BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 21, Day 4: Romans 12:2; Galatians 1:3-5; and Ephesians 2:1-2

Summary of passages:  Romans 12:2:  He urges us to not conform to this world but to allow God to renew our mind so that we can know His will for us.

Galatians 1:3-5:  This is part of Paul’s greetings to the church of Galatia where he offers up grace and peace from God and Jesus who sacrificed himself for you to rescue us from our sins and this evil age according to God’s will forever.

Ephesians 2:1-2:  Here Paul reminds the church of Ephesus how they were dead in their transgressions and sins when they lived in the world which is ruled by Satan who is still working in those unsaved by Christ.

Questions:

10)  The world is the world system that contains evil and corruption and is opposed to God and rebels against Him.

11)  Those who love the world are not in God.  The world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does.  The world is temporal.  In my own words, the world is anything opposed to God’s Word and His will.  Anything the devil has a hold of.  Any temptation you face.

12)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The world tries to justify sin.  And it puts a high priority on self.  I fight against selfishness every day and it’s hard not to get caught up in doing what “feels good.”  I’ve found putting God at the center of all you do helps to break the influence of the world and re-focus your attention on Him, His ways, His goals and priorities.

Conclusions:  It’s important to realize the influence of the world on yourself, which has some influence if you interact with anyone at all especially unbelievers.  Satan is sneaky and is always seeking your weaknesses.  Use His weapons (the Word, prayer, etc) against him always.

End NotesRomans 12:2:  So the world system with all its evil and corruption is opposed to God and His ways and is in rebellion.  Paul reminds us we must resist it.

Renewing the mind is the opposite of conforming the world.  The battle takes place in the mind.  Hence, Christians must think differently than non-believers.

Today the world is based on feelings.  Do what you feel is right.  Oh, you don’t want to work today.  Then don’t.  The government will take care of you.  Etc.  Also, the world is based on doings.  Just tell me what to do.

Paul says here we must know what God’s word says in our mind. We cannot blindly follow our whimsical feelings and follow the crowd of doers who are “doing” but accomplishing nothing.

“Transformed”:  This is the ancient Greek word metamorphoo – describing a metamorphosis. The same word is used to describe Jesus in His transfiguration (Mark 9:2-3).

Fun Fact:  The only other place Paul uses this word for transformed is in 2 Corinthians 3:18: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”  For Paul, this transformation and renewing of our minds takes place as we behold the face of God, spending time in His glory.  Note this is a process, not a single event.

“Then”:  After the spiritual transformation just described has taken place.

“Test and approve what God’s will is”:  The proof is the live that you live.  What God wants from the believer here and now.

“Good”:  That which leads to the spiritual and moral growth of the Christian.

“Pleasing”:  To God, not necessarily to us.

“Perfect”:  No improvement can be made on the will of God.

In sum, from Chapter 11 Paul writes if we keep in mind the rich mercy of God to you – past, present, and future (by the mercies of God) and as an act of intelligent worship, decide to yield your entire self to Him (present your bodies a living sacrifice) and resist conformity to the thoughts and actions of this world (do not be conformed) by focusing on God’s word and fellowship with Him (be transformed by the renewing of your mind) then our life will be in the will of God through the power of the Holy Spirit.  And others will witness this.

Galatians 1:3-5:  Written by Paul to the churches in Galatia around 50 AD.

“Grace and peace to you”:  This was Paul’s familiar greeting, drawing from the traditional greetings in both Greek culture (grace) and Jewish culture (peace). Paul used this exact phrase five other times in the New Testament.

Fun Fact:  Paul used the word grace more than 100 times in his writings. Among all the other writers of the New Testament, it is only used 55 times. Paul was truly the apostle of grace.

“These two terms, grace and peace, constitute Christianity.” (Martin Luther)

Note the first thing Paul says about Jesus is he gave himself for our sins.  Throughout the epistle Paul points the Galatians to the centrality of the cross. He cannot wait to make this plain, and we find a reference to it in his very first sentence.

Jesus gave. We know from John 3:16 that God the Father so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. Yet God the Father was not the only giver; Jesus also gave. Jesus is a loving, giving God and a loving, giving Savior.

