BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 22, Day 4: Romans 12:4-5 & Ephesians 4:1-6

Summary of passages:  Romans 12:4-5:  All Christians form the body of Christ, acting as a whole with different functions.

Ephesians 4:1-6:  Paul urges us to live a life worthy of Christ.  Be humble, gentle, patient, and bear with one another in love.  Be peaceful and unified.  Be one body along with the One God, One Spirit, and One Son.

Questions:

9)  Believers are the body of Christ and it is Christ who unites us all.

10)  By peace.  Through humility, gentleness, patience, and love.

11)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Living a Godly life is how I promote unity.  Doing my part in God’s will in the way I interact with others and lead my life.

Conclusions: Didn’t get much out of the questions, but Paul’s exhortations are clear:  it is our responsibility as Christians to keep the unity amongst us and not let petty arguments/sin/Satan/the world divide us.  We are to keep Christ in the forefront always and forever.

End NotesRomans 12:4-5:  The church is a unified whole with distinct members.  In the body of Christ there is unity but not uniformity (unity within diversity).  There is a delicate balance between unity and individuality.  Both co-exist but not at the expense of the other.  Christ is our common ground.

Ephesians 4:1-6:  We should want to walk in God’s way and serve Him out of gratitude for all He has done for us.  It is God’s love that fuels us.

Let God be in control (humility).  Forgive one another out of love and peace as in this world we will inevitably sin against others.

This is spiritual unity, not structural unity i.e. unity of different denominations, etc.  The complete fusion of all churches would inevitably lead to corruption (think Catholicism in the Middle Ages).

We have unity because of what we share in common.  In Jesus we share one body, one Spirit, one hope of our calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one Father.

The baptism here is a baptism of water, an outward sign of acceptance of Christ into the soul.

Fun Fact:  Christianus sum, I am a Christian in Latin.  How Martin Luther answered all temptations from Satan.

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BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 21, Day 4: Romans 12:2; Galatians 1:3-5; and Ephesians 2:1-2

Summary of passages:  Romans 12:2:  He urges us to not conform to this world but to allow God to renew our mind so that we can know His will for us.

Galatians 1:3-5:  This is part of Paul’s greetings to the church of Galatia where he offers up grace and peace from God and Jesus who sacrificed himself for you to rescue us from our sins and this evil age according to God’s will forever.

Ephesians 2:1-2:  Here Paul reminds the church of Ephesus how they were dead in their transgressions and sins when they lived in the world which is ruled by Satan who is still working in those unsaved by Christ.

Questions:

10)  The world is the world system that contains evil and corruption and is opposed to God and rebels against Him.

11)  Those who love the world are not in God.  The world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does.  The world is temporal.  In my own words, the world is anything opposed to God’s Word and His will.  Anything the devil has a hold of.  Any temptation you face.

12)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The world tries to justify sin.  And it puts a high priority on self.  I fight against selfishness every day and it’s hard not to get caught up in doing what “feels good.”  I’ve found putting God at the center of all you do helps to break the influence of the world and re-focus your attention on Him, His ways, His goals and priorities.

Conclusions:  It’s important to realize the influence of the world on yourself, which has some influence if you interact with anyone at all especially unbelievers.  Satan is sneaky and is always seeking your weaknesses.  Use His weapons (the Word, prayer, etc) against him always.

End NotesRomans 12:2:  So the world system with all its evil and corruption is opposed to God and His ways and is in rebellion.  Paul reminds us we must resist it.

Renewing the mind is the opposite of conforming the world.  The battle takes place in the mind.  Hence, Christians must think differently than non-believers.

Today the world is based on feelings.  Do what you feel is right.  Oh, you don’t want to work today.  Then don’t.  The government will take care of you.  Etc.  Also, the world is based on doings.  Just tell me what to do.

Paul says here we must know what God’s word says in our mind. We cannot blindly follow our whimsical feelings and follow the crowd of doers who are “doing” but accomplishing nothing.

