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!

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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!

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 15, Day 3: Romans 8:29-30

Summary of passage:  Christians are conformed to the likeness of Jesus.  They are predestined, called, justified, and glorified.

Questions:

6a)  Foreknew:  God knows who will come to Him and who won’t and He chose believers as well.

Predestined:  Christians are chosen ahead of time. (Also called election).

[Foreknowledge in Biblical terms is also called election and predestination and are frequently lumped together.  For God to predestine is for him to decree or foreordain the circumstances and destiny of people according to His perfect will. For God to elect if for Him to choose for salvation and/or service a people or a person; the choice is based not on merit but on His free, sovereign love.  Taken from Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary].

Called:  We are called by God to be believers.

Justified:  Through Christ’s blood we are able to stand before God.

[We’ve already defined this previously:  Justification is the 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.  Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary.]

Glorified:  Through Christ as well we are glorified.

[We’ve discussed this previously as well:  The glory of God is the worthiness of God, more particularly, the presence of God in the fullness of his attributes in some place or everywhere.  We participate in God’s glory (are able to be worthy) through the sanctifying blood of Jesus Christ.  Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary.]

b)  God knows everything.  He’s in control.  He called and chose all believers to be like His Son and justified us.  It’s good news because we are like Jesus and we can be with God forever.

7)  Through our sufferings, persecution, and through the Holy Spirit.  Through His Word which teaches, rebukes, corrects, and trains us and teaches us obedience.  There’s one main reason:  sin.  Temptation, fleshly desires, selfishness, “it’s too hard”, the excuse of “God will forgive us so what’s the point” that Paul refutes.  Jesus’s life was hard.  We don’t want a hard life.  We want an easy life.  The easy life is sin.  The hard life is following Jesus despite yourself.  A Christian life is and supposed to be uncomfortable and painful.  Man by nature hates this.

8 )  Personal Question.  My answer:  Every day is a challenge to be more Christlike and some days I fail miserably.  We are challenged every day to love others, be kind and compassionate, be sympathetic and helpful, be God’s light, and sacrifice for God.  All these little moments in my day are challenges God puts there so little by little I can be more like Christ.  The devil keeps throwing obstacles in my way and God is seeing how much I rely on Him to pull me through.

Conclusions:  Question 6 we’ve seen before and answered before.

End Notes:  Paul explains that God has always planned to save us from beginning to end (predestination).  We work to become more like Christ because that is why God saves us–so that Christ will be of highest honor in the family of God.

God knew us before we knew Him and He knew us before the beginning of the world.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 15, Day 2: Romans 8:28

Summary of passage:  God works for the good of all Christians.

Questions:

3)  Ultimately, the ability to be with God in His presence forever.  The good is justification, sanctification, and  glorification.  We are conformed to the likeness of Jesus who also intercedes for us.  He gives us all things.  He loves us and grants us eternal life with Him.

4a)  God works for the good of all Christians who have a God-given purpose.  Everything that happens to us has a reason for it even if we can’t see it.  And it’s for our good.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  “Lord, I know this suffering is for my good.  Help me to see that as I struggle to overcome it.  Help me to put this in your hands and to trust in your purpose in all things.”

5)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God is good.  God is in control.  God loves me.  God wants me to succeed.  I can put all my pressure, worries, and burdens on God’s shoulders.  I can live the life God wants me to live because of His grace.

Conclusions:  One of the most often quoted verses in the Bible.  It’s fitting we spend a whole day meditating on it.  Can you imagine if we could internalize this in every aspect of our lives what peace we’d have?

End Notes:  Even the difficulties in life are used for God’s overall plan for good.  Nothing can separate us from God’s love.  This verse should be read along with the next two paragraphs as people often think only good things are supposed to happen to us.  Paul says all things together.  For those who love Him and trust Him and He will manage the rest.

This is one of my favorite songs which prominently features this verse.  Enjoy!!