Jesus gave the greatest thing anyone can give–Himself.  There is a sense in which we do not even begin to give until we give ourselves.  Why did Jesus give himself?  For our sins.  If God did not do something to save us, our sins would destroy us. So out of love, Jesus rescues us.

The purpose of Jesus’s sacrifice is to glorify God.  Yes, we are saved.  But it’s for the glory of God.

Ephesians 2:1-2:   Paul ended the last chapter by considering that the ultimate example of God’s power was the resurrection of Jesus. Now Paul considers what the implications of Jesus’ resurrection power are for our life.

Paul is speaking of spiritual death here not physically, mentally, emotionally, etc.  Transgressions is crossing God’s boundaries.  Sins is falling short of God’s standards.

Satan is the ruler of the kingdom of air and is active in those who are disobedient to God.

Once walked is our old self.  We should now feel uncomfortable with sin in our new life.  Satan guided us in the old life.  Now God does.

This is a unique title that speaks to Satan’s authority and realm of influence.

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BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 21, Day 3: Romans 12:1

Summary of passage:  Paul urges Christians to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God as an act of worship.

Questions:

6)  Personal Question.  My answers:

Romans 9:15:  This is the verse God says He will have mercy and compassion on whom He chooses. This shows us we are all in God’s grace to be chosen as believers and God is the one in control of whom He chooses and He doesn’t.

Romans 9:23:  God chose all of those who comes to Him in advance.  He showed his wrath and power in order to demonstrate his glory to those of us whom He shows mercy to.

Ephesians 2:4-5:  God gives us His mercy when He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for our sins to make us alive again.

1 Peter 1:3:  Similar to Ephesians, God demonstrates His mercy when though the living hope in His Son Jesus whom He brought back to life in order that we can live with Him forever.

7)  Personal Question.  My answer:  First, by choosing me and my family to be believers and to be saved.  Second, by blessing the US with all of its riches so that we live an easy life. By continuing to bless my family financially, spiritually, mentally, physically, etc every day of every year.  By always being there.

8 )  According to Webster’s Dictionary, a sacrifice is “an act of offering to deity something precious; especially the killing of a victim on an altar, destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else or to suffer loss of, give up , renounce, injure, or destroy especially for an ideal, belief or end”.  According to Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, a sacrifice is “a religious act belonging to worship in which offering is made to God of some material object belonging to the offerer–this offering being consumed in the ceremony, in order to attain, restore, maintain, or celebrate friendly relations with the deity.”

The history of sacrifice in the Old Testament would fill a book.  Sacrifices have been around since Cain and Abel in Genesis 4:4-5 where it states Abel offered an acceptable sacrifice to God.  Furthermore, we’d need another book to dive into the different types of sacrifices offered in the Old Testament to God for many purposes.  BSF is sending us to Leviticus which is the Day of Atonement sacrifice where the High Priest had to cover himself  and the Israelites (figuratively here) with the blood of an animal in order to approach God and cleanse themselves of sin.  Hebrews tells us Jesus is the final sacrifice that takes away all of our sins in God’s eyes and cleanses us.

To answer the question, the Old Testament sacrifices served one goal:  to make ourselves acceptable and pleasing to God through honoring Him, worshipping Him, and giving Him glory.  We had to atone for our sins in various ways and thank Him for all He’d done.  Paul is urging us to give our bodies as a living sacrifice (our body being our heart, mind, soul, body, and spirit–all of us) to God.  To live our lives for God in every way.  To let His will reign, not ours.

9)  Ordinary is living each day with Him in mind and as the center.  Choosing Him in the little things in life:  forgiving a wrong, helping the poor and downtrodden, letting kind words out instead of angry words, being generous and compassionate with people, and meeting them where they are at.  Extraordinary examples are Mother Theresa, pastors, Popes, monks, nuns, those who work in the Christian industries such as non-profits, book publishing, bible publishing, missionaries, Focus on the Family, and everyone else I am forgetting who strive to do God’s work here on earth (this includes us whose names will never be known but who do God’s work every day!).

Conclusions:  Mercy and living for God.  Great topics that are huge and BSF did a good job on focusing on the importance of it all.  1)  God chose us out of His mercy.  2)  We do God’s work by giving all of ourselves up to Him.  Every day.  In the daily grind at work and at home.  Living for Him.  Raising our kids for Him.  Helping others for Him.  Love it!

