Our Identity in God’s Kingdom
Discussion Guide for Romans 1:1-7Read Romans 1:1-7
When the United States became an independent nation, the new country adopted a very different mindset from its previous governments.
In the old countries, your parents and connections determined who you were and what you did for a living.
America was fundamentally different.
The people no longer lived under a system of kings, feudal lords. or powerful establishment churches. Rather than a kingdom identity based on heredity, the founding fathers formed a nation where your success and opportunities were based on merit, a meritocracy so to speak.
The new system was fairer and produced better results than the old European concept of heredity. No longer would your station in life be dictated by birth. Instead you could achieve greatness through talent and hard work.
While this is great for our government, economy, and society. However, causes many people to misunderstand God’s ultimate system of justice and salvation.
The Book of Romans presents a stumbling block for many Americans. We’re used to the idea that everything we own and become is based on how awesome we are and how hard we work.
God’s system, after all, is still a kingdom. Our value in God’s kingdom is completely dictated by the will of a king. The places of honor and dishonor are assigned based on heredity — are you a child of God — and His choice.
In a meritocracy before God, we are complete and total failures. We are only loved by God and declared to be heirs in the kingdom because of His work, not ours.
Identity in Christ
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God
Out of the gate, Paul identifies Himself in ways that say very little about his own birth, education, and accomplishments.
There is no speech where Paul says “when I was a teenager I thought it would be really cool to be an apostle, so I worked really hard, studied really hard, and made myself the most religious person so that God would take notice and anoint me to be an apostle.”
To be sure, Paul was very smart, very studious, very religious, and a tireless worker. But, none of those things were important enough for him to include when introducing himself.
When Paul has a chance to talk about himself, he clearly thinks that it’s more important to talk about Jesus.
How does Paul’s identity reflect Jesus in the following areas?
- His name (How did he become Paul)? Read the story in Acts 9.
- Being a slave (Whom does he serve)?
- Being an apostle (How did he get that position)? What is an apostle?
- His uniqueness (For what reason is Paul set apart to be different)?
Identity of Christ
2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, 6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,
7 To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Read Romans 1:2-7
Paul now spends more ink talking about the identity of Jesus than of himself. He will expound on this throughout the Book of Romans.
For now, he wants every reader to understand that it is far more important to know Jesus than to know Paul.
- What truths do we learn about the identity of Jesus from Romans 1:2-4?
- Why is it significant that Jesus is a son of David?
- Why is it significant that Jesus is the son of God?
- Is the Gospel dependent on Jesus being both the son of David and the son of God?
- What two things has Paul received through Christ? (v.5)
- For what purpose did God give Paul those two things?
- Does Paul take seriously the phrase “among all the nations?” (v.6)
- What does it mean to be one of those called to belong to Christ? (vv. 6-7)
Pray for Our Missionaries
Take time to reflect on what it meant for God to call Paul as an apostle to all the nations. God has called his church to carry on that task today.
Be in prayer for the work of church planting in Northeast India in the New Year. Pray that churches in reached areas of the world would have doors opened to places like the Indian states of Assam and Bihar. In these states, less than 3% of people and 0.1% of people are Christian out of a total population of 40 million and 100 million respectively.