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 15, Day 5: John 11:45-57

Summary of passage:  As usual, some believed in Jesus after Lazarus was raised from the dead and some didn’t.  The Sanhedrin met and were threatened by Jesus’ rise.  They would lose power and the Romans would take over.  Caiaphas, the high priest, said it is better for Jesus to die than lose the nation to Roman control.  They plotted against Jesus who moved to the desert near Ephraim with the disciples.  The next Passover came and Jesus did not appear since he would be arrested immediately if he did so (and likely put to death).

Questions:

12)  Some believed; others were threatened by him.

13a)  “What are we accomplishing?”  “The Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”  “It is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”

b)  Part personal question.  My answer:  Not to lose power.  Political survival.  Be careful not to oppose God when you’re single-minded about power and driven by greed.

14)  Part personal question.  My answer:  The significance is Caiaphas took this as a literal death to save the nation of Israel whereas Jesus did this spiritually:  he died for the nation to save their souls not their lives and gather all God’s people (Jews and Gentiles) as one to Jesus.  God is good.

Conclusions:  I can’t imagine Jesus enjoying this time on earth where he has to constantly hide from the Pharisees instead of ministering to the people.  It’s a good lesson for us.  There are times in our lives when we just have to do the grunt work and times in our lives that aren’t pleasant but we must endure like Jesus.  I think a lot of people picture Jesus just doing his miracles and then dying.  They forget the day-in and day-out living that he did like we all do to get to God’s purpose.

End Notes:  The people are divided and some went to the Pharisees.  John either learned of what transpired during this meeting through Nicodemus or Joseph of Arimathaea or someone who was on the council and then converted to Christianity.

Now the Sanhedrin admit he is performing miracles and is the Messiah.  So now Jesus is a threat to them and he must be stopped.

In all four Gospels, the Pharisees appear as Jesus’ principal opponents throughout his public ministry. But they lacked political power, and it is the chief priests who were prominent in the events that led to Jesus’ crucifixion.  Here both groups are associated in a meeting of the Sanhedrin.  They did not deny the reality of the miraculous signs but they did not understand their meaning, for they failed to believe.

People probably imagine the “what if” again.  What if Jesus had lived?  Would everyone believe?  Maybe.  But then we wouldn’t be saved.  There is no “what if” ing God and His will.  What happens to you is for a reason.  Period.  Move on. Don’t dwell on “what if’s” because they will never be.  You can lament them.  But you can’t change them.

“Our place” refers to the temple.  It had become an idol to the Sanhedrin, thinking of it as theirs.  It’s God. Always.

Little did the Sanhedrin know that history would take its course and the Jews would love “our place” anyways in 70 AD when the Romans did invade Jerusalem, scattering the nation, and eradicating the nation of Israel for almost 2000 years.  And this had nothing to do with Jesus.

Caiaphas was logical but not moral.  He was willing to kill an innocent man to save many.

Caiaphas was high priest for 11 years.  “That year” is to draw emphasis to the year Jesus died. God overruled what he said here.  His words were true in a way he could not imagine.

Now, the high officials are joining with the lesser officials to kill Jesus.  Lazarus’ raising was the last straw to them.

Jesus retreats again because his time had not yet come.  He was not afraid.

Now, we are about to speed up history and Jesus’ days are numbered.  John jumps to a few days before Jesus’ last Passover.  The chief priests are the Sadducees and they were often in opposition to the Sanhedrin.  Not when it came to Jesus.  Both were united against him.

Note of location of Ephraim:  Ephraim was one of the original tribes of Israel but Jesus retreated to the town of Ephraim.  Unfortunately, no one knows exactly where that is and I couldn’t find any maps.  One could suppose it was located somewhere within this region.  Map HERE

Who was Caiaphas?  He was the official high priest during the ministry and the trial of Jesus (18-36 AD). By this point in history, the high priesthood had evolved into a political office, the priests still coming from the descendants of Aaron but being generally appointed for worldly considerations.  When Pompey gained control of Judea in 63 BC, the Romans took over the authority of appointing not only the civil rulers but the high priests also, with the result that the office declined spiritually.  Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, had been high priest by appointed of the Romans from 7-14 AD.  In-between, three of his sons had succeeded him but Annas was still considered a high priest.

