BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 6, Day 2: Romans 3:27-28

Summary of passage:  A man is justified by faith, not the law.

Questions:

3)  They boast about how they are such great Christians by following God’s laws, going to church, volunteering at church, helping others, you name it.  Because boasting is all about you, not God.  Boasting according to Webster’s Dictionary is “bragging, a cause for pride, to puff oneself up in speech.”

4)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  By following the law instead of having Jesus like Paul says.  They excuse sins by saying they have Jesus.  The classic one:  others do it.  Neither for me really.  I don’t justify myself because none of us can.  It’s only mercy and grace and faith that saves me.  I know this so I don’t bother otherwise.

5)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  It becomes about them and not God.  This is most apparent when we are judging others.  We all must keep in mind we are sinners and are only righteous through Jesus and God’s grace.

Conclusions:  Nit-picking this passage to the extreme, and I don’t think we need two days on it (today and tomorrow).  Just believe and live like Jesus.  Period.

End Notes:  We cannot boast of anything we do for saving grace.  That is all God.  All it takes if faith, not boasting.

Martin Luther said, “Sola Fide”.  Latin for Only Faith.  That is all that is required.

James did not argue against this fact.  He was describing how works prove to others the saving faith of God for Christians are expected by God to do and be more.

Fun Fact:  When Martin Luther translated this passage, he added “alone” after “by faith”, which although was not in the original Greek (and has been taken out of modern versions of the Bible) accurately reflects this passage.

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BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 6, Day 4: Revelation 3:14-18

Summary of passage:  To the church in Laodicea Jesus says he knows the church’s deeds which are only lukewarm or mediocre.  They believe they are rich and have everything they need, but they are poor and lacking in God.  He wants them to see their spiritual blindness, become righteous, and obtain his riches.

Questions:

10)  Personal Question.  My answer:  “The words of the Amen” which is the complete and wholeness and final word.  It is done.  Jesus is the finisher.

11)  They are neither hot nor cold.  He wishes they were one or the other and he spits them out of his mouth.

12a)  They think they are rich and don’t need a thing.  Jesus says they are poor, wretched, pitiful, blind and naked.

b)  They think they are rich and don’t need a thing (including God).  God reprimands them because although they aren’t bad, they aren’t good.  They are indifferent and complacent in their works.  They can do better and should do better for God.  Either do it whole-heartedly or not at all God is saying here.

c)  Part-personal question.  My answer:  Through prayer.  I think most people do know in their hearts if they are not on God’s path.  If not, ask God to show you.  Not sure myself where I am struggling.  I know I’m a bit clouded cause I’ve been a bit depressed lately due to the failure of my writings.  I have been praying nothing specific, just “Lord, you know what ails me.  Heal me.”

Conclusions:  I like how Jesus speaks to people who aren’t using their full potential for him and are just doing enough to get by.  I see this in our young people today.  God wants your all, your best, 100%.  If your heart is not in it, why do it?

End Notes:  Laodicea is the last stop for our messenger.  Like the other cities, Laodicea was an important commercial and trading town.  It’s name means “rule of the people”.  It was well off and held a good number of Jews.  However, Roman temples abounded to Caesar, Asklepios, and others.  Laodicea was wealthy enough to rebuild after an earthquake in 60 AD.  History with pictures of ruins HERE

Laodicea had no significant water supply.  Water traveled on an aqueduct from a hot springs via Hierapolis and it arrived lukewarm or it traveled from Collasae where the water was cold but it still arrived lukewarm.  Hence, Laodicea was vulnerable to attack and siege and often negotiated with invaders rather than face death from lack of water.

Paul mentions Laodicea in Colossians 2:1 and 4:16.  It is also the only church Jesus addresses the people (Laodiceans) instead of the city (e.g. Ephesus).  However, some translations have Laodicea only.

Laodicea is also the only church Christ did not praise for anything!  He only condemns.  How tragic!

Lukewarm is apathy, indifference, complacency, and even uselessness–never giving their hearts fully over to Jesus.  Results:  unhappiness in world and in heaven.  Lukewarmness is comfortable; God wants us outside our comfort zone.