End Notes: [Same as Yesterday’s just for Verse 1 only]  Chapters 12:1-15:33.  Paul now turns to the practical application of all he has said previously in the letter.  This does not mean he has not said anything about Christian living up to this point because as we saw Chapters 6-8 touched on this already but now Paul goes into detail to show that Jesus Christ is to be Lord of every area of life.  These chapters are not a postscript to the great theological discussions in Chapters 1-11.  In a real sense the entire letter has been directed toward the goal of showing that God demands our action as well as our believer and thinking. Faith expresses itself in obedience.

“Therefore”  It is Paul’s pattern to begin a letter with a strong doctrinal section and follow with exhortations to Christian living. Paul begs Christians to live a certain way in light of what God did for them.  Here, God gives us all things.  Now, how do we show Him gratitude for that?  With our bodies and our minds.

“Urging us” reminds us that we still have a choice in how we live for God.

“In view of God’s mercy” reminds us we do this because of the mercy God grants us (Romans 1-11).  In fact, we are only able to offer ourselves to Him because of His mercy.  Some of the mercies Paul has told us about already:

· Justification from the guilt and penalty of sin

· Adoption in Jesus and identification with Christ

· Placed under grace, not law

· Giving the Holy Spirit to live within

· Promise of help in all affliction

· Assurance of a standing in God’s election

· Confidence of coming glory

· Confidence of no separation from the love of God

· Confidence in God’s continued faithfulness

Think of “body” here as your entire being for your heart, soul, spirit, and mind are in your body. Paul is saying here give God your entire self.  God wants you!

Many today let their body rule in terms of engaging in physical pleasures.  Paul says no!  Our mind is the will and our mind brings the body as servant to God.

Ancient Greeks dismissed the body as unspiritual so this teaching would have shocked them.  Paul says God is concerned about our bodies, which were dearly bought at a price (1 Cor 6:19-20).

A living sacrifice is a dichotomy especially in the first century AD where sacrifices involved death.  The whole idea is the sacrifice is ongoing.  Paul could be contrasting dead animal sacrifices here as well or perhaps “living” in the sense of having the Holy Spirit.

“Holy and pleasing to God”:  The standard for sacrifices made to God under the New Covenant are not any less than the standard under the Old Covenant.

Sacrifices in the Old Testament:

· He shall bring a male without blemish (Leviticus 1:10)

· But if there is a defect in it, if it is lame or blind or has any serious defect, you shall not sacrifice it to the Lord your God (Deuteronomy 15:21)

The idea of a sweet aroma to the Lord is almost always linked to the idea of an offering made by fire. There is a “burning” in this matter of a living sacrifice. It also shows that Paul has in mind the burnt offering, in which the entire sacrifice was given to the Lord. In some sacrifices, the one offering the sacrifice and the priest shared in the some of the meal, but never in the burnt offering.

Today, the holiness we bring to the altar is a decision for holiness, and yielding to the work of holiness in our life.  As we present our bodies a living sacrifice, God makes our life holy by burning away impurities.

“Spiritual act of worship”:  This was translated as “reasonable service”.  The ancient Greek word for reasonable (logikos) can also be translated “of the word” (as it is in 1 Peter 2:2). Reasonable service is a life of worship according to God’s Word.

Another translation says “true and proper worship”.  This is to emphasize not merely ritual worship activity but the involvement of heart, mind, and will in worship and obedient service.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 21, Day 5: 1 John 4:7-5:21

Summary of passage:  1 John 4:7-21: God is love and showed it to us by sending His Son so that we may live.  We ought to love one another.  If you love, you know God.  If you acknowledge Jesus and God’s Son, then God lives in you.  You should have no fear.

1 John 5:  To love God is to obey His commands.  Only those who believe Jesus is the Son of God will overcome this world and have eternal life.  The Spirit, the water (baptism), and the blood all testify the truth.  If we ask anything according to his will, God hears us and will answer us.  We are born of God.  He keeps us safe from the evil one.  We are God’s children.  Jesus gives us understanding.  Stay with the truth.

Questions:

12)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  He sent His Son to dies for us so that we might live.  He has given us the Holy Spirit as a guide.  He has taken away our fear.  I am more loving towards others and compassionate.  Love overflows from God’s love.

