Lesson 100: Romans 4–7

New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual, 2016


Introduction

Paul explained how Abraham had been justified through grace. Paul then described blessings that come to those who are justified and taught that baptism symbolizes becoming dead to sin and alive in Christ.

Suggestions for Teaching

Romans 4–5

Paul explains how Abraham was justified through grace

Copy the following picture and phrases on the board.

drawing, man crawling in desert

Invite students to imagine that they are dying of thirst in a desert and that there is a bottle of water on top of a nearby hill.

  • Which of the following will save you: (a) your belief that the water can save you, (b) your effort to get to the water and drink it, or (c) the water itself? (Do not say whether students’ responses are correct.)

Explain that this scenario can help us understand Paul’s teachings in Romans 4–7 concerning how faith, works, and grace relate to the doctrine of justification. (Remind students that Paul’s teachings regarding justification were introduced in Romans 1–3.)

  • According to Paul’s teachings in Romans 1–3, what does it mean to be justified? (To be pardoned from the punishment for sin and declared guiltless or righteous.)

Provide context for Romans 4 by explaining that some of the Jewish Saints in Rome overemphasized the importance of their own efforts and of the law of Moses in being justified.

  • How might some people today have a similar misunderstanding of justification?

  • Which option written on the board could represent the idea that we can be saved by our works? (Write (Works) next to option B.)

Explain that Paul tried to correct the misunderstanding that existed in his day by reminding the Jews about the ancient patriarch Abraham, whom many Jews saw as being justified.

Invite a student to read aloud Joseph Smith Translation, Romans 4:2–5 (in the Bible appendix). Ask the class to follow along, looking for why Abraham was judged as being righteous.

  • What was Abraham not justified by? (The “law of works.”)

  • According to Paul’s teachings recorded in Romans 1–3, why can we not be justified by the law of works? (Paul taught that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” [Romans 3:23]. To be justified by the law of works would require us to never sin.)

Explain that as recorded in Romans 4:6–8, Paul quoted King David to further illustrate that our works alone do not justify us or make us innocent.

To summarize Romans 4:9–15, invite a student to read the following paragraph aloud:

To discredit the idea that only those who had been circumcised and were keeping the law of Moses could receive the blessings of being faithful, Paul taught that Abraham had received the blessings of his faithfulness before he was circumcised and that circumcision was a sign of his faithfulness. Abraham continued being faithful after covenanting with God and being circumcised. In this way, Abraham became the father of all the faithful, whether uncircumcised (Gentiles) or circumcised (Jews).

Invite a student to read aloud the Joseph Smith Translation in Romans 4:16, footnote a, and ask the class to follow along and look for a more complete explanation of how we are justified.

  • How are we justified? (Students should identify a doctrine similar to the following: We are justified by faith and works through grace.)

Remind students that grace refers to the blessings, mercy, help, and strength available to us because of Jesus Christ’s Atonement.

  • Which of the options written on the board could represent the Atonement and grace of Jesus Christ? Which option could represent our faith in Him? (After students respond, write (Atonement and grace of Jesus Christ) next to option C and (Faith) next to option A.)

  • If we were in this situation, could we be saved by our belief and efforts if there were no water? (No.) How is the water in this scenario like the Atonement and grace of Jesus Christ?

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency:

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

“Salvation cannot be bought with the currency of obedience; it is purchased by the blood of the Son of God [see 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” (“The Gift of Grace,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2015, 109, 110).

Point out that while the scenario portrayed on the board helps us understand how faith, works, and grace contribute to us being justified, it does not illustrate all the ways we can receive the Savior’s grace. Jesus Christ not only provides the life-saving water that represents His grace, which justifies us and cleanses us from sin; He also enables us to have the faith and strength we need to obtain the water, or access His grace. We can be blessed by this grace before, during, and after we exercise faith in Him and perform good works.

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

Elder David A. Bednar

“The power of the Atonement makes repentance possible and … strengthens us to see, do, and become good in ways that we could never recognize or accomplish with our limited mortal capacity” (“Therefore They Hushed Their Fears,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2015, 47).

  • How can the Savior’s grace help us exercise faith in Him and do good works?

  • What are some works we can do to show our faith in Christ and be justified through His grace? (Repent and obey the commandments and receive the ordinances of the gospel.)

