But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.
Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.
You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abrahamís seed, and heirs according to the promise. (NIV)
1. Paul states that before faith came, "we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed." Besides the law being in charge of us, what does the metaphor of being a prisoner suggest? Why are criminals locked up? If the law made us more conscious of sin, how might that have had a protective, preventive effect on sinners who had not yet been redeemed?
2. In the phrase, "So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ," the words "put in charge" is translated from a Greek word that referred to a slave/guardian that accompanied under-age boys in public. This guardian functioned more as a baby-sitter than as a teacher. Using this understanding, how would you describe the function of the law? How does this understanding dovetail with the prison metaphor?
3. How has faith removed us from the supervision of the law?
4. Paul says, "For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ." What does it mean to be clothed with Christ?
5. Obviously there are still men and women, Jews and Greeks, free people and people who are not free. What does Paul mean when he says, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." What does it mean to be one in Christ? How does being a Christ-follower override our role in society? How does it transform us inside our roles?
6. What does it mean to be heirs according to the promise? What do we inherit?
7. Are there ways in which you have suffered or been treated unfairly because of your gender, your position at work, or your social or ethnic background? How can knowing you belong to Christ change those circumstances for you? Do you have resentment towards someone who mistreats or demeans you that you need to submit to Christ?
8. Having believed, as most of us did, that we belonged to the remnant church and that we understood the secrets of salvation and eschatology more clearly than others gave us a feeling of specialness and even pride. We secretly knew that we were members of a superior group. This pride can be deep-seated and even subconscious. Now that you've discovered grace and assurance, it's possible that the old pride might be altered but still present in feelings of having advanced beyond Adventism. With whom do you have trouble feeling unified in Christ? Are there ways in which you feel proud or superior to those who donít see the New Covenant or the truth about denominational deception? Is there subtle but clinging pride in you that you need to surrender to Jesus in exchange for the humility of His Spirit?
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