Hope without faith is just wishful thinking. I hope the baby sleeps through the night. I hope that I get a raise. I hope I get this gift for Christmas. I hope this person asks me out. I hope my wife doesn’t notice I ate all the ice cream. You can hope for things that do not become a reality. But hope with faith is victory. Faith is what we have, or more appropriately, what God gives. Believe is what we do. The book of Romans contains the formation of doctrine in the church. It’s all about how what we believe shapes what we do. It’s all about hope with faith!
Use the following guide to prepare for Sunday. Onward!
Monday’s Passage to Read: Read Romans 1:16-17, 5:1-2, 6:1-4, and 1 John 5:1-5. Then, go back and read these passages in a couple of different translations. You can use BibleGateway.com if you do not have a copy of another version. Notice the themes of faith, hope, and victory in these passages. On Sunday, we will cover them more in depth.
Tuesday’s Devotional Thought: Romans is one of the most important letters ever written. The book of Acts is the historical narrative of the early church growing, but Romans contains the formation and development of church doctrine. Paul’s letter to the Romans reveals the downward spiral of sin. Nobody escapes it. We are all sinners. Every sin leads to death. But anyone can be saved from the destruction of sin. What saves you? Faith in Jesus Christ.
Theology is the formal study of the nature of God as revealed in His Word. Doctrine is what an established group believes about God and His Word. As you read Romans and other NT letters, several doctrines and themes will emerge.
I will go into more detail on Sunday. Today, read through the following terms and become familiar with their definitions.
Six key doctrines that are found in Romans:
- Regeneration: The Holy Spirit acting in our lives to give us new spiritual life
- Conversion: Our willing response to the gospel
- Justification: God the Father declares us righteous through Christ
- Adoption: God the Father bringing us into His family
- Sanctification: Growing to be more like Christ
- Glorification: Jesus completing His work in us
All these doctrines inform our faith. What is faith? Hebrews 11:1 has a clear definition: “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.”
If you have faith, then you will believe. If you believe, then you will have faith. To be faithful is to believe continually. Faith is more than a belief system. Faith is a complete trust in Christ. If you are a “child of God” (1 John 5:4), you should bear a family resemblance. Children of God exhibit the right belief and right behavior. If we believe in Jesus and belong to Jesus, then we should behave like Jesus.
The things of God are not a burden. God’s commands give us the freedom to grow. Acting like Jesus prompts you to develop spiritually. You challenge your children to obey not because you want to be a drag. You challenge your children to obey so they will grow. And the more you grow, the more freedom you have. Why does God call us to obey? He’s not being a drag. He wants us to grow. Where do we find this incredible spiritual freedom? Through our faith in Jesus.
Truthful words stand the test of time,
but lies are soon exposed.
The biggest lie ever is you don’t need Jesus. Only the truth of Jesus will stand the test of time. As Romans 1 reveals, everything else will eventually be exposed. Ask God today to expose any lie and refocus your life on God’s truth.
Thursday’s Prayer through Scripture: Read Romans 5:2. You can be confident in your faith, and God wants to provide joy in this assurance. Pray through this verse as you read it slowly. When a word strikes you, stop. Talk to God about what is on your heart.
Friday’s Bible Project Video: Watch this video on the first four chapters of Romans. Who was Paul? Why was he important, and why did he write Romans?