BSF Sharing Day/Comment Page

Hey all,

Well, our time this year in the Book of Acts is drawing to a close.  I will not be posting BSF Lesson 32 answers as it’s all personal questions that only you can answer.

However, I am posting this page for you all to share your answers to Lesson 32 if you’d like, what you learned this year and how the Study of Acts has impacted your life.  I’d love to hear it!

I’ll go first:

The over-all theme this year for me was prayer:  the importance of prayer, the significance of it, how we should pray all the time in every situation, and how God answers our prayers even when we don’t see it.  We are to bring everything to the table: every worry, qualm, anxiety, triumph, failure, persecution, question, feeling, and quandary to Him and He will take every single burden and make them His own.

I have never read any of these books of the Bible before (my goal of finishing the New Testament is summer reading!) so all of this was new information for me.  It has been wonderful to piece together the history of it all (you know me) and learn exactly how Christianity spread and how difficult it was and yet God prevailed.

Yesterday at church we discussed how the Jewish people are the only group of people to have survived millenia since recorded time.  Gone is the Ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians, Ancient Greeks and Romans, the Ottoman and Byzantine Empires and the empires of modern times such as the Nazi regime.  Only the Jews have survived and thrived.  All thanks to God and His magnificence.

I learned what it’s like to live a Christian life.  I grew up a Christian but we didn’t attend church regularly and when we did attend church it was all fluff.  I’m tired of fluff.  I want someone to tell me I’m going to Hell if I don’t believe; to tell me I’m straying from God’s path when I am; to tell me how to submit to authority and others; to tell me to love others.

Not having a Christian life modeled has impacted my life greatly and as I make mistakes in life, I am continually praying I learn from them and turn a new leaf in my life.

I don’t think God’s will for my life has changed.  Nor will it ever.  I do think I have learned a bit more about what it’s going to take to achieve His will for my life and the sacrifices I will be required to make in order to do so.

I pray all of this new knowledge I have learned stays in my brain until the point it is needed and when the situation arises it emerges.  I pray I can bless others through my knowledge.

Summer goals:  to finish reading the website I posted (HERE) and to finish the New Testament reading.  I’m in the book of John so I don’t have too much left after this study!

To all of you who have been so encouraging to me and others throughout this study, I send a heart-felt thanks.  It is much appreciated and beyond my words.

I wish all of you a joyous and blessed summer break and I will see you in the fall where we will start at the beginning of it all!

About these ads

ATTENTION! All Those Studying Acts and Paul’s Missionary Journeys

This site is amazing!  If you like history and are a map fan/visual learner you have to read this site!!!

I just spent 30 minutes on this site and haven’t finished yet, but I have to share with all of you!!!

This site has satellite maps, explanations of the Bible passages we are studying, modern pictures of the actual locations Paul may have stayed, and interesting history facts on all the figures mentioned in the Bible as well as the history figures associated with this time frame of the 1st century AD.  It even has application questions in the sidebar you can apply to your own life.  Could you ask for any more?

I wish I had found this site sooner!  But I know I have a great review of the study of the Book of Acts!  You are guaranteed to learn A LOT from this site!

From what I can tell, it’s written by a gentleman associated with a lutheran church in Texas, but I haven’t had time yet to dig deeper.

Please visit and let me know what you think afterwards!

http://www.welcometohosanna.com/PAULS_MISSIONARY_JOURNEYS/4voyage_1.html

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 31, Day 5: Acts 27-28

Summary of passages:  Acts 27:  Paul and his companions (267 men in total) boarded a ship for Rome.  Julius, a Roman centurion, was in charge.  They landed in Sidon where Paul was allowed to meet his friends and receive supplies from them.  Then they pass Cyprus with heavy winds keeping them from landing and out across the sea to Myra in Lycia.

They switched ships and sailed until Cnidus.  The wind was still blowing hard as they made their way to Fair Havens on the island of Crete.  Much time had been lost and it was now Autumn where winds blew incessantly over the Mediterranean.  Paul advised the centurion to stay in Crete for the winter but he was ignored.

They set sail and a huge northeaster swept down from the island, catching the ship, and pushing it along.  The men had to throw the ship’s cargo and tackle overboard and they drifted for days, losing hope of being saved.

Paul then tells the men to take heart for they will be saved and only the ship and cargo will be lost.  An angel of God stood beside him and told him he and the crew would make it safely to Rome but they would run aground on some island.

