The Greatest Chapter Ever Written

Read Romans 8: 35 – 39

  • In what ways does Joni Eareckson’s story touch you, encourage you, surprise you or challenge you.
  • When difficulties, hardships, painful life experiences happen, what might be some questions that can arise for you?
  • Can you recall ways you have grown through your difficult times?
  • What do verses 35, 38, 39 of Romans 8 mean for you where you are in your life?
    35 Who, then, can separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble do it, or hardship or persecution or hunger or poverty or danger or death?
    38 For I am certain that nothing can separate us from his love: neither death nor life, neither angels nor other heavenly rulers or powers, neither the present nor the future, 39 neither the world above nor the world below—there is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • In what ways do / have you experienced the love of God in your life? What helps you grow deeper into this love?
  • In what ways do you relate to Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s thoughts in his letter from prison in WW2?
    “God lets himself be pushed out of the world on to the cross. He is weak and powerless in the world, and that is precisely the way, the only way, in which he is with us and helps us…… 
    The Bible directs humanity to God’s powerlessness and suffering; only the suffering God can help.”

Read through Romans chapter 8 verse 28 slowly, pausing in between the words and phrases

  • What don’t you know that you wish you knew when it comes to questions of life or faith?
  • What do you know to be true of God and what God is like?
  • Where have you seen God present and actively working?
  • Where perhaps has God been present and actively working in ways that you haven’t recognised?
  • How might God’s idea of good be different to our idea of good? (refer also to verse 29)
  • How, or when, have you seen God bringing good out of a situation or circumstance that itself didn’t seem good?

Read Romans chapter 8 verses 23 to 25

  • Why do you think hope is so important in life?
  • Why is hope also so important in faith?
  • What is it about Christian hope that is different to any other hope?
  • What are you most looking forward to about the future hope that God gives us, and why?
  • Are you characterised more by ‘eager expectation’ or ‘endurance’ as you wait for the future hope that God has promised? Why do you think that is? How can you develop a healthy sense of both?

Romans 8: 26 – 27 and Daniel 10: 1-5 and 11-14

  • What do you struggle with most when it comes to prayer?
  • Read Romans 8: 26 – 27. What stands out to you?
  • David quoted Stu Cameron ‘The Spirit of God enters into and knows our current travails and prays with us and for us with groans similar to . . . (our groans). How do you respond to this thought?
  • In our protestant evangelical tradition, we tend to think of prayer as us talking to God. Share any different approach to prayer that you have found helpful. Have you found any approach to prayer that has helped you to listen to God?
  • Read Ephesians 6: 10-13 and 18. What stands out for you?
  • Daniel spent 21 days in prayer and fasting (Daniel 10: 2-3). Jesus assumes fasting is a regular practice among his listeners (see Matthew 6: 2a, 7a and 16a). You might like to share if you have ever spent time in prayer and fasting and, if so, if you found it helpful.
  • The apostle Paul experienced ‘unanswered’ prayer. Read 2 Corinthians 12:1-10. What stands out for you?
  • Spend some time praying for one another, particularly about things mentioned in your discussions.

Romans 8:19-23

  • We read in Psalm 19 that “the heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.” In what ways do you connect to God through the world he’s made?
  • Read Romans 8:18-25. What stands out to you?
  • Can anyone remember the rope illustration that Andy used in the message on Sunday? What was the point?
  • Genesis 1 tells us that we’re to “have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”
    Put another way, we’re to be God’s stewards over creation. How does (or could) this role look in your life? What decisions do you make that show care for the world God has made?
  • The crux of Paul’s message is that we live in a world in-between Christ’s comings. What hardships does that bring?
  • Paul concludes this section by talking about hope. What things give you hope to persevere in faith?

Read Romans chapter 8 verses 17 and 18

  • What do you struggle with most when it comes to the issue of suffering, and why?
  • In what ways does the Bible contain ‘pillars’ to hold us up and together in faith and life, even through times that are less than ideal like suffering?
  • How is suffering a ‘present’ reality for you as a follower of Jesus (verse 18a)?
  • How through times of suffering have you ‘shared in the sufferings of Christ’? (verse 17b)
  • Why are our ‘present sufferings’ not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us? (verse 18)
  • What do you think can help us shift more from a ‘God, take me out of it’ comfort mindset when it comes to suffering to a ‘God, transform me through it’ Christ-likeness mindset?
  • Pray not only for one another but for followers of Jesus who are persecuted for their faith in other parts of the world.

Read Romans chapter 8 verses 14 to 17

  • Reflecting on verse 14, can you think of a time when you were led by the Spirit of God in your life? What difference did that make?
  • Reflecting on the first part of verse 15, why do you think fear is such a powerful and crippling emotion? As a child of God, what helps you rest in God’s love instead of being ‘a slave again to fear’? Read also 1 John 3:1 and 4:18, and Isaiah 43:1-4.
  • Reflecting on the second part of verse 15, to receive the spirit of sonship or adoption is to receive the full rights and privileges of a child of God. What are some of those rights and privileges that we receive as children of God who have been adopted into His family?
  • Reflecting on the last part of verse 15, is your relationship with God one that is more characterised by familiarity or formality? Why do you think that is? What, if anything, gets in the way of you ‘drawing near’ intimately to God, crying out ‘Abba, Father’?
  • Reflecting on verse 16, what causes any of us to feel insecure even when we are a child of God? In what ways does ‘the Spirit himself’ testify or reassure us that we are God’s children?
  • Reflecting on verse 17, as an heir of God and co-heir with Christ, what are some of the things that we share in as children of God?