Invite students to divide into groups of two or three and to explain to each other how faith and righteous works help us receive the Savior’s grace so we can be justified. (Make sure students understand that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and in His power to save us will motivate us to receive necessary ordinances and to obey God’s commandments, which allows us to become justified through the Savior’s grace.)

Summarize Romans 5 by explaining that Paul taught of the peace that comes to those who access the grace of Christ by faith (see verses 1–2). He further explained that the grace available to us because of Jesus Christ’s Atonement is more than sufficient to overcome the effects of the Fall.

Romans 6–7

Paul teaches how to become free from sin and receive eternal life

Ask students how they would respond in the following scenario:

Your friend is planning to eventually serve a mission but is currently making choices that oppose the Lord’s standards. When you express concern about your friend’s behavior, he says, “It is not a big deal. Because of the Atonement, I can always repent before I go on my mission.”

Explain that some people knowingly break God’s commandments, planning to repent later, such as before they go to the temple or serve a mission. Invite students as they study Romans 6 to look for why this attitude denotes a grave misunderstanding of the doctrine of grace.

Divide students into pairs. Invite each partnership to read Romans 6:1–6, 11–12 aloud together and to discuss how Paul’s teachings could correct their friend’s thinking. After sufficient time, ask:

  • How did Paul respond to the misconception that the Savior’s grace will automatically free us from our sins?

  • What do you think it means to be “dead to sin” (verse 2) and be “buried with him by baptism into death” (verse 4)?

  • According to these verses, what does baptism by immersion symbolize? (As students respond, help them identify the following doctrine: Baptism by immersion can symbolize our death to sin and newness of spiritual life.)

Explain that the new spiritual life we begin when we are baptized includes receiving a remission of our sins and committing to obey God’s commandments.

To prepare students to identify additional principles in Romans 6, display some money.

  • Who pays for an employee’s wages? Why does an employer not pay for the wages of someone else’s employee?

Invite students to read Romans 6:13 silently, looking for the two “employers,” or masters, someone could yield to and serve. (You may need to explain that yield in this verse means to offer or give yourself to.) Ask students to report what they find.

Draw the following chart on the board:

Wages of sin

God’s wages

  

Invite students to read Romans 6:14–23 silently. Ask half of them to look for the “wages” (verse 23), or consequences, of sin and the other half to look for God’s wages. After sufficient time, ask a few students to come to the board to write on the chart what they found. (Under ”Wages of sin“ students should write Death [see verses 16, 21, 23], and under “God’s wages” they should write Righteousness [see verse 16], Holiness [see verses 19, 22], Everlasting life [see verse 22], and Eternal life [see verse 23].) Explain that death as a wage of sin refers to “separation from God and His influences” and means “to die as to things pertaining to righteousness” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Death, Spiritual,” scriptures.lds.org).

  • What principle can we learn from Romans 6:16 about the consequences of yielding to sin? (Students may use different words but should identify the following principle: If we yield to sin, then we will become servants of sin.)

  • How does yielding to a sin make us a servant to that sin?

Invite students to ponder instances when someone’s yielding to sin led to a loss of freedom.

Refer to the list under “God’s wages.”

  • What are the benefits of serving righteousness rather than sin?

  • What principle can we learn from Paul’s teachings about how to become free from sin and receive the gift of eternal life? (Students may use different words but should identify a principle similar to the following: If we yield ourselves to God, we can become free from sin and receive the gift of eternal life.)

  • In what ways can we yield ourselves to God?

  • In what ways have you experienced freedom from sin by yielding yourself to God?

Testify of the importance of yielding ourselves to God. Invite students to write down a goal regarding how they will better yield themselves to God.

Summarize Romans 7 by explaining that Paul used the metaphor of marriage to teach that Church members had been freed from the law of Moses and joined to Christ. He also wrote about the struggle between the “flesh” (verse 18), or physical appetites, and “the inward man” (verse 22), or spirituality.

Conclude by testifying of the truths taught in this lesson.

Commentary and Background Information

Romans 4:16. Grace

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency clarified how we receive the Savior’s grace:

“The prophet Nephi made an important contribution to our understanding of God’s grace when he declared, ‘We labor diligently … to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do’ [2 Nephi 25:23; emphasis added].

“However, I wonder if sometimes we misinterpret the phrase ‘after all we can do.’ We must understand that ‘after’ does not equal ‘because.’

