospel.

President Dallin H. Oaks noted that one way we can show that we are not ashamed of the gospel is to share it with others:  “Each of us has many opportunities to proclaim our belief to friends and neighbors, fellow workers, and casual acquaintances. I hope we will take these opportunities to express our love for our Savior, our witness of his divine mission, and our determination to serve him.  If we do all of this, we can say, like the Apostle Paul, ‘I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.’ (Rom. 1:16.)” (“Witnesses of Christ,” Ensign, Nov. 1990, 32).

Do you have experiences in which you showed that you were not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ? 

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God unto salvation to all who exercise faith in Jesus Christ.  By the simple act of faith in Jesus Christ, we need not fear not be ashamed.  Ridicule may come, hardships will surely come; as they did with Paul.  But the Lord will not leave us alone nor comfortless.  If we diligently seek him, he will strengthen us, heal us, help us, and make a way. And, in the end, we will not be ashamed to face Him.  As with Paul when we seek to endure righteously, doing all that we are commanded and asked to do, we will have safety, comfort and peace.  

Part 2: Romans 1:16–17; 2:28–29; 6:1–11 True discipleship is found in our inward commitment, not just in our actions.

Paul’s counsel to the Romans can help us remember to focus not on completing a checklist of tasks but on “the heart [and] the spirit” (Romans 2:29).

28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.
8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

How would you state in your own words what Paul taught in Romans 2: 28–29?

Replace the word Jew with Latter-day Saint and the word circumcision with the covenant. What does this change add to our understanding of Paul’s teachings? 

How would you apply these verses to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?  The covenants we have made with God are of little value to us unless we keep His commandments. Our outward actions should be a reflection of our inward conversion and commitment.

Apparently some Jews believed God would condemn the Gentiles for their sins but judge the Jews more approvingly even though they had broken the laws of God because they were God’s chosen people and had His law. 

What was wrong with the Jews’ belief that God would judge them more approvingly than the Gentiles?  God will judge all people impartially.  Paul had been writing to Church members in several areas who had returned to practicing the law of Moses, believing that strict observance of this law was necessary for salvation. Although the Saints in Rome were strong in the gospel, Paul wrote this epistle to emphasize that justification and salvation come through faith in Christ, not through the works of the law of Moses.

What are some examples of things we do as Church members that are more meaningful and powerful when done “of the heart, in the spirit?" Romans 2:29. For example, see Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s talk about home teaching, “Emissaries to the Church” (Ensign, Nov. 2016, 61–67), or Elder Neil L. Andersen’s talk about missionary work, “A Witness of God” (Ensign, Nov. 2016, 35–38).


Part 3: Romans 3–6 “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.”

Paul’s teachings in these chapters are about faith, works, and grace: 

Romans 3
Paul quoted Old Testament scriptures to teach that all people are “under sin” and that no one can be justified by the deeds of the law of Moses. However, God has provided a way for all people to be justified through the redemption made available by Jesus Christ. Through faith in Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice, Jews and Gentiles may be justified.

Romans 4
Paul wrote about Abraham as an example of one who was justified by faith and was “strong in faith.” Rituals of the law of Moses do not bring justification. God will impute (attribute) our righteousness to us, as He did to Abraham, as we live by faith in Him.

Romans 5
Paul wrote about the blessings that come to all who are justified by placing their faith in Jesus Christ. The free gift of the Atonement of Jesus Christ is a manifestation of divine grace. The Fall of Adam brought death and sin into the world; the Atonement of Jesus Christ overcame death and enables us to overcome sin.

Romans 6
Paul countered the misconception that grace condones sin. Baptism by immersion symbolizes our death to sin and our new life in Christ. We yield ourselves as servants either to sin or to God.


In Romans 3:9–12  knowing that “we” means the Jews and “they” means the Gentiles; What did Paul say about our standing before God without the Atonement?  All accountable people sin and without the Atonement stand condemned before God. 

9 What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;
10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Why do you think it was important for Paul to establish the guilt of all people before he taught about the Atonement of Jesus Christ?

In Romans 3:20. “justified” means to be pardoned from sin and declared guiltless.  Here Paul tried to help the Roman Saints understand the doctrine of justification. 

20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

What does it mean to be justified?  To be reconciled to God, pardoned from punishment for sin, and declared righteous and guiltless. 

What does Romans 3:20 teach about justification? No one can be “justified,” or declared guiltless, by the deeds of the law of Moses.

What does Romans 3:20 mean for us today?  Because no person can overcome the Fall of Adam or obey the laws of God perfectly, no one can be justified by his or her own righteous works.

“Just as a man does not really desire food until he is hungry, so he does not desire the salvation of Christ until he knows why he needs Christ. No one adequately and properly knows why he needs Christ until he understands and accepts the doctrine of the Fall and its effect upon all mankind” (“The Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants,” Ensign, May 1987, 85).


Why do we need to be justified?  Romans 3:10–12, 23; see also Alma 7:21. We have all offended God and become unclean through sin. Since no unclean thing can dwell with God, we must be justified in order to return to him.

