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 John Lesson 14, Day 5: John 10:22-42

Summary of passage:  The Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah) arrives in Jerusalem and Jesus is questioned again.  He tells the Jews they do not believe him because they are not his sheep.  His sheep know him and no one can take them away from him.  The sheep are God’s as well and he and God are one.  They tried to stone Jesus and he asked them again why they don’t believe in him and in the miracles.  They tried to seize him and Jesus fled across the Jordan where many came to him and believed in him.

Questions:

11)  The miracles he performed.  The Jews did not know Jesus.

12)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Eternal life because they follow him.  All the difference.

13)  They want to stone him or seize him.  Most today want to punish Christians.  He again tries to convince them who he is, using biblical and here irrefutable evidence, but then he flees.  We are to persevere, but not engage in violence.

Conclusions:  Question 12 is wearing on me.  It’s so broad I just keep it simple.  I love how Jesus tries to convince others of who he is but knows when it is hopeless and he’s done all he can so he focuses on those he knows will convert.  Great lesson for us with stubborn people in our lives.

End Notes:  The Feast of Dedication or Hanukkah celebrated the cleansing and re-dedication of the temple after three years of desecration by Antiochus Epiphanes, king of Syria (in 164 or 165 b.c.).  He instituted terror upon the Jews by emptying the temple treasury, instituting laws against Jews laws such as banning circumcision and the bible, and turning the altar into one for the Greek god Zeus.  Thousands of Jews were killed or sold as slaves.

The Greek for “winter” really connotes “stormy weather” here.

Solomon’s Colonnade was the name given to the portico which ran along the east side of the outer court of Herod’s temple. It is mentioned in Acts as the place where Peter addressed the crowd the congregated to see the man who had been cured of his lifelong lameness at the Beautiful Gate, and again as the place where the Jerusalem believers regularly gathered for their public witness to Jesus as the Christ (Acts 3:11; 5:12).

Jesus was not teaching.  Simply, he was ambushed by the religious leaders who were blaming him for their unbelief (personal responsibility, anyone?).  They hoped to get him to say he was the king of the Jews so then they could accuse him to the Romans of a coup against the emperor.

Jesus said “I told you and you do not believe” (I’d insert the word idiots afterwards).  He must be getting extremely taxed by these people.  He often didn’t call himself the messiah because it had such weighty political and even military implications.  When he does reveal himself, it’s to non-Jews (such as the Samaritan woman) because it was safer.

Just read all Jesus had told them who he was so far in our study of John:

I am the one who came from heaven (John 3:13, 6:38)

whoever believes on Me has eternal life (John 3:15)

I am the unique Son of God (John 5:19-23)

I will judge all humanity (John 5:19-23)

all should honor Me just as the honor God the Father (John 5:19-23)

the Hebrew Scriptures all speak of Me (John 5:39)

I perfectly reveal God the Father (John 7:28-29)

I always please God and never sin (John 8:29, 8:46)

I am uniquely sent from God (John 8:42)

before Abraham was, I Am (John 8:58)

I am the Son of Man, prophesied by Daniel (John 9:37)

I will raise Myself from the dead (John 10:17-18)

I am the Bread of Life (John 6:48)

I am the Light of the World (John 8:12)

I am the Door (John 10:9)

I am the Good Shepherd (John 10:11)

Pretty cool, huh?  If they don’t understand by now, they never will.  Their hearts will never turn.  Hence, we see Jesus retreat.

Earlier in chapter 10, Jesus tells them they are false shepherds.  He goes one step further here by saying they aren’t even sheep!

Great picture:  we are in both Jesus’ hands and God’s hands.

God and Jesus are one in essence.  “one” here has no gender.  It’s not a person.  Equally God (divine being), distinct in person.

Jesus wanted us to be one as He and the Father are one (John 17:11, 17:21). Such oneness cannot exist without an equality of essence, and all believers have this equality (Galatians 3:26-28), even as the Father and Son have this equality.

The Jews could not refute Jesus so instead they decide to stone him even though there has been no trial.  This is how much of a threat Jesus posed to the rulers.