“Transformed”:  This is the ancient Greek word metamorphoo – describing a metamorphosis. The same word is used to describe Jesus in His transfiguration (Mark 9:2-3).

Fun Fact:  The only other place Paul uses this word for transformed is in 2 Corinthians 3:18: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”  For Paul, this transformation and renewing of our minds takes place as we behold the face of God, spending time in His glory.  Note this is a process, not a single event.

“Then”:  After the spiritual transformation just described has taken place.

“Test and approve what God’s will is”:  The proof is the live that you live.  What God wants from the believer here and now.

“Good”:  That which leads to the spiritual and moral growth of the Christian.

“Pleasing”:  To God, not necessarily to us.

“Perfect”:  No improvement can be made on the will of God.

In sum, from Chapter 11 Paul writes if we keep in mind the rich mercy of God to you – past, present, and future (by the mercies of God) and as an act of intelligent worship, decide to yield your entire self to Him (present your bodies a living sacrifice) and resist conformity to the thoughts and actions of this world (do not be conformed) by focusing on God’s word and fellowship with Him (be transformed by the renewing of your mind) then our life will be in the will of God through the power of the Holy Spirit.  And others will witness this.

Galatians 1:3-5:  Written by Paul to the churches in Galatia around 50 AD.

“Grace and peace to you”:  This was Paul’s familiar greeting, drawing from the traditional greetings in both Greek culture (grace) and Jewish culture (peace). Paul used this exact phrase five other times in the New Testament.

Fun Fact:  Paul used the word grace more than 100 times in his writings. Among all the other writers of the New Testament, it is only used 55 times. Paul was truly the apostle of grace.

“These two terms, grace and peace, constitute Christianity.” (Martin Luther)

Note the first thing Paul says about Jesus is he gave himself for our sins.  Throughout the epistle Paul points the Galatians to the centrality of the cross. He cannot wait to make this plain, and we find a reference to it in his very first sentence.

Jesus gave. We know from John 3:16 that God the Father so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. Yet God the Father was not the only giver; Jesus also gave. Jesus is a loving, giving God and a loving, giving Savior.

Jesus gave the greatest thing anyone can give–Himself.  There is a sense in which we do not even begin to give until we give ourselves.  Why did Jesus give himself?  For our sins.  If God did not do something to save us, our sins would destroy us. So out of love, Jesus rescues us.

The purpose of Jesus’s sacrifice is to glorify God.  Yes, we are saved.  But it’s for the glory of God.

Ephesians 2:1-2:   Paul ended the last chapter by considering that the ultimate example of God’s power was the resurrection of Jesus. Now Paul considers what the implications of Jesus’ resurrection power are for our life.

Paul is speaking of spiritual death here not physically, mentally, emotionally, etc.  Transgressions is crossing God’s boundaries.  Sins is falling short of God’s standards.

Satan is the ruler of the kingdom of air and is active in those who are disobedient to God.

Once walked is our old self.  We should now feel uncomfortable with sin in our new life.  Satan guided us in the old life.  Now God does.

This is a unique title that speaks to Satan’s authority and realm of influence.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 21, Day 3: Romans 12:1

Summary of passage:  Paul urges Christians to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God as an act of worship.

Questions:

6)  Personal Question.  My answers:

Romans 9:15:  This is the verse God says He will have mercy and compassion on whom He chooses. This shows us we are all in God’s grace to be chosen as believers and God is the one in control of whom He chooses and He doesn’t.

Romans 9:23:  God chose all of those who comes to Him in advance.  He showed his wrath and power in order to demonstrate his glory to those of us whom He shows mercy to.

Ephesians 2:4-5:  God gives us His mercy when He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for our sins to make us alive again.

1 Peter 1:3:  Similar to Ephesians, God demonstrates His mercy when though the living hope in His Son Jesus whom He brought back to life in order that we can live with Him forever.