After 2 weeks adrift, the men wanted to abandon ship and head to the lifeboats but Paul told the centurion they would die if they did so.  So they stayed with the ship.  Then Paul urged them to eat and he gave thanks to God for the bread.  They were all encouraged.  After eating, they threw the grain over board to lighten the ship.

The next day, they saw land and decided to run the ship aground.  The ship struck a sandbar before making the beach so the soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners so they wouldn’t escape when they swam.  But the centurion wanted to save Paul’s life so no one was killed.  Everyone reached land safely by swimming of floating on pieces of the ship.

Acts 28:  Landing on the island of Malta, Paul and the others were welcomed by the islanders.  Paul got bit by a viper but was able to shake it off to no ill effects, causing the islanders to think him a god.  Paul healed Publius’s father and the rest of the sick on the island.

After 3 months, they procured a ship and set sail for Rome, landing in Syracuse on the island of Sicily and then traveled on up the coast of Italy to Rome.  In Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself while awaiting trial with a soldier to guard him.  [Scholars believe Paul was held for 4 years].

Paul speaks to the leaders of the Jews to explain why he is in chains and the leaders say they have heard nothing bad about Paul and are here to learn about Jesus Christ.  He preached to the Jews from morning till evening all about the kingdom of God and Jesus.  Some were convinced; others were not.  And they argued about it, so much so Paul quoted Isaiah, saying their eyes did not perceive nor their ears understand.  Paul proclaims that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles who will listen.

For 2 years Paul preached the gospel boldly in his home to all those who came.

Questions:

14a)  Calm, trust and faith in God, and belief in what the angel of God who appeared to him said.  He encourages the men to keep up their courage (27:25) and boldly takes command if you will, telling the centurion to stay with the ship in order to be saved (27:31).  He orders them to eat so they will survive (27:33), which encouraged and uplifted the men.  He showed integrity, honesty, sincerity, and caring for the men.

b)  Faith in God.  I’d imagine if I were in that situation that would be the only thing that would keep me calm!  It would also help if an angel spoke to me and told me I’d be okay.

15a)  An angel of God stood beside Paul and told Paul to not be afraid for he would make it to Rome.  This strengthened his faith in God’s word that this would happen and he’d survive.  Paul told the men not to abandon the ship if they wanted to live.  He told them all to eat.  He took the bread and gave thanks to God in front of all the men (what a powerful witness to God’s omnipotence!) and ate.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Well, an angel has never appeared to me but I do know in the midst of the biggest crisis in my life I was calm and knew it would all work out in the end (which it did).  I was distraught and broken-hearted but I didn’t panic or ever doubt God.  He was there just not manifest like an angel.  But He was there in my crisis and held me up as I walked through it.

c)  He healed the sick on the island of Malta and when he arrived in Rome, Paul opened his home and preached “from morning till evening” (verse 23) the gospel and some were convinced.  He now had a powerful testimony of God’s rescue from the seas (amongst all his other experiences).  He had his physical needs provided for by the Romans as a prisoner so he could focus his whole attention on nothing but spreading the Good News.  Paul finally had our most valuable commodity–time–and he used it completely to encourage the church (through his letters) and talk about Jesus.  Wouldn’t we all like to do that?

Conclusions:  This reads like a great suspense novel!  I can visualize the panic and fear onboard and Paul standing in the midst of the men, telling them they will survive.

Why did the men throw the cargo, tackle, and lastly the food overboard?  To lighten the ship.  A heavy cargo makes the ship sit deeper in the water, which is dangerous in shallow water.  So the men threw the cargo overboard so the ship would sit higher in the water in case they were blown near land where their boat would get destroyed on the shallow reefs, rocks, and harbors.  If the bottom of the ship ran aground miles from any shore, they faced the prospect of being tossed into the sea.  Thus, when you are faced with life or death, everything (even the grain) becomes expendable.

Lightening the ship also stabilizes it in rough seas.  If the ship got tossed to one side and became unbalanced, a heavy ship would be more likely to follow the energy and due to inertia (the law where objects in motion want to stay in motion), it would tip over.

Further, throwing cargo overboard makes the ship go faster in case the men wanted to try to outrun the storm.

Great ending!  Paul is brought safely to Rome where God wants him and God gives Paul time to evangelize.