“We are not saved ‘because’ of all that we can do. Have any of us done all that we can do? Does God wait until we’ve expended every effort before He will intervene in our lives with His saving grace? …

“I am certain Nephi knew that the Savior’s grace allows and enables us to overcome sin [see 2 Nephi 4:19–35; Alma 34:31]. This is why Nephi labored so diligently to persuade his children and brethren ‘to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God’ [2 Nephi 25:23]” (“The Gift of Grace,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2015, 110).

Elder Bruce C. Hafen of the Seventy explained how grace helps us grow spiritually:

“Growth means growing pains. It also means learning from our mistakes in a continual process made possible by the Savior’s grace, which He extends both during and ‘after all we can do’ [2 Nephi 25:23; emphasis added]” (“The Atonement: All for All,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2004, 97).

President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:

“For some reason, we think the Atonement of Christ applies only at the end of mortal life to redemption from the Fall, from spiritual death. It is much more than that. It is an ever-present power to call upon in everyday life” (“The Touch of the Master’s Hand,” Ensign, May 2001, 23).

Romans 5:6–8. Different uses of the word grace

Romans 5:6–8 discusses grace as something we receive from God independent of our actions. For example, through the Savior’s grace all mankind will be unconditionally redeemed from the effects of the Fall. Other passages of scripture describe grace as something we receive from God as a result of what we do. For example, our actions can cause us to grow in grace or fall from grace (see John 1:16; Galatians 5:4; 2 Peter 3:18; D&C 93:12–13, 19–20). In addition, through grace we receive forgiveness of our sins “on conditions of repentance” (D&C 18:12). However, “he that exercises no faith unto repentance is exposed to the whole law of the demands of justice” (Alma 34:16).

Supplemental Teaching Ideas

video iconRomans 4:16. Video presentation—“The Savior Wants to Forgive”

To help students understand the importance of the truth that we are justified by faith and works through grace, consider showing the Mormon Messages video “The Savior Wants to Forgive” (5:50), which portrays the true story of a man who struggled with addiction and spent time in jail but with the Savior’s help repented and received forgiveness. Invite students to watch for instances of the Savior extending His grace to this man and how this man’s faith and works allowed him to access this grace. This video is available on LDS.org.

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Following the video, ask:

  • How did the Savior extend His grace to this man?

  • How did this man exercise faith in Jesus Christ and demonstrate repentance and obedience?

Romans 5:6–11, 15, 17, 20–21. The Savior’s grace is more than sufficient

Draw a pit on the board, and invite students to copy it in their class notebooks or scripture study journals. Explain that as recorded in Romans 5:12–14, Paul explained that because of the Fall, death entered the world (including both physical death and spiritual death).

drawing, pit in ground

Ask students to identify negative or difficult things that came into the world because of the Fall of Adam and Eve, and write their answers in the pit on the board. (Their answers might include physical and spiritual death, pain, sin, suffering, sorrow, and sickness.) Invite students to ponder trials they have experienced because of the Fall or because of their mistakes and sins and to write them in the pit in their class notebooks or scripture study journals.

  • How can the trials listed in the pit affect our hope in God’s promises?

Ask students to ponder whether they have ever wondered whether they will be able to overcome their trials.

Invite two students to take turns reading aloud from Romans 5:6–11, 15, 17, 20–21. Ask the class to follow along, and encourage students to notice how many times they see the phrase “much more” throughout Romans 5.

  • What did Paul teach about the grace and blessings of the Atonement as it relates to the effects of the Fall? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following truth: The grace provided through the Atonement of Jesus Christ is more than sufficient to help us overcome the effects of the Fall.)

To help students better understand this truth, consider adding to the drawing of the pit on the board so that it portrays the following two figures:

drawing, pit with stick figures

Because of the Fall, we were born into a world that is subject to the effects of that Fall and we experience many of the challenges listed on the board (see figure A). However, according to Romans 5:11, we have received the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:

“[Heavenly Father] prepared a way through the life of His perfectly obedient Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior, for His Atonement to overcome every difficulty that we may experience in mortality” (“Make the Exercise of Faith Your First Priority,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2014, 92).

The Joseph Smith Translation of Romans 4:16 also clarifies that our faith and works help us come unto Christ, who, through His grace, justifies us and helps us overcome the effects of the Fall and our sins (see figure B).