10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

What did Paul teach about how we are justified?  Romans 3:24, 28; 5:1–2; see also 2 Nephi 2:6. We are justified by the grace of Jesus Christ and our faith in him.
24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

What is grace?  Divine help or strength; (Bible Dictionary, “Grace,” 697.) 

How is this divine help made available to us?   Romans 5:8–11; 2 Nephi 2:7–8. The grace of Jesus Christ is made available to us through his Atonement. 

8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

Why is it necessary for us to have faith to fully receive the Savior’s grace?

Paul explained that justification comes through the grace of Jesus Christ, not through “the deeds of the law” Romans 3:20, 24, 28

Why can’t we earn justification and salvation exclusively through our works? Mosiah 2:20–21; Alma 22:14.)

Many people have interpreted Paul’s writings to mean that we can be justified through faith alone without good works. What is the relationship between our actions (or works) and justification through the grace of Christ? Romans 3:31; James 2:14–18, 24; 2 Nephi 25:23; D&C 88:38–39.) 

31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

20 I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another—
21 I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.

The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “To be justified before God we must love one another: we must overcome evil; we must visit the fatherless and the widow in their affliction, and we must keep ourselves unspotted from the world: for such virtues flow from the great fountain of pure religion, strengthening our faith by adding every good quality that adorns the children of the blessed Jesus. We can pray in the season of prayer; we can love our neighbor as ourselves, and be faithful in tribulation, knowing that the reward of such is greater in the kingdom of heaven. What a consolation! What a joy!” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 76).

We should not see our good works as a way to prove our worthiness, nor should we see Christ’s grace as a reason to excuse our mistakes and sins. Romans 3:20–31; 5:1–2; 6:1–2, 21–23. While we should strive to follow the commandments, obedience to God’s laws alone will not save us  Romans 3:27–31. Even with our best efforts, we “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23. For that reason, we all need Jesus Christ, whose grace allows us to be forgiven of our sins and enables us to continue doing good works. As Paul taught, “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” Romans 5:20.

President David O. McKay shared an analogy about a boy who began to drown while swimming with his friends: “Fortunately, one with presence of mind and quick action, jerked a long stick from a willow fence and held one end of it toward the drowning lad [who] grasped it, held on tightly and was saved.  All the boys declared that the venturesome lad owed his life to the boy who furnished the means of rescue.  This is undoubtedly the fact; and yet in spite of the means furnished him, if the lad had not taken advantage of it, if he had not put forth all the personal effort at his command, he would have drowned, notwithstanding the heroic act of his comrade” (David O. McKay, “The Gospel of Work,” Instructor, Jan. 1955, 1).

Addressing the question of whether we are saved by faith or works, Christian author C. S. Lewis wrote: “It [seems] to me like asking which blade in a pair of scissors is most necessary” (Mere Christianity, 148).

The following scenarios can help us better understand Paul's message: 

Scenario 1
You have a friend named Gloria who feels overwhelmed in her efforts to be a faithful disciple. She works hard to do everything she feels she should do, but she often worries that her efforts fall short. “Am I good enough?” she wonders. “Will the Lord accept me?”

Answer:  “Salvation cannot be bought with the currency of obedience; it is purchased by the blood of the Son of God Acts 20:28 “Grace is a gift of God, and our desire to be obedient to each of God’s commandments is the reaching out of our mortal hand to receive this sacred gift from our Heavenly Father” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Gift of Grace,” Ensign, May 2015, 109–10). Ether 12:27 Moroni 10:32–33

Scenario 2
You have a friend named Justin who doesn’t worry too much about making righteous choices. He believes in Jesus Christ, he attends his church meetings, and he is a loving father and a good neighbor. However, he has chosen not to live the standards that would qualify him for a temple recommend. When family and friends try to encourage him to prepare for the temple, he responds, “I’m a good person. I have faith in Christ. He already paid the price for my sins, and I don’t think He’s going to keep me out of the celestial kingdom over such minor issues.”

Consequence: “If grace is a gift of God, why then is obedience to God’s commandments so important? Why bother with God’s commandments—or repentance, for that matter?  Our obedience to God’s commandments comes as a natural outgrowth of our endless love and gratitude for the goodness of God. This form of genuine love and gratitude will miraculously merge our works with God’s grace” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Gift of Grace,” Ensign, May 2015, 109).

How do these scenarios help us understand the importance of both performing righteous works and trusting in the grace of Christ?

Conclusion
It is imperative that we understand this message from Paul concerning the doctrine of grace, discipleship and commitment.  “In addition to needing grace for our ultimate salvation, we need this enabling power every day of our life. As we draw near to our Heavenly Father in diligence, humility, and meekness, He will uplift and strengthen us through His grace  Proverbs 3:34; 1 Peter 5:5; D&C 88:78; 106:7–8. Reliance upon His grace enables us to progress and grow in righteousness” (True to the Faith, 78).

Resources
New Testament Student Manual
Ensign
Conference Reports
True to the Faith
The Gospel of Work David O'Mckay
Mere Christianity
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith
Bible Dictianary
Book of Mormon
Doctrine and Covenants

The Fall of Adam and Eve

  Scriptures are hyperlinked to Scriptures at ChurchofJesusChrist.org Resource quotes have been highlighted in blue and are noted at the end...