BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 20, Day 2: Romans 11:33-36

Summary of passage:  This doxology that ends this section of Romans is the natural outpouring of Paul’s praise to God, whose wisdom and knowledge brought about his great plan for the salvation of both Jews and Gentiles.

Questions:

3)  Paul is praising God due to His grace extended to the Jews who will be saved.  God has not forgotten them, His call upon them is irrevocable, and Israel as a whole will turn to God.

4)  God has offered his grace and mercy to the Gentiles because of the Israelites transgressions.  This will make Israel envious and in turn bring the elect among them to Christ.

5)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Given me a job opportunity from home where I can improve our income significantly.

Conclusions:  This whole lesson is on Paul’s Doxology (a liturgical formula of praise to God).  I’ll be curious to see where BSF goes with this.  This lesson covers the “why” behind this praise.

End Notes:  Paul is reflecting upon God’s overarching plan for the ages and all of mankind.  Paul realizes and states here how God’s ways are beyond men and we have no hope of figuring out His plan for the future.  God’s wisdom and knowledge are beyond him.

The quotations from Isaiah 40:13 and Job 41:11 emphasize both God’s wisdom and sovereign conduct; no one can make God their debtor.

You’ll never be able to repay God for all He’s done for you.  His is a debt only Jesus can clear.

The plan is God’s.  Only He can accomplish this plan.  All for God’s glory, honor, and pleasure.

The fact that Paul can’t figure out God makes him glorify God all the more. When we understand some of the greatness of God, we worship Him all the more passionately.

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BSF Study Questions John Lesson 20, Day 2: John 15:1-8

Summary of passage: Jesus says he is the vine and God is the gardener. God cuts off those who don’t bear fruit and prunes the branches that do bear fruit. Believers will only bear fruit if they remain in Jesus. Apart from Jesus, you can do nothing. Ask whatever you wish and as long as you remain in Jesus, your wish will be granted. For God’s glory you will bear much fruit.

Questions:

3)  Personal Question. My answer: The Christian life is a life of being molded by God. As long as we believe and stay with God, he will grant us many blessings and we will accomplish many great things. It helps me to know God has my back and I will do great things and accomplish much in my time here on earth. It gives me hope and inspiration to do more than what I’m doing now.  Apart from Jesus, we are nothing.

4)  Part personal Question. My answer:  The work of pruning or cleansing has already begun in the disciples as they listen to the Word of God. There is an initial cleansing and then more (John 13:10). Through the Word, we are cleansed (Ephesians 5:26). It condemns sin, inspires holiness, and promotes growth.  Jesus cleans us or purifies us to be with God. No verse “made me clean”. Only the blood of Jesus did that (1 John 1:7).

5)  Part personal Question. My answer: It means to always do what Jesus would do, follow God’s will for your life, and obey God and His Word. Remain connected to him.  The believer has no fruitfulness apart from union and fellowship with Christ.  A branch out of contact with the vine is lifeless.  By doing His calling in my life, living out the principles, values, and teachings of the Bible, and being a good mother, worker, and role model for a believer in Christ.

Conclusions: Good focus on what you’re supposed to be doing in this world and even if you aren’t sure, how you can still lead a life true to Christ’s by remaining in him through developing a personal relationship of prayer and dedication to His word.

End Notes:  Most scholars believe Jesus is speaking to the disciples here as they are standing in the upper room, preparing to depart.  Jesus only has a few more hours to prepare his disciples for the tumult ahead.  These are his closest friends and he is about to leave them.  He knows they will face fierce opposition, hatred, beatings, and execution.  So, he reaches for an allegory to explain himself again.

One, grapes.  They were just drinking wine.  He says they must remain connected to him in order to bear everlasting fruit.  Two, dead branches.  They have lost their connection somehow and now useless.

The vine.  Jesus’ 7th and last I am statement.  This would have stood out to both believers and unbelievers since everyone knew God as the great “I am”. Jesus is equivocating himself with God in all these statements.

The vine was a familiar symbol.  God repeatedly used a vine as a symbol of His people in the Hebrew Scriptures (Psalm 80:8-9).  Yet it was often used in a negative sense (as in Isaiah 5:1-2, 7 and Jeremiah 2:21).  Just in the previous week Jesus publicly taught about Israel being like a vineyard in the Parable of the Vineyard (Matthew 21:33-44).

Vineyards were everywhere in ancient Israel. There was a large golden vine set as a prominent decoration on the front of the temple communicating the idea that Israel was God’s vine.  And it was a recognized symbol of the Messiah.

Jesus is the true vine.  We must be rooted in him in order to bear fruit.  The branch and the vine picture complete dependence upon one another as well.  The vine in the Old Testament pictured Israel and God as the tender of the vine.

There are two understandings for verse 2.  Either the branches are taken away because they were never abiding the first place (judgment) or they are lifted up (another possible translation of the Greek) to be taken care of.