Bible reading: Romans 8: 10-11

  • What would you do if you could live forever?
  • Read all of Romans 8:1-11. What stands out to you?
  • Paul contrasts sin and death with the Spirit and life. How would you explain each of these terms as Paul means them to someone who is not a Christian?
  • How does eternal life fit within the Gospel message?
  • What does the knowledge that you will live forever with God mean to you?
  • How do you live differently as a result?
  • What prevents you living as if eternal life is yours?
    What kinds of barriers exist for you, in terms of living out the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor 5) more fully in your life today?

Bible reading: Romans 8: 9, 12-13

  • Which extreme, if either, are you closer to when it comes to how you respond to the Holy Spirit? Is it a tendency to ignore or over-emphasise the Holy Spirit? Why do you think that is?
  • We need to understand that the Holy Spirit lives in us (verse 9), but we also need to learn to live in the Holy Spirit (verses 12-13). What is so significant about the Holy Spirit living in us? What is so significant about us living in the power of the Holy Spirit?
  • What obligation do we have as followers of Jesus? (verse 12). Who or what is that to, and why?
  • How does living ‘by the Spirit’ make it possible for us to ‘put to death’ the misdeeds of the body’, or overcome our sinful nature? What can stop that from being the case in our lives?
  • Consider and compare times when you have tried to do things in your own strength, as compared to ‘living by the Spirit’.
  • Sin is like a spiritual cancer that, if not dealt with and got rid of, can kill us spiritually. How and why is that? What part do we have to play in dealing with sin in our lives as God’s people?

Romans 8:9

  • Read all of Romans 8:1-11. What stands out to you?
  • What do you think Paul means by living in the ‘flesh’?
    How is that different to living in the ‘Spirit’?
  • What does living in the ‘Spirit’ mean? What are some ways you do that now?
  • What are some reasons it’s important to connect with the person of the Holy Spirit? (If you need some inspiration, take a look at the following: John 3:3, 5-6; Acts 2:38-39; Romans 5:5; Ephesians 1:13-14; 2 Corinthians 3:17; John 20:21-22; Acts 1:8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11)
  • How do you connect to the person of the Holy Spirit?
  • What advice would you offer someone struggling to understand the person of the Holy Spirit?
  • What sort of things, in your opinion, do most people think ‘please God?
  • What are some things that control (or shape or influence) people in our society today? If you are able to, think of some examples.
  • Why do you think people struggle to let go of control of their own lives and let God’s Spirit control us?
  • Read Romans 8:8-9a, as well as Hebrews 11:6 and Colossians 1:10-12
  • Take some time to reflect on and discuss each of the different characteristics of a life that pleases God as we are controlled by the Spirit.
    – faith (Hebrews 11:6 onwards, Colossians 1:4-5) 
    – fruitfulness (Colossians 1:10a)
    – moving forward in knowing God (Colossians 1:10b)
    – faithfully enduring (Colossians 1:11)
    – being filled with gratitude (Colossians 1:12)
  • Which of these characteristics can you identify as a growth area for you?
  • Take some time to pray in twos or threes for one another in this. 

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.

  • Do you feel like the world as a whole is going in the right direction?
  • How do you typically react to shocking and disturbing local or world news? How do you process it and come to terms with all of the ugliness that happens? How much or often would you react with despair? What about with judgmentalism?
  • Do you feel like your life is pleasing God? Is this an indicator that you need to spend more time resting in the grace of Jesus? What would your life have to look like to feel adequate?
  • In your in-between times, do you gravitate toward your phone? What apps or content do you go to, and what is it that you’re seeking there? Does it give you what you seek? Is there something more valuable that you could realistically replace it with?
  • Could you make better use of your friends or church community to help you cultivate the virtues and habits you want? If you were to ask someone for advice or help, write down at least one question you might ask.
  • What do you think are the greatest problems faced in our world today? What solutions, if any, are there to those problems?

  • What ultimately is the problem that lies behind all other problems, as described in Romans 8:3-4? What is God’s solution to that problem, as also described in this verse?

  • What part do each of the following referred to in Romans 8:3-4 play in our spiritual lives?

    – the law
    – our sinful nature
    – God
    – God’s own Son Jesus
    – The Spirit

  • Why did Jesus have to be ‘in the likeness of sinful man’ (verse 3b) to be a sin offering for us?

  • If someone asked you the question ‘Why did Jesus die?’, what would be your response?

Reflection & Discussion Questions
  • Read Romans 8:1-2, slowly and in a way that lets what God is saying sink in.
  • What do you think is the main point of what God is saying to you here?
  • When do you feel the most condemned?
  • What are the reasons from these verses we should not feel condemned?
  • How are these truths going to change the way you live this week? If it helps you, write out Romans 8:1 and stick it on your fridge, desk or somewhere else prominent. Alternatively, memorise Romans 8:1 and say it to yourself daily.
    Reflection & Discussion Questions
    • What is your greatest struggle as a follower of Jesus?
    • What part or parts of the Christian faith do you most need strengthening in?
    • Read Romans chapter 8, the chapter we will be taking a closer look at as a church in this new series.
    • What verse or verses in Romans chapter 8 remind you or reassure you of something you need reminding of or reassured in?