We shall see after Jesus’ betrayal, it was the house of Annas where he was brought and tried.  Caiaphas then took a leading role in the persecution of the early church.  Summarized from Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary by Douglas and Tenney.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 15, Day 4: John 11:32-44

Summary of passage:  Mary then went to meet Jesus as well. Jesus wept with the mourners. He told the people to remove the stone away from his tomb. He thanked God and told Lazarus to come out, which he did still wearing his grave clothes.

Questions:

9)  “For the benefit of the people standing here that they may believe that you sent me.”  It’s important for us so we know everything Jesus does is for us and to clarify to us that Jesus’ power is from God.

10a)  “Come out.”  “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

b) Our spirits will all rise from the dead just like Lazarus’ physical body rose.  Jesus will conquer death.

11)  John 10:10: Jesus gives us life to the full.

John 17:1-2:  Jesus gives eternal life to all those chosen by God.

Ephesians 2:1-5:  We are alive in Christ and saved by grace.

Colossians 3:1-4:  Christ is our life who gives us glory.

1 Thessalonians 4:16:  Those dead in Christ will rise first.

I like Colossians because it emphasizes our glory in eternal life as chosen by God.

Conclusions:  For me, lackluster.  Question 11 was repetitive.

End Notes:  Same as yesterday’s.  Mary’s response to Jesus is the same as Martha’s. Is it out of faith or criticism? We don’t know and aren’t told here.

Jesus was moved as God is by our tears and pain. All the mourners would have been wailing. It is culturally acceptable 2000 years ago to cry unlike in our era, which is taken as a sign of weakness.

Fun Fact: The word for “wept” (the only place this form is used in the entire New Testament) that Jesus did is a quiet one. It is not a wail.

“Moved in the spirit” is more properly translated “groaned.” This phrase literally means in the Greek “to snort like a horse”. It implies anger at the Devil and “was troubled” implies tenderness for the mourners.

Jesus was so moved an involuntary groan escaped his heart. He shares in our grief and he does something about it. Lazarus being raised from the dead is what he does for all of us.

I find it fascinating how somehow tears became a sign of weakness. Abraham, Jacob, David, Jonathan, Hezekiah, Josiah, and Jeremiah the weeping prophet all wept in the bible along with Jesus. It’s a very human emotion/reaction and yet we work to suppress it. The ancient Jews wailed loudly for days when a loved one passed. Jesus dignified tears and if we are to be more like him, why not cry?

The ancient Greeks believed in emotionless gods and the inability to feel.

“Deeply moved” is used twice in this passage.

“What ifs” cause more grief in this life cause it’s all in the mind.

They needed to believe to see the glory of God. Otherwise, they would miss it.

Mary and Martha acted on their faith by removing the stone. Jesus used a loud voice so all could hear him. Lazarus listened as we all are when Jesus commands.

Lazarus would have been wrapped tightly in linen much like the ancient Egyptians wrapped their mummies. These “grave clothes” he would need again unlike Jesus who left his behind. Also, Jesus had man assist in the miracle by commanding them to remove the clothes.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 15, Day 3: John 11:17-44

Summary of passage:  Jesus arrives in Bethany four days after Lazarus had died.  Martha went out to meet Jesus and said if only he had come sooner.  Jesus asks her if she believes in him.  She says yes.  Mary then went to meet Jesus when Martha returned and said the same thing.  Mourners followed Mary to meet Jesus as well.  Jesus wept with the mourners.  He told the people to remove the stone away from his tomb.  He thanked God and told Lazarus to come out, which he did still wearing his grave clothes.