7)  Personal Question.  My answer:  First, by choosing me and my family to be believers and to be saved.  Second, by blessing the US with all of its riches so that we live an easy life. By continuing to bless my family financially, spiritually, mentally, physically, etc every day of every year.  By always being there.

8 )  According to Webster’s Dictionary, a sacrifice is “an act of offering to deity something precious; especially the killing of a victim on an altar, destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else or to suffer loss of, give up , renounce, injure, or destroy especially for an ideal, belief or end”.  According to Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, a sacrifice is “a religious act belonging to worship in which offering is made to God of some material object belonging to the offerer–this offering being consumed in the ceremony, in order to attain, restore, maintain, or celebrate friendly relations with the deity.”

The history of sacrifice in the Old Testament would fill a book.  Sacrifices have been around since Cain and Abel in Genesis 4:4-5 where it states Abel offered an acceptable sacrifice to God.  Furthermore, we’d need another book to dive into the different types of sacrifices offered in the Old Testament to God for many purposes.  BSF is sending us to Leviticus which is the Day of Atonement sacrifice where the High Priest had to cover himself  and the Israelites (figuratively here) with the blood of an animal in order to approach God and cleanse themselves of sin.  Hebrews tells us Jesus is the final sacrifice that takes away all of our sins in God’s eyes and cleanses us.

To answer the question, the Old Testament sacrifices served one goal:  to make ourselves acceptable and pleasing to God through honoring Him, worshipping Him, and giving Him glory.  We had to atone for our sins in various ways and thank Him for all He’d done.  Paul is urging us to give our bodies as a living sacrifice (our body being our heart, mind, soul, body, and spirit–all of us) to God.  To live our lives for God in every way.  To let His will reign, not ours.

9)  Ordinary is living each day with Him in mind and as the center.  Choosing Him in the little things in life:  forgiving a wrong, helping the poor and downtrodden, letting kind words out instead of angry words, being generous and compassionate with people, and meeting them where they are at.  Extraordinary examples are Mother Theresa, pastors, Popes, monks, nuns, those who work in the Christian industries such as non-profits, book publishing, bible publishing, missionaries, Focus on the Family, and everyone else I am forgetting who strive to do God’s work here on earth (this includes us whose names will never be known but who do God’s work every day!).

Conclusions:  Mercy and living for God.  Great topics that are huge and BSF did a good job on focusing on the importance of it all.  1)  God chose us out of His mercy.  2)  We do God’s work by giving all of ourselves up to Him.  Every day.  In the daily grind at work and at home.  Living for Him.  Raising our kids for Him.  Helping others for Him.  Love it!

End Notes: [Same as Yesterday’s just for Verse 1 only]  Chapters 12:1-15:33.  Paul now turns to the practical application of all he has said previously in the letter.  This does not mean he has not said anything about Christian living up to this point because as we saw Chapters 6-8 touched on this already but now Paul goes into detail to show that Jesus Christ is to be Lord of every area of life.  These chapters are not a postscript to the great theological discussions in Chapters 1-11.  In a real sense the entire letter has been directed toward the goal of showing that God demands our action as well as our believer and thinking. Faith expresses itself in obedience.

“Therefore”  It is Paul’s pattern to begin a letter with a strong doctrinal section and follow with exhortations to Christian living. Paul begs Christians to live a certain way in light of what God did for them.  Here, God gives us all things.  Now, how do we show Him gratitude for that?  With our bodies and our minds.

“Urging us” reminds us that we still have a choice in how we live for God.

“In view of God’s mercy” reminds us we do this because of the mercy God grants us (Romans 1-11).  In fact, we are only able to offer ourselves to Him because of His mercy.  Some of the mercies Paul has told us about already:

· Justification from the guilt and penalty of sin

· Adoption in Jesus and identification with Christ

· Placed under grace, not law

· Giving the Holy Spirit to live within

· Promise of help in all affliction

· Assurance of a standing in God’s election

· Confidence of coming glory

· Confidence of no separation from the love of God

· Confidence in God’s continued faithfulness

Think of “body” here as your entire being for your heart, soul, spirit, and mind are in your body. Paul is saying here give God your entire self.  God wants you!

