BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 13, Day 5: Romans 8:14-17

Summary of passage:  Since we are God’s children, we are heirs of God and Christ and share in his sufferings and glory.

Questions:

11)  We are Christ-like.  We are heirs of God and Christ and share in his glory.  We relate to God as Christ did.

12)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  God knows what we need before we ask. God values us.  He disciplines us so that we can share in His holiness, peace, and righteousness.  We are loved and like God.  God has provided me with everything I need and more.  He cherishes me and takes care of me and loves me.  He grows me.  He walks with me and holds my hand and picks me up when I fall.  God is there always for me.

13)  Personal Question.  My response:  I don’t doubt God’s love.  I don’t understand it, but I know He loves me always.  With Christ, we are with God forever.  There is nothing to fear.  Only love.

Conclusions:  Overall, Lesson 13 was weak with repetitive questions.  Paul repeats himself a lot here and BSF would have been better not spending an entire lesson on these 17 verses.

End Notes: Living under the law brought fear.  Paul says now we are in close kinship with God and call Him Abba!

In the Roman world of the first century AD, an adopted son was a son deliberately chosen by his adoptive father to perpetuate his name and inherit his estate; he was no inferior in status to a biological son.

Under Roman adoption, the life and standing of the adopted child changed completely. The adopted son lost all rights in his old family and gained all new rights in his new family; the old life of the adopted son was completely wiped out, with all debts being canceled, with nothing from his past counting against him any more.  Hence, Paul’s listeners would have completely grasped what a privilege this is and its meaning.

Jewish law stated that at the mouth of two or three witnesses everything had to be established (Deuteronomy 17:6). There are two witnesses to our salvation: our own witness and the witness of the Spirit.  We know if we’re God’s children or not.

In sum, we relate to God as Christ did since we are in Christ.  Awesome!

Advertisements

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 13, Day 2: John 9:1-7

Summary of passage:  Jesus and his disciples come upon a blind man.  His disciples wonder who sinner that this man was born blind (a commonly held belief of the times).  Jesus said neither and is the result of God’s work.  He put mud on the man’s eyes made with spit and told him to wash in the Pool of Siloam and he could see.  Still, no one believed he was the same man.

Questions:

3)  The Old Testament teaches that God punishes the children for the sin of the fathers for multiple generations.  Jesus says, “Neither, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”

4)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  The man was blinded since birth and as far as we know this was the first time a man was healed who has been born blind.  No other prophet has done so.  According to Isaiah 35:5, this is a sign of the Messiah.  I learn Jesus can do anything and that he is more concerned about helping people now than anything else.

5)  Personal Question.  My answer:  He gives me the strength to overcome, knowing he is there with me.

Conclusions:  Weak.  Very.  Please see End Notes for much more meaning.

End Notes:  In this story, Jesus corrects a commonly held notion that suffering comes because of sin.  The healed man became a loyal spokesman for Jesus.  His testimony, however, failed to convince the Pharisees , who also rejected Jesus’ teaching about why the man had been born blind.

This continues right from the moment he was about to be stoned.  Jesus was not ruffled by them.

The disciples were more interested in discussing the man’s case rather than helping him.  Jesus does not care; he will be more practical as we are to be.

They thought the man’s blindness was due to a previous sin.  Some Jews even thought babies could sin in the womb or some were punished for a sin they would commit in the future.

Jesus says right away that no specific sin caused this man’s blindness.  Most often birth defects are the result of Adam’s sin when he brought death into this world and our fallen condition.  Because we are to die our bodies die and this comes out in different conditions.

However, Jesus says there is always a purpose in such conditions so God’s work can be displayed.  In this blind man’s case, the purpose was so Jesus can heal him and be a testimony for him.  That doesn’t mean God made him born blind to show His character.  It means God overruled his blindness so that man could see the light.  In other cases, it’s to test someone through suffering.  Nothing happens by accident in God’s world.

Jesus worked like we all must work.  He saw the need and felt the urgency to help the man before his time on this earth was up.  We all must be thus.  Despite the fact Jesus knew he’d get in trouble for healing on the Sabbath, his compassion for man overrode that concern.  Can we say the same thing?

Why mud and spit?  He used dirt as God used dirt to make man.  Also, the emphasis was not on the method but the result.  He didn’t want anyone to believe he has a magic formula for healing that was outside of God.  Furthermore, spitting on the eyes was a common thing in ancient times to either remove dirt or as a cure.  Mark records two other healings where Jesus used his saliva (Mark 7:33 & 8:23).

Even though in this miracle Jesus approached the blind man, the blind man still had to show faith in Jesus to be healed.  Jesus asked him to go the Pool of Siloam and wash.  Siloam meant ‘sent’ because the water from the pool was sent through a conduit to the city and came through Hezekiah’s tunnel, a remarkable engineering feat built in Old Testament times.  This water was used at the altar of the Feast of Tabernacles and today is still used to represent the pouring out of The Spirit.

