1. GOD’S REVELATION TO HUMANITY
a. In what ways does God reveal Himself to humanity? Romans 1:18, 19.
“Nature and revelation alike testify of God’s love. Our Father in heaven is the source of life, of wisdom, and of joy. Look at the wonderful and beautiful things of nature. Think of their marvelous adaptation to the needs and happiness, not only of man, but of all living creatures. The sunshine and the rain, that gladden and refresh the earth, the hills and seas and plains, all speak to us of the Creator’s love. It is God who supplies the daily needs of all His creatures.”—Steps to Christ, p. 9.
b. What is the typical, erroneous concept of salvation among heathen peoples? Who invented it? Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:9.
“Through heathenism, Satan had for ages turned men away from God. . . . The principle that man can save himself by his own works lay at the foundation of every heathen religion. . . . Satan had implanted this principle. Wherever it is held, men have no barrier against sin.”—The Desire of Ages, pp. 35, 36.
2. NO EXCUSE TO BE LOST
a. Why can no one be excused for being lost? Romans 1:20; 2:14, 15.
“Among the heathen are those who worship God ignorantly, those to whom the light is never brought by human instrumentality, yet they will not perish. Though ignorant of the written law of God, they have heard His voice speaking to them in nature, and have done the things that the law required. Their works are evidence that the Holy Spirit has touched their hearts, and they are recognized as the children of God.”— The Desire of Ages, p. 638.
b. What happens to those who reject the divine light revealed to them through the Holy Spirit and through God’s natural creation? Romans 1:21–25.
c. What level of moral degradation is finally reached by those who willfully reject divine truth? Romans 1:26–28.
d. What other wicked practices are mentioned by Paul—and what will be the final consequence? Romans 1:29–32.
“Men put God out of their knowledge and worshiped the creatures of their own imagination; and as the result, they became more and more debased. The psalmist describes the effect produced upon the worshiper by the adoration of idols. He says, ‘They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.’ Psalm 115:8. It is a law of the human mind that by beholding we become changed. Man will rise no higher than his conceptions of truth, purity, and holiness. If the mind is never exalted above the level of humanity, if it is not uplifted by faith to contemplate infinite wisdom and love, the man will be constantly sinking lower and lower. The worshipers of false gods clothed their deities with human attributes and passions, and thus their standard of character was degraded to the likeness of sinful humanity. They were defiled in consequence. . . . ‘The earth also was corrupt before God; and the earth was filled with violence.’ God had given men His commandments as a rule of life, but His law was transgressed, and every conceivable sin was the result.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 91.
3. HYPOCRISY AND SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS
a. What description does Paul give regarding those who condemn others? Romans 2:1–3.
“The effort to earn salvation by one’s own works inevitably leads men to pile up human exactions as a barrier against sin. For, seeing that they fail to keep the law, they will devise rules and regulations of their own to force themselves to obey. All this turns the mind away from God to self. His love dies out of the heart, and with it perishes love for his fellow men. A system of human invention, with its multitudinous exactions, will lead its advocates to judge all who come short of the prescribed human standard. The atmosphere of selfish and narrow criticism stifles the noble and generous emotions, and causes men to become self-centered judges and petty spies.”—Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 123.
“Much is involved in the matter of judging. Remember that soon your life record will pass in review before God.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 85.
b. How does repentance come to our hearts? Romans 2:4; Acts 5:31.
“A repentance such as [David’s repentance], is beyond the reach of our own power to accomplish; it is obtained only from Christ, who ascended up on high and has given gifts unto men. . . .
“It is the virtue that goes forth from Christ, that leads to genuine repentance. Peter made the matter clear in his statement to the Israelites when he said, ‘Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.’ Acts 5:31. We can no more repent without the Spirit of Christ to awaken the conscience than we can be pardoned without Christ.”—Steps to Christ, pp. 25, 26.
c. On the other hand, what is the result of impenitence? Romans 2:5–11.
“To hold the people in darkness and impenitence till the Saviour’s mediation is ended, and there is no longer a sacrifice for sin, is the object which [Satan] seeks to accomplish.”—The Great Controversy, p. 518.
4. ACCOUNTABLE FOR OUR OPPORTUNITIES
a. Explain the fair, equitable measurement in God’s judgment. Romans 2:12, 13; Luke 12:47, 48.
“God’s test of the heathen, who have not the light, and of those living where the knowledge of truth and light has been abundant, is altogether different. He accepts from those in heathen lands a phase of righteousness which does not satisfy Him when offered by those of Christian lands. He does not require much where much has not been bestowed.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 5, p. 1121.
b. How can both old and young benefit from the blood of Christ? Romans 1:16, 17; 1 John 1:7.
“The Lord says to the young, ‘My son, give Me thine heart.’ The Saviour of the world loves to have children and youth give their hearts to Him. There may be a large army of children who shall be found faithful to God, because they walk in the light as Christ is in the light. They will love the Lord Jesus, and it will be their delight to please Him. They will not be impatient if reproved, but will make glad the heart of father and mother by their kindness, their patience, their willingness to do all they can in helping to bear the burdens of daily life. Through childhood and youth they will be found faithful disciples of our Lord.”—The Adventist Home, pp. 297, 298.
c. What is involved in our surrender to Christ? Matthew 16:24.
“The cross of Christ is the central pillar on which hangs the ‘far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.’ ‘If any man will come after Me,’ Christ says, ‘let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.’ 2 Corinthians 4:17; Matthew 16:24. It is the fragrance of our love for our fellow men that reveals our love for God. It is patience in service that brings rest to the soul. It is through humble, diligent, faithful toil that the welfare of Israel is promoted. God upholds and strengthens the one who is willing to follow in Christ’s way.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 560.
5. REAL CIRCUMCISION/BAPTISM
a. According to Paul, what kind of circumcision or baptism is really valid? Romans 2:25–27. When is a baptism legitimate? Mark 16:16.
“ ‘He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.’ . . . It is the grace of Christ that gives life to the soul. Apart from Christ, baptism, like any other service, is a worthless form.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 181.
b. Who is a real Jew or Christian in the sight of God—in contrast to the Jewish nation in the time of Christ? John 3:36; Romans 2:28, 29.
“[The Jewish nation] had represented themselves as the special, loyal people who were favored of God. But Christ presented their religion as devoid of saving faith. It was a combination of dry, hard doctrines, intermingled with sacrifices and offerings. They were very particular to practice circumcision, but they did not teach the necessity of having a pure heart. They exalted the commandments of God in words, but refused to exalt them in practice; and their religion was only a stumbling block to men.”—The Review and Herald, April 30, 1895.
“When we have accepted Christ, and in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit have pledged ourselves to serve God, the Father, Christ, and the Holy Spirit—the three dignitaries and powers of heaven—pledge themselves that every facility shall be given to us if we carry out our baptismal vows to ‘come out from among them, and be . . . separate . . . and touch not the unclean thing.’ When we are true to our vows, He says, ‘I will receive you.’ ”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 6, p. 1075.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What should we realize when reaching out to nonbelievers?
2. As the morals in society worsen, why must we study Romans chapter 1?
3. What do we as Christians ever need to keep in mind about repentance?
4. How are we in danger of being overconfident in spiritual attainments?
5. What does the apostle Paul emphasize about circumcision—and why?