BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 3, Day 5: Romans 2:25-29

Summary of passage:  Paul says what matters is keeping the law and what’s in your heart, not outward conformity. Circumcision of the heart by the Spirit is what matters.

Questions:

12a)  Circumcision is the cutting of the foreskin from a boy’s penis as an outward sign (sign of the covenant God gave to Abraham) that boy belongs to God.  It would show how that person belongs to God and has been chosen out of all the people on the earth for God’s plan.  Pride by definition is “the quality or state of being proud as in inordinate self-esteem or conceit.”  Pride is excessive.  We are all equal in God’s eyes.

b)  Going to church, taking communion, volunteering, mission trips, tithing, doing what Jesus would do, praying, etc.

13)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Circumcision of the heart by the Spirit (the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit within Titus 3:5).  It means God cares about what kind of person I am, how I’m following Him, and my intentions behind what I do.  I fail. We all do.  As long as my intent was out of love and kindness, God forgives.

Conclusions:  Love how Paul lays it all out and says it is about the heart and being a hypocrite will get you nowhere with God.  Faith in Jesus trumps all.  Always.  You can walk about and think you’re the best thing on this planet and you won’t get into heaven.  Instead, walk around, seeking ways to listen to God, obey God, and open your heart to others.

End Notes:  Again, in first century AD Jews believed that circumcision guaranteed salvation. He might be punished in the world to come, but could never be lost.

In Paul’s day, some Rabbis taught that God will measure the Gentiles one way and the Jews another.

Circumcision (or baptism – or any ritual in itself) doesn’t save anyone.  In the ancient world the Egyptians also circumcised their boys but it did not make them followers of the true God.  Even in Abraham’s day Ishmael (the son of the flesh) was circumcised, but it did not make him a son of the covenant.

Deuteronomy 10:16 says that it’s the heart that matters.  Another example of God’s people taking His word and twisting it to fit what they wanted it to fit.

Having the law is not enough. God requires righteousness (acting in accord with divine law), obeying His law.

This answers the question of “what about the Pygmy in Africa who has never heard about Jesus?”.  He would be guilty because no one is perfect.  He needs forgiveness for sins and only Jesus’s blood grants that.

More importantly, if you’re one of those who is concerned about the Pygmy, ask yourself this:

  1.  What about you who hear the gospel, but reject it? What excuse is there for you?
  2.  What about you, who are commanded to take the gospel to that Pygmy in Africa (Matthew 28:19), but refuse to do it?

What matters is God’s praise, not man’s (John 5:41, 44: 12:43; 1 Cor 4:3-5).  Evidence of our salvation and rightness with God is found in our hearts and we see it in the fruit we leave behind.

William Newell summarizes Romans 2 with Seven Great Principles of God’s Judgment:

– God’s judgment is according to truth (Romans 2:2)

– God’s judgment is according to accumulated guilt (Romans 2:5)

– God’s judgment is according to works (Romans 2:6)

– God’s judgment is without partiality (Romans 2:11)

– God’s judgment is according to performance, not knowledge (Romans 2:13)

– God’s judgment reaches the secrets of the heart (Romans 2:16)

– God’s judgment is according to reality, not religious profession (Romans 2:17-29)

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BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 3, Day 4: Romans 2:17-24

Summary of passage:  Paul calls out Jews who are hypocritical and believe themselves above others because of their beliefs.  He asks them if they do the very things they preach against:  steal, commit adultery, worship idols, etc.  They are the ones blaspheming God’s name amongst the Gentiles because of their behavior (giving God a bad name).

Questions:

9a)  God chose the Jews as the ones to receive His law, abide by it, and teach it and in return receive blessings.  It seems they have become lackadaisical and flippant, disregarding the law themselves but expecting everyone else to abide by it.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I can be hypocritical with my kids, using the fact I’m an adult as an excuse.  I have begun to catch myself lately and reverse this however.  Work in progress, as always!

10)  Idol worship, stealing, committing adultery, and breaking God’s law.  All of us say one thing and do another at some point in some way.  Basically, every commandment God or Jesus says to do in the Bible is broken by man.  We don’t love others; we’re not kind or compassionate; we don’t care for those in need; we do steal and lie and cheat and covet and commit adultery.  We blasphemy God’s name.  We puts things above Him.  We all sin.  Luckily, Jesus forgives.

11)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  God judges.  They stain Christianity and make it harder for non-Christians to come to God.  I think we all violate God’s standards cause we sin.  Our job is to shrink the number of times we sin, walking more and more towards the light, admitting our failures and faults, giving it to God, and rising tomorrow a better person.  That’s all we poor sinners can do.

