BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 14, Day 4: Matthew 13:47-50

Summary of passage:  Jesus tells the parable of the net where he says the kingdom of heaven is like a net that catches all kinds of fish.  After the catch, the fish must be sorted and the good will be kept but the bad will be thrown in the fiery furnace at the end of the age by the angels (the fishermen).

Questions:

8a)  God’s word or law (verse 47)

b)  believers (verse 48)

c) non-believers (verses 48-50)

d)  Angels (verse 49)

e)  The good fish will be separated from the bad fish who will be thrown in a fiery furnace (verse 49-50)

9a)  Angels are harvesters and here they are the fishermen (the sorters if you will).  The weeds are burned in the fire as are the bad fish.  Both mention this will happen at the end of the age.  The angels will separate the wicked from the righteous in both.  Verse 42 & 50 are identical “they will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

b)  To convince unbelievers to believe for the picture is so gloom for them.  And as a warning to unbelievers.  As encouragement to us that one day sin will be eradicated from our world.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Believed in Jesus and witness to unbelievers.

Conclusions:  Question 9c would be more for unbelievers who don’t know their future.  This one is very clear on its meaning:  you believe or you don’t and if you don’t you burn.  Simple.

End Notes:  Jesus reveals that the world will remain divided up until the very end; that he will not bring about peace to all.

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BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 14, Day 4: Genesis 15:1-11

Summary of passage:  Abram received the word of the Lord in a vision:  Do not be afraid for I am your shield and your very great reward.

Abram questions God as to where is this promised heir.  God assures Abram he will have a son from his own body and his offspring will be as numerous as the stars in the heavens. God also reiterates to Abram that He brought him from Ur to give him this land.

Again, Abram questions God, asking for reassurances of this promise.  God tells Abram to bring him a heifer, goat, ram, dove, and a pigeon.  Abram cut these in half (except the birds).  As Abram awaits God’s arrival, birds of prey come to feed on the carcasses so Abram drives them away.

Questions:

8 )  No.  Justification is being right with God.  We achieve this through faith in Jesus Christ who eradicates our sins and allows us to be clean, right, and thus justified before God.  We are given works by God to do while here on earth that James says proves our faith.

Here’s the crux:  when you are justified you have the Holy Spirit within.  When you have the Holy Spirit, you have no choice BUT to do good works for you are changed and now desire to do good works, which are a sign of your faith and your justification.

We discussed this James passage last year (see HERE) and my opinion is you can be justified with no good works for all that is required is faith.  There is no “work” we must do to get to heaven and be justified for this is a gift from God.  All we must do is accept Jesus as our Savior and we’re there.

As I have seen in the study of Genesis, everything is a gift from God.  Man does absolutely nothing nor does he deserve what he gets.

9a)  We are all dead unless we accept Jesus as our Savior.  Then we are reborn with the Holy Spirit and only then will be have eternal life.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Life is meaningless without a purpose.  If I didn’t have God, my life would be empty.  It would be full of “busyness”, things to distract me, and an inner peace would not exist.  Working for God’s-given purpose, gives life to the mundane, life to the evil, and life to the dead.

All those diapers are for a purpose.  Those long days at a dead-end job are serving a purpose.  When the most horrific thing happens to you such as the death of a loved one, rape, bankruptcy, abuse, loss of a job and every other evil, unfair thing in life and God is the only thing that remains, you have life–even if all you feel is dead.

10a)  Abram believed in God’s promises and they were all fulfilled.  He was strengthened by these promises and gave glory to God while he waited.  He had faith.  He obeyed.  He acted.  He took steps out of obedience.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The same.  Believe in God, who He is, in His promises, and have faith they will come true in God’s timing.  Have patience.  Give God the glory.  Be strengthened by my knowledge in Him.  Obey God and what He is telling me to do.  Take those little steps of faith.

Conclusions:  I feel as redundant as when I teach my kids their letters but I’ll say it anyways:  Didn’t like this lesson either.  We didn’t once refer to the passage at the beginning, instead exploring Romans and James and we explored James last year.