I want to keep going.  I want to find out all Paul taught in his time in Rome and find out the end of him as well.  I want to read Romans and Philemon and all the rest of the NT to find out more!  The story doesn’t end in Acts.  It’s at the good part and I have to keep reading.  Now I have a plan for this summer!

Map of Paul’s Final Leg of the Journey to Rome:  http://www.biblestudy.org/maps/apostle-paul-fourth-missionary-journey-large-map.html

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 31, Day 4: Acts 24-26

Summary of passages:  Acts 24:  Ananias shows up in Caesarea with a fancy lawyer, Tertullus, who begins by flattering Felix and then listing false charges against Paul.  Paul defends himself by denying all charges except for following Christ and believing in Christ’s resurrection.  Thus, Paul has a clear conscience before God and man.

Paul denies all accusations and states the real reason he is on trial:  because he believes in the resurrection of the dead (i.e. Jesus).  Felix again defers a decision on Paul’s case.  Felix sent for Paul to explain the Christian faith to him and his Jewish wife but fear sank into him and he dismissed Paul back to his prison cell.  Felix was also secretly hoping for a bribe.

Felix leaves Paul in prison to appease the Jews for 2 years and is replaced by Festus.

Acts 25:  Festus immediately has to deal with Paul as the Jews again request a trial in Jerusalem where they intend to ambush Paul and kill him.  Festus, not wanting to give in to the Jews, denies this request and says they must travel to Caesarea to make their charges.

Paul again denies all charges at this new trial.  Festus, wanting to ingratiate himself with the Jews, asks Paul to go to Jerusalem for trial.  Here, Paul invokes his right (as a Roman citizen) to appeal to Caesar in Rome for Paul has been called to go to Rome, not Jerusalem.

King Agrippa arrives for a visit with Festus and Festus discusses Paul’s case with him, saying that it seems to be a religious dispute rather than any crime committed.  Festus admitted he didn’t know what to do so Paul asked to be tried before Caesar.

Festus convenes an audience with Agrippa and brings Paul in.  Festus says there is nothing Paul has done deserving of death but Paul has insisted a trial before the emperor. Festus is reluctant to send Paul to the emperor with no charges against him (this was customary for the Romans to send a written explanation of the charges to the emperor).

Acts 26:  Agrippa asks Paul to speak.  Paul recounts his background, having been born a Jew and lived as a Pharisee, and states he is on trial because of his hope in God’s promises and his belief in how God raises the dead.  Paul admits he persecuted Christians jealously until Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus and commissioned him to teach the gospel to the Gentiles.

Paul obeyed his vision, saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen regarding Christ.  Festus calls Paul insane.  Paul challenges Agrippa on his beliefs, confronting him with the question of if he believes in the prophets.  Agrippa accuses Paul of trying to convert him and Paul readily agrees, praying all who are listening to him believe as he does.

Agrippa agrees that Paul is not doing anything worthy of death or punishment and says Paul could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar (see explanation below for further details).

Questions:

9)  He was afraid to act as a typical politician is, desiring to make everyone happy.  Verse 22 tells us Felix was well acquainted with the Way and his wife is a Jewess.  Felix probably doesn’t want to offend his wife either.  He was corrupt, hoping for a bribe from Paul to let him go.  He seemed content to just let indecision reign.  I think Felix knows Paul is innocent but uses him as leverage for his dealings with the Jews.  He was shrewd.

He puts political favors above the lives of others (24:27).

10a)  Verses 22-23

b)  Verses 7-8, 20-21

c)  Verses 9-11

d)  Verses 12-18

11)  To open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light, to turn them from the power of Satan to God, to receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ.

12)  “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”

13)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Never back down in the face of opposition.  Paul appeals to their knowledge and speaks the truth, explaining righteousness, self-control, and judgment when speaking with Felix.  He point blank asks Agrippa if he believes the prophets and their teachings.  Paul never backs down from his calling to convert.  He is sincere, honest, and authentic.  His heart shines as he speaks about Jesus and what he has done in Paul’s life.

Paul says again (24:16) how his conscience is clear before God and man, the same words that got him struck by Ananias in 23:1.  Paul never deviates from the truth no matter the consequences.  What we all should do.

Conclusions:  Lots of history here (which I am loving!).  These trials of Paul is very well documented both in the Bible and in other secular sources such as Roman records.  We are still in the first century AD, around 60 AD.  The Roman Empire is at its height and dominates the known world.