Conclusions:  Good lesson, reminding us how we are being watched, how what we say and do does matter, how we do represent Christianity by default, and how God does hold us to higher standards.  If we do nothing else in this world but live to His standards, we will convert others just by our examples even without evangelizing per se.  We must diminish our desire to sin and be hypocrites and live by God’s ways.  In the end, that’s all we can do and why God is the loving, forgiving God that He is.

End Notes:  In first century AD, Jews looked upon themselves as special, chosen by God, given His law, and guaranteed salvation (as long as your heart was God’s).  This was true (before Jesus).  Once Jesus came you have to believe in Him to gain salvation.  That’s not Paul’s point, however.  His point is that this “specialness” belief has turned to boastfulness, pride, and superiority over others and is no guarantee of anything.

This presentation takes the form of a dialogue.  Paul knew how a self-righteous Jew thought, for he had been one himself (who better to speak to this?).  He cites on advantage after another that Jews regarded as unqualified assets.  But those assets became liabilities when there was no correspondence between profession and practice.  Paul applied to the Jews the principles of judgment laid out in verse 1-16.

Jesus explained in Matthew 5:19-48 that knowing the law does not justify anyone.  The law applies to both our actions and our heart.

Paul implies that some Jews may have been profiting from idolatry.

Paul reminds the Jews how God said in the Old Testament that the failure of the Jew to obey the law causes Gentiles to blaspheme God (Isaiah 52:5; Ezekiel 36:22).

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 3, Day 4: Revelation 1:9-20

Summary of passage:  John was exiled to the island of Patmos because of his beliefs in Jesus.  He heard a voice tell him to write down and send to the seven churches a message.  The 7 churches were:  Ephesus Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.

John saw 7 golden lamp stands and Jesus dressed in a robe and a golden sash.  He held 7 stars in his right hand and a sword came out of his mouth.  Jesus put his hand on John and told him he is God and he holds the keys of death and Hades.  He commands John to write what he has seen, including how the 7 stars represent the angels of the 7 churches and the 7 lamp stands are the 7 churches.

Questions:

10a)  On the island of Patmos in-between Turkey and Greece and he was suffering because of his belief in Jesus.

b)  They were killed, stoned, beaten, driven out of their homes, lost their jobs, banished from their homes, exiled, re-located, and discriminated against.

11a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Same as last year’s answer.  In comparison to others around the world, nothing.  I live in America where I have the freedom of religion and speech.  Increasingly, there has been a backlash against Christians but I have not experienced anything close to death or loss of livelihood, etc.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God is with you.  You will be rewarded in heaven. He will triumph.

Conclusions:  We have question 11a every year.  It’s hard to compare today and 2000 years ago when persecution was as common as water.  I’m extremely blessed to be alive in this time period as to then where I am free.

End Notes:  PATMOS was a prisoner island where most of the inhabitants mined marble for Roman Empire use.  It is 10 miles long and 6 miles wide, rocky and overall desolate.  Because of the historical uses for Patmos, most scholars agree John was exiled there.  However, Revelation just says John was there “because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus”.  It is possible he was there as a missionary to the exiled prisoners.

This is the first of four times John mentions being in the Spirit.  Scholars agree this means he received revelation from the Spirit and was not just literally walking in the Spirit.  The four times John mentions this are:  1)  Patmos (Revelation 1:10), 2)  in heaven (Revelation 4:2), 3)  in the wilderness (Revelation 17:3), and 4)  on the mountain of God (Revelation 21:10).

Some also say “in the Spirit” means John was praying.  Again, speculation.

What is the Lord’s Day?  Scholars are unsure.  Romans honored the emperor with Emperor’s Day the first day of the month so perhaps this was something similar.  What scholars do agree on is this is NOT The Day of the Lord as mentioned in the Old Testament.

Some scholars say the Lord’s Day is Sunday morning because the early Christians traditionally gathered together on the first day of the week.  Speculation.  Ask yourself:  would a man exiled on Patmos take the risk of gathering together with other Christians when he was exiled for being a Christian?  Unless he was a missionary…  Again, we just don’t know.

Note John was commanded to write (the first of 12 times he as commanded in the book of Revelation).  This is a good lesson for us.  Don’t just reveal visions to others unless commanded to do so.  Some are meant to be private.

John responded.  Very important.  When called, respond.  When hear Jesus, respond.

The number 7 is the number of completeness.  Why these 7 churches?  As I discussed BEFORE, it could be random.  It could be because they are in a circular pattern on a good modern road.  It could be because these letters are complete and these 7 churches represent complete churches.  Scholars are unsure.  Interestingly, Paul also wrote to 7 churches.

Point to us:  These letters are for us–as the church.

Map of 7 Revelation Churches HERE

Day 5 discusses primarily Revelation 1:12-20.  The commentary for those passages will follow Day 5.