Jesus wants you hot for him or cold so you’d be more likely to turn to him (cold is also refreshing like ice water on a hot, summer day).  If you are lukewarm, it’s harder to reach you because you have a bit of him already and think that’s enough.  You are useless in the sense that you’re not doing enough and don’t care enough to bring others to him.  Spurgeon has great commentary on the idea of lukewarmness to God.

We are in Jesus’ mouth as he prays for us and we spread his word.  “Spit you out of my mouth” does not mean they will be kicked out of the kingdom.  What it means is that the people are in danger of being far from him and his presence.

Laodicea was famous for healing and textiles.  Yet the people were blind and naked.

They had the opposite problem of Smyrna who thought they were poor but were rich.  Very similar to the church at Sardis.

Jesus tells them to heal their eyes so they can see their spiritual blindness.  He wanted them to buy his gold (his riches–spiritual not material) and his righteous garments (white clothes).

Literally:  Gold is Laodicea’s financial wealth.  Clothes is the textile industry Laodicea is known for.  Eye salve is another product Laodiceans were known for.  Jesus knows all!

Map of Laodicea, showing its proximity to Hierapolis, a town with hot springs and its main water supplier and Colossae, a town with cold springs:  http://www.padfield.com/2005/images/laodicea-map.gif

My Favorite Map of Region with Laodicea:  https://bleon1.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/38-seven-churches-of-asia.png

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 6, Day 2: Revelation 3:7-10

Summary of passage:  Jesus is speaking to the church of Philadelphia, telling them he has placed an open door before them and he knows their deeds and those who are liars will come and fall at their feet and he will also keep them from the hour of trial (most likely the Great Tribulation) that is going to come upon the earth.

Questions:

3a)  They have kept his word and have not denied his name.

b)  Persecution especially from those claiming to be Jews (non-Christian Jews)

4a)  Holy:  Jesus is God, Yahweh (Lev.11:44; John 17:3; Isaiah 40:25; 43:15).

True:  Jesus is real, genuine.  Not a false prophet or god.

Holds the key of David:  Jesus is the judger who holds the power to open and shut the gates to heaven and hell, essentially granting or denying access to God.

b)  The entrance into heaven or hell.  Access to God, His kingdom, and eternal life.  In John 10:7 & 9 Jesus says he is the gate which leads to salvation.

5)  The Jews in Philadelphia who are persecuting Christians. (See Historical Note Below).

6a)  Obviously, the complete opposite.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Proclaim His name.  Never give in.  Never deny where my strength lies.

Conclusions:  Was expecting a question on the “hour of trial”.  The Great Tribulation is an overarching theme of Revelation and an important one for Christians.  I am curious as to how BSF will handle this discussion.

End Notes:  As most of us know, Philadelphia is two Greek words meaning “brotherly love.”  It was founded for the sole purpose of spreading Greek culture to Asia and was named after its founder whose nickname was philadelphos.  It was a beautiful city, full of temples and forums and statues and sat on the thoroughfare to Asia.  It also suffered numerous earthquakes.  Cool posts HERE and HERE

This is the second church Jesus found nothing to chastise the members about (the other being Smyrna). He praises them.

The “open door that no one can shut” has two interpretations.  The first is that Christ holds the key to God and salvation and only belief in himself can open and close that door.  This is the more popular belief since Isaiah 22:22 used this metaphor and Revelation is so heavily influenced by the Old Testament.

The second refers to evangelism (1 Corinthians 16:9, 2 Corinthians 2:12, and Colossians 4:3).  Just like Philadelphia was founded to spread Greek culture, Jesus wants the Christians here to spread His word.

Another secondary sense more literal here is the ability to enter God’s kingdom as it seems from this wording that the Christians were forbidden to enter the Jewish synagogue.

Only Jesus can shut the door; he alone decides who is worthy and who isn’t.

Note how a little strength in Him is all you need.

Nothing negative is said about the church of Philadelphia.  Jesus is completely pleased with them. They evangelize, have strength in him, and are faithful.  This is the key to heaven.

Unbelievers will fall down and acknowledge Jesus is lord, not the people here (See 1 Corinthians 14:24-25).

“Synagogue of Satan” is seen here as in the church at Smyrna.  Seems the same Jewish persecutors are here as well.

Love is the best way to turn enemies.

BSF does not ask about “the hour of trial” which most scholars agree refers to the Great Tribulation. As I’ve explained BEFORE, the Great Tribulation is the time period where unbelievers will be judged by Christ.  Some, however, think it could refer to upcoming persecution by the Romans.