13a)  We have eternal life through faith in Jesus.  We do not continue to sin as the Holy Spirit is our guide.

b)  We do not continue to sin and are kept safe from the evil one.  We are God’s children.  Christ gives us understanding so that we may know the truth.

Conclusions:  John repeats himself here, summing up what he just said and what’s most important:  loving God and others and obeying his commands.  Jesus’ baptism, death, and Spirit testify to who he is and are a gift from God to us.

End Notes: 1 John 4:  We love one another because and only because we are loved by God.  Otherwise, we’d all hate each other.  Man is still capable of love because we are made in God’s image.  But it’s imperfect and messy like man.  The Greek says is best:  agapetoi agapomen, “those who are loved, let us love.”

When you are born of God, you have a love you didn’t have before, one you weren’t capable of.  Because it’s God’s love, not man’s, which is non-existent without God.

This is the agape love, the love without expecting anything in return.  If we want to love one another more, we need to draw closer to God.  Love is a triangle with God at the apex.

God does everything out of love.  He’s righteous and holy and just because He loves us.  He is incapable of hating.

Love is also the giving of the Father as much as it is the sacrifice of the Son.  This should read only begotten Son, indicating God and the Son are of the same substance or being.

The love of the Father takes away our sin and allows us to live.  Both are important for we still deserve death but God wants us with Him.

His love for us initiates our relationship of love with Him, our love only responds to His love for us. We can’t love God the way we should unless we are receiving and living in His love.

Love is the constant.  Wherever there is love, there is God.  This is our evidence since we cannot see God that He exists and is working in our lives.  However, God is also spirit (John 3:24), light (1 John 1:5), righteous (1 John 2:29; 3:7), holy (1 John 2:20), powerful or great (1 John 4:4), faithful (1 John 1:9), true (1 John 5:20), and just (1 John 1:9).

We know (not hope) that Jesus is in us (through the Holy Spirit) and we are in him (giving us this knowledge is the Holy Spirit).

“We” are the disciples and the eyewitnesses.  Believers must acknowledge of confess that Jesus is the Son and believe God loves them even when they don’t feel His love.  God’s love will be complete on the day of Judgment.

Fear here is not the fear of God of his awesomeness but the fear that robs us of having a life full of peace in Him.  We should not fear judgment when Christ has taken it all on him.

“We love because he first loved us.”  We love God and Christ.  God has always loved us since before time.  Our love for God is always in response to His love for us; He initiates, and we respond. We never have to draw God to us; instead, He draws us to Himself.

Loving others is a choice and that is why it is a command from God.  We must choose to love others even when it’s not easy; otherwise, God is not in us if not.  To love God more is to love others more. If you want to love God move, love fellow Christians more.

1 John 5:  John wants to make sure you understand that you don’t earn salvation by loving others. You trust in Jesus and his atoning sacrifice on the cross to earn salvation.

Our love and obedience to God is a demonstration of love to the body of Christ.  Love for God will show itself in obedience.  Commandments are gifts from God to show us the most fulfilling life possible.  The Holy Spirit enables us to obey.

The key to victory is faith (reliance upon, trust, etc) in Jesus as Son and Savior.

“water and blood” has perplexed scholars for centuries.  What exactly did John mean here?  Some think water is our baptism and blood is communion (Luther and Calvin).  Some think this is the water and blood that flowed from Jesus when he was pierced with the spear at crucifixion (Augustine).  Others think the water is Jesus’ birth from the womb and the blood is his death.

Most likely, John means the water of Jesus’ baptism, and the blood of His crucifixion.  This was when Jesus’ ministry began and ended.  This explanation is the oldest recorded Christian understanding of the passage.  Jesus identified with man when he was baptized and saved us with his death.  This also supports John 3:5.

A priest was always ordained by sacrificial blood, cleansing water, and oil that spoke of the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  So Jesus also had these same three witnesses to His priestly ministry.

John keeps harping on this point because of the Gnostics.  If Jesus was not fully God at death, then his death was not sufficient to pay for our sins.

The Holy Spirit testifies that Jesus is the Son of God in two ways:  When the Spirit descended upon Jesus at his baptism and he continues to affirm this truth in the heart of believers.

Note on 1 John 5:7-8:  This passage is disputed.  Some words were added to the Latin manuscript that never appeared in any Greek manuscript that still appear in some Bible versions.  The NIV has it correct however.  Words were probably added to clarify the Trinity late in the Middle Ages.