The key to understanding these events is to understand Roman citizenship.  Traditionally, in Ancient Times there were not rights.  The ruler of your country could kill you whenever he or she felt like it.  You obeyed; you didn’t question; you worked hard; you stayed out of trouble.

The Romans changed all of this.  They instituted a Republic where the people had rights and voted to choose their rulers.  But this was only afforded to certain people, Roman citizens.  The vast majority of the people were still under subjugation and slavery but it was a step in the right direction.

Roman citizens had certain rights.  One of these rights was the right to a trial where the crime must be presented and proved before punishment was handed down.  A Roman also had the right to appeal to Caesar (this is not Julius Caesar the man but all rulers were known by the title of Caesar after him), the emperor, to hear the trial and decide if the accused felt they were not getting justice elsewhere.  And as Roman citizens, this privilege had to be granted.

Paul, as a Roman citizen, had this right, which he invokes time and time again.  Why?  Because God himself has told him he is to go to Rome (Acts 23:11) and Felix and Festus want to send him to Jerusalem.  Appealing to Caesar is the only way Paul can see right now to get to Rome.

This is where I got stuck:  on verse 32 of chapter 26:  “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”

So what would have happened if Paul had been released?  Well, we’ve been told twice now that the Jews are just waiting to ambush him (Acts 25:3; 23:12-15).  In Chapter 27 of Acts, Paul is handed over to a centurion for escort to Rome.  So Paul is protected.  Also, the trip is free; the Romans pay for his journey there.

Most likely Paul would have been hunted down and killed soon after his release before he could make it to Rome. And Rome is where God wants Paul so Paul is doing everything in his power to get to Rome in obedience to God.

Summation:  The Jews are falsely accusing Paul of crimes which they cannot prove.  Due to politics, Paul is held prisoner (58-60 AD) to appease the Jews even though the Romans know Paul is innocent.  Paul appeals to Caesar as a last resort in order to go to Rome unhindered as God has called him to do instead of accepting his freedom.  Paul is now headed to Rome.

God is amazing, isn’t he?  He chose Paul who is a Jew and a Roman citizen (how he obtained citizenship is unclear) to teach the Gentiles and who is uniquely positioned to carry out God’s will in Roman Times.  He has all the advantages and God uses them to His glory.  Awesome!

Background History:  The background history between the Romans and the Jews is fascinating.  Briefly, the Jews despise the Romans and Felix is actually called back to Rome to answer for his actions in 59 or 60 AD and replaced by Festus for several reasons:  his irregular rule, his treatment and slaughter of the Jews when violence and protests broke out, and also it is rumored he had Jonathan, the high priest killed, causing huge tensions amongst the Jews.

Thus, Festus feels the pressure to make nice with the Jews and sees Paul as a quick and easy way to do so.

Nero, the infamous tyrant, is the emperor during Paul’s imprisonment.  So why does Paul appeal to him?  At the time of Paul’s imprisonment, Nero is favorably disposed towards the Jews and Christians and was actually considered a fair ruler by the people.  It wasn’t until the Roman fire 4 years later in 64 AD that the persecution of Christians truly began and Nero started behaving unpredictably.

Links here for superb background information:

http://bible.org/seriespage/paul’s-appeal-acts-251-27

Map of Caesarea and Jerusalem:

http://www.biblestudy.org/maps/apostle-paul-fourth-missionary-journey-large-map.html

This site is my ULTIMATE favorite!  It discusses all of Paul’s missionary journey and explains the history behind Paul’s trials in an easy-to-read and follow tone.  It’s awesome!  It includes pictures of historical locations.  I can’t say enough about this site:

http://www.welcometohosanna.com/PAULS_MISSIONARY_JOURNEYS/4voyage_2.html

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 31, Day 3: Acts 22:30-23:35

Summary of passage:  Paul was brought before the Sanhedrin to face charges against him.  Paul says he has fulfilled his duty to God with a good conscious.  The high priest took offense to this statement and had Paul struck.  Paul tells Ananias God will strike him down and accuses him of corruption and of violating the law.  When told Ananias was the high priest, Paul says he didn’t know that.

Then Paul cleverly divides the Sadducees from the Pharisees by bringing in Jesus whom Luke explains, saying the Sadducees do not believe in the resurrection whereas the Pharisees do.

