The Mercy of God

Notes for Sept. 17, 2017
Romans 1-11; 12:1

An Outline of Romans

A. What to Believe (1:1 – 11:36)

  1. Sinfulness of mankind

  2. Forgiveness of sin through Christ

  3. Freedom from sin’s grasp

  4. Israel’s past, present, and future

B. How to Believe (12:1 – 16:27)

  1. Personal Responsibility

  2. Personal Notes

(from the Life Application Bible)

Biblical Background on Romans 12:1

  • “Appeal” The Greek word translated as “appeal” is not as strong as a command, but rather is a very strong admonition, exhortation that carries with it the weight of fervent emotion.

  • “therefore” – When you see this word, you must ask, what is it “there for?” In this case, it is signaling that the previous 11 chapters have spoken of “the mercies of God.” Our understanding of God’s mercy should then bring out a response to this amazing gift from God.

  • “Mercies” - Someone once said, “Justice is getting what you deserve. Mercy is not getting what you deserve.” God in his mercy has taken upon Himself what we deserved, the punishment of death for our sin. Christ became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God. That is mercy.

  • “Present your bodies” – Many of the ancient religions including Judaism, as well as many religions today require you to offer a sacrifice to the gods or God to make atonement with God. In the time of Paul, the Greeks would sacrifice animals and at the temples of the gods – these animals would be “presented” to the gods. In the Jewish temple, the people of Israel would present animals to be sacrificed on their behalf. The clear difference here is that God is asking us to present our bodies, rather than an animal’s body to be presented on the altar.

  • “Living Sacrifice” – The good news is that we are to be a “living” sacrifice. In other words, since Jesus already presented his body as the ultimate sacrifice on the cross for our sins, we do not have to die for our sins. We are exhorted, however, to present our bodies (our whole being – body, mind and spirit) before God as a “living sacrifice.” In other words, all that we are, have and will be should be given to God.

  • L. Moody quote: “The problem with a living sacrifice is that it keeps crawling off of the altar.”

  • John Calvin observes, “By bodies, he does not mean only our skin and bones, but the totality of which we are composed . . . for the members of our bodies are the instruments by which we perform our actions.” Calvin’s Commentary on Romans

  • Spiritual Worship: We tend to equate worship only with singing praise and worship songs in church. Paul is stating that worship is much more than that – it involves surrendering all to the Lord and offering up your total self to God – all that you are, do, say and want to be.

  • C.S. Lewis quote from Mere Christianity, “Fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement: he is a rebel who must lay down his arms. Laying down your arms, surrendering, saying you are sorry, realising that you have been on the wrong track and getting ready to start life over again from the ground floor—that is the only way out of our ‘hole.’ This process of surrender—this movement full speed astern—is what Christians call repentance.”

Discussion Questions

  1. Watch the 3-minute video summary of Romans.

  2. What do you know about the apostle Paul? Share his life story.

  3. What do you know about the church in Rome – the church Paul is writing to in Romans?

  4. Romans 1–11 describes “the mercies of God.” What are the “mercies of God”?

  5. What does it mean to present your body to God?

  6. What does it mean to be a “living sacrifice”?

  7. What is holy and pleasing to God? How does this play out in everyday life? Give examples.

  8. What is spiritual worship? Define it and give examples.

  9. How does Paul’s definition of worship differ from what is commonly called worship in the church?

  10. Take time to memorize Romans 12:1-2. Write it out and put it around your house, office, and in your car. Then chew on it, reflect on it, meditate on it slowly and allow the Lord to make these two powerful verses something that you know not only in your mind, but also begin to grasp in your heart.