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 Romans Lesson 3, Day 3: Romans 5-16

Summary of passage:  When you don’t repent, you are storing up wrath on the day of judgment.  God will give to each person according to what he has done.  Eternal life, honor, peace, and glory to those who do good.  Wrath and anger, trouble and distress to evil-doers.  All will be judged.  Those who obey the law will be declared righteous on the Day of Judgment by Christ.

Questions:

6)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  God’s wrath.  Good and treasures in heaven I hope.

7a) Eternal life, honor, peace, and glory to those who do good.  Wrath and anger, trouble and distress to evil-doers.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I hope goodness.

8 )  Jesus Christ.

Conclusions:  Terse answers on the personal questions.  It’s hard to judge oneself.  In my eyes and from my limited perspective, I’m doing good.  I’m sure I’m failing though in places in God’s eyes.  The questions would better be worded, “What would a friend say about your heart attitude and storing up for God?”  Or even better if we were asked to pray about what God sees in us and have Him reveal it to us.

End Notes:  Those who condemn sinners are storing up the wrath of God, not merits.  God is the only one who can grant eternal life because none of us are good all the time.  Sin stains us.

Jews are first in line for the gospel (Romans 1:16), first in line for reward (Romans 2:10), and first in line for judgment.

The word indignation comes from the idea of “boiling up,” thus having the sense of a passionate outburst. The word wrath comes from the idea of a swelling which eventually bursts, and applies more to an anger that proceeds from one’s settled nature.

Paul is emphasizing how people are saved by faith not by deeds and if one “persists in doing good” this is proof of genuine faith.

All are equal in God’s eyes.  The word translated partiality in some translations comes from two ancient Greek words put together – to receive and face. It means to judge things on the basis of externals or preconceived notions.

“All who sin apart from the law” refers to the Gentiles.  God judges according to the light available to them.  Gentiles will not be condemned for not obeying a law they did not possess.  Their judgement will be on other grounds.

Some ancient rabbis taught that God favored the Jews.  Paul refutes this.

All that matters is if you’ve obeyed the law.  Hearing the law or knowing the law is not good enough.

Paul clarifies that even if you haven’t heard the law per se, you can be condemned unless you follow the law written on your heart (law for themselves or conscience, which is the law abiding in their hearts).  By nature, man has morals.  But this is not a substitute for God’s laws.

Your conscious is your morals but everyone’s conscious is different and it can become corrupted.  You still need to follow the law to gain righteousness.  Conscious (like God) can still be ignored.

You still will be judged since all of us have a conscious.  No one escapes.  Ignorance is not an excuse.  Jesus is the judge to whom we will all be accountable.  The Jews believe God is the one who will deliver final judgement on the world.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 24, Day 3: John 18:1-12

Summary of passage: Jesus and his disciples left the upper room, crossed the Kidron Valley, and stopped in an olive grove. Judas shows up with officials and soldiers armed with weapons. They ask for Jesus who declares himself. Peter drew his sword to defend Jesus and cut off the ear of a servant named Malchus. Jesus chastises Peter, telling him this is his destiny.

Jesus was arrested and bound.

Questions:

6)  He does everything he can to protect his disciples.  He calls attention to himself.  He stuns everyone with his declarative power.  He asks for his disciples to go free.  He stops Peter from defending him so he can fulfill God’s plan for us.  He reminds us this is the cup/plan the Father has given him.  He submits to the soldiers, not fighting or escaping.

7)  John leaves out the entire saga of Jesus asking God for the cup to be taken from him and the disciples falling asleep in the Garden.  He leaves out Judas’ betrayal with a kiss.  He leaves out some of Jesus’ words and how the disciples fled.  He leaves out the healing of the ear.  John keeps it very simple and focuses on Jesus protecting the disciples and fulfilling God’s plan for his life and humanity.

8 )  Personal Question.  My answer:  Jesus loves us so much to suffer and die for us and I need to love him as much–or at least as much as is humanly possible here on earth.  Seeing God’s plan being fulfilled helps me to know God will fulfill His plans for my life as well.

Conclusions:  Good to read the other accounts and see the differences.  I love how all taken together gives us the whole picture of that night.  It would have been amazing to have been there!

