BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 7, Day 4: Romans 4:9-15

Summary of passage:  In essence, Paul says it does not matter if you are circumcised or when.  All that matters is you accept Christ.  Then and only then will you be credited as righteous by God.  The law does not matter; only faith.

Questions:

9)  Abraham was 99 when God gave him the sign of the covenant of circumcision.  He was 86 when he had Ishmael.  He had been in Canaan 10 years since he was declared righteous.  So it was 23 years between credited as righteous and circumcision.  Galatians tells us it was 430 years after this that the Law was given.  Paul argues that circumcision does not matter because Abraham was declared righteous BEFORE he was circumcised.  So fast-forward to first century AD and circumcision still is not required to be credited as righteous by God.

10a)  Most of the time people become complacent and fall into sin if that’s their excuse for sin.  God’s measure of righteousness is faith in Jesus Christ, which leads to becoming more like Jesus.  Obedience has value since we must be obedient to God and to His word.  Depends on the sign as well.  However, it’s when you only depend on the sign or obedience for your salvation that you’re in trouble.  Paul says ultimately none of that matters:  only Jesus matters.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I’m righteous (and this is a dumb question) because I accept Jesus as my Savior. We spent all of last week on how we are righteous through faith and now all of this week.  It’s simple:  if you accept Jesus died as your Savior through faith, you are credited as righteous.  If you don’t, then you’re not righteous.

End Notes:  In Chapter 4, Paul is trying to make a theological point:  all that matters is faith.  He starts with Abraham who lived hundreds of years before Moses and the coming of the Old Testament law.  Abraham pleased God how we do:  through faith.  The Old Testament law was never meant to bridge the gap between God and people. Only Jesus can do that.  The point of the law was to show people/us our need for a Savior (Christ) and redemption. The law showed us that need.

Paul’s point is because circumcision is not a requirement to be counted as righteous then the Gentiles can be counted as righteous as well.  He uses Abraham to prove this point because Abraham was counted as righteous with God in the Bible 14 years BEFORE he was circumcised.

For the Jews of the day, many of them were convinced you had to be circumcised before you could be counted as righteous.  This is whom Paul is addressing.  They also believed Jews only could call Abraham their father.  Again, Paul says no.  Abraham is the father of all those who believe.

All of God’s promises to Abraham were given before the Law.  Hence, they had to be based on faith.  The problem with the law is man is unable to keep it (hence, Jesus Christ, and a reason for God’s wrath).  And hence, faith only.

Transgressions (or an act that goes against a law) come down to trust and love and the heart.  You can sin without breaking a law or transgressing.  What matters to God is are we breaking trust and love with Him.

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BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 7, Day 3: Romans 4:6-8

Summary of passage:  Paul quotes David who says he whom the Lord forgives and counts as righteous is blessed.

Questions:

6)  David sinned against the Lord but he repents and is forgiven.

7)  The Lord does not hold our sins against us.  He forgives us if we repent.  We are forgiven.  We all sin but what matters most is accepting the consequences, admitting it, and moving on in God’s way.

8 )  Too many to list (not that you all care anyways–most are mundane).  The joy of forgiveness is living in the present moment, not the past.  Letting go of all guilt, putting that on Jesus, and accepting his sacrifice for me.  Living for now for Him is joy.  Being grateful every day for my life and for Christ.  Walking deeper with God.  Trying harder to be more like Jesus.  Praying.  Learning.  Growing.  Sharing.  That’s how Christ wants us to express thankfulness for him.

Conclusions: Short passage again.  Another pillar of God (David–the man after God’s own heart–1 Samuel 13:14) is justified by God alone as well.

End Notes:  David understood that he could not earn righteousness.  It is a gift from God.  And we are blessed when we are cleansed.

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.

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 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 3: Romans 3:23-24

Summary of passage:  All are sinners and are justified freely through God’s grace through Jesus’s work on the cross.

Questions:

6)  We are all sinners.  No one’s perfect.  Paul is a great example.  I think everyone knows they are sinners.  This is not the hurdle to Christianity.  The hurdle is admitting you need someone to save you from the sins we all commit. Overcoming pride and self-reliance.

7a)  According to Webster’s Dictionary, justified means, “to prove or show to be just, right or reasonable; to judge, regard, or treat as righteous and worthy of salvation, to show sufficient.”  Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary has the definition as “judicial act of God by which, on the basis of the meritorious work of Christ, imputed to the sinner and received through Faith, God declares the sinner absolved from sin, released from its penalty, and restored as righteous.  Simply put, being placed by God in a right relationship with himself.”