“Those who live on the earth” is used 9 times in the Book of Revelation and refers to unbelievers not in Christ.  As Christians we are not of this earth.  Our home is in heaven (Colossians 3:3; Ephesians 2:6).

Does this passage promise we won’t experience the Tribulation or we will be protected during it? Both sides of the argument say it supports them.

The argument hinges on the word “persevere”.  Believers are commanded to persevere, supporting those who say Christians will be here during the Great Tribulation.  Those who believe Christians will not be here say Jesus promises to keep us from the hour of trial and use Matthew 24:21 and Revelation chapters 6, 8-9, 16 to support this as well.

However, persevere is in the past tense, lending the sense that Christians will not be here since they have already persevered and now will be rewarded for it.  Scholars say the first century took this literally and they would be kept from the Tribulation.

Remember: those tested are NOT Christians (Philippians 3:20).  So hold on to Jesus!

Historical Note:  As we see in Acts 2, the first Christians were Jewish converts.  It wouldn’t be for a bit before Paul ministers to the Gentiles.  Both Jews and Christians were claiming to be God’s chosen people. The Jews have been since Abraham–millennia.  Now, there’s a new group in town, claiming the same thing.  Both sets probably attended the same synagogue together so tensions would be high.

Non-Christian Jews were horrible to their relatives at times, calling them usurpers, liars, and faced persecution.

Hence, John’s encouragement to the church, saying “No, Jesus holds the Key of David–the way to God.”

John is saying that the Jews are no longer the people of God as a nation since they have rejected their Messiah (Matthew 21:33-43).  The new Israel is the Christians, the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16).

Revelation 3:9 underscores the fact that the Jews will finally acknowledge (fall down) their Savior and the largely gentile church as the people of God.  In that time, “All Israel (the Israeli people as a whole) will be saved” (Romans 11:26).  This is a mark of the End Times and what Jesus is waiting for–the Jews to turn to him–before the End of Times.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 6, Day 4: Exodus 13:17-14:31

Summary of passage:  God did not lead the Israelites out of Egypt on the quickest path for God did not want them to encounter enemies of Egypt and flee back to Egypt.  So He lead them around a desert road to the Red Sea.  Moses took the bones of Joseph with him as Joseph had requested.  From Succoth they camped at Etham and then God led them always either in a pillar of cloud or fire.

Moses by Michelangelo

Moses by Michelangelo

The Lord orders the Israelites to turn back so that Pharaoh will think they are lost and pursue them.  Then the Lord will show Pharaoh once again that He is the Lord.  Pharaoh did pursue them with all of his chariots.  When the people saw the Egyptians pursuing them, they complained to Moses “It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert.”  Moses told the people God will fight for them if they are still.

God tells Moses to part the Red Sea, which he does.  The angel of God and the cloud separated the two and allowed the Israelites a chance to escape.  The Egyptians followed the Israelites across and God made the chariot wheels come off.  Then He told Moses to close the sea again and the entire army of Pharaoh was lost at sea.  Afterwards, the Israelites faith was strengthened and they trusted the Lord and Moses.

Questions:

8a)  Everything God instructed the Israelites to do was to strengthen their faith or to keep them safe or to keep them moving towards the Promised Land.  He showed them He was in control and even the mightiest army in the world was no match for Him.

b)  They would fear Him and put their trust in Him and in His servant, Moses.

c)  Killing all of Pharaoh’s best troops, chariots, and horsemen showed the Egyptians and the world who was boss and would bring God glory.  Remember at this time, the Egyptians were unbeatable, supposedly protected by their many gods.  Being brought down by the God of Israel would bring him much praise and glory and converts perhaps.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I personally feel none of my circumstances have been “impossible”.  With God, there is always a way.  In my difficult circumstances, God has been by my side every step of the way and in my faith I hope I have brought glory to Him for others to see.  Even in doubt, I have prayed.  Even when I don’t feel like praying, I manage something.  And I believe that to be the key.

9a)  “The people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.”  Humility and praise.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I believe the same as the Israelites–stronger faith in Him to do it all.  Greater reliance on Him.  Greater praise and credit.  Greater love towards all.

