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.
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.
7 thoughts on “BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 14, Day 4: Genesis 15:1-11”
Amen. Feel like we keep answering the same questions, over and over again. I really wanted to study GENESIS! On day 4, none of the questions pertained to Genesis!!
I understand the frustration of studying something over and over again. However, perhaps this thought will help. When ever I keep reading, hearing, or seeing the same lesson over and over again I realize God is trying to get my attention. I begin to ask the question: “What lesson is He still trying to get into my heart that I am not learning?” Remember we have a soverign God and nothing is an accident. He has a purpose in everything He does. I hope this thought will help.
I agree with you Toni, 100%
I think there is a parallel always going in BSF Old Testament studies…the current study plus the addition of salvation passages. BSF attracts all kinds of people. There are those who are already well versed in Scripture yet looking for more challenges with loving God with their whole mind, heart, soul, and strength. Then, there are those who are cultural Christians but who haven’t ever been challenged to study the Word so there is yet another layer for them to discover in their own walk. We have people in our leaders’ circle who were never taken to church as children or for whom a kind neighbor or relative outside their home was the only lifeline to any spiritual guidance or church attendance. Finally, there are men and women who have never opened a Bible before attending BSF with a BSF-er who felt the burden that the Holy Spirit placed on them to invite these special people whom God is calling. These people need the parallel New Testament studies that happen alongside the Old Testament books we study such as Genesis and Isaiah. When we study John, Matthew, or the Acts of the Apostles every lesson leads us to Jesus. While the covenant God makes to Abram has deep spiritual meaning to a long time Christian who has grown up in the Word, it would go over the head of some new class members.
As always, love the links. Thanks. These particular references on this day are some of the most powerful in the New Testament and in Christian history. Martin Luther had a lot to say about these passages and this very argument between faith thru works (payments, good deeds, indulgences, paying for renovations of churches) versus faith thru the atoning blood of the Lamb only sets the stage for the Reformation.
I really agree with Sweet Mama – BSF is trying to show that the Bible is one unique meta-narrative that tells the story of God and His people from creation to the end of time as we know it. Jesus is on the first page and the last page! It is not 66 separate books, but one as told by God through many authors over thousands of years. This particular lesson is connecting the dots between the OT and the NT ! Amazing! remember Abraham had no idea how it would actually all workout until, as Jesus said in John 8:56, he was in heaven!
Can we possibly believe that we too will know how the Book of Revelation turns out?
I agree with you on how much of this lesson was redundant and not focused on Genesis, but….. as I was answering these questions anyway, G_d spoke to me thru these questions and my answers to remind me that in my current seemingly hopeless circumstances I have almost given up trusting Him; so in answering #10 G_d reminded me that He does not forget His people nor His promises (then and NOW).
Also, I had a slightly different insight into #9 that I would like to share about G_d giving “life to the dead”: Today, G_d’s Holy Spirit guides our “works” if we allow Him; through our works, to those in need (everyone really) we bring hope and healing, not just spiritual but also mental and physical; examples are doctors, nurses, providing food to the needy, giving someone a ride across town or to the grocery store, saying a kind word to the cashier or person in line behind you at the checkout – all these can make both you and the other person more aware of G_d’s presence among us and make us more “alive”.