The Pharisees want to release Paul; the Sadducees want him dead.  Paul is taken back to the barracks for his own protection where the Lord appears to him at night, saying to take heart for he is to go to Rome.

The Jews plot to kill Paul but Paul’s nephew warns Paul and tells the commander.  The commander then arranges for Paul to be transferred to Caesarea via Antipatris to the governor.  The governor agrees to hear Paul’s case when his accusers arrive, having Paul kept prisoner in Herod’s palace in the meantime.

Questions:

6a)  The first thing Paul says is “I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience”, meaning he has lived a Godly life and tried to do right so with a good conscious he can say he’s fulfilled God’s will for his life.  When any of us can say we’ve fulfilled God’s will for our life, I think we have a high quality of life with God.

b)  When Paul was struck for saying something innocuous, he immediately accuses the high priest, Ananias, of being corrupt underneath (whitewashed wall) and he himself violating the law (Deuteronomy 25:1-2 says you must be found guilty before being punished or beaten).

c)  Upon being told whom Paul had rebuked (the high priest), Paul backed down according to Exodus 22:28 and curtailed his words.

d)  He knows he shouldn’t be beaten unfairly without a trial (Deuteronomy 25:1-2) and he knows he must obey God through obeying the leaders of the day (Exodus 22:28).  Further, he knows he is on trial because of his belief in Jesus and that this is also God’s will.

e)  Paul is not afraid to throw the law back into their faces.  He says he’s on trial because of his belief in Jesus; yet, he also says he is a Pharisee, one of them.

7a)  The Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage!  As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”  The Lord told Paul he has more work to do for he must next go to Rome.  This must have been great comfort for Paul, knowing he would get out of Jerusalem alive when all these people meant to kill him.

b)  I think I need comfort in every aspect of my life because I think I’m failing in a lot of places.  I am encouraged and comforted because I know God is here, next to me.  He knows where I’m at and He is watching me, guiding me, and helping me to persevere in this race that at times I don’t want to run.  He stands by me as He meets me right where I’m at and offers words of comfort and encouragement when I need it most.

8a)  God allowed the plot against Paul to be discovered and orchestrated Paul’s escape. God allowed no further harm to come to Paul as he was sneaked out of Jerusalem.

b)  They cared enough about him to risk their own lives to enter the barracks to warn Paul and then the commander of the plot against Paul.  I’m picturing these barracks as being surrounded by Jews protesting and demanding Paul’s death.  Plus, I’m also assuming Paul’s nephew is Jewish and entering a Roman barracks posed a danger to him. Paul was still in contact with his family and they loved him.

Conclusions:  Here we see God’s sovereignty at work.  He uses Paul to testify before the Sanhedrin to the primacy of Jesus and then protects him because of Paul’s faithfulness.  He orchestrates Paul’s escape out of Jerusalem as He himself tells Paul He has more work for him to do in Rome.  Paul once again faithfully obeys.

Here’s the best map I could find of Antipatris and Caesarea that also shows Paul’s journey to Rome:

http://www.biblestudy.org/maps/apostle-paul-fourth-missionary-journey-large-map.html

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 31, Day 2: Acts 21:16-22:29

Summary of passage:  We pick up Paul right at his arrival in Jerusalem.  He was greeted warmly and then meets with James and all the other elders to give an account of his travels.  Immediately, there is a concern that needs to be addressed:  the Jews have mistakenly been informed that Paul is teaching the Jews to turn away from Moses and their customs.  They are angry.  So to appease them, we suggest you take four men and pay their expenses to be purified.  Then everyone will know the rumors are false and that you are living in obedience to the law.

Paul agrees and complies.  However, some Jews see him at the temple and repeat the rumors to the crowd and also throw in a lie about how Paul brought Greeks into the holy place in the temple, a lie based on a false assumption of association.

The angry mob seized Paul, beating him, fully intending to kill him for such a perceived violation of Jewish law.  However, when the Romans found out an uncontrolled riot was taking place, they ran to see what the commotion was all about.  The Romans arrested Paul and tried to figure out what was going on.  Unable to do so due to crowd noise, they remove Paul to the barracks.  Paul asks to speak to the mob in his defense.

Paul tells them his origins:  he’s a Jew who used to persecute followers of Jesus until Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus and God commissioned him to the Gentiles.  This angered the crowd when Paul mentioned the Gentiles (for they believed the Gentiles were not equal with the Jews in God’s eyes) and the Roman commander ordered Paul be flogged and questioned about why the crowd was so incensed.