End Notes:  The Kidron was a small stream that was the drainage from the temple, and would be reddish from the blood of thousands of Passover lambs. This would have been a vivid reminder to Jesus of His soon sacrifice.  Info on Kidron Valley HERE  Cool maps of Jesus’ last 24 hours HERE and HERE

John did not name this as the Garden of Gethsemane, but the other Gospel writers did (Matthew 26:36 and Mark 14:32). Jesus often met there with His disciples, perhaps to sleep for the night under the shelter of the olive trees or in a nearby cave. Hence, why Judas knew Jesus would be there that night and why Jesus went–so Judas could easily find him knowing he was searching for him.

John does not go into detail in the Garden, leaving that to the other apostles to do so.

Judas came with many soldiers, expecting a struggle. How he didn’t know our Lord! Jesus could have wiped them out with a word. This harkens to the Garden of Eden. Man lost that round. He would win this round!

Jesus speaks first for 2 reasons: 1) He wanted any potential violence to be directed to Him and not to His disciples. 2) Jesus wanted Judas and the detachment of troops to announce their evil intention.

IMPORTANT NOTE: I am: Jesus answered them with two words in both English and in the Greek (ego eimi). He did not say, “I am he”–that was added by translators and not in the original text. Jesus was consciously proclaiming himself God, just like he did throughout his testimony on earth (John 8:58; 6:48, 8:12, 9:5, 10:9, 10:11-14, 10:36, 11:25, 14:6).

This explains why all fell back. When Jesus proclaims himself “I am” the power and presence of God overwhelms the soldiers and they are afraid. We’re talking probably upwards of 500 soldiers sent to arrest Jesus and all were petrified. Jesus could have escaped then, but he didn’t. For our sakes.

Jesus asks them again who he is in order to shock them back to reality. He repeats I am but with less force. He willingly gives himself up and asks for his disciples to go free. Sacrificial love. The show of power was to protect them as well. This was a command to let them go. He promised the Father he would protect them (John 17:12). There would be no harm to his disciples as long as Jesus was there! This was also the signal for the disciples to slip away, which they did all except Peter and John.

John is the only writer to identify Peter as the one with the sword. Peter was fulfilling his promise to protect Jesus (Matthew 26:35).

Cutting off the right ear is significant. Scholars say this meant Peter, holding the sword in his right hand, must have attacked the high priest’s servant from behind, because it would be near impossible to cut off his right ear if he was facing the servant Malchus. It is entirely possible that Peter deliberately chose a non-solider, and attacked him from behind. This was not a shining display of courage. And given the fact we know Peter is about to deny Jesus 3 times, this was probably an impulsive display that was safe for him.

Why is the servant mentioned by name here? Scholars speculate that Malchus may have eventually become a Christian and would have been known to the early Christian community at the time of this writing. This is a pattern we see throughout the rest of the Gospels and Acts.

Peter’s thoughtless action may have erupted into violence and the disciples getting hurt. Jesus stops Peter for his own good and for the disciples. And so he could die on the cross. John leaves out how Jesus healed the man’s ear (Luke 22:51).

The cup signifies suffering and the wrath of God. It came from the Father. God is in control.

The captain was a Roman and the others were Jews. Both were complicit in Jesus’ death. Jesus consented to be bound. He could break those easily.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 2, Day 5: John 1:43-51

Summary of passage:  Jesus calls Philip and Nathanael as disciples in Galilee.  Philip is called first and he tells Nathanael who wonders if anything good can come from Nazareth.  Jesus knows Nathanael instantly and tells all that they will see heaven open and the angels of God ascend and descend on him.

Questions:

10)  John the Baptist, Andrew, and Philip.  Their faith, their strength of character, their heart for God, their commitment and perseverance for Christ.

11a)  Nathanael upon hearing that Jesus was from Nazareth wondered how anything good could come from Nazareth.  This is an honest and a prejudice response.  Nathanael, however, keeps an open mind and does follow Philip to come and see.  Nathanael asked Jesus how he knew him and we’re told Jesus saw Nathanael meditating on Scripture under the fig tree.  So he knows all about Jesus and asks questions.  And Nathanael declares Jesus truthfully who he is:  The Son of God and the King of Israel.