Pool of Siloam

Pool of Siloam

Again and again John refers to Jesus as having been ‘sent’ by the Father. So now blindness is removed with the aid of the ‘sent’.

Acting in faith, the man went and washed his eyes despite not being promised he’d be healed if he did.  He had to have had help down there since he was still blind.

Fun Fact:  This is the first time in the Bible a man born blind has been healed.  This is the work of God.  Thus, Jesus is God.  Isaiah prophesied this to be a sign of the Messiah (Isaiah 29:18; 35:5 42:7).

Fun Fact:  Jesus performed more miracles of this kind than of any other.

Some scholars speculate this as a foreshadowing of Jesus helping the Gentiles.  They see the man in Chapter 5 as the archetype Jew to be healed and this man as the archetype Gentile to be healed.  Again, we are not told if his man is Jew or Gentile.

The one sent by God uses the pool of sent to prove he is God and the light of the world, offering the greatest gift–the living waters–to all who have faith.

History of Pool of Siloam HERE

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 13, Day 4: Matthew 13:9-17, 34-35

Summary of passages:  Matthew 13:9-17:  Jesus tells his disciples that he uses parables to speak to the people because those who do not have him will lose everything and they have not the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven as the disciples do.  Thus, those who have him, will be given more.  Furthermore, the parables fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy in Isaiah 6:9-10, which says those who do not hear nor see have a calloused heart and if they turned they would see and hear.  But those that do hear and see the Truth are blessed because many who long to hear and see the Truth are unable.

Matthew 13:34-35:  This quotes Psalm 78:2 how Jesus will speak in parables when he comes.

Questions:

9a)  First, Jesus tells his disciples that he uses parables to speak to the people because those who do not have him will lose everything and they have not the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven as the disciples do.  Second, Jesus speaks in parables to fulfill prophecy.

b)  Most had rejected Jesus and the parables are meant to conceal truth from those who do not see or hear.  And these people who do not have will lose what has been given to them.  They will see the parables as mere stories and will thus not turn more against God.  In this way, God is merciful.

c)   To those who are blessed with the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven more will be given to them and they will have an abundance (verse 11-12).  They will understand more through the parables and will have a deeper relationship with God.  They will be blessed (verse 16).

d)  Part-personal question.  Jesus said they are blessed by their knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven and they will be given an abundance.  I lead a pretty blessed and abundant life.  All of my needs are met (and many of my wants).  I feel utterly humbled and privileged to be a part of God’s kingdom here on earth and I try to take that responsibility seriously every day of my life as I convey God’s greatness to those around me.

10)  Both Mark and Luke say whoever has will be given more and whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him.  Mark says with the measure you use, more will be measured to you.  Matthew is saying whoever understands God and Jesus and His kingdom will be blessed and receive more because of it.  Whoever rejects Jesus and God and His kingdom will lose everything.

11a)  People, although physically able to see and hear, were not spiritually able to see and hear the message for their hearts were hardened towards him and his message.  Otherwise, if they heard, they would be healed.  They were against him with no hope of salvation.  So he had come for those who would hear and see him.

b)  This describes those who are going through the motions only; who attend church with no real desire to be more like Jesus; who pretend to be God-like but their actions show they are not; whose heart is not God’s.  The world and their experiences have hardened them to the word to the point they barely hear and see.  God wants all of us and He wants to be first in our lives.  Otherwise, we aren’t hearing nor seeing Him.

Conclusions:  I guess this day answers my qualm’s with Day 2 but I still would prefer chronological or at least have us read the whole passage and then focus on small bits so we’d know Jesus’ reasons while answering the rest of the questions.  I read the whole passage anyways and I prefer to have the whole picture instead of just snippets of Jesus.  There’s so much we don’t know that I need to know what we do know.

Admittedly, I had to read commentaries to understand the intricacies of these passages.  On the surface, it just appears as if Jesus tells cool stories.  But there is so much more to the parables as we learned through these questions, which show God’s extreme love for us, his people, and his love for the unbelievers as well whom he shows both mercy to and whom he warns as well.  God is such an awesome God!

Fun Fact:  Matthew uses the phrase “kingdom of heaven” 32 times in his book.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 13, Day 2: Matthew 13:1-8, 18-23 and Luke 8:4-15

Summary of passages:  Matthew 13:1-8:  The same day that Jesus’ Mother and Brothers show up, Jesus sat by a lake.  Such large crowds gathered that he got in a boat and retreated to the middle of the lake to teach.  He told them the parable of the sower who scattered seeds which fell in different soils.  Those that fell in no soil got eaten up.  Those that fell on shallow soil withered because it had no root.  Those that grew amongst thorns were choked. Only those that fell on good soil produced a crop.