Many today let their body rule in terms of engaging in physical pleasures.  Paul says no!  Our mind is the will and our mind brings the body as servant to God.

Ancient Greeks dismissed the body as unspiritual so this teaching would have shocked them.  Paul says God is concerned about our bodies, which were dearly bought at a price (1 Cor 6:19-20).

A living sacrifice is a dichotomy especially in the first century AD where sacrifices involved death.  The whole idea is the sacrifice is ongoing.  Paul could be contrasting dead animal sacrifices here as well or perhaps “living” in the sense of having the Holy Spirit.

“Holy and pleasing to God”:  The standard for sacrifices made to God under the New Covenant are not any less than the standard under the Old Covenant.

Sacrifices in the Old Testament:

· He shall bring a male without blemish (Leviticus 1:10)

· But if there is a defect in it, if it is lame or blind or has any serious defect, you shall not sacrifice it to the Lord your God (Deuteronomy 15:21)

The idea of a sweet aroma to the Lord is almost always linked to the idea of an offering made by fire. There is a “burning” in this matter of a living sacrifice. It also shows that Paul has in mind the burnt offering, in which the entire sacrifice was given to the Lord. In some sacrifices, the one offering the sacrifice and the priest shared in the some of the meal, but never in the burnt offering.

Today, the holiness we bring to the altar is a decision for holiness, and yielding to the work of holiness in our life.  As we present our bodies a living sacrifice, God makes our life holy by burning away impurities.

“Spiritual act of worship”:  This was translated as “reasonable service”.  The ancient Greek word for reasonable (logikos) can also be translated “of the word” (as it is in 1 Peter 2:2). Reasonable service is a life of worship according to God’s Word.

Another translation says “true and proper worship”.  This is to emphasize not merely ritual worship activity but the involvement of heart, mind, and will in worship and obedient service.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 19, Day 5: Romans 11:25-32

Summary of passage:  God’s plan is to harden the hearts of the Jews until the full number of Gentiles has come in and then all of Israel will be saved.  Israel has become disobedient so that God may show them mercy like He has done the Gentiles.

Questions:

11)  All of Israel could mean that literally:  all people of ethnic, Jewish descent or it could mean all of Israel that God has chosen to be saved by faith in Jesus (the elect).  I think all of the elect because we know faith is a choice.  Man must choose God.  And not all will choose Him (even His chosen people).

12)  They will be saved.  We can be sure because God says so through Isaiah.  God will once again turn His attention to the Jews.

13)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  God has reasons behind all His actions.  He loves all His people and wants as many as will turn to Him to come.  God works through all for His purposes.  I am comforted because I know God’s ways are not mine and everything has a purpose for Him.

14)  He showed mercy by allowing them to be disobedient and then forgiving them and offering them salvation.  We all need mercy because we are all sinners and deserve death.  Instead, God offers us eternal life through His Son, Jesus Christ.  Without mercy, heaven would be empty.

Conclusions:  This is the first time I have read all of Israel will be saved at the End Times and I was hoping to dive into this truth more.  I love gaining insight into God and His ways and seeing how He won’t leave any behind is awesome!  God never gives up on you, on me, on the people of Israel, on anyone.  Just imagine what a world this would be if all of us embraced that truth!

End Notes:  The mystery religions of Paul’s day used the Greek word (mysterion) in the sense of something that was to be revealed only to the initiated.  Paul uses this word to refer to something formerly hidden or obscure but now revealed by God for all to know and understand.  This word is used of the incarnation, the death of Christ, God’s purpose to sum up all things in Christ and especially to include both Jews and Gentiles in the NT church, the change that will take place at the resurrection and the plan of God by which both Jew and Gentile will be included in his kingdom.

