To remind class members that they are children of God and to encourage them to live worthy of their divine inheritance.
Read, ponder, and pray about the following scriptures:
Romans 2–5. Paul teaches that all people are justified by faith in Jesus Christ, which is demonstrated by righteous works.
You may want to invite a soloist or small group to sing or play “I Am a Child of God” (Hymns,
no. 301, or Children’s Songbook, 2–3) or “I Feel My Savior’s Love” (Children’s Songbook, 74–75). If this is not feasible, you may want to prepare to sing one or both of these songs with class members.
Suggestion for teaching: In his epistle to the Romans, Paul reminded teachers of the importance of living the principles they teach (Romans 2:21–22). Your example can teach class members more than your words. Show class members that your testimony of gospel principles comes from living those principles each day (John 7:17). (See Teaching, No Greater Call , pages 18–19.)
Suggested Lesson Development
As appropriate, use the following activity or one of your own to begin the lesson.
Have a class member read Romans 3:10. Explain that in this verse Paul was not suggesting that no one ever does righteous acts; instead, he was pointing out that no one on earth is perfectly righteous. Christ was the only person who ever lived a completely sinless life. Everyone else has committed some sin (see also Romans 3:23).
When we have sinned, what must we do to become clean again? (Exercise faith in Christ and repent of our sins so we may receive the cleansing power of his Atonement.)
Explain that once we commit sin, we cannot become completely clean again on our own. This lesson will discuss how we can become clean through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, a process that Paul called justification.
Scripture Discussion and Application
Prayerfully select the scripture passages and questions that will best meet class members’ needs. Encourage class members to share their testimonies of the doctrines and principles discussed in the lesson.
1. We are justified by faith in Jesus Christ.
Read and discuss Romans 2–5. Invite class members to read selected verses aloud. Explain that 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 (Romans 1:8), Paul wrote this epistle to emphasize that justification and salvation come through faith in Christ, not through the works of the law of Moses.
In his letter, Paul tried to help the Roman Saints understand the doctrine of justification. What does it mean to be justified? (To be reconciled to God, pardoned from punishment for sin, and declared righteous and guiltless.)
Why do we need to be justified? (See 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.)
What did Paul teach about how we are justified? (See 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.) What is grace? (Divine help or strength; see Bible Dictionary, “Grace,” 697.) How is this divine help made available to us? (See Romans 5:8–11; 2 Nephi 2:7–8. The grace of Jesus Christ is made available to us through his 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? (See 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? (See Romans 3:31; James 2:14–18, 24; 2 Nephi 25:23; D&C 88:38–39.)
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 , 76).
2. We can be reborn and become joint-heirs with Christ.
Paul compared baptism to death, burial, and resurrection. How does baptism represent death, burial, and resurrection (new birth)? (See Romans 6:3–4; D&C 76:50–52.) How was baptism a new birth for you?
Explain that baptism by immersion is a symbol of our spiritual rebirth. When we go under the water, it is a symbol that we are burying our old self in a grave. When we come out of the water, we are symbolically washed clean. We have become a new person who has covenanted to follow Christ.
How can we maintain the cleanness and “newness of life” (Romans 6:4) that we experienced at baptism? (Answers may include by renewing our baptismal covenants as we partake of the sacrament each week, by repenting and seeking forgiveness from the Lord, and by beginning each day with a renewed determination to serve God.)
What does it mean to be “carnally minded”? (See Romans 8:5–6.) What are the consequences of being carnally minded? (See Romans 8:6–8, 13.) How can we eliminate the carnal from our minds and hearts? How have you been blessed when you have chosen to be spiritually minded?
Paul testified “that we are the children of God” (Romans 8:16). How are you affected by the knowledge that you are a child of God? What does this imply about your capacities and potential?
Elder Dallin H. Oaks said: “Consider the power of the idea taught in our beloved song
‘I Am a Child of God’ (Hymns, 301). … Here is the answer to one of life’s great questions, ‘Who am I?’ I am a child of God with a spirit lineage to heavenly parents. That parentage defines our eternal potential. That powerful idea is a potent antidepressant. It can strengthen each of us to make righteous choices and to seek the best that is within us. Establish in the mind of a young person the powerful idea that he or she is a child of God, and you have given self-respect and motivation to move against the problems of life” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1995, 31; or Ensign, Nov. 1995, 25).
If you arranged to have “I Am a Child of God” sung or played as a special musical number, have the soloist or small group present it now. Or sing it with class members (see the “Preparation” section).
What great promise did Paul say the children of God will receive? (See Romans 8:17.) What does it mean to be a joint-heir with Christ? (See D&C 76:50, 54–70.) What must we do to receive this great inheritance? (See D&C 76:51–53.)
How can knowing that we are children of God and potential joint-heirs with Christ help us endure the trials of this world? (See Romans 8:18, 28, 31; see also Romans 5:3–5.) How have you seen “all things work together for good to them that love God”? (Romans 8:28).
What did Paul teach in Romans 8:35–39 about the love of Jesus Christ? How have you felt the Savior’s love in your life? What difference has his love made in your life?
If you arranged to have “I Feel My Savior’s Love” sung or played as a special musical number, have the soloist or small group present it now. Or sing it with class members (see the “Preparation” section).
3. We should live as becomes Saints.
Paul exhorted the Roman Saints to present themselves as “a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God” (Romans 12:1). How can we present ourselves as living sacrifices to God? (See 3 Nephi 9:20; D&C 59:8.)
Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained, “To present [oneself] as a living sacrifice is to come forth with a broken heart and a contrite spirit through obedience” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1966–73], 2:292).
Romans 12 and Romans 13 list many attributes of true Saints. Have class members identify these attributes, and write them on the chalkboard. (You may want to divide the class into small groups and assign each group to search part of a chapter.) Then discuss the following questions about several of these attributes: Why is this attribute important to develop? What can we do this week to further develop this attribute?
How did Paul instruct us to treat our enemies? (See Romans 12:19–21.) What blessings can come into our lives if we treat our enemies this way? What examples have you seen of someone using kindness to overcome evil or ill will?
What did Paul teach about how members who are strong in the faith should respond to members who are weak in the faith? (See Romans 15:1–7.) How can a person who is strong in the faith help a person who is weak?
Emphasize that it is through faith in Jesus Christ and righteous living that we can be justified—declared righteous and reconciled to God. Testify that we are children of God and have the potential to become joint-heirs with Christ if we have faith in him and live as he has commanded us.
Additional Teaching Ideas
The following material supplements the suggested lesson outline. You may want to use one or both of these ideas as part of the lesson.
1. “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ” (Romans 1:16)
Have a class member read Romans 1:16.
How can we show that we are not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ? (See 1 Peter 3:15 for one suggestion. List class members’ answers on the chalkboard, and encourage each class member to do at least one of these things during the coming week.)
2. Youth activity
Give each class member a piece of paper and a pen or pencil. Have class members write on their papers the following question from Romans 8:31:
“If God be for us, who can be against us?” (You may want to use the wording from the Joseph Smith Translation, which gives the last part of the sentence as “who can prevail against us?”)
Discuss how this statement can strengthen class members in their daily lives. Encourage class members to place the card where they can see it often.