Jesus answers the religious leaders with the law and an argument from the lesser to the greater.  The judges of Psalm 82 were called “gods” because in their office they determined the fate of other men.  In Exodus 21:6 and 22:8-9, God called earthly judges “gods.”  This is a metaphor and Jesus attempts to show them their fallacy in light of his works and who he is.

He testified as to the complete authority of the Old Testament.

Across the Jordan lay Perea.  There the Jews had no power.

John the Baptist did no miracles but was still a great man.  Great lesson for us as well.  Most of us won’t perform a miracle.  But we can make an impact on others.  Jesus’ work still goes on.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 13, Day 4: John 9:8-34

Summary of passage:  People doubted the healed blind man’s testimony when he returned from the Pool of Siloam but the man said no, it is him and Jesus healed him.  The Pharisees again take issue with the fact the miracle was performed on the Sabbath, not the fact the man can see again.  Still, the man is doubted so they bring in the man’s parents to verify who, out of fear, say ask their son.  Their son lectures the Pharisees, saying Jesus has to be from God because God does not listen to sinners.  The Pharisees throw the man out, calling him a sinner.

Questions:

9)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  They doubt even though this is a miracle all can see.  The parents are intimidated by the Pharisees so they don’t say anything.  Everyone is naturally skeptical of what you can’t understand so these people are skeptical.  However, they don’t believe the man nor his story.  This is today as well.  It’s hard to believe something unless you see it for yourself because you have to trust people and today that is hard to do.

10)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  He is much more confident in his testimony for Jesus as time passes and he probably realizes his sight is permanent.  As my life progresses towards God’s goals for me, I am encouraged and grow in faith for God and what He has for me.

11)  Personal Question.  My answer:  No one has ever confronted me about God’s work in my life.  I just don’t interact with that many people.

Conclusions:  It’s important to see how this man’s faith grows as the Pharisees try to discount the miracle.  The man moves from barely knowing what has happened to an ardent defender of Jesus, which results in his being thrown out of the church.  He stands for Jesus no matter what.  As God moves, we move.  Period.

End Notes:  Because this was a sign of the Messiah and had never happened before, the neighbors and everyone was shocked and it was hard to believe.  It appears all the man knew was Jesus’ name.  He hadn’t even seen Jesus at this point.

One of the works specifically forbidden on the Sabbath was kneading, which is technically what Jesus did with the mud.  Jesus chose this day to work the miracle to challenge all of man’s interpretations of the Sabbath.  The Sabbath was made for man not the other way around.

Jesus often divided people.  Here, the Pharisees had to chose:  either Jesus was wrong or they were wrong.  The same logic is what Nicodemus said in John 3:2.  No one can perform such miracles unless they were from God.

It’s unheard of for religious leaders to ask a layman what he thinks in terms of religion or religious people.  Obviously, the division and confusion ran deep.

The man says Jesus is a prophet.  He is now understanding more of Jesus.  Also, a prophet was allowed to break the law on the Sabbath.  This would change everything if this were true.  However, it was easier to not believe the man than believe Jesus did such a miracle.

The parents refused to speak to the how out of fear of excommunication (being thrown out of the church). This threat prevented many of standing for Jesus (John 12:42).

“Give glory to God” is a charge to tell the truth (Joshua 7:19).  Jesus is a sinner because he broke man’s laws around the Sabbath.

The man who is uneducated in the law knows one thing:  he was once blind and now he can see.  This is our testimony as well.  God’s work in our lives is merely additional support of our faith in Him.

The man born blind never wavers in his faith and in what happened to him.  He stands strong in his testimony for Jesus.  Do you?

So what do the Pharisees do?  They insult the man, who wonders why the Pharisees can’t figure out something so simple to him (miracle=God).

Isaiah 1:15 and Psalm 66:18 are passages that say God is not obligated to hear the prayer of a sinner.  God can hear the prayer of a sinner, but He doesn’t have to.  Spurgeon says of this passage:  “If Christ had been an impostor, it is not possible to conceive that God would have listened to his prayer, and given him the power to open the blind man’s eyes.”

The pride of the religious leaders about the man lecturing them led to his being excommunicated.  This is a common pattern in false religions and in political systems not steeped in freedom.  As we’ll see in the next section, this led to the man worshipping Jesus.  It turned out all for God’s good and glory.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 8, Day 4: John 6:14-15

Summary of passage:  The people began to believe Jesus was the Messiah after all the miraculous signs Jesus had done so Jesus withdrew to a mountain by himself.

