BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 7, Day 2: Romans 4:1-5

Summary of passage:  Abraham was righteous because he had faith in God.  He was not righteous through works.  This is the truth for all men:  trust God–be righteous.  Rely on works–not gain righteousness through works alone.

Questions:

3)  Abraham believed God.  He obeyed God in all he was told to do (except with regards to Hagar).  He moved.  He circumcised his kids.

4)  Because people have to work to earn those wages.  Gifts are free.  Wages are earned.

5a)  Salvation/eternal life.  Death/hell.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  One of faith.  Reliance on Him for everything.  I have expectations but only because I have faith in God to answer and provide.  I expect Him to show up because He says He will.  I expect Him to answer prayers because He says He does.  I don’t expect anything of God that He doesn’t already promise.

Conclusions:  Good passage by Paul and analogy of what our relationship is supposed to be:  faith.  All of us can relate to working for others.  Great clarity!

End Notes:  Paul is answering his question from Romans 3:31 and he uses Abraham (the George Washington of the Jewish faith and one who is undeniably justified) as his example.  Abraham was accounted as righteous (Genesis 15:6).  He did not earn righteousness.  No one can earn it.  It’s a gift from God as a reward for faith in Him.  The Jewish leaders of the day taught that Abraham earned righteousness.  Before God, Abraham earned no credit.

Remember righteousness is the right relationship with God and the life one leads because of this.  Through faith this righteousness justifies us and we live according to God.

Grace (ancient Greek word charis) means the unmerited favor of God toward sinners who through Jesus Christ provides us with redemption.  Grace maintains Christians throughout their earthly life.

Grace is given. Works are earned.  Works connotes the idea that God owes us because we are good.

God justifies the wicked/ungodly.

All are credited as righteous through faith.  This was not just for Abraham.

There are NOT two ways to salvation – saved by works through law-keeping in the Old Testament and saved by grace through faith in the New Testament. Paul is saying (using Abraham as an example) that everyone who has ever been saved – Old or New Testament – is saved by grace through faith, through their relationship of a trusting love with God.  Because of the New Covenant we have benefits of salvation that Old Testament saints did not have but we do not have a different manner of salvation.

Fun Fact:  Paul uses the Greek word for “credited” 10 times in Chapter 4 alone.

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BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 6, Day 5: Romans 3:31

Summary of passage:  Faith upholds the law.

Questions:

11)  We can only be righteous if we are cleansed of our sins.  Jesus cleanses us of our sins so that we can live in Spirit.  For all of this to occur, we have to believe Jesus died for us.  Simple faith.

12)  One word:  Sin.  Sin occurs.  That’s what goes wrong.  God is holy.  He cannot abide sin.  Thus, we cannot be saved if we spit in His face and continue to purposely sin.

13)  Personal Question.  My answer:  He prods me when I’m on the wrong path until I turn.  And then He keeps prodding and adjusting my radius.  He is doing this now.  I know because I’m restless again.  When I get restless, it’s God saying “Um, yeah, you are not quite there yet.”

We all have free will to obey or not.  This is a gift from God as well.  If we wear His armor, we will persist and obey.  If we turn from Him, we will Fall.

Conclusions:   Notice how all of these questions refer to other passages. I’ve been in a pretty pessimistic mood this week if you couldn’t tell by my answers.

End Notes:  Paul will explore this more in Romans 4 (next week) but the law predicted the saving grace of faith and Jesus. Jesus establishes the law.

Antinomianism (Greek for “anti” against and nomos “law”) was a word coined by Martin Luther during the Reformation when people questioned salvation.  It means those who think they don’t have to obey the Law if they have Jesus.  God’s grace discounts moral effort.  Like I explained before, God cannot abide sin.  Purposely sinning goes against everything God says.  A new life in Christ means death to old evil desires (Galatians 5:24).

BSF referenced Romans 8:31, one of my favorite all-time verses.  Here’s Chris Tomlin’s song (again, one of my favorites) that uses this verse repeatedly.  Enjoy!

Conclusions to Lesson 6:  So we covered a whopping 5 verses.  But we read a ton more out of the Bible than just these. Next week we pick up the pace.  As much as I don’t really enjoy these slower lessons, it does allow the verses to sink in, for those of us who are drowning in “busy” work to catch up, and to explore more in depth what God is telling each of us.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 6, Day 4: Romans 3:29-30

Summary of passage:  God is the God of everyone.

Questions:

8 )  Gentiles are everyone who is not a Jew.  Because the Jewish rabbis had taught for generations that the Jewish people is special since they were chosen by God to be the bearer of faith and the keep of God’s laws.  They believed they were superior to others because they did believe in the One, True God in a world dominated by pagans.