The word for prunes does mean cleansing as well in the Greek.  The vine will maximize its fruit if it is pruned.  God removes the dead wood from his church and disciplines the life of the believer so that it is directed into fruitful activity.  Good fruit in the New Testament represents a godly life (Matthew 3:8; 7:16-20) or virtues of character (Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 5:9; Philippians 1:11).

The work of pruning has already begun in the disciples as they listen to the Word of God. There is an initial cleansing and then more (John 13:10). Through the Word, we are cleansed (Ephesians 5:26).  It condemns sin, inspires holiness, and promotes growth.

Abiding or remaining is a two-way street.  Choose to abide in Jesus and he will abide in you.  You have to be connected to the vine, to Jesus, to bear fruit.  Otherwise, it’s impossible.

Jesus repeats himself that he is the vine since so often they thought of Israel as the vine.  The purpose of caring for the vine is to receive fruit.  In this sense, we can say that fruit represents Christian character (such as the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5). God’s work in us and our connection to Him should be evident by fruit, and perhaps by much fruit.  Fruits contain seeds which are meant to be spread.

Jesus abides in us in an active way.

We can do nothing of real, eternal value without Jesus.  You must remain connected to the master or you will fail.

Note you are thrown away, withered, and then burned–a slow progression of losing that connection with the Father.  Fire is associated with punishment and eternal repercussions like the burning lake of sulphur in Revelation.  It also was an Old Testament symbol of punishment.

Verse 6 Interpretations of the cast out branches:

1) Believes are the cast out branches who, though once true believers, end up in hell for lack of abiding and fruit. They were once disciples, but are now cast out

2) The cast out branches are ones who only appeared to be disciples, and who never really abided in Jesus, and therefore go to hell (like Judas)

3) The cast out branches are fruitless disciples who live wasted lives that are in effect burnt up, and this passage doesn’t refer to their eternal destiny (like Lot, Abraham’s nephew)

However, all agree that there are no true disciples who do not abide. The branch must remain connected to the vine or it has no life and is of no lasting good.  Genuine salvation is evidenced by a life of fruitfulness.

Verse 7:  Jesus connected abiding to the idea of faithfulness to His words (John 14:23-24) and answered prayer (John 14:13-14).

Spurgeon says “Prayer is the natural outgushing of a soul in communion with Jesus.  It comes spontaneously from those who abide in Jesus.”

It is impossible to pray correctly apart from knowing and believing the teachings of Christ.

Abiding in Jesus means abiding in His words, and having His words live in the disciple.

Tenney explains:  “The connection is maintained by obedience and prayer. To remain in Christ and to allow his words to remain in oneself means a conscious acceptance of the authority of his word and a constant contact with him by prayer.”

This faithful, abiding disciple should expect answered prayer as part of their relationship with Jesus. A failure to see prayer answered means something is not right in the disciple’s relationship. Perhaps something is not right in the abiding, and prayers are amiss and unanswered. Perhaps something is not right in the asking and there is no perception of what Jesus wants to do in and through His disciple.

Verse 8:  We must remember bearing fruit is for God’s glory, not our own. When we achieve great things, it is God’s will and through God’s might not ours.  We give credit to Him for we ourselves can do nothing.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 20, Day 2: Revelation 15:1-4

Summary of passage:  John saw 7 angels with 7 last plagues, having God’s wrath completed.  Standing around a sea of glass were the victorious over the beast and they sang the song of Moses and of the Lamb to God, praising Him.

Questions:

3)  John saw a sea of glass with fire and saw those victorious over the beast standing beside the sea.  They held harps and sang the song of Moses and the Lamb.

4)  God does great and marvelous deeds.  Just and true are His ways.  He is King of the ages (forever).  He alone is holy.  All nations will come and worship Him and His righteous acts.

5)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Praise Him for His faithfulness, His absolute control over my life and this world, His love for me and those I love, and for His Son, Jesus, who He sacrificed so I could be with Him forever.

Conclusions:  Straight-forward questions re-stating the passage.  Love again how in heaven God is praised continually.

End Notes:  Revelation 14 we saw the blunt of God’s fury with unbelievers.  Now John will step back to the throne room in heaven and detail the judgments, the preparations before Chapter 16’s judgments.  This is very common in prophetic literature–Saying what will happen and then pausing to describe it more.

These angels we see again in Chapter 16.  The 7 angels hold 7 bowls with 7 plagues, one in each bowl which will be poured out on the earth.  These are the last judgments, completing God’s wrath.

We see 7 plagues in Leviticus 26:21.

The Greek word for wrath used here (thymus) is a burning passionate anger as we saw in Revelation 14:10.  The Greek word urge (a more mild form of anger) is the more common word for God’s anger in the New Testament.  Thymos is used only 11 times, and 10 of which are in Revelation.  Wouldn’t it make sense when God is angry against those who are rejecting His only Son?

The Greek word for complete (etelesthe) in verse 1 means to reach an aim.