Here, Paul invokes his Roman citizen privileges (illegal to flog a citizen until found guilty in a court of law and illegal to chain a citizen) and the commander immediately changes course.

Questions:

3a)  He was trying to reassure the Jerusalem church of his loyalty by agreeing to take Jewish vows.  There was concern that Paul had turned against Jewish customs so they suggested Paul pay for the purification rites of four men as a gesture of support to the Jews and their way of life even though the Gentiles are not required to do so.

It seems to me there was a lot of confusion and misinformation about the new Christian faith and what it entails amongst the people.  Remember, there was no 24-hour news reel back then.  In this instance, mob mentality played a key role in Paul’s arrest and denouncement.  One person spread the rumor Paul took a non-Jew into the temple and a riot ensued.

It is very, very difficult to change and erase centuries of belief.  Most Jews had not accepted the fact that Gentiles are not equal to them in God’s eyes, that they too are now set apart, and set apart in the same way they are:  through faith in Jesus Christ. Thus, Paul’s teaching were seen as blasphemous and disrespectful.

b)  1 Corinthians 9:20:  “To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews.  To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.”  Paul’s attitude is to do whatever it takes to win people to Jesus, including supporting the Jews in their customs.

4a)  They seized Paul, dragged him from the temple, and tried to kill him.  The Romans intervened by arresting Paul so he wouldn’t be killed by the crazed, out of control mob.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The same reason He allows bad things to happen to us all:  to strengthen us or perhaps those around us and test our faith in Him and His word(s).

5a)  Total obedience.  He asks, “What shall I do, Lord?” (verse 10) immediately after Jesus appears to him.  God commissioned him to the Gentiles (verse 21) and he obeyed immediately, never once turning back, despite the hardships.

b)  As soon as Paul uttered the word “Gentiles”, the crowd grew incensed.  We must remember Jews have lived for millenia as God’s chosen people, set apart and chosen by Him, as special.  So accepting the fact that Gentiles are now their equals, able to be saved by believing in Jesus, is an idea completely foreign to them and offensible.

Furthermore, when Paul declares this as God’s plan when he says the Lord told him to go the Gentiles (verse 21), this outrages the Jews.  God?  Our God said such a thing?  They just couldn’t believe it to be true.  So emotions took over and they wanted Paul to die for what they believed to be blasphemy.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I believe I have several callings.  First, is a wife to my husband.  Second, is a mother to my children.  Third, is a writer of novels to reveal God to unbelievers in a non-threatening yet powerful way.  Fourth, one day as a worship leader.  Fifth, through this blog in some way.  I hope it helps others see and know Him more.  It’s that simple.

I don’t really talk about my callings outside of my immediate family.  To be honest, I don’t talk to a lot of people outside of family.  Not to be stereotypical of writers but I’m much better with the written word than with the spoken word.  My husband and I often miscommunicate cause I’m so bad.  So I send him an email to clarify my thoughts on a matter.

So I haven’t experienced a lot (either positive or negative) because it’s something between God and me and when the time is right it will be between me and others.

Conclusions:  Yeah!  I’m so happy to be back in the book of Acts!  It’s like we stopped the book half-way through right at the good part and I am eager to see how the story ends.

I liked 5c because even though you may know God’s calling on your life it’s good to put it in writing.  I knew all of these callings but putting them together gives me a different perspective and priority for them.

I think a good question would have been:  how do you react when faced with a situation you know will be challenging but you have to do it anyways?

Poor Paul.  He knows his return to Jerusalem will be anything but pleasant and yet he walks it anyways, fulling trusting in God’s plan for his life and knowing God is right there beside him no matter what he will face.

I’m not for sure how I would have reacted if I had to walk in Paul’s shoes:  heading into a hostile environment where you know you will face physical pain, persecution, and probably death.  It’s a good lesson for all of us to ponder.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 30, Day 5: Jude

Summary of passage:  Jude writes in warning, concerned about the faith as it is under attack by certain, godless men who have slipped in among them and who deny Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  Jude reminds them that the Lord destroyed those who didn’t believe after the Exodus; He imprisoned angels who abandoned their home; He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for sexual immorality.