That being said, I did like re-reading works and faith.  And I did like the reminder we are not dead even though at times I feel dead, indifferent, lost, and immune to the world around me.

My qualm is this:  if this is a study of Genesis, then let’s study Genesis.  If it’s a study of works and justification in the Bible, then don’t bill it as “Genesis 15:1-11″.

End Commentary on Faith and Works taken from Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary by J D Douglas and Merrill C Tenney:

Being made in God’s image, human beings perform works as they live in God’s world. These deeds are based on the condition of the heart.  Works can be done out of evil motivation or even done in order to earn favor with God.  These are unacceptable to Him.

True works arise out of an inner gratitude to God for what He has done for us.  These naturally spring from our faith in Him.  Thus, Paul in Romans emphasized the need for faith in God for good deeds, James stresses that good works are evidence of true faith.  (P. 1532)

I believe the point is this:  you naturally do good works because God dwells inside of you. Works is not a requirement set forth by God in order to be loved, cherished, and accepted by Him.  This is where history went awry in the Middle Ages with indulgences, the Crusades, and earning your way to heaven.

Works is a gift from God that we as Christians just do without thinking.  We’re not trying to prove how Godly we are (for all of us would fail in that realm).  We’re merely following the Holy Spirit and doing what Jesus would do.  Because of our faith in Him.

It’s a simple as that.

Intellectual faith is not what God is seeking; He is seeking faith of the heart.  It’s the difference between saying and doing something.  Many say they are Christians; but is God in their hearts?

Salvation is a gift from God that is by faith alone.  Yet we are created to do good works (Ephesians 2:10).  It’s a two-fold process.  One, you accept Jesus.  Two, good works are produced.  And if you truly have Jesus in your heart you have no choice:  good works will follow.  A life lived for Jesus.

The notes from BSF of Acts Lesson 27 have a great explanation on the James’ passage.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 14, Day 4: Acts 17

Summary of passage:  Paul next went to Thessalonica where as was his custom he preached in the Jewish synagogue, explaining and proving Jesus Christ using the scriptures.  Some were persuaded and joined him as well as some Greeks.  But the Jews were jealous so they rounded up some ruffians and started a riot in the city.  They went to Jason’s house where Paul and Silas were staying, and not finding them there, arrested Jason and some others instead.

That night, Paul and Silas left and went to Berea where they preached in the Jewish synagogue as well.  The Bereans were of more noble character and compared what Paul was saying with the scriptures.  They were eager to know God more so many were converted as well.  But the angry Jews from Thessalonica trailed Paul and stirred up trouble in Berea as well.  So the brothers sent Paul away to Athens.

In Athens, Paul was met with idols everywhere and meeting harsh resistance with the intellectual culture of the Athenians as he preached in the synagogue and the market places.  He got into a dispute with a group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers and was dragged off to heh Areopagus (council) to make his case.

Paul told them about what they referred to as “the unknown god” who was the One, True God.  God who made everything in the world, who does not need anything from mankind, who controls nations and time, who is near to us, who commands people everywhere to repend for one day they will be judged, and who had given proof by raising Jesus from the dead.

Upon hearing the raising from the dead (something the Greeks balked at:  they were big on the spirit living on but believed the body to be merely a physical medium), Paul was cut off but invited to speak again.  Only a few were converted.

Questions:

11)  Converting and saving of souls because that’s what’s most important to God.

12)  Similarities:  Paul preached in the Jewish synagogues and converted people–what he does every place he goes.  The difference is in the people.  We are told the Bereans are of “more noble character” and they searched the scripture every day.  This means that the Bereans did not just accept what Paul was saying or were persuaded by his speaking ability.  They turned to the word of God to see if what he was saying lined up with God’s word.

Another difference:  they were eager to learn.  Some people before were there just because they were.  They wanted to know God with heart, mind, and spirit.

13a)  He’s discouraged.  He’s been followed by people who only want to disrupt his teachings.  He’s alone so he doesn’t have any support.  He’s probably tired (who can sleep well with a mob constantly after you?).

As Paul arrives, he is bombarded by the refined Athenian culture, full of images of gods and temples everywhere.

