Inside the Father’s Photo Album (Romans 3:21-26)

Pastor Rich opened the sermon by describing that Romans 3 is like looking “…inside The Father’s Photo Album.” Paul makes it clear in the first 3 chapters of Romans that no one, whether religious or irreligious, is free from humanity’s terminal diagnosis – the problem of sin. Sin has permeated everything like a cancer. What is our defense? Where have we fallen short? A significant question was posed – “in what direction are we going – toward or away from Jesus?” Sin can be described in 4 ways; heading in the wrong direction, legal guilt, moral guilt, and an enslaving force. The anecdote was explained through 4 corresponding scenes – a u-turn, a courtroom, a cup, and a slave market. All point to Jesus as the redeeming source and power.

These questions can be used as ice-breakers in the beginning OR interwoven between the questions below to draw the group into the discussion.

1. Do you ever find it difficult to accept a compliment from someone? Or maybe you’re uncomfortable receiving an unexpected gift? If so, why do you think this is the case?
2. Can you recall a time when someone showed you grace in a situation even though you didn’t deserve it? Describe the experience. Did this have an impact on how you related to others in similar circumstances?
3. Who is the most grace-filled person you know? Why are they like that – what makes them tick? Is it “just their personality”, or the result of life transformation? Please explain.

1. In 5 minutes or less. Briefly give a synopsis of this week’s sermon. What insight, principle, or observation from this weekend’s message did you find to be most helpful, eye-opening, or troubling? Explain.

2. Read Colossians 3:1-14:

1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

• Discuss the context of this passage. (Colossians 2) What is Paul referring to when he states that, “you have been raised with Christ”? (v. 1) Is there anything that humanity has done, or can do, to be worthy of the gift of Christ? In light of being raised with Christ, what do you believe our response should be? Discuss and share.
• Contrast and compare a life lived focusing on “things above”, versus a life focused on “earthly things”. (vv.1-2)? Are there personal changes that you have made in order to be more focused on things above? What has been the most challenging part of not focusing on earthly things?
• What does it mean to you to be “hidden with Christ in God”? (v. 3) Would you say that you are regularly aware of this fact? When are you most likely to forget that you’ve been “hidden with Christ”? Do you look forward to Christ’s appearance, and our appearance with him in glory? (v. 4) Discuss and share.
• Why do you think God hates sin? (vv. 5-6) What impact does sin have on you personally, your relationship with God, your relationships with family, and your interactions with unbelievers? What impact has sin had in the world? Discuss and share.
• Are there sin patterns that you once walked in that are no longer a part of your life? (vv. 7-9) What was that process like? How can you encourage one another as you walk out this process in other areas of your lives?
• In verse 10, Paul says that the “new self” is being “renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” Can you see signs of this process in your life? Can you see signs of this in the lives of others in your small group? Discuss and share.
• In what ways have you seen the barriers that might divide us from one another torn down by our shared identity in Christ? (v. 11) What does Paul present as the basis for why we should be walking in compassion, humility, gentleness, patience, and forgiveness? (vv. 12-13) Do you think it is possible to “clothe” yourself with these virtues without remembering God’s grace expressed towards yourself? Why or why not?

3. In his sermon, Pastor Rich tells us, “God in Christ says: ‘You don’t have to live this way. I am your Redeemer. I’ve purchased you at the price of my Son’s own blood’.” In Christ, change is possible for us, God accepts us, and is at peace with us. Spend some time praying and meditating on God as our Redeemer.

• Ask the Holy Spirit to show you any areas where you’ve not fully put to death the characteristics of your old life. Ask him to reveal possible barriers to greater freedom in Christ, areas where you are still living enslaved to sin.
• If you struggle with accepting the grace that God has given to you in Christ, with accepting God’s acceptance of you, consider getting prayer.