If you reject Jesus, you are calling God a liar with your unbelief.

Eternal life is a gift from God receive in Jesus.

Ask anything and everything in His will.  Why doesn’t God just answer prayers?  God wants us to work with Him, and that means bringing our will and agenda into alignment with His. He wants us to care about the things He cares about, and He wants us to care about them enough to pray passionately about them.  God is delighted when we pray His promises. It shows our will aligned with His, our dependence on Him, and that we take His Word seriously.

We pray for our sinful brothers.  There are sins that lead to death but not all.  This could refer to the Gnostics adamant denial of the truth and their shameless immorality.  This is a spiritual death. Another view here is a physical death because a believer continues to sin so God takes their life (1 Corinthians 11:30).

If we are in Jesus, Satan cannot harm us.  Some bibles say “touch” instead of harm here.  It means “grasp” or “lay hold of”.  The only other place in his writings where John uses this particular verb for touch is in John 20:17, where He literally tells Mary to stop clinging to Me.

Significantly, this understanding must be given. We cannot attain it on our own. If God did not reveal Himself to us, we would never find Him.  Jesus is fully man and God.

Idols interfere with our relationship and fellowship with God.  Remember, putting anything (wealth, money, others, clothes, power, self, food, etc) above God is an idol.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 21, Day 3: 1 John 2:3-29

Summary of passage:  We are in Christ if we walk as Jesus did.  If we obey him, we will know him and have God’s complete love.  You must love your brother to be in the light; otherwise, you are not.  If you love the world, then you are not in God.  If you do the will of God, you will live forever. Antichrists will come in the last hour.  They will deny the Father and the Son.  Being anointed with the Holy Spirit, it will teach you.  If you remain in the Father and the Son, then you will have eternal life.  Those who do what is right has been born of Jesus.

Questions:

6)  If you obey His word, God’s love is complete in you.  As long as you remain in the Father and the Son, you will have eternal life.  If you love your brother and shun the world, then you are in Christ.  If you obey God, walk with Jesus, and be righteous, you are in Jesus.

7)  The cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes, and the boasting of what he has and does.  All of these are negative.  A sinful man craves sinful things: sex outside of marriage, affairs, covets other people’s things, steals, cheats, lies, etc.  He boasts of his material possessions instead of his spiritual spirit.  The positive twist would be to strive for God’s will in your life, for God’s goodness in others’ lives, and to use your gifts and senses to do so.

8 )  Personal Question.  My answer:  False teachers are those who deny Christ is the Son of God.  They could be those in the Christian community but do not abide in Jesus.  If you have the Holy Spirit, then you will know the truth when spoken and the lies when spoken.  Abiding in Christ protects us as well as the anointing.  If whoever is speaking says things directly against the Bible and God’s teachings, then they are false. Period. Pray. God will tell you. He will not let you be blinded.

Conclusions: We talked a ton about the Antichrist and false teachers last year in Revelation.  It was more prevalent in ancient society and with so many different religions floating around it would be hard to know what to believe in–especially as a new convert to Christ.  Still, we must be aware of cults and society’s tendency to follow charismatic leaders and smooth talkers.  The Antichrist could come at any time and the little antichrists preceding him as well.

End Notes:  Following God’s commandments is evidence of knowing God.  There is a difference between knowing about someone and knowing them.  God and you know which is truth.  God’s love is perfect or mature in those who obey and by this we know we are in Jesus.  We will walk at Jesus did.

What does that mean?  Walk as Jesus did?  It means that sin is distasteful to us and every day we lead more of a righteous life of obedience to God.

Loving one another is not new.  What’s new is the depth of love that Jesus spoke of in John 13:34.  Jesus’ love is what we are to grasp–loving everyone.   Our relationship with God can be measured by our love for other Christians.

We have to keep His commandments, walk as Jesus did, and love other Christians.  If one is missing, then we fail.  You can do all the right things, believe all the right truths, but if you do not love other Christians, then all is lost.

Hatred and love in the bible are more than emotions; they are attitudes expressed in actions.

Stages in Spiritual Life:  We all begin as little children in our spiritual walk with God.  It is enough to know God forgives our sins.  Fathers are people who have known God for years and are mature in their spiritual walk with God.  Young men are those in the middle of their spiritual walk who have fought with Satan.