Questions:

6)  Martha knows Jesus could have healed Lazarus and now that he’s here she knows he can ask God to do something.  Jesus asks her if she believes in him even though Lazarus died.  She says yes.  She returns to get her sister.

7)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Whoever believes in Jesus will have eternal life.  They mean I will have eternal life.

8 ) Part personal Question.  My answer:   Jesus cares deeply for his people.  He was moved by how much pain they were in because of Lazarus’ death and was sad for them.  Jesus cares about my pain and shares in it.  He wants to comfort me and alleviate my pain.  When I suffer, he suffers.

Conclusions:  The personal questions to me are becoming redundant and are too simple and broad.  Great passage.  Needed more meaty questions to digest it thoroughly.

End Notes:  Why 4 days?  The Jews believed at the time that the soul hovered near the body for 3 days, hoping to return.  Then it left.  So Jesus wanted to be sure the time frame had passed and the miracle was indeed seen as a miracle from God.

It was tradition for mourners to stay with the family for an extended period of time after a death.  All work stopped and hence Mary and Martha were at home.

Martha honestly tells Jesus she is disappointed in his arrival.  She believes in his ability to heal the sick but not in his power to raise the dead.  Yet Martha “even now” has faith.  This is what we must have.  Despite our disappointment in Jesus not doing our will but his, we still have to have faith.

Raising Lazarus from the dead did not cross Martha’s mind so she assumed he meant in the Last Days.  This reaction is true.

Jesus IS the resurrection and the life.  He didn’t say “know” or “understand” or “have.”  He IS!  This is the 5th of the “I am” Statements in John.

Jesus of course is speaking of a physical death we all must suffer due to Adam’s sin.  But Christians never suffer a spiritual death.

He asked for belief.  However, if she had said no, Lazarus still would have risen since Jesus had already said he would (John 11:4).

Other Bibles say “secretly” instead of “aside”.  Scholars think this was so Mary could speak to Jesus without mourners around.

“The Teacher”.  Not a teacher but The Teacher.  There is only one.  Also, a woman uses this term.  Rabbis did not instruct women, but Jesus does.

Mary’s response to Jesus is the same as Martha’s.  Is it out of faith or criticism?  We don’t know and aren’t told here.

Jesus was moved as God is by our tears and pain.  All the mourners would have been wailing.  It is culturally acceptable 2000 years ago to cry unlike in our era, which is taken as a sign of weakness.

Fun Fact:  The word for “wept” (the only place this form is used in the entire New Testament) that Jesus did is a quiet one.  It is not a wail.

“Moved in the spirit” is more properly translated “groaned.”  This phrase literally means in the Greek “to snort like a horse”.  It implies anger at the Devil and “was troubled” implies tenderness for the mourners.

Jesus was so moved an involuntary groan escaped his heart.  He shares in our grief and he does something about it.  Lazarus being raised from the dead is what he does for all of us.

I find it fascinating how somehow tears became a sign of weakness.  Abraham, Jacob, David, Jonathan, Hezekiah, Josiah, and Jeremiah the weeping prophet all wept in the bible along with Jesus.  It’s a very human emotion/reaction and yet we work to suppress it.  The ancient Jews wailed loudly for days when a loved one passed.  Jesus dignified tears and if we are to be more like him, why not cry?

The ancient Greeks believed in emotionless gods and the inability to feel.

“Deeply moved” is used twice in this passage.

“What ifs” cause more grief in this life cause it’s all in the mind.

They needed to believe to see the glory of God.  Otherwise, they would miss it.

Mary and Martha acted on their faith by removing the stone.  Jesus used a loud voice so all could hear him.  Lazarus listened as we all are when Jesus commands.

Lazarus would have been wrapped tightly in linen much like the ancient Egyptians wrapped their mummies.  These “grave clothes” he would need again unlike Jesus who left his behind.  Also, Jesus had man assist in the miracle by commanding them to remove the clothes.