These men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand.  They pollute their own bodies, reject authority, and slander celestial beings.  Woe to them!  They are selfish (Cain), greedy (Balaam), and rebellious (Korah).  These men are blemishes and shameless.

Enoch warned of these men.  They are grumblers, faultfinders, follow their own evil desires, boasters, and flatters.  The apostles prophesied of these men as well.

So build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.  Keep yourself in God’s love as you wait for eternal life.  Be merciful to doubters; save others from the fire; show mercy to others.

Glory be to God forever!

Questions:

11)  Jude is writing to urge others to contend for the faith and to beware of certain men (false teachers) who are slipping in amongst them and trying to lead them astray.

Peter writes as a reminder to stimulate his readers to wholesome thinking and to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the commands given by God through the apostles.  To warn them that scoffers (false teachers) will come and try to place doubt in your mind about the Lord but you must remember to have patience for the End Times for God’s time is not human time and He is patient with man, allowing everyone time to come to repentance.  God created the world and He will judge it as well.

The reasons are the same and Jude quotes almost word for word Peter’s letter at times.

12)  The Lord delivered His people out of Egypt but later destroyed those who didn’t believe (lack of faith and trust in God).

Angels who abandoned their positions of authority and their own home the Lord now keeps chained for judgement day.  The sin was some kind of sexual sin (harking back to Genesis 6:1-2) as indicated by the words “in a similar way” in verse 7.

Sodom and Gomorrah sinned with sexual immorality and perversion.

13a)  They pollute their own bodies, reject authority, and slander celestial beings and speak abusively against whatever they don’t understand, selfishness of Cain, greed of Balaam, and rebelliousness of Korah, and good for nothing.

b)  Blackest darkness (hell); forever

14)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I see verse 16 everywhere in every facet of life.  Pure selfishness motivated by greed and self-aggrandizement, pure and simple.  Those who do not have God.  I can speak the Truth in these people’s lives and pray for them.

15a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Family members for all of these and others whom I encounter.  Shine the light of Jesus into their lives the best I can.

b)  Try to save those whom I see heading down the wrong path by revealing Jesus to them.

c) Do not judge for they do not know.  Try to impart knowledge to them.  Pray.  Forgive those in our lives whom we don’t want to (who amongst us doesn’t have one of those people in our lives?) and love them as our neighbor.

All of these:  pray and give my knowledge.  Model a Godly life.  Then allow God to do the rest.

Conclusions:  It seems the redundancy in these passages continues.  Remember in grade school where your teacher constantly said, “Don’t copy off of others!  Don’t cheat!  Do your own work!”  Jude must have missed that message.  Despite echoing Peter’s second letter (and ignoring his grade school teachers-ha!), this was a great synopsis of false teachers and the danger they pose.

The last question I thought could have been just one question and not broken up into a, b, and c for my answers are the same.  a and c are virtually the same (and they should be because we should not treat believers and unbelievers differently.  We are called to show mercy to all).  For “God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation” (Acts 10:34-35); hence, the Gentiles (those who are non-Jewish (me)) were accepted into the Body of Christ.

I liked Jude’s encouraging words the best “Build yourself up in faith, pray in the Holy Spirit, and keep yourself in God’s love.”

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 30, Day 4: 2 Peter 3

Summary of passage:  Peter lists his purposes for his second letter:  stimulate you to wholesome thinking and to recall the prophets’ words and the commands by God through the apostles.

In the last days (End Times) scoffers will come and question God and His timing.  But do not forget with God as day is like a thousand years.  He is giving everyone time to come to repentance, showing patience with you.

But when the Day of the Lord comes it will come like a thief.  Everything will be destroyed and laid bare.  Thus, you ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.  A new heaven and earth will come, the home of righteousness.

Be spotless, blameless, and at peace with him.  Be on guard so you will not fall.  Grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ.

Questions:

9a)  As a reminder to stimulate his readers to wholesome thinking and to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the commands given by God through the apostles.  To warn them that scoffers (false teachers) will come and try to place doubt in your mind about the Lord but you must remember to have patience for the End Times for God’s time is not human time and He is patient with man, allowing everyone time to come to repentance.  God created the world and He will judge it as well.

b)  We all need to remember and be encouraged towards wholesome thinking and to remember the past and God’s commands.   Remembering God’s omnipotence and His timing helps Christians in every aspect of their lives here on Earth.  Everyone is out to make a quick buck and will scam you quicker than you can blink.  We must always be wary about false teachers and compare it to God’s word prayerfully to discern its truth.

