Adult Sunday School Lesson Plan


Lesson Date: October 4, 2015

Focal Scripture Passage: Romans 3:24 – 4:25

AIM: To lead students to understand the difference between justification by grace through faith in Jesus and man’s attempts to justify himself by his works, and to give those who are seeking righteousness by works an opportunity to trust Jesus Christ for salvation while encouraging those who are already saved to thank the Lord for salvation by grace.


Before class: Read the notes on Romans 3:24 – 4:25 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book.  Get enough copies of the “My Spiritual Accounts” handout for your anticipated attendance.  Write the following words on the marker board or chalkboard: “Pardon,” “Justification,” “Grace,” “Redemption,” “Propitiation,” and “Remission.”


INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Direct the class’ attention to the word “Pardon” written on the board.  Ask them to define the word.  Remind them that the President of the United States often issues pardons in the last days before leaving office.  Ask: “What happens to a criminal who receives a presidential pardon?” (he is set free from prison and never again has to face the penalties for that crime).  Stress the fact that the pardon does not eliminate the person’s criminal record or remove his guilt.  He is still a guilty convicted criminal, but he has been set free from paying the penalty for his crime.

Direct their attention to the word “Justification” written on the board.  Explain that this word means to be declared completely innocent, just as if no crime had ever occurred.  Stress the difference between pardon and justification: pardon removes the penalty for the crime, while justification completely removes the guilt).  Ask: “Would you rather be pardoned or justified?” (justified).  Erase the word “Pardon.”



1.     Review and Context.

a.     Ask: “What have we learned in the first three chapters of the book of Romans?” (that everyone is guilty of sin and no one can save themselves by doing good works or being faithful to religious activities). 

b.     Read or quote Romans 3:23

c.     Tell the class the previous lessons from Romans have shown us the BAD NEWS that man has a problem with sin.  In today’s lesson we will move into the GOOD NEWS about God’s solution for our sin problem.

2.     Justification by Grace.

a.     Ask a volunteer to read Romans 3:34.

b.     Direct the class’ attention to the words “Justification,” “Grace,” and “Redemption.”

c.     Ask: “What did we say justification means?” (to be declared completely innocent, as if no sin had ever been committed).

d.     Explain the meanings of the following words:

·       Grace” refers to a free gift, which cannot be earned or purchased.

·       Redemption” means to pay the purchase price necessary to free one from slavery or bondage.

e.     Ask another volunteer to read Romans 3:25.

f.      Define the following words:

·       Propitiation” is something that makes amends for a wrong and thus appeases the one who was offended by that wrong.

·       Remission” means to pass over sins without administering punishment.

g.     Ask: “According to verse 25, who is the propitiation?” (Jesus Christ). 

h.     Ask: What did He do to pay our sin debt?” (He shed His blood on the cross). 

i.      Tell the class the very fact that the Lord saves any of us is evidence of His merciful forbearance. 

j.      Read Romans 3:26-28.

k.     Ask: “According to verse 26, who does the Lord justify?” (those who believe in Jesus). 

l.      Ask: “According to verse 27, do those who are justified by God have any right to boast about their salvation?” (no). 

m.   Read verse 28 aloud, letting the students fill in the blanks: “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by _________ without the _________ of the _______.”

n.     Direct the class’ attention back to the words written on the board.

o.     Ask: “How many of those things are the result of our actions?” (none of them; they are all the acts of God’s grace).

3.     Justification by Grace is available both to Jews and to Gentiles.

a.     Ask a volunteer to read Romans 3:29-31.

b.     Ask: “Who was Paul speaking of when he used the words ‘the circumcision’?” (Jews). 

c.     Ask: “Who was he speaking of when he used the word ‘uncircumcision’?” (Gentiles: all of those who are not Jews).

d.     Ask: “According to verse 30, how can Jews be justified?” (by faith).

e.     Ask: “According to verse 30, how can Gentiles be justified?” (by faith).

f.      Stress the fact that justification by grace is available both to Jews and to Gentiles.  In other words, anyone on earth can be saved by grace (Rom. 10:13).

g.     Tell the class verse 31 explains that this fact does not make the Law void; rather, it proves and establishes the Law by showing that we all need a Savior (Rom. 3:20).