We’ve seen this sea before in Chapter 4 of Revelation but this time it has fire mixed with it, which scholars say speaks to divine judgment.

Allusions to Exodus are all over this chapter.  Some say the red of the fire speaks to the Red Sea.  We see plagues, the songs of Moses, the tabernacle, and God’s glory in a cloud.  This is the ultimate Exodus:  the freeing of God’s people from sin in the world.

Those who are standing over the beast are the martyrs from Revelation 7:9-17–the 144,000 and from chapter 14.  We are still in the Tribulation here; it is not over.  The bowl judgments are yet to come (Chapter 16).  However, they are victorious because they have been faithful–this is NOT a military victory.  This is a victory of faith.

This is another example of prophetic certainty.  The beast is defeated although it hasn’t happened yet.  What would happen if we truly embraced that truth in our lives?

Many scholars believe the sea of glass represents God’s word, connecting to the tabernacle and baptism.  This would mean the martyrs are standing on God’s word.

The harps were given to the 24 elders in Revelation 5:8.  Now the martyrs have harps as well to praise God with!

This is ONE song sung with TWO names:  The song of Moses and the song of the Lamb.  The Old Covenant and the New Covenant, the law and the love.

In this song we see God’s:  works, ways, worthiness, and worship.  The song is all about God–note only the pronouns you and your are used.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 20, Day 2: Numbers 12:16-13:25

Summary of passage:  The people are camped in the Desert of Paran.  The Lord told Moses to send out leaders from each tribe to explore the land of Canaan.  Moses obeyed and sent out 12 men, including Joshua from the tribe of Ephraim.  Moses sent them up through the Negev to explore the land and see if it was fertile, who lived there, what were the towns like, etc.  After 40 days of traveling throughout the land, they returned.

Questions:

3a)  The Lord told Moses to sent out leaders from each tribe to explore the land of Canaan (the land He is giving them–that’s the promise).

b)  To see what they were up against.  Every good leader does reconnaissance.  Like Moses says in verses 17-20, he lists some reasons:  to see what the land is like, if the people are few and if they are strong, what the towns are like, the soil, the fruit, etc.

c)  (Same answer I just gave in b):  To see what they were up against. Every good leader does reconnaissance. Like Moses says in verses 17-20, he lists some reasons: to see what the land is like, if the people are few and if they are strong, what the towns are like, the soil, the fruit, etc.  He tells them to explore Canaan.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Don’t compare this question to Moses’ directive. Moses was ordered by God to explore the land first.  Note the word “consider”.  My answer:  If it is on God’s order, you go without consideration.  If you are unsure, you pray first.  You then need to be prepared either way:  know what you are getting into so you can better serve God in your circumstances.  Research the area, etc.

4a)  Some of the land is a desert but it is fruitful as exhibited by the cluster of grapes, pomegranates, and figs.

b)  40 days

c)  Deuteronomy tells us they are strong and tall.  Joshua tells us that he gave Caleb, a descendant of Anak, land in Judah called Hebron.  Numbers tells us the descendants of Anak are stronger than the Israelites (or so they believe–this is Numbers 13:31) and are of great size.  They say the Nephilim live there and the Israelites are afraid to go.

Conclusions:  I liked the idea of 3d.  We should know what we are getting into when the Lord calls us to  something new.  However, that doesn’t mean we should not do it if if is not to our liking (like we’ll see in the rest of Numbers 13 and 14 where the Israelites rebels and through a huge fit out of their fears).  There is a fine line between obedience and dissent and turning away from God when we don’t like something He presents to us.

Map of Negev and Hebron:  http://www.cathydeaton.com/The%20Negev%20-%20Concise%20Bible%20ATlas%20.bmp

Map showing route of 12 explorers (really small though):  http://www.visualbiblealive.com/image-bin/Public/014/01/014_01_0164_TH-Atlas_prev.jpg

Map of the 12 scouts with explanation:  http://www.israel-a-history-of.com/old-testament-bible-maps.html#gallery[pageGallery]/3/

End Notes:  Deuteronomy contradicts Numbers.  Deuteronomy 1:22 makes it seem like the idea to send out spies was the people’s idea and not directly from God.  Moses just tells them to go and take the land the people want to check it out first.  This leads scholars to speculate that maybe Moses asked God how to send out the spies and not whether or not he should send them out or not.  Either way:  the people’s faith is tested and that is God’s plan.

Joshua’s first name of Hoshea means “salvation”.  Moses changes it to Joshua, meaning “Yahweh is salvation.”

Scholars believe Moses doubted God’s word of what the land was like (flowing of milk and honey–Exodus 3:8 and good–Exodus 13:5) and wanted to find out for sure.  Here, Moses exhibits unbelief.  So we are left wondering:  would they have turned around if the land had been a barren wasteland?

Note the 40 days–a favorite testing period of God’s from the ark to wandering the desert for 40 years.

More on the Nephilim and the Anak tomorrow when we are assigned to study them.