Paul continues from Romans 11:11-24 by saying Israel is blind for the sake of the elect Gentiles.  God’s attention is temporarily off the Jews until He is finished with the Gentiles.  However, He will come back to His people.  The hardening is partial and temporary.

“All of Israel” does not mean every last person of Jewish descent.  It means Israel as a nation.  And they will be saved the same way the Gentiles are saved:  by faith in Jesus.  There is no special or other way for the Jews.  Salvation is not universal.  All must choose God.

Jesus will not return again until God turns the focus of His saving mercies on Israel again, and Israel responds to God through Jesus Christ (Matthew 23:39Zechariah 12:10-11).  Isaiah confirms this truth.

The Jewish people will always be loved by God for the sake of the patriarchs.  God has not given up on them (or us) as His calling endures.

Paul reminds all of us we are lawbreakers and all of us have received mercy from God.  None of us are better than another.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 17, Day 3: Romans 10:1-4

Summary of passage:  Paul’s heart’s desire and prayer is for all of the Israelites to be saved, to submit to God’s righteousness, and to believe in Christ as the fulfillment of the law.

Questions:

6)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Paul is an Israelite, and he desires all to know Christ.  God puts people on my heart and I pray for them.  It’s hard to know these days where everyone stands in their relationship with God so I just pray for Christ to fill them.

7)  They believed they could earn righteousness on their own through works and by following the law.  They lacked the faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior, which is the true path to salvation.  Killing others in the name of Christ or God.  Persecuting those with different beliefs than yourself.  Hypocritical behavior of any kind.  Perverting God’s Word to be in line with your beliefs or to justify a particular sin.  Leading others astray as well.  Paul had misplaced zeal before his conversion as he persecuted Christians in the name of the Lord.  This is still happening today.

8 )  Belief in Christ as Lord and Savior fulfills the law and results in salvation.

Conclusions:  I love how Paul does not give up.  Ever.  I can picture him perpetually praying for his fellow brothers to know God’s Truth.  He dedicated his life to bringing as many as possible to God.  So must we.

End Notes:  Chapters 9-11 is Paul discussing the Jews and their unbelief in Christ.  Paul is distraught, so much so that in Romans 9:3 he offered his own relationship to Christ for the sake of the Jews.  Paul felt almost as if his family (the Jews) were rejecting what he’d dedicated his life to.

Paul needed to explain how the Jews were linked to God’s plan for them for the past, present, and future.  He offers hope.

Knowledge alone is not sufficient for salvation.  Action is required.  One must submit to God’s righteousness.  This is Free Will, a choice, and man’s responsibility to choose Christ.

The law ends for the believer in the sense that our obedience to the law is no longer the basis for our relationship with God. The law has not come to an end in the sense of no longer reflecting God’s standard or no longer showing us our need for a Savior.

“Christ did not come to make the law milder, or to render it possible for our cracked and battered obedience to be accepted as a sort of compromise. The law is not compelled to lower its terms, as though it had originally asked too much; it is holy and just and good, and ought not to be altered in one jot or tittle, nor can it be. Our Lord gives the law all it requires, not a part, for that would be an admission that it might justly have been content with less at first.” (Spurgeon)

“End” can be translated as “culmination”.  The Greek word (telos) can mean either termination, cessation or goal, culmination, or fulfillment.  Here fulfillment fits best.  Christ is the fulfillment of the law (Matthew 5:17) in the sense he brought it to completion by obeying perfectly its demands and prophecies.  We are no longer under the law (Romans 6:14) but it still plays a role in our lives.  We are free from condemnation and liberated by the Holy Spirit to fulfill its moral demands (Romans 8:4).

Righteousness is the righteous standing before God that Christ makes available to everyone who believes.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 15, Day 5: Romans 8:35-39

[Last Lesson Before the New Year!  Lesson 16 will be posted the week of January 8th, 2018]

Summary of passage:  Paul says nothing can separate us from the love of God that shines forth in Christ Jesus.  Not trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, or sword.  Not death, life, angels, demons, time, any powers, height or depth.  In all these things we are conquerors with Christ.