9)  All throughout history people believed in the afterlife and in various gods.  Many think if they are good people they will get to heaven.  Many people worship other gods.  Many don’t even think.

10)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Easy:  There are not many ways to God.  It’s only Jesus.  The entire Bible says so.  Graciously?  Unsure.  You can’t convince someone with a hard heart to God to soften.  All you can do is speak the Truth.  God will (or will not) do the rest in His power.

Conclusions:  Question 8 is repetitive.  We’ve already studied why the Jews thought they were special.  Again, nit-picking this passage about only one way to heaven.  All Christians know this and accept this (or they’re not Christians).  We all know how others think.  What is the value in discussing it?  I would rather meditate on how much God loves me, the sinner, than waste time debating the fallacies of others.

End Notes:  God is the God of all and He justifies all the same–through faith.

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

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

Questions:

6)  Faith by definition according to Webster’s Dictionary is “allegiance to duty or a person; belief and trust in and loyalty to God.”  Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary defines faith as “a true commitment of self to God, an unwavering trust in his promises, and a persistent fidelity and obedience.”

Today a lot of people have loose definitions of faith.  They say they have faith until the bad times hit and then God is thrown under the bus.  I also think people have half-hearted faith.  They lie to themselves or others when asked.  They don’t have faith in anything.  They wander through their lives, looking for something besides God.  If only they realized He is right here.  Always and forever.

7a)  Faith is believing in the unseen and taking God’s word at face value.  Faith is blind obedience.  Faith is stepping forward even though you cannot see the ground in front of you.  Faith is relinquishing control to God and believing He will keep His promises.  It’s believing the Bible as God-breathed.  It’s undeniable love.  Abel offered God a better sacrifice than his brother, Cain.  Noah built an ark and brought 2 of every animal inside.  Abraham moved an incredible distance for Ancient Times and became a father.  He offered Isaac as a sacrifice.  Joseph predicted the Exodus.  God’s people followed Moses to the Promised Land (despite hiccups along the way).  The prophets spoke God’s words despite dangers.  Rahab hid the spies.  The walls of Jericho fell.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Quit my banking job.  But I’m still not convinced I’m on the right path.  I’m restless and when I get restless I know it’s God trying to correct my path.

Conclusions:  Study of Hebrews 11 day and faith.

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.

Fun Fact:  The New Testament draws all of its examples of faith from the lives of Old Testament believers and Paul rests his doctrine of faith on Habbakkah 2:4 in Romans 1:17.  Please see my collorary post on Paul’s Doctrine of Faith HERE.

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.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 5, Day 4: Romans 3:24-26

Summary of passage:  God granted us redemption through Jesus’s death on the cross through his blood in order to demonstrate his justice.

Questions:

9)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  To atone is to reconcile.  Atonement is a cleansing of sins.  It is the central doctrine of faith and can properly include all that Jesus accomplished for us on the cross.  Jesus stands as our substitute/sacrifice that satisfies the righteous wrath of God.  Without this, we’re all destined for eternal punishment.  It doesn’t.  I don’t need assurance.  God said so.  Done.  God loved us so much He sent Himself (Jesus, Holy Trinity) as the only thing to justify us.

10) Part personal Question.  All of our answers are mere guesses. Love.  I would say God loved his creation, mankind, so much He sent His perfect Son to us to help us, guide, us, and cleanse us so we can be with Him for all of eternity.  Jesus was the only perfect human and thus the only one worthy to be our final atoning sacrifice.. There are no words of thanks large enough for this.

Conclusions: I don’t like the “assured” questions.  For me, I shouldn’t have to be assured of anything.  If you have faith, you don’t need assurance because you don’t question or doubt.  God in His mercy and love gives us proof and assurance because of our humanity.  But we shouldn’t need it.

End Notes:  Christ was our substitute sacrifice/atonement/propitiation so God could demonstrate His righteousness in judgment.  Propitiation is in all cultures.  It’s the act of appeasing the gods and the gods’s anger against mankind through a sacrifice of some kind.  Aztecs, Mayas, Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Native Americans, etc.

The ancient Greek word for propitiation (hilasterion) is also used in the Septuagint for the mercy seat, the lid covering the Ark of the Covenant, upon which sacrificial blood was sprinkled as an atonement for sin. While it might be said that this passage means “Jesus is our mercy seat,” it probably has the more straightforward idea of propitiation – a substitute sacrifice.