Questions:

8 )  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Because they believed him to be the Promised Messiah of the Bible (Deuteronomy 18:15,18) who would provide food and water like Moses did in the wilderness.  However, they expected much more than this.  Many people follow Jesus for what they can get from him.  I follow Jesus because he is the way, the truth, and the life.  He is the only way to God and to eternal life.

9)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Jesus did this to rejuvenate after giving so much of himself as we saw (and were asked) in Lesson 8 Day 2 before the feeding of the 5000.  He also did this to avoid his enemies who are after him.  He went to be alone to pray and be closer to God, His Father.  Matthew 26:41 tells us he did it so as not to fall into temptation.  The same.  We must quiet our lives and mind in order to hear God and rejuvenate and be closer to Him.

Conclusions:  The take away here is to love Jesus in the good and the bad.  Many were converted when Jesus was providing and healing.  Many flee when hardship enters their lives.  Jesus left because the people only wanted Jesus to do things for them on earth.  Jesus wants to do things for us in heaven and forever.  He is there always as our heavenly king.  We turn to him always.  We retreat to be with him when this world becomes too harried.  We walk with him together, never away.

End Notes:  The feeding of the 5000 reminded all of Moses and his providing of manna for the people in the desert.  In Deuteronomy 18:15, Moses himself predicted the coming of the Prophet.  The people assumed he would be like Moses and here’s a guy feeding people miraculously.  Surely, this is he!

Jesus gave away free food.  Of course he was loved.  We love Jesus too when he gives.  We must love him for who he is as well.

The people wanted him as their king to save them from Rome.  Jesus was not here to be a king to set the Jewish people free from Rome, which was the widely held view of the people.  He’s a different kind of king that the people have missed in Scripture.  Hence, he withdrew to be with his King, God.  Earthly kings hold no allure.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 3, Day 3: John 2:13-17

Summary of passage:  Jesus heads to Jerusalem for Passover.  He sees in the temple courts non-Jews or merchants who were not allowed in the temple selling their wares.  He freaks out, overturning their tables, scattering their money everywhere, and whipping their animals out of the temple.

Questions:

6)  Passover to remember when the Lord passed over the courses of the Israelites when they were enslaved in Egypt when he struck down the first-born of the Egyptians but not the Israelites.  The animals were there to serve as the required sacrifices every Jewish person must make to atone for their sins.

7)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Sometimes anger is justified when God has been disrespected and his temple has been defiled.  We must stand up for God in a righteous, just, and loving way.  Furthermore, note Jesus made the whip of cords.  He thought about his actions before letting anger take over.  This was calculated and planned.  It was not a burst of passion.  This is how we should act as well–not in the heat of the moment but after the inciting incident has passed.

8a)  “Zeal for your house will consume me.”  Psalm 69:9 which reads in full:  “For zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who insult you fall on me.”

b)  Part-personal Question.  My answer:  Jesus will come to prepare the way for the Lord, to purify the people and become the acceptable sacrifice for our sins.  The abundance of his sacrifice is immeasurable.

Conclusions:  Good lesson on justifiable anger and the consequences of blatant disobedience.  We also see the importance of being pure and clean before the Lord and gain a deeper understanding of why Jesus’ sacrifice was so very important.

End Notes:  Almost 2 1/2 million Jews descended on Jerusalem for Passover, a festival where all Jewish men were required to celebrate in Jerusalem (Exodus 12).  Think about that in ancient times.  That’s a ton of people.  With this many people in one place, it attracts those who wish to sell their services as well as some unsavory individuals hoping to make a quick buck.  The moneylenders or moneychangers were there to help Jews pay the temple tax (Exodus 30:11-16) which had to be paid in special coin.  Coins in ancient times were often clipped and made of insufficient metals designed to cheat people.  Hence, the coin had to be a certain type.  The amount was the equivalent of about 2 days wages.

You will see “Passover of the Jews” or “Jewish” used a lot by John.  This was for clarity to Gentiles reading this so they would understand the festivals.

Jesus is displaying authority with the whip, not violence here.