4.     Justification Comes through Faith, Not Works.

a.     Tell the class that since the church at Rome was made up of both Jewish and Gentile believers, chapter 4 uses Abraham (the father of the Jews) as the example of one who was justified by faith, not by works. 

b.     Read Romans 4:1-8.

c.     Tell the class verse 2 says if Abraham had been justified by his works he would have had reason to boast.

d.     Tell them that verse 3 is a quotation of Genesis 15:6.

e.     Ask: “According to verse 3, what was the basis of Abraham’s righteousness?” (his belief in God). 

f.      Explain that the word “counted” is a financial term that means something has been credited to one’s account.

g.     Stress that Abraham believed God and his faith was counted for righteousness.  Righteousness is another word that refers to justification and salvation.  Abraham was saved by faith, not works. 

h.     Verses 4-5 show that justification comes by faith, not by our works.  Verses 6-8 show that David understood the blessing of being forgiven by God’s grace.

i.      Read Romans 4:9-12.

j.      Tell the class the words “reckoned” and “imputed” mean the same thing as “counted” (credited to one’s account).

k.     Explain that Abraham believed God and was justified (declared righteous) when he was 85 years old.  God didn’t institute circumcision, however, until Abraham was 99 years old.  He was justified years before he was circumcised.

l.      Because of this, Abraham is the father of all who believe in Jesus – regardless of whether they are circumcised or not.

5.     Justification Comes through Christ’s Completed Work, not Ours.

a.     Read Romans 4:13-16

b.     Ask everyone to look at verse 14.  Ask: “If you could be saved by keeping the Law, what does that do to faith?” (makes it useless).

c.     Ask: “According to verse 15, what does the Law do?” (shows that we are sinners deserving of God’s wrath).

d.     Tell the class verse 16 makes it clear salvation comes by grace through faith, making it available to both Jews and Gentiles.

e.     Read Romans 4:17-25.

f.      Tell the class these verses describe Abraham’s faith.  Verse 17 describes God’s calling and giving life to those who were dead in sin (Eph. 2:1) – that was our condition before we were saved. 

g.     Ask: “According to verses 23-24, who was the story of Abraham’s faith in God written for?” (those, like us, who would later trust Christ and receive His imputed righteousness). 

h.     Read verse 25 again, and ask the class: “Why did Jesus die?” (to pay for our sin). 

i.      Ask: “Why did He arise from the dead?” (to prove the trustworthiness of His promises to justify those who come to Him by faith).


PERSONAL APPLICATION: Give everyone a copy of the handout titled “My Spiritual Accounts.”  Tell them this handout illustrates the difference between trying to work your way to heaven and trusting Jesus Christ for salvation by grace.  In this illustration, one must have a positive net worth to be saved and go to heaven.  Explain the terms of the “Works Account,” and use the sample account activity on the handout to show its ineffectiveness.  Ask: “Is it ever possible to pay off this account by your efforts?” (no).  In other words, it is impossible to be justified (saved) by our works.

Explain the terms of the “Grace Account,” and use the sample account activity on the handout to show its effectiveness.  Point out the fact that while it is impossible to ever pay off the works account, it is also impossible to ever exhaust the grace account.  Next, note the end result from the “My Net Worth” section.

Tell the class that every human being has a works account.  The balance grows larger every day and nothing we do can ever pay off that debt.  Those who remain in the works side are not justified before God and will not go to heaven.  On the other hand, those who trust Jesus Christ for salvation receive a fully funded grace account.  This account forever cancels the negative balance in the works account, and its resources are inexhaustible. 

Tell them the really Good News is that anyone who sincerely wants to trust Jesus Christ for salvation can be justified, but they must meet the following criteria:

·       Must be a sinner

·       Must be either a Jew or Gentile

·       Must realize they can never do enough good works to be forgiven and justified

·       Must want to be justified freely by God’s grace

Ask everyone to bow their head and close their eyes.  Encourage any who are not saved to trust Jesus Christ right now, and all who are already saved to thank the Lord for saving them by His grace.  Voice a closing prayer.


CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize Romans 4:25.  Ask them to place the “My Spiritual Accounts” handout in their Bible and use it as a reminder to thank the Lord for their salvation every day.



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