We must remember Athens is considered the birthplace of philosophy.  Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle all were from here and established schools of thought about 400 years before Paul’s journey.  So the Athenian people are used to thinkers roaming around, spouting ideas.  But they are also used to analyzing ideas throughly to see if they match up with the known world.

b)  The Athenians disputed with Paul (verse 18) and called him into a meeting to explain himself (verse 19).  Sounds like our political system from the local city councils to Congress.  Council after all comes from the Latin meaning and assembly for consultation, advice, or discussion.  Verse 21 describes universities to a T.

History:  The Epicurean philosophers were a group of people who believed pleasure is the greatest good and should be the pursuit of life and who believed in gods but believed they had nothing to do with man.  Based upon the teachings of Epicurus in 307 BC, pleasure was obtained by living modestly and gaining knowledge of the inner workings of the world.

The Stoic philosophers were a group of people who believed god was in everything and everything was god; however, they did not believe everything had a purpose or that things could be preordained.  Based on the teachings of Zeno of Citium in the early third-century BC, they believed in formal logic and the ability to overcome destructive emotions.  Man had a will based on nature.

So if we just compare these Athenians, then our culture has much in common with the ancients.  However, not everyone belonged to these sects of society.

c)  The resurrection of the dead

14a)  Verse 25 “He is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself give all men life and breath and everything else”

b) Verse 24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands”

c) Verse 27 “men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us”

d) Verse 24 “God made the world and everything in it”; Verse 25 “he gives men life and breath and everything else”; Verse 26 “He made every nation of men and determined the times set for them”

e) Verse 26 “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live”

f) Verse 26 “he determines the times set for them and the exact places where they should live”

g) Verse 29 “Since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone–an image made by man’s design and skill”

h) Verse 30 “he commands all people everywhere to repent”

i) Verse 31 “he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed”

Conclusions:  Have you noticed the argument for God is the same?  It never changes.  It is just put in different ways and said by different people.  Choosing God is an act of faith–plain and simple–just how God wants it to be.

The Areopagus means “the Rock of Ares” in Greek and is also known as Mars’ Hill.  It was originally a court of appeal for criminal and civil cases in the times of the Greeks.  It was also where the council of elders met, similar to the Roman Senate.  Later, in Roman times, it was a philosophical council that oversaw religion and morals.

End Note:  Map of Journey from yesterday:  http://www.apostlepaulthefilm.com/paul/journey_02.htm

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 14, Day 4 Isaiah 35:1-7

Summary of passage: The desert, parched land, and wilderness will burst into bloom, rejoice, and shout for joy.  It will have the glory of Lebanon, Carmel, and Sharon and these places will see the glory of the Lord.  Be strong and steady, encourage the fearful for God will come with vengeance and will save you.  He will heal the eyes of the blind, the ears of the deaf, the lame, and the mute.  Water will flow through the desert and nourish the land.

Questions:

9) The desert, parched land, and wilderness will burst into bloom, rejoice and shout for joy.  Lebanon (the country), Carmel (hills), and Sharon (a plain on the Mediterranean coast of Palestine) will see the glory of God.  These were all places known for their beauty so Isaiah is comparing these beautiful places to the coming of the Lord.

10) Pray them and explain the meaning: God’s promise to us when He comes.

11) Jesus repeats God’s promise, telling people he has come to bring God’s Salvation which would be accompanied by miraculous power.

12) Jesus came to bring this beautiful provision of spiritual miracles into our lives and healings.  John 7:38-39  “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”  By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.  Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.  There is no reason for a Christian to endure a “dry time”, not when we have Jesus.

I’ve had times closer to God and further from God like most people but I don’t yet think I’ve endured anything in life to break me spiritually.

Conclusions: I love how Isaiah has lots of nuggets in here that we can use to pray and praying scripture is some of the best prayers around.  “Be strong and do not fear…”  How many times do I need that a day? And because of Jesus we shouldn’t ever be dry but I think sometimes the trials of life brings us so far away from God that we forget about Jesus and God so we end up as such.  But, He is there, waiting for us to return, when we are ready.  And He will heal us as He’s promised.