Conclusions:  Thought 8 was a bit repetitive and the personal questions too close as well.  For one of the most important and famous scenes in the Bible I would have liked to have spent more time on it and diving deeper.  There are a lot of nuggets here to explore that we didn’t touch on.  My favorite:  the importance of being still, especially in this crazy, insane world.  How encouraging to know if you are still, God will fight for you and don’t worry about the details–God’s got it.  I would also have liked to explore Pharaoh and his connection with Satan more.

End Notes:  The Red Sea here in the Bible is the modern day Gulf of Suez.  It is not the thick part of the Sea but the beginning.

From Genesis, you may remember that Joseph was never buried.  God had revealed to him that Egypt was not the Promised Land. Hence, it would have been relatively easy to carry Joseph’s bones back.

Pillar in Hebrew means ‘something standing’.  Scholars say it was most likely a column.  God was constantly present with His people and still they doubted.

God set a trap for Pharaoh for His glory and Pharaoh went for it.

How quickly Pharaoh forgets God’s power.  How quickly do we?

This can apply to the devil as well.  He pursues us just like Pharaoh does and we must be always wary.

Chariots at the time were the most advanced weaponry for fighting.  Most battles involved chariots and foot soldiers and maybe some archers.  That’s it.  Charioters were valuable and were seen with honor in Egypt.  Destroying them would hit both Pharaoh and his people a major blow.

God’s people were hemmed in–Pharaoh on one side, Red Sea on another.  It was natural to be scared.  But not natural to lack faith in God (whom you could see in a cloud by the way).  Yet note they cried out to God–exactly what we are supposed to do when fear overwhelms us.  And He answered.  In a BIG way.

Man’s cruel nature is revealed here:  Egypt, the king of burial grounds, and the Israelites use this to mock Moses.  Sad, really.  I see this in man all the time.  People are mean and cruel and it saddens me.

What short-term memories!  Not one week out of Egypt and the Israelites want to go back!

Moses responds in faith!  He has no idea how God is going to save them, but he knows God will.  He encourages the people and soothes them–the mark of a great leader.

When God is the only rescuer in a situation, we trust Him more.  Like with an illness or addiction.  Where we need faith is the daily little things in life.  That is my prayer this week.

Note Moses incredible connection with God and advice:  Be still.  Don’t do anything hasty.  Don’t panic.  Just wait on Him.

Saying the Egyptians would not be seen again is both literal and figurative–not here or in heaven.

God answers “Why are you crying out to me?”  Prayer and then action!  By having Moses perform the miracle, God is strengthening the people’s faith in God’s chosen leader.

Who is the Lord? Pharaoh asked.  God is still answering.  God answers this question with everything in our lives.  When we triumph, God’s enemy falls.  We are a testament to His power every day.

God shielded the Israelites from their enemies.  How often does God do the same for us?

The Egyptians could have submitted then and been spared.  But they chose the dark side and judgment.

The Hebrew is “Reed Sea” so identifying the exact spot of crossing has been impossible.  Modern scholars say modern-day Lake Sirbonis but recent research says Gulf of Aqaba.  For me, this is a mute point.  All that matters is God’s delivery of His people.

Nice Map showing Map of Exodus with crossing on Gulf of Aqaba:  http://headwatersresources.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/ExodusColorNotesFramedCC.jpg

Just to be clear:  no one is for sure the exact route that Moses took or where the crossing of the Reed Sea took place.  Every map I find online is different.  I provide these so you can have a rough idea of what the Israelites went through and what land they crossed.  God is behind it all.  The details are left for when we get to heaven.

Psalm 77:16-20 gives more detail on the actual crossing.  One of the “remembering” psalms, the author begins in despair, but remembers God’s great deeds and is strengthened in his faith.  Powerful psalm for when we are lost and low.

God slows the chariots while Moses closes the Sea–again, using Moses as His chosen instrument.

Egypt with relation to Israel is now no more.  Egypt does not bother with Canaan for most of the rest of the Bible.  Seeing the dead bodies would have been final to the Israelites–no more slavery.

Interesting tid-bit:  one scholar speculates that the Israelites may have pillaged the dead bodies and stolen weapons to be used against their enemies in Canaan.

God delivers us out of both love and glory for Him.  The Passover and the Red Sea must happen just like the cross and the Redemption.