Justification is accomplished through faith in Jesus Christ as Savior when he died on the cross for our sins.  The Good News is you get to spend eternity with God!

b) Part personal Question. My answer:  We were all fallen into Hell until Jesus came to pull us out with his death and bloodshed.  He is full of grace and mercy.

8 )  Personal Question.  My answer:  We didn’t do anything to earn His gift.  He has to have infinite love to bestow this upon us.  Deeper gratitude.

Conclusions:  Because Romans is such a short book we will probably be studying few verses every day. Which is good and bad.  We will probably be answering several similar personal questions as well such as how these verses impact your thinking, response, etc.

End Notes:  Paul uses 3 major themes in Romans which we see here in one verse:  1)  Justification or the law 2) Redemption from slavery 3)  Propitiation or atonement from the religious need for sacrifice.

Justification rids us of guilt.  Redemption saves us from slavery.  Propitiation ensues we don’t offend our Creator.

Justification is free.  It is given to us as a gift by the desire of God.

Freely is the ancient Greek word dorean.  It means with no strings attached.

We are only righteous through Jesus.  Period.

Redemption:  Jesus bought us with the cost of his life.  Thus, we belong to God (1 Corinthians 6:20).

Fun Fact:  Paul uses the Greek verb for “justified” 27 times, mostly here in Romans and Galatians.  It is translated “justify” in all cases except 2 (2:13; 3:20 where it is translated “declared righteous.”  This describes what happens when people believe in Christ as their Savior:  God declares them to be not guilty and righteous.  He debits the guilt of their sin and credits righteousness (for all you accountants/finance/math people out there!).

Paul’s points:  1)  No one lives a perfectly, good, holy, righteous life. (v 10).  All have sinned (v 23).

2)  Even though we are sinners, God declares those who trust in Jesus righteous.  This is valid because Christ died to pay the penalty for our sin and because he lived a life of perfect righteousness he imputes (ascribes) that to us.  THIS IS THE CENTRAL THEME OF ROMANS AS STATED IN 1:17.

Justification:  the central thought of justification is albeit people clearly and totally deserve to be declared guilt (v 9-19), God declares them righteous because of their faith in Christ.  Paul states this idea in several ways:  freely by his grace (v 24) and faith (v 25).

Redemption:  This word is from the slave market–basically obtaining release by payment of a ransom.  It refers to release from guilt, judgement, and delivery from slavery to sin, because Christ in his death paid our ransom to set us free.  Etymology:  mid-14c., “deliverance from sin,” from Old French redemcion (12c.) and directly from Latin redemptionem (nominative redemptio) “a buying back, releasing, ransoming” (also “bribery”), noun of action from past participle stem of redimere “to redeem, buy back,” from red- “back” + emere “to take, buy, gain, procure”. The -d- is from the Old Latin habit of using red- as the form of re- before vowels.

Fun Fact:  Paul is the one who formulates the doctrine of justification mainly in Galatians and Romans.

Breakdown of Justification:

  1. A declarative act by which the sinner is declared to be free from guilt and the consequences of sin
  2. A judicial act in which the idea of judgement and salvation are combined to represent Christ fulfilling the law on behalf of the sinner
  3. A remissive act in which God remits sin in complete forgiveness
  4. A restorative at by which the forgiven sinner is restored to favor through the imputation of Christ’s righteousness.

Faith is the condition of justification by which the meritorious work of Christ is accepted by the sinner.  Christ’s work on the cross is sufficient.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 4, Day 5: Romans 3:19-20

Summary of passage:  The whole world is accountable to God and His Word.  His Word makes all conscious of sin and merely observing the law does not make you righteous.

Questions:

11)  The whole world is accountable to God and His Word.  His Word makes all conscious of sin and merely observing the law does not make you righteous.

12a) Just that:  To silence every critic, God is making it clear ALL are guilty before Him.

b) So far, it hasn’t really. I’ve learned more about the importance of it, but it hasn’t had an concrete effects on identifying and confessing sins.  It’s Week 4.

Conclusions: Unsure why we need a whole day on these two verses (besides the obvious that Romans only has 16 chapters for a 30 week study), which in my mind only emphasizes the facts we’re not righteous just because we obey the law, which is what we’ve been talking about all week.

End Notes:  The law cannot save you.  It gives you knowledge of your sins, not salvation.  In fact, it condemns you, not saves you.  Yes, God wants you to keep His laws and walk in His ways.  But that alone will not give you eternal life.  Only the purifying blood of Jesus can do so under the New Covenant.

J.B. Phillip’s paraphrase of “through the law we become conscious of sin” is striking.  He writes, “it is the straight-edge of the Law that shows us how crooked we are.