10a)  Verses 11-13:  Live holy and godly lives and look forward to a new heaven and earth, the home of righteousness

Verse 14:  Make every effort to be found spotless, blameless, and at peace with him.

Verses 15-16:  Have patience and strive to understand the apostle’s teaching and the Bible so at not to be deceived

Verses 17-18:  Be on your guard so you will not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position.  Grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  All of the above really.  Educating myself.  Trying to lead a holy life and be at peace.  Have patience for what is to come.  Be on my guard from evil.

Conclusions:  This chapter is a great summarization of our whole study:  have patience on the Lord, be holy and lead a holy life, be on guard against the enemy, grow in your knowledge of Jesus, strive for wholesome thinking, remember God’s omnipotence and timing, and remember the past.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 30, Day 3: 2 Peter 2

Summary of passage:  A warning against false teachers who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, bringing destruction upon themselves.  These teachers will exploit you out of greed and bring the truth into disrepute.  Many will follow them but they will face destruction.

God did not spare angels, the ancient world of Noah, Sodom and Gomorrah so He won’t spare these ungodly teachers. The Lord will rescue righteous men like He did for Lot and punish the unrighteous.

These men are bold, arrogant, slander celestial beings, and blaspheme and they will perish.  They will be paid back.  They entice people by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature and they promise freedom.  It would have been better for them not to have known the Lord than to have known Him and turned their backs on him.

Questions:

6a)  Bar-Jesus (Acts 13:6-12) whom Barnabas and Saul/Paul met in Paphos.  Paul temporarily blinded him with the power of the Holy Spirit.  They are ultimately proven false by God for they cannot stand against His Truth.  “For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites.”  Romans 16:18

b)  They will bring swift destruction and condemnation on themselves

7)  Angels sent to hell (Jude 1:6; Revelation 20:1-2); Flooded the world (Genesis 7-8); condemned Sodom and Gomorrah and saved Lot (Genesis 19; Jude 1:7)

8a)  By appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error (believers escaping from unbelievers) and promising them freedom.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  What Peter recommends in 2 Peter 1:5-8:  strengthen my faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love.  Pray.  Read the Bible.  Learn from other believers.  Seek support.  Act.

Conclusions:  As a born skeptic (one who doesn’t believe anything is free in this life and if it sounds too good to be true it is), I would like to think it would be hard for me to be duped.  But the devil is crafty and knows all of our weaknesses.  That’s why it’s important to always be alert and watch out for the prowling lion (1 Peter 5:8; 1 Corinthians 16:13) and have on God’s armor (Ephesians 6).  Be prepared to fight for the Truth and help others to do so as well.

The writer obviously despised false teachers by how he goes and on how vile they are and how they will pay in the end.  They must have been doing great damage in his times.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 30, Day 2: 2 Peter 1

Summary of passage:  Peter (the most widely-accepted author of this book) tells the readers of this letter that God’s divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him.  By His great glory and goodness He has given us great and precious promises so that we can be with Him (the promise of sanctification and eternal life).

Therefore, we must strengthen our faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love in this world in order to be effective and productive in knowing Jesus.  If we do these things (our calling and election), we will never fall and we will be welcomed into the eternal kingdom.

Peter promises to remind them of these things always as he is close to death.  He was an eyewitness to Christ’s majesty and stood on the mount as God himself declared Jesus as His son.  Plus, the words of the prophets confirm Christ as their words were from God.

Questions:

3)  Eternal life given to us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ

4)  A Christian must add to his/her faith:  goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love.  If you possess these qualities you will be effective and productive in knowing Him.  Make your calling and election sure (verse 10) by doing the above.

5a)  Peter was an eyewitness to Jesus and heard God declare that Jesus was His son.  And the prophets confirmed the truth who spoke from God’s will not their own (i.e. spoke God’s words, given to them by God).

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  By the way I live my life.  When I speak, I am sure.  I hope it radiates from me and my belief shines through.  And my knowledge of Bible and Scripture (which needs to be strengthened).

Conclusions:  I need to work on all of the aforementioned truths and callings of a Christian’s life:  faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, kindness, and love.  I think I’m weak in all aspects (which probably explains my falls). Great reminder of what we should be doing in this world.