I’m sorry there are no pictures with this report. The internet is not allowing me to upload them tonight.
Day one of the Tsibanobalka class is in the books. There are 12 of us seated around the table discussing Romans. Four of the men drove 10 hours from Pyatigorsk (south of Tsibanobalka) to be with us. The remainder came from Holy Trinity Church in Anapa, where John Musgrave is part of the elder team. My translator, Lena, is also part of the Anapa church.
Only one member of the group is new to me. The other nine were part of previous classes. This allows me to build on previous relationships and go deeper with the folks. This was especially evident in the questions they asked throughout the day. They have left the surface level questions behind and are asking more penetrating, insightful questions.
I started the day by sharing about my family and ministry background. I explained that I spent much of my life wanting to be other people. It was only after discovering 2 Corinthians 3:5-6 that I learned it was ok to be me. (If you want to read more of that story, check out my blog on October 26, 2012. I also shared about the dictionaries I gave Amanda and Caitlin on their wedding days. You can read that account on my blog as well on February 8, 2017.
I started the study of Romans 9-16 by going over the assignment the students were given.
- Read Romans twice
- Review the outline of the book
- In Romans 12:3-8, Paul gives instruction on how we are to use our spiritual gifts in the church. In 12:9-21, he speaks about our responsibility to one another. What is the relationship between spiritual gifts and the “one another” commands of Scripture?
- What is the role of civil government (Romans 13)? Is it ever appropriate to disobey government? Why?
- What does it mean to cause someone to stumble (Romans 14)? How might we do that?
After discussing their answers, I reviewed the outline and synopsis of the book. I figured it had been 12 months since our initial study and I wanted to make sure we were all on the same page.
During today’s discussion, we covered chapters 9-11, Paul’s theological discourse on Israel. I introduced the study by explaining that a tension exists between the topics of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. Does God have a plan and is in control? vs Does man have free will? I explained that I believe both are true, though I don’t completely understand how to reconcile the two. Chapter 9 emphasizes God’s sovereign plan for Israel. Chapter 10 emphasizes Israel’s responsibility for rejecting Jesus. Chapter 11 explains that God still has a role for Israel in the future.
The group asked some thoughtful questions on these chapters. John Musgrave explained that there is a strong Arminian influence in this region which means they wrestle with the idea of God’s sovereignty in general and how Israel’s rejection of God led to the Gentiles receiving salvation in particular. They also struggle with eternal security which I emphasized last year and reminded them of as we reviewed chapter 8.
Tomorrow we jump into the practical section beginning in chapter 12.
Since the bulk of the group is staying at House of Grace, it means that we share our meals together. As always, John & Naomi prepare basic, but sumptuous meals. Today’s menu included homemade cinnamon rolls, spaghetti, barbecued pork chops, and chocolate cake with whipped cream. It also goes without saying that there was plenty of bread and fresh vegetables.
Thanks for praying.