Thus, Nathanael does not allow prejudice to get in his way.  He investigates until he has his answer.  He thinks for himself.  Imagine if Nathanael hadn’t of followed Philip.  He would have missed Jesus!  Don’t let that happen to you!

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I think and question a lot.  I’m pretty honest.  We’re all born prejudiced in terms of making judgments on others.  It’s something we work our whole lives at to overcome.

12)  The stairway that linked heaven and earth was made possible by Jesus, who is the bridge (or the ladder) between heaven and earth.  This is what Jesus is referring to when he declares he’ll be the one in the middle, “the way, the truth the life” (John 14:6).  Heaven open means the disciples will see heaven’s testimony about Jesus as plainly as if they heard an announcement from heaven.

Conclusions:  The testimonies and the different ways people come to Jesus is prominent here.  All of our paths are different and all of our journeys are different.  As long as the path leads to Jesus, none of it matters.

Great example of overcoming prejudice and thinking and investigating for ourselves.  Our minds make unconscious judgements but we can consciously override them and see people for who they truly are.  Great lesson!

End Notes:  Philip, Andrew, and Peter were all from Bethsaida.  Undoubtedly, they all knew each other as 2000 years ago villages were small and close-knit.  This is not the first time Jesus has met Philip.  He’s met them before but here John is recorded the formal invitation by Jesus to Philip to follow him.  This we know from the other gospel accounts of this incident.

Nazareth was a town of ill-repute in the ancient world.  It was small and dinky.  Could anything good come from such a place?  This is how God works.  He takes the unexpected and makes it big.  Great analysis of this scene HERE

The Greek verb follow here has the sense of perpetuity.  “Keep on following….”

Bethsaida means “House of the fisherman” or “Fishertown.”  It’s very close to where the Jordan River enters the Lake of Galilee.  See map of Bethsaida in relation to Nazareth HERE.

Philip declares Jesus the one Moses wrote about in the law.

Rabbi is the Hebrew word for teacher.

Nathanael is the same person as Bartholomew.

Jesus compliments Nathanael by saying there is nothing false or no deceit within him.

“Under the fig tree” was a phrase Rabbis used when meditating on Scripture.  Hence, most likely Jesus saw Nathanael in prayer.  He could have been under an actual fig tree as well.

Then Nathanael recognizes Jesus as the Son of God.

Jesus says there is greater things to come.  This applies to us today.  Do you believe it?  Do you believe there are much greater things to come with Jesus?

Why does Jesus quote Genesis here and reference Jacob’s dream?  Perhaps this was the very Scripture Nathanael had been meditating on under the fig tree.

Jesus calls himself many times the Son of Man.  This references Daniel 7:13-14 where the King of Glory who will judge the world is called the Son of Man, a messianic title.  It is Jesus’ favorite self-designation.  It is used 81 times in the Gospels and never used by anyone else but Jesus here.

Fun Fact:  “Truly I tell you” occurs more in their Gospel than in any other Gospel and nowhere else in the New Testament.  John is the only one who prefaces the phrase with “very” a total of 25 times.

Conclusions to Lesson 2:  Here we see 4 ways to come to Jesus:

  1. Andrew by the preaching of John the Baptist.
  2. Peter because of his brother.
  3. Philip who was called directly by Jesus
  4. Nathanael who personally encountered Jesus

We also see 4 different testimonies to the identity of Jesus:

  1.  John the Baptist testified Jesus is eternal, the man uniquely anointed with the Holy Spirit, the Lamb of God, and the unique Son of God.
  2. Andrew testified Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ.
  3.  Phillip testified Jesus is the One prophesied in the Old Testament.
  4.  Nathaniel testified Jesus is the Son of God and the King of Israel.

We see all of Jesus’ titles in one chapter in the Bible.  Do you still doubt who Jesus is?

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 20, Day 5: Revelation 16:15-21

Summary of passage:  Jesus will come like a thief and will bless those who are ready.  The kings will gather at Armageddon.  The seventh angel pours out his bowl, completing the judgments.  Jerusalem (“the great city”) splits, other nations’ cities collapse, Babylon disappears, mountains and islands vanish, and huge hailstones fall from the sky.  Still, God is cursed by unbelievers who refuse to turn to Him amidst this calamity.

Questions:

12a)  Jesus

b)  The seventh bowl unleashes total devastation upon earth and its inhabitants:  Jerusalem (“the great city”) splits, other nations’ cities collapse, Babylon disappears, mountains and islands vanish, and huge hailstones fall from the sky.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I have experienced a tornado.  We’ve all probably heard of tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions (Pompeii anyone?), tornados, hail storms, etc.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  It means that God will make it so overwhelmingly obvious that this is the End Times that those who don’t turn to Him are not to be saved.

13a)  Be ready for Jesus could come at any moment.

b)  The clothes are our garments of salvation and righteousness.  Romans says they are Jesus as well as Galatians.  Christ is our clothes.  Therefore, to remain clothes means to stay true to Jesus.

See Ephesians 4:20-24 as well.

14)  Personal Question.  My answer:  This relates to Lesson 19 Day 5 Question 13.  Because God loves us so much, He corrects us and judges us.  Because He does love us so much, He brings justice and vengeance against His people.  Sin and disobedience deserve God’s wrath.  Otherwise, how else would we know right from wrong?  What would stop us from murdering anyone who angers us?  God sets the laws and He enforces them.  That is the definition of love–just like as a parent we do to our children–out of love.

Conclusions:  I wonder how people can be so stupid in what is obvious happenings from the One, True God.  Sickness and sorrow, pain and poverty, disease and despair do not lead to God.  They strengthen believers who suffer such hardships.  Those whose hearts are hard will remain so.

I love how we clothe ourselves with Jesus.  What a beautiful image!

Questions were so-so.  Would have liked to have explored Armageddon more.  Hopefully we will as we read more about it.

End Notes:  Jesus speaks to us and we see this elsewhere in the Bible (Matthew 24:42-44; Luke 12:35-40; 1 Thessalonians 5:2-4; 2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 3:3) and is always directed to believers, not to the world.  This could refer to the Rapture or the Second Coming, depending on whether you think Christians will be here for the Tribulation or not.

Note the Third Beatitude of Revelation in verse 15.  Awesome amidst all this mayhem and destruction we are still blessed!  God is so, so amazing!

In Hebrew, Armageddon is Har-Megiddo with Har meaning mountain and Megiddo meaning valley.  Is this an actual place or merely symbolic?

Well, Megiddo is in an actual place located in northern Israel (See Map HERE) frequently associated with decisive battles.  It is about 14 by 20 miles long.

Armageddon has been the site of many military struggles throughout Israel’s history.  Deborah over Sisera (Judges 5:19); Gideon over the Midianites (Judges 7); Pharaoh over Josiah (2 Kings 23:29; 2 Chronicles 35:22).

Some historians say more wars have been fought here than in any other location in the world.  Over 200 battles have been fought in the region, from 1468 B.C. (with Pharaoh Tuthmosis III) to 1917 (with Lord Allenby of the British).  This is just RECORDED history–battles that we know of.  No telling how many skirmishes and unrecorded battles there have been.  Thus, it is an appropriate symbol/location for the final battle of the world between good and evil.

Answer:  It is best to see the place as literal, as the region of Megiddo and the valley of Esdraelon (“God sorrows”). Revelation 16:14, 17:14 and 19:19 described an organized battle that must center somewhere, even if it extends much further.

“Naked” in verse 15 means put on one’s own covering instead of God’s (Genesis 3:7; Isaiah 64:6).

Note this judgment is poured out in the AIR as opposed to the earth.  This could reference Satan himself (Ephesians 2:2).

We’ve seen earthquakes many times in Revelation.  We see it in Hebrews 12:26 as well.

Babylon will be re-visited in depth in Revelation 17 & 18.  Just note Babylon received both kinds of Greek word anger (thymus & orge).  Not good for Babylon.

We’ve seen hail as a tool of judgment before as well:  Egypt (Exodus 9:24), the Canaanites (Joshua 10:11), apostate Israel (Isaiah 28:2), and Gog and Magog (Ezekiel 38:22).  This is an appropriate ending to the judgments considering that God has made blasphemy punishable by stoning (Leviticus 24:11-16).

This is the end of the Tribulation judgments. (“It is done!”)

Conclusions to Revelation 16:  We must remember Satan and his lackeys are always lingering, ready to strike and deceive God’s people.  They are made immortal through worship.  We must be ready at all times!  No nation ever thought they’d fall.  Yet every empire throughout history has–except one:  Israel–God’s people who have persisted to this day and the Bible says will persist to the end.

Revelation is a “great” chapter (or synonyms and various translations thereby):  (Revelation 16:1, 9, 12, 14, 17, 18, 19, 21).  Everything about God is great!

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 19, Day 4: Revelation 14:6-13

Summary of passage: John sees 3 angels. The first proclaims the eternal gospel to the earth and says to turn to God because the judgment has come. The second says how Babylon has fallen. The third warns that whoever worships the beast or bears his mark will have God’s fury, be tormented with burning sulfur, and have no rest. God says blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.

Questions:

9a)  The mark of the beast appears on those who have chosen to worship Satan instead of God.  They may prosper here but for eternity they will drink from the cup of wrath which Jesus did for believers and be tormented for eternity day and night by burning sulfur.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I touched on this last lesson about how I wish more churches would discuss the consequences of choosing Satan over God.  Unbelievers face a grim, dismal, and undesirable future in hell. It is not a pretty picture.  Fully understanding what unbelievers face (and we’ll see more details later on in Revelation and talk more about this) does make me more concerned especially about family members and loved ones who don’t believe.  Yet at the same time, knowing we all have a choice, there are no excuses for not knowing Him, lends me little compassion at times especially when I read about indiscriminate killings and abuse.

10)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God encourages the saints (those who accept Christ during the Great Tribulation) to be steadfast during the judgments and remain faithful and their deeds will be remembered in heaven.  Same goes for us–our deeds will follow us to heaven.  What we do here matters.

Conclusions:  Good lesson.  I like the emphasis on what happens to those who don’t believe.  Very important since like I said a lot of churches these days focus on “kind, loving, and accepting Jesus” and ignore the wrath of God.

End Notes:  See YESTERDAY’S notes.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 18, Day 3: Various Passages

Summary of passages:  Various passages for the day.

Questions:

6)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  By God’s Will Jesus took on our suffering as a guilt offering to satisfy God and to justify us (Isaiah).  Jesus says he must suffer, be killed and risen to life (Matthew).  Acts says God planned Jesus’s death for His purposes.  “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”  Romans–no mention of suffering here though except through death.

Truthfully, I haven’t and I don’t believe I can ever come close to expressing my gratitude and appreciation for what Jesus has done on the cross for me.  I try to though by doing His will in my life, putting Him first, caring for His people and creatures and all He has given me, giving the glory to Him for all the good in my life, thanking Him repeatedly, and trying to live the life He wants me to by being like Jesus.

7)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  This is the exact same question as Lesson 3, Day 4 Questions 10b & 11a & Lesson 4, Day 5 Question 15 & in Lesson 12, Day 4 Question 11a.

In Mark Jesus says we must deny ourselves and take up our cross daily to follow him in order to gain eternal life.  Acts tells us if we suffer for Him, it makes us worthy.  Suffering allows us to know Christ more and the power of his suffering and fellowship with him and becoming more like Jesus.  (Philippians)

Suffering increases your faith no doubt about it.  Through faith, we know Him more, depend on him more, and love Him and His ways more.  It makes us more like Christ and our gratitude grows along with our character.  I have definitely experienced all of this and more through various trials:  bankruptcy, death, hard times, moving, etc.  But the gains have SO been worth it and eternity is near.  A life led for others is richness indeed.  See yesterday’s LINK for more purposes of suffering.

Conclusions:  Day of recounting our sufferings as we’ve seen/done in previous lessons.  Feel beaten down and we still have 2 more days of this!

End Notes:  Brief Note on Mark 8:34-38:  This passage is often misunderstood.  Denying yourself and taking up your cross simply put means we surrender ourselves to Christ and take up His will.  In the first century, the cross meant crucifixion.  It meant death.  It didn’t have any traditions or rituals or fuzzy or spiritual feelings attached to the cross and it wasn’t a symbol or associated yet with Jesus and Christianity.  The cross was death.  Period.

Deny self, take up cross, follow Jesus means:  We cannot save ourselves; hence, we follow the one who can save us–Jesus.  This is why we deny ourselves–to find life.

See this LINK.  Great reference for suffering in the Bible and its purposes in the passages quoted.