Questions:

11)  To encourage us and strengthen us.  He uses a well-known verse that’s pretty dismal and despairing to tell others that Christ now allows us to overcome all evil.

12a)  All are troubles that Christ overcomes and we do as well through Christ.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Knowing God is there during my husband’s job difficulties and in my struggle to find a career path is very comforting.

13)  Personal Question.  My answer:  There’s way too many things that I get angry about or impatient with to list from my kids to other drivers on the road to standing in line to stupid, dopey emails.  I’ve learned a few years ago not to pay much attention to world events or worry over it cause all of that is out of my control.   Nothing can separate us from the love of God that shines forth in Christ Jesus.  Not trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, or sword.  Not death, life, angels, demons, time, any powers, height or depth.  In all these things we are conquerors with Christ.

Conclusions:   So much more here that BSF missed in lieu of personal questions.

End Notes:  Paul’s list is to tell us that no matter what our sufferings are (persecution, famine, etc) we’ll never be separated from the love of God, which makes us conquerors, and suffering actually carries us along toward our ultimate goal:  union with God.

Nakedness meant a lack of clothes, which was a common concern in ancient times.

Sword implies execution. It is the only item on the list that Paul had not yet personally experienced (1 Corinthians 4:1115:30).

Paul’s second list is to emphasize that nothing good or evil can separate us from the love of God.

Conclusions half-way through BSF’s Study of Romans:  This lesson in particular took less time than any other so far this year.  Three weeks on Chapter 8 of Romans was too many.  Over half of the questions these days are personal ones.  Even the notes are dumbed down.  It’s very monotonous and frustrating.  Read my end notes for the lessons where I dive into the passage more.  I encourage you to use BSF as a springboard to do your own study if you are finishing days and weeks and asking yourself if you got anything out of it or not.  BSF is what it is now:  personal, friendly, and superficial.  If you want more, strive for more just like anything in life.  Don’t expect someone else (including BSF) to do it for you.  Let’s see what the next 15 weeks hold!

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 15, Day 4: Romans 8:31-35

Summary of passage:  If God is for us, who can be against us?  He gives us all things.  He justifies.  Jesus intercedes for us.

Questions:

9)  Part personal Question.  My answer:

If God is for us, who can be against us?  No one.

How will God not also give us all things?  He does.

Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?  No one.

Who is he that condemns?  No one.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  No one.

Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  No.

God is all things.  He’s in charge.  Nothing happens without His approval.  He is omnipotent.  All else pale in comparison.

10)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I’m not sure I’m struggling with any at the moment but “If God is for us, who can be against us?” is one of my favorite quotes from the Bible because it reminds me I can do all things in Him.

Conclusions:  Anyone get anything out of the questions?  The passage, yes.  The questions, no.  For the first time in my eight years of doing BSF I’d say you could skip these two questions and not miss one thing.  So sad by this!  Do read my End Notes for the goodies especially the part on the “if”.  Just because people think God is with them does not mean He is.

End Notes:  If all we had were the first few chapters of the Book of Romans, some might believe that God was against us. Now that Paul has shown the lengths that God went to save man from His wrath and equip him for victory over sin and death, who can doubt that God is for us?

Note the two-letter preposition “if”.  This is not saying God is with everyone (terrorists and cults think God is with them).  God is only with you if you’ve accepted His Son, Jesus, as Lord and Savior.  If you are in Christ Jesus, then God is for you.

Even if others are against us, does it matter?  You + God = unconquerable

God gave us the ultimate gift (His Son), so why wouldn’t He give us all the small gifts as well?  This is a common argument used by Paul from the greater to the lesser similar to Romans 5:9-10.

With Jesus we are secure from all charges (God has already proclaimed us ‘not guilty’) and condemnation.

The God within (the Holy Spirit) can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.  Remember this always when you’re down.  God can do it.  And let Him!

And, of course, we can’t forget this AMAZING song!