Matthew 13:18-23:  Jesus breaks up different kinds of people who hear the Word.  Those that hear the message and do not understand, the evil one comes and snatches it away–the seed along the path.  Those that hear the word and receive it but falls away quickly when trouble comes because he has no root–the seed in the rocky places.    Some hear the word but are choked by worries of life–the seeds with the thorns.  Only those who hear the word and understand it produce a good crop.

Luke 8:4-15:  Luke records the same parable but a shorter version.  BSF has us read Jesus’ explanation here (but not in Matthew verses 10-17 which is not sitting well with me) about why he speaks in parables.  The parables allow more people to understand the Word.  The disciples have been gifted by God with an understanding of the kingdom but many have not received such a gift.

Important differences in the passage:  Luke is succinct and a bit better.  He explains for those who don’t mature in the word fall away in times of life’s worries, riches, and pleasures.  Only those with a good and noble heart and who PERSEVERE retain God’s word and thus produces a good crop.

Questions:

3a)  A parable is a short, simple, everyday story with a point meant to convey a complex idea simply.  The definition of a parable according to Webster’s Dictionary is “comparison; a usually short fictitious story that illustrates a moral attitude or a religious principle.”

b)  Yes and no.  He had been performing a lot of miracles as his primary way of showing and explaining the kingdom of God until he became frustrated in chapter 11 as people still failed to believe.  So he is beginning to switch to more stories to reach a wider audience.

It’s difficult to answer a definitive yes here because we only have a handful of Jesus’ teachings and actions recorded.  So much of his life we just don’t know.

c)  Luke says the seed is the word of God (Luke 8:11).

4)  “it [seed] was trampled on”; “withered because they had no moisture”;  “the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts so that they may not believe and be saved”; “in the time of testing they fall away”; “choked by life’s worries, riches, and pleasures and they do not mature”; “those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”

5a)  God

b)  No soil at all–could not grow.  This represents those who hear the word but do not understand it.

Rocky, thin soil–grew quickly but died in the hot sun and withered with no root.  Those who hear the word, take it in, but then fall when trouble arises.

Soil with thorns–plants grew but were choked.  Those who hear the word but are choked out by things in this world such as worries, wealth, and pleasures.

Good soil–produced a crop.  Those who hear the Word, understand it, retain it, sow it in their hearts, and persevere.

6)  John 14:15:  Those who obey God’s commands have good soil

John 15:5:  Those who remain in God bear much fruit

Acts 5:29:  Those who obey God rather than men have good soil

Philippians 2:12-13:  Obey God who works in you for His purpose

Conclusions:  Many beefs today.  First, you all know I hate skipping around.  I am very chronologically oriented.  I don’t understand why we didn’t read Jesus’ reason for telling parables in Matthew yet we read it in Luke and we were asked about it as well.  Why would we save that to come back to?  I guess we’ll find out soon.  No logic to me here.

Question 6 all had the same answer:  those that obey God have good soil.  And those that obey God more have better soil.  The more you obey, the greater the soil.  Fabulous.  Did we really need 4 verses to understand that?  No.  Should be intuitive.

Finally, for me, this lesson falls right at our Christmas break.  The next lesson is Part 2 in January.  So why split the two parts for a month?  We all know we don’t remember much after a month off if we do our lessons in December (which I do).  Don’t have a part one of a lesson and then wait a month for a part two.  Surely the timing here could be better.

End Notes:  Why did Jesus tell parables?  We must remember in ancient times most people were illiterate and farmers.  They had no experience with wrestling with foreign words and had a very limited vocabulary.  Jesus spoke in parables so they would remember his teachings, hold their interest, and be relatable to their difficult lives.

Also, as Jesus explains in the part we skipped, parables were meant to challenge the listener, to grow those deeper in the word, and to lessen the hardness of those not receptive to the Word.  They began in the face of growing opposition to Jesus so to lessen that, Jesus told parables.  In that sense, they were a form of mercy to those hardened against him because the message was hidden.

Here, Jesus is floating offshore in a boat.  Cool, huh?  I’d like to attend church on a lakeside.

The meaning of the word parable, which is Greek, is “to throw alongside of”, in this case thrown alongside the truth.  One commentator called them “earthly stories with a heavenly meaning.”

The soil represents the responses to the Word, which is us.  The soil on the path are those who never hear the word with understanding.  The soil that withers quickly are those who respond quickly but also wither away in the face of tribulations.  The thorny soil represents those who respond and grow in the Word but fall away in the face earthly things and competition for their attention such as material goods and pleasures.  And the good soil is those who whole-heartedly embrace God and His truth and bear fruit because of it.

At times in our lives, we are all of these.  Sometimes we ignore God, we allow other things and events to take precedence over Him, and at times we bear His fruit.

Notice the Sower (God) is the same as is the seed (His word).  The only thing that changes is the soil (us).