The repetition is intentional.  The key is knowing God.  God’s word is our source of spiritual strength, which is tested in the youth phase, and which lives in our hearts.

The world here is sin, the world’s system, it’s way of doing things, and material objects.  It’s controlled by Satan and organized against God and righteousness.  It’s easy to fall in love with the things of this world that make us better off but not better.  The world and what we gain in the world or strive for pass away when we do.  Heaven and God are eternal.  We are to be in the world but not of the world (John 17:14-18).  Monks took this to the extreme in the Middle Ages.

This goes all the way back to Eve who looked upon the fruit, thought how it would satisfy her and how it would make her appear before Adam.  Our thinking is usually of the world.  You must arrest your thoughts, capture them, and then work to change them towards God.  Lot is another example who was of the world.

In this world, we have three eternal things: the Holy Spirit, the people around you, and God’s word.   Time, attention, and expense put into these three things pay eternal rewards.

The last hour is Jesus’ return. John considered the last days to be everything after Christ.  The Antichrist is instead of Jesus.  He will appear and do wonderful things to appeal to us.  There will be only one “Antichrist” at the End Times.  However, there will be smaller versions preceding him.  The antichrists in John’s day were the Gnostics.  “Anti” means against in Latin.

John assumes his readers will know someone will oppose God before the Second Coming.  Also known as the man of lawlessness or the beast from Revelation.

Fun Fact:  The word ‘antichrist’ occurs in the Bible only in the letters of John and only five times in four verses (1 John 2:18, 22, 4:3; 2 John 7).

Essentially, the Antichrist is a world dictator who leads humanity in what seems to be a golden age, until he shows his true colors – and the judgment of God is poured out on him and his empire immediately before the return of Jesus.  This could happen at any time.  Think of Stalin, Hitler, and Mao.  Many of these antichrists will identify as Christians but never were since they left.

Other characteristics of the antichrists John lists:  1) They deny the incarnation 2)  They deny Jesus is divine.  3)  They deny the Father  4)  They don’t have the Father  5)  They are liars and deceivers  6) there are many.

Anointing has the idea of being filled with and blessed by the Holy Spirit, enabling discernment and knowing the Truth.

This idea of anointing – literally, to be blessed with oil – was said to be the reason behind one of the punishments given to John in persecution. The Roman emperor Domitian cast John in a boiling vat of oil, as if to say, “Here is a real anointing.” John emerged from the vat of boiling oil unharmed, because he had a different anointing.

In verse 20, John used a different word for know than he mostly used before. Previously John used the word meaning knowledge by experience; here he used the word meaning knowledge by intuition. We know some things intuitively by the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

We must believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, as the Bible defines Christ – the Messiah, who is fully God and fully man; who perfectly revealed the Father to us.  We don’t worship the same God unless your God is the God who was revealed in Jesus Christ.  If not, then your God is not the God of the Bible.  If you reject Jesus, you reject God.

Fun Fact:  John uses the word “love” 35 times in this letter alone.

What you have heard from the beginning is the message of the apostles (the New Testament).  We must abide or live in Jesus Christ.  We do this by knowing His word and living in His word.

Fun Fact:  John uses “abide” 6 times in these few verses and idea is strewn about the New Testament.

When God lives in us, we have eternal life in heaven.  This anointing of the Holy Spirit allows us to know the Truth and discern the falsehoods and guide us closer to Jesus.  Because you are abiding in Jesus, when he comes again you won’t be ashamed or fearful.  We’ve seen this before (John 14:23). We practice righteousness since we are born of God who is righteous.

Summary of 1 John 2:  Christians: 1) know Him (1 John 2:4), 2) abide in Him (1 John 2:6), and 3) are in the light (1 John 2:9).  If this is true for you, it will show in the life you lead and the love you hold for fellow Christians.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 21, Day 2: 1 John 1:1-2:2

INTRODUCTORY NOTE TO THIS LESSON:  This lesson took me 2 1/2 weeks to complete.  There is so much here in this short book about Christianity.  Please take the time to read my End Notes to each day which I have tried to make as condensed as possible to what all this means.  Your time put in this lesson will echo volumes in your understanding of the Bible and of John.

Summary of passage: