BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 16, Day 4: Romans 9:14-21

Summary of passage:  All is in God’s mercy and God’s plan.  All is just.  God (being God) can do what He wants.  He made us.  He chooses us for His purposes.


8 )  Part personal Question that’s completely unnecessary.  My answer:  Paul is just using past examples that his listeners would understand to drive home his point:  God can do whatever He wants and we have no right to question it.   It’s all in His will for His purposes and for His glory.  I understand this completely.

9a)  Like I’ve repeatedly said to this same line of questioning in this lesson and YESTERDAY’S.  God whom made us can do whatever He wants and us stupid humans have no right to question His authority or His reasons or His justness.

b)  I think people today think everything should be fair and should line up with their idea of justice and really don’t care about God and what He thinks.  They waste so much precious energy and time, trying to figure out a way to be fair and just instead of just letting God handle it.  In essence, people need to get over themselves.

10)  Personal repetitive question I’d rather not answer again.  My personal repetitive answer again: God shows me mercy every day as I fail Him constantly by calling me back and embracing me.  When I’m far, He is near.  When I stray, He guides me back.  When I fall, He picks me up.  When I sin, He forgives.  When I hate, He loves.  When I need Him, He is there.

Conclusions:  Paul is expounding on his points from the first part of Romans 9.  This is just a continuation.  Poor job by BSF on the repetitive questions.

End Notes:  Frequently, Paul interrupts his writing with a question or series of questions.  In doing so, he is imitating the style he learned from the rabbis in his earlier training.

God clearly explains His right to give mercy to whomever He pleases in Exodus 33:19.

Mercy is not getting what we do deserve. God is never less than fair with anyone, but fully reserves the right to be more than fair with individuals as He chooses.

Jesus spoke of this right of God in the parable of the landowner in Matthew 20:1-16.

God allowed the Pharaoh of Moses’ day to rise to power so that God could show the strength of His judgment against him, and thereby glorify Himself.  Sometimes God will glorify Himself through showing mercy; sometimes God will glorify Himself through a man’s hardness.

We should not think that God persuaded an unwilling, kind-hearted Pharaoh to be hard towards God and His people. In hardening the heart of Pharaoh, God simply allowed his heart to pursue its natural inclination.

Does the sovereign right of God to choose relieve man of responsibility?  If someone asks, “How can I go against God’s choice?”, Paul says we are not to ask because God is the creator and has the right over all things including us.  God chooses AND we are responsible.  This is what God says.  Deal with it.

Paul is not silencing all questioning of God, but he is speaking to those with an impenitent, God-defying attitude who want to make God answerable to them for what he does and who, by their questions, defame the character of God.


BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 16, Day 4: Revelation 12:10-12

Summary of passage:  A loud voice announces that the kingdom of God has come and the accuser has been hurled to earth.  He was overcome by the blood of the Lamb.  Heaven rejoices but woe to earth for the devil has been flung down and he is full of fury as he knows his time is limited.


9)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  The accuser was hurled out of heaven unto earth.  Honestly, I don’t feel guilty.  I let them go.  The past is in the past and I know God has forgiven me and I know Jesus has defeated the devil and cleansed me.  Take to heart Hebrews 9:14:  “How much more then will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!”

Romans 8:1:  “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”  Romans 8:33-34 are good as well.

By not fully allowing Jesus’s sacrifice into our hearts and by letting feelings of guilt overwhelm us we are doing a huge disservice and dishonor to his sacrifice and letting Satan win.  Please.  Let go.

Note on Question 10:  This question is very confusing.  The emphasis should be on the three ways the saints (who are the pronoun “they” here) and ultimately us as believers overcame the devil:  1)  by the blood of the Lamb  2)  by the word of their testimony  3)  by not loving their lives so much to fear death.  By separating out the verb (triumphed or overcame in NIV), the meaning is lost and jumbled and befuddled.

10)  Personal Question.  My answers:

“They triumphed over him”:  It means just that:  we overcame the devil.  Period.  The scriptures they give here are not very helpful.

“By the blood of the Lamb”:  Jesus paid the price for my sins, making me righteous and able to stand before God.  God chose me through unimaginable grace as His.

Note here:  BSF missed the more important verse in Romans!  Romans 5:8  “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us!”  It is God’s love that brung us back to Him.  He sent His only Son to die for us.  In Romans 5:7, Paul astutely points out:  what person do you know would die for you?  Someone who loves you.  But a stranger?  And would they die for a sinner like you?  A righteous man, maybe.  God’s love saved us.  He is so good.  See also:  (Ephesians 1:7, Colossians 1:14, and Hebrews 9:14).

“And by the word of their testimony”:  Knowing and remembering God’s work in my life is my testimony.  It allows me to overcome the lies Satan whispers in my ear.  As I walk in God with faith, my life is a powerful testimony to unbelievers as I proclaim His power in my life.  See End Notes for explanation on testimony.

Should say Revelation 1:2, not Revelation 1:3 here in my opinion since 1:2 uses the word “testimony”.  This is referring to the Gospel as John says “the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ”.  John is using Jesus’ life to overcome the devil.  And so should we.

“They did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death”:  Remembering my home is in heaven instead of here on earth and we find life by losing it to Jesus (Mark 8:35).  The Greek word here for love is “agape”, the love that is all-encompassing, self-sacrificing, profound love.  Willing to sacrifice for my faith even my life marks a Christian.

11a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  As my faith has grown, my reliance on Him to overcome not only the evil in my life but the evil in the world has grown.  I give it to God and let Him take it from there.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  So many!  Scripture foremost is Philippians 4:6; John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, 13; 1 Corinthians 10:13; Exodus 20; Romans 8:31 to name but a few.  Songs:  My Savior My God by Aaron Shust is my all-time favorite.  Others:  Great I Am by Phillips, Craig & Dean and Help Me Find It by Sidewalk Prophets.

Conclusions:  All personal questions but only a part of one directly asking what’s happening here.  Again, asking about worship when we see here the beginning of God’s final victory over Satan and soon we’ll see his capture and banishment.  This is to be celebrated!

Question 9:  Sometimes I think questions like this do the opposite:  we feel guilty because we don’t feel guilty over our past sins when you shouldn’t feel guilty at all.  Living in the past and dwelling on guilt from past sins robs you of your life today.  Give it to God.  He will handle it.  Know you are His and move on!  You life will dwindle away moment by moment until one day you realize you didn’t accomplish God’s purpose for your life because of the past.  Live for Him today.  That’s all you have.  Tomorrow you may not be here.  And then what?

BSF’s worst lesson in Revelation in my opinion so far.  So I made it my own.  By researching what exactly are the saints telling me here THEN AND ONLY THEN can I tell you what they mean to me.  Since I am a saint, I need to know this!

I personally feel beaten up by the “how my worship has been affected” questions.  Because I don’t feel my worship has been affected and thus being asked the question makes me feel guilty because I feel like it should be affected.  I spoke of this as well in Lesson 14 Day 3 and counted the number of times we’ve been asked.

The same goes for “comforted” and “encouraged.”  Right now, I’m not.  But I feel I should be.  So guiltily, my response is “I’m not affected” or “I’m not comforted” or “I’m not encouraged.”  Or I’m just cynical, hard-hearted, or shallow.  In time I pray.  In time.

End Notes:  The loud voice is NOT Jesus or God or an angel.  We know this because of the text says “the accuser of our brothers”, our being humanity.

Once Satan is thrown out of heaven, the accusing stops.  Until then, we must fight the good fight.  However, Satan’s accusations are meaningless if we have Christ.

Jesus’s victory is our victory.  Imagine if we lived our lives every day knowing that one Truth.

Definition of testify according to Webster’s Dictionary:  “to make a statement based on personal knowledge or belief: bear witness; to serve as evidence or proof.”

Definition of testimony according to Webster’s Dictionary: “firsthand authentication of a fact; evidence; a public profession of religious experience.”

In the book of Revelation, testimony refers to the Gospel (Revelation 1:2).

“by the word of their testimony”.  John, being the symbolic guy that he is, speaks of testimony in 1 John 5:6-12.  Water may be Jesus’ baptism.  Blood is his death on the cross.  The Spirit is the Holy Spirit.  He says these three together are God’s testimony about Jesus.  We are saved eternally through God’s testimony of His Son, Jesus Christ–as long as we believe this in our hearts.

Thus, the saints who are speaking here know what they’ve seen and heard and experienced in their lives from God and can recognize Satan’s lies that go against God.

Also, here, notice “the word”.  This doesn’t explicitly apply to God’s Word (the Bible) but we can use that as a testimony against the devil.  The more we know the Word, the more we can use that against the devil.

The angels and all of heaven is relieved Satan is gone.  It’s like when a visiting relative overstays their welcome and they finally leave!  You can almost hear the sigh of relief upon the door closing forever to Satan’s presence.

Satan’s release upon the earth is the third and final prophetic “woe” announced earlier upon the inhabitants of the earth (Rev.8:13).

In Revelation 20, we will see what ultimately happens to Satan.  Looking forward to it!

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 16, Day 4: Matthew 15:21-28

Summary of passage:  Jesus leaves Gennesaret for Tyre and Sidon.  A Canaanite woman came and asked Jesus to heal her demon-possessed daughter.  At first, Jesus did not answer and she kept on crying out to him.  The disciples, annoyed, asked Jesus to send her away.  Jesus said he was only sent to the lost sheep of Israel.

The woman begged Jesus again to help her.  He replied that it’s not right to help her when he came to help the Jews.  He called her a dog (a derogatory name Jews called Gentiles).  Yet she said she wanted only the crumbs.  For her great faith in him, Jesus granted her request.


9a)  Well, he had just insulted the Pharisees so he may have been hiding from them or leaving to decrease their wrath against him.  Commentaries I read said Jesus left Israel for this area specifically to heal this woman’s daughter.

[Note:  Nothing else is recorded in the Bible about what Jesus did here.  The very next scene Jesus is back at the Sea of Galilee.  Hence, it seems he traveled to Tyre specifically for this woman.]

b)  She called him “Lord, Son of David.”  The Canaanites are Gentiles, unbelievers in the Lord, enemies of the Jews since Abraham was called to Canaan.  This shows that she understood exactly who Jesus was.

10a)  He was explaining that he had come only for the Jewish people which we studied in Matthew 10:5-6 when Jesus told his disciples to go to the lost sheep of Israel and not the Gentiles.  Jesus came first to save God’s chosen people (the Jews).  The Gentiles would come later.

b)  She called him “Lord” again and she beseeched him to help her.  She probably knew Jesus had never turned anyone down who approached him with faith for healing, including Gentiles (Matthew 4:24-25; 8:5-13).  She appealed to his compassion and to who he was.  Thus, she was answered.

c)  We learn Jesus went to a house and wanted to keep his presence secret.  We learn the woman was a Greek who was born in Phoenicia.  Jesus says it’s not right to take the children’s (Jews) portion from them.  The woman just asked for the crumbs.  She goes home and her daughter is healed.  We can speculate that the woman was educated somewhat if she was Greek and that’s how she knows about Jesus.

11a)  She knew she wasn’t asking for a lot so she used that analogy.  She called herself a dog and the Jews her master.  She called him “Lord” again.  She admitted she was beneath him.  By her reply, we see her faith.  She responded with even more dedication and determination.  She kept knocking and thus she was rewarded for her persistence.

b)  The fact is was her daughter who was suffering and in need of healing.  Most parents will do a lot of courageous things to help their children.  So she had strong motivation to be courageous and to have faith for she probably knew if Jesus couldn’t help her, no one could.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Job losses.  Still praying for my book.

12a)  Her daughter was healed.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  She had faith in who Jesus was and she was rewarded for it.  The lesson is that we are rewarded for our faith as well.

Conclusions:  I had high hopes for this lesson because it’s the first time we see Jesus not responding immediately to a need.  We see him putting off the woman, testing her, telling her she is not Jewish and thus does not receive a portion of God’s grace.  Yet, we see the persistence of the woman and we see ourselves in her; we see our responsibility in being God’s children.  I just feel BSF didn’t drive this home enough.  Instead, we were sent to Hebrews (if you were here in Genesis, you know I constantly complained about the number of times we were sent to Hebrews and to these very same verses) and again asked about faith.  I would hope by now that it would be clear that Jesus healed based on faith of those whom he healed.  Can we move on now?

I’m not for sure how many of us wouldn’t have taken offense at the dog comment.  I know for me I am one to quickly take offense.  Yet the woman accepted it.  It might have been the times:  women were constantly berated and looked down upon so she was probably used to being compared to dogs and not challenging any authority who said so.  Yet in today’s time, it would be tough to accept it and still ask for more.  Quite the challenge and lesson for us today.

Map of Tyre and Sidon:

Another Map of Tyre and Sidon but showing Gennesaret (the Sea of Galilee) so you can see the distance Jesus traveled:

Scroll down once to see the map.  Not my favorite but the best I could find.

Concise explanation of why God chose the Jews over the Gentiles found HERE.  To simplify this though, you need only remember that the Jewish people is/was God’s chosen people–chosen to receive the gospel and carry the good news to the rest of the world.  They will always be special (which most of us Gentiles don’t like to admit–human pride and jealousy as we desire to be special as well).  The Gentiles (every non-Jew today) are included in God’s kingdom, but He will always hold the Jewish people closest to His heart.  They have a special place in His redemptive plan.

End Notes:  Tyre and Sidon were Gentile cities so why would Jesus go there?  The Phoenicians especially did not like Jews.  Jesus had a purpose.  It was this woman.  Jesus stops at nothing to achieve his purpose.  Do you?

Note the woman did not argue with Jesus or take offense at being compared to a dog.  She accepted it and pursued him until he took compassion on her.  Just as we should.

Fun Fact:  This is the only time in the Bible Jesus directly tells someone they have great faith (he told the crowd that the centurion had great faith; he never told the centurion directly like he does here).

Note also that the centurion and this woman were Gentiles–those who would not know Jewish law.  Hence, they indeed had great faith to believe in Jesus!  Again, another example of how God’s salvation is for Gentiles as well and how much He values us.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 16, Day 4: Genesis 19:1-14

Summary of passage:  The angels of the Lord who had been with Abraham now arrived at Sodom and Lot was sitting at the gateway at the time (an indication he was now one of the leaders of Sodom).  Lot recognized them as angels and bowed to them.  He acted as Abraham did, inviting them to his house to wash their feet and spend the night.

At first, the angels refused but Lot insisted so they obliged.  Lot fed them.  At nighttime, all the men of Sodom came to Lot’s house and demanded that he hand over his guests so they could have sex with them.  Lot went out and offered his daughters instead, refusing to hand over the angels who were his guests.

They pushed him aside and told him he would be treated worse than the angels.  The men tried to break in but the angels pulled Lot inside and blinded the men so they could not find the door.

Then the angels tell Lot to get his family for they are going to destroy Sodom because the outcry against the city is so strong.  Lot ran to his son-in-laws and told them what was happening but they didn’t believe him.  They laughed in his face.


11a)  Lot tried to reason with the men to not take the angels to sodomize them (verses 6-8) but the men pushed him aside, called him an alien, and threatened Lot as well (verse 9).  In verse 14 Lot’s son-in-laws laugh at Lot when he tells them the city is about to be destroyed and refuse to come.

These verses don’t show Lot’s influence on his wife but verse 26 describes how Lot’s wife looked back and turned into a pillar of salt because she didn’t want to leave Sodom.

b)  I would have thought when Lot got kidnapped by the four kings and he lost all his possessions and Abraham had to rescue him would have been a big clue to leave Sodom (Genesis 14:12-16).  But I think because Lot regained all that was taken due to God’s goodness Lot didn’t take the warning seriously.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God often warns us and tries to re-direct our path when we are not following His will but our own.  He does this in many ways that often aren’t as dramatic as a kidnapping such as losing a job, a car accident, a death or illness in the family, or any other hiccup in your path that you know deep down inside is God.

The lesson is to heed these warnings and not to ignore them before it is too late and something irrevocable happens.

12)  He could have moved his family at any time away from the filth of Sodom to a more Godly environment.  Lot was rich enough he could have taken his flocks elsewhere and not suffered financially.  Instead, he was blinded by Sodom’s temptations and chose to stay.  He ignored God’s warnings and in the end paid the ultimate price:  degradation and loss of his family.

Conclusions:  God will keep trying to get our attention to move us to His path instead of ours.  If He has to take out our family in order to do it (like He did with Lot’s wife), He will.  Luckily, I think this is on the extreme side of God’s will for us.  But it happens.  We must remember God is in control and when we try to take control back from Him, we are in danger of being grasped by the devil and pulled under.

The key to understanding Lot is this:  he compromised his beliefs.  Yes, he was a believer. And he is in heaven today.  But he wanted to live in the world and enjoy life’s pleasures. So he allowed his family to be around evil-doers who unduly influenced them.  As Paul says, we must be careful our actions do not become a stumbling block for others who are weaker in the faith (1 Corinthians 8:9-13).  Children are undoubtedly weaker.

Lot was in such a bad situation that he felt he had to offer up his daughters to be raped to protect his guests (unjustifiable in any case but we see just how bad Sodom is).  He definitely wasn’t acting in his kids’ best interest when he moved to Sodom.

Lot was selfish.  He wanted pleasure now.  He wanted treasure on earth rather than in heaven.  As a result, he hurt (and eventually lost) those around him.

The same is for us.  We must heed God’s word and not compromise God’s truths.  For the sake of others around us if not for ourselves.  Otherwise, our life could mirror Lot’s.  Not exactly a role model I admire or want to emulate to say the least.

Life is not about us.  It’s about Him.  We would do well to remember that.