The temple courts was the only place Gentiles could come and worship.

Note this is a different scene than what Matthew, Mark, and Luke describe.  This is at Passover near the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.  The other time is when Jesus enters Jerusalem on the eve of his death.

We can be sure the money lenders returned after Jesus left.  However, Jesus’ point was clear:  don’t defile the house of the Lord.

First we see Jesus converting water to wine and now cleansing of the temple.  This is how Jesus works:  convert and then cleanse.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 29, Day 2: Revelation 22:6-11

Summary of passage:  Jesus is coming and John falls at the feet of the angel to worship it (he did this in Revelation 19:10).  The angel told John to tell others of what he has seen and heard and to let them continue to do wrong or good as they are doing.

Questions:

3a)  God/Jesus/Holy Spirit says it’s true.  Furthermore, there are 3 witnesses to John’s testimony:  the angel, John himself, and Jesus, which was the legal requirement in ancient times for a trial (Deuteronomy 17:6; John 5:31-32).

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  All Scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16), given to man through prophets or people as a gift from God.

4)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Prophecy gives us a word to keep, not merely material for interesting discussions and debates. The main purpose of prophecy is to lead us to trust and obey God, and apply His truth to the way we live.  Obviously, if we trust and obey God more, we live God’s life more, and we are further blessed.  As my faith grows, my life is better.  I was asked over the the weekend at church to name a time when I’ve been completely blessed in my life and one of my answers was now.  I am feeling truly happy, content, and blessed with God and my life.  And I think it’s because of my strengthened faith in Him.

5a)  He said to worship God alone not fellow servants or prophets.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Not for sure if I worship anything other than God.  I am prideful sometimes and put credence in things I shouldn’t but worship (definition: to honor or reverence as a divine being or supernatural power) is a strong word.  God is at my center.  He gets all the credit.  Pray all the time.  Stay in His word as much as possible.  Do His will in my life.

Conclusions:  Saw 3b before.  Good lesson on the truth of the Bible and how we are blessed by knowing prophecy and we grow in trust in Him.  The more we know, the more we grow!

End Notes:  Revelation opens with an angel and ends with one.

“Soon” in the Greek connotes suddenly to us.  Jesus will come suddenly and in his time.  We are to ready always.

No created being is ever to be worshiped.  Angels are servants of God who minister to us (Hebrews 1:13-14).

Revelation is in contrast to Daniel 8:26; 12:4 where Daniel is told to seal up his visions about the future.  Now is the time, the angel says.  Daniel was hundreds of years before Revelation.

The angel says there will be no more time to change when Jesus comes.  The wicked will still be wicked, the good still good.  Second (and third and fourth, etc) chances are over.  Furthermore, those doing wrong will have hardened hearts and will not heed the book of Revelation (Daniel 12:10).  Those with God’s heart will be affected and shall continue to do good.

This is encouragement to us who pray for the lost and the lost loved ones we know.  There is nothing we can do but share with an open and loving heart.  God will do the rest.  And if they don’t convert, that is no fault of ours.  It is their responsibility to let God into their hearts, not ours.

Here we see the 6th Beatitude of Revelation.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 8, Day 5: Daniel 7

Summary of passage:  Daniel dreams of 4 beasts during the reign of Belshazzar king of Babylon:  a lion, a bear, a leopard, and one with horns.  A little horn appeared among them and spoke.  It was slain and thrown into a fire.  A son of man appeared and was given authority, glory, and sovereignty over all peoples, nations, and men.

The four beasts represent 4 kingdoms (Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome).  Rome is the last and will last the longest.  But in the end Jesus’ kingdom will be established for eternity.

Questions:

11a)  Daniel saw the son of man come and establish an everlasting kingdom, attended by thousands, and slaying the other beasts.

b)  Jesus is the Ancient of Days in verse 22 and he will judge all.

12)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God is in control.  He allows earthly kingdoms to exist.  But in the end, His kingdom shall reign.

13)  Personal Question.  My answer:  It does neither.  It doesn’t trouble me because as a student of history, I know all kingdoms/rulers/countries/tyrants/leaders are transitory and die and Jesus reigns.  It doesn’t encourage me either because the world is a fallen, sad place and even though I know Jesus is coming it doesn’t make living here all that much easier.  I’m ambivalent.