Inside the Ark of the Covenant was the evidence of man’s great sin: the tablets of law; the manna received ungratefully; the budded rod of Aaron, showing man’s rejection of God’s leadership. The Ark was decorated with golden cherubim as symbols of God’s holy presence.  In between the cherubim stood the mercy seat, and as sacrificial blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16), God’s wrath was averted because a substitute had been slain on behalf of sinners coming by faith.  Jesus is our “mercy seat,” standing between guilty sinners and the holiness of God.

God willingly gives His Son.  He wants us with Him!

God no longer passed over sin with the temporary OT sacrifice of animal blood.  He freed us forever from sin with Jesus’s sacrifice.  Jesus paid the price.

At the cross, God demonstrated His righteousness by offering man justification (a legal verdict of “not guilty”), while remaining completely just (because the righteous penalty of sin had been paid at the cross).

Clarke states:  God “Of his justice, in requiring a sacrifice, and absolutely refusing to give salvation to a lost world in any other way; and of his mercy, in providing the sacrifice which his justice required.”

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 5, Day 2: Romans 3:21-23

INTRODUCTORY NOTE:  This lesson is PACKED with the crux of Christianity: righteousness, justification, atonement, and redemption–all through Christ.  Some have called Romans 3:21-31 “the central theological passage in the Bible” (BSF devotes 2 weeks to this!).  I spent over 10 hours on this lesson.  Take your time and absorb it.  BSF gives us a whole week.  Use it.  Pray over it. Ponder.  Meditate.  Because if you get this lesson, you get Christ!  What is more important to spend your time on than this?!

Summary of passage:  Paul now explains how righteousness is attained only by faith in Jesus Christ, which the Law and Prophets testify to. All are sinners and equal before God.

Questions:

3)  According to Webster’s Dictionary, righteousness means “acting in accord with divine or moral law; free from guilt or sin.” Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary states it as “morally right behavior or character.  In general, any conformity to a standard.  God always acts in righteousness or has a right relationship with people and His action is to maintain that relationship.” It comes from God and is received by all believers through faith in Christ.  That’s how I understand it.

Zondervan has an amazing explanation of righteousness in the gospel:  “Paul tells us in Romans 1:16-17 that ‘a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last.’  The gospel is effective because a righteousness goes forth which is the provision of a right relationship with himself through the saving work of Jesus. To receive this gift is to be justified by faith.  Those who receive the gift then are to live as righteous people, devoted to the service of what God declares to be right.”

4)  Before Jesus, all those who obeyed the law had righteousness.  Here, Paul says apart from the law, meaning the law cannot save us nor can keeping the law save us, but God reveals a righteousness that will save us, which is  God’s plan of salvation in Jesus Christ. It is a salvation that is offered apart from the law, apart from our own earning and deserving, apart from our own merits.

5a)  God granted righteousness to those He deemed worthy, which is apart from the law.  He made a covenant with Israel and put the law in their minds and wrote it on their hearts.  He forgave Israel’s wickedness and remembered their sins no more.  God granted them cleansing from their impurities and gave them a new heart and spirit and saved them. Israel was chosen to be in God’s covenant, in right relationship with Him through faith and were expected to live in right relationship with others.  It matters because it was the only way to God before Jesus.  It also shows God’s faithfulness to His people and how He keeps His promises to us.

Other OT references:  Psalm 32:1-2.  Paul actually will quote this in Romans 4:6-8 as he continues to explain how God must credit righteousness based on faith.

Habakkuk 2:4 which Paul quotes in Romans 1:17.  This OT verse quoted by Paul is the verse Martin Luther read that changed his life and righteousness by faith became the rallying cry of the Protestant Reformation.

b) Part personal question. My answer:  Anyone who believes in their heart Jesus died for their sins and God raised him from the dead and confesses Jesus as their Lord.  Gratitude is my response.

Conclusions:  I love how Paul packs a lot of power into few words.  And it’s simple. Righteousness is easy:  believe in Jesus.

End Notes:  Paul just spent the first part of his letter showing us how all (Jews and Gentiles) are unrighteous (1:18-3:20).  Now, he will show how God provides us with a way to be righteous.

“But now”:  This either means 1)  Time.  And the now is the period righteousness from God has been made known or 2)  Logical.  Between the righteousness gained by observing the law (which is impossible v 20) and the righteousness provided by God.

Paul didn’t invent righteousness; it’s been around since the Prophets as always part of God’s plan.  We can’t earn merit before Him by following the law.  This is apart from the law.

Righteousness is something not earned, but received, through faith in Christ.  There is no other way to obtain righteousness.  It’s all trust.

Everyone must receive this gift because all sin and fall short.  We fail in so many ways: fail to give Him glory in our words, thoughts and actions.  We reject His glory.  Thus, justification through faith and grace is offered….