Conclusions:  Weak lesson without reading the commentary due to the fact we are studying prophecy here again and as we’ve learned, prophecy is impossible to understand until it has passed.

We’ve been asked a lot of questions involving encouragement. The definition of encourage is “to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope; hearten; to spur on, stimulate, to give help or patronage to; foster.”  Our world is so different from Daniel’s world.  Perhaps we know too much. We know all those empires fell.  We have God’s written word about the future and Jesus.  And we have Jesus.  We are so jaded by bad things happening in this world that encouragement is hard to come by.  At least for me, I wall out all the evil happenings in this world, so I’m not a ball of goo.  Thus encouragement is kept at bay as well.

End Notes:  Four winds of heaven connects to Revelation 7:1 and is probably satanic forces.  Four seems to be the number of created universe.  We’re talking Mediterranean Sea here.

Four Visions are Four Kingdoms:  Lion is Babylon, Bear is Medo-Persia, Leopard is Greece, Horned beast is Rome.

A lion is majestic.  A bear is ferocious (think mama bear and her cubs).  A leopard is quick and unexpected.  The horned beast was powerful and lasting.

This is Greece under Alexander the Great who conquered the entire known world in 12 short years. When he died, his empire was divided 4 ways (four heads).  Alexander the Great was a genius–put on earth for the task he performed.  He spread Western culture to most of the known world.  He ushered in the era of rule of the Ptolemiac Kingdom in Egypt.  He forever changed the known world.  He was also taken out most probably by a mosquito (malaria) at the age of 33.  Who else but God could orchestrate such talent and such tragedy?  And all for His divine purposes.

Scholars think the 3 ribs represent the kingdoms Persia conquered:  Egypt, Babylon, and Lydia.

Scholars suggest “the Ancient of Days” is God in Daniel 7:13-14.  Here, the white clothing and hair seem to suggest God and His eternal nature.  Since the son of man is separate here, it makes sense the Ancient of Days is God.  In Daniel 7:22, the “Ancient of Days” is Jesus since he pronounced judgment.  All are one as the Triune God.  We were asked to read this passage in Lesson 3, Day 5.

Fire is judgement in the Bible.

Angels and man surround God as well as books (Book of Life, remembrance, and living).

Revelation 13:5-6 speaks of the boastful words spoken by the Antichrist.

Fun Fact:  The Son of Man was used more than 80 times in the Four Gospels to describe Jesus.

Daniel 2 also discusses the 4 empires–just from man’s perspective.  Here we have God’s.

Daniel is interested most in the fourth beast because it is the most ferocious.

“Against the saints”.  The saints can either be the church or the Jewish remnant (Revelation 12:17; 13:7), causing confusion as to whether we will be on earth for the Tribulation or not.

Most scholars believe the conspicuous horn to be the Antichrist, arising out of some group of ten nations, which in some way has the Roman empire being re-established here on earth.  John Calvin interpreted the 10 rulers as actual Roman emperors, thus saying this prophecy has already been fulfilled.

Number 10:   ten toes (Daniel 2) and ten horns (Daniel 7 and Revelation 13 and 17).

“…time, times and half a time.”  This is three and a half years.  In Revelation (11:2-3, 12:6 and 13:5) this refers to half of the last seven-year period of man’s rule on this earth (the seventieth week of Daniel) otherwise known as the Great Tribulation.

Final thought:  Ready to return to the book of Revelation.

Conclusions to Lesson 8:  In studying Daniel, we are studying a man of faith.  He lived his whole life for God and God rewarded Daniel in return.  He’s a great example of how to live your religion in a secular world.  He stood on faith.  In relation to the book of Revelation, Daniel is one of the people God chose to reveal the future to.  The future we have seen revealed (the fall of Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome) and the future yet to come (the horn that arose from the 10 horns–the Antichrist).  Albeit the interpretations differ from scholars, God revealed enough to us about the future to be helpful and full of hope.

We see what a life can look like empowered by God.  That is the best lesson of all this week.  This alone is encouraging as we strive for such a life and discouraging as I know my life is no where close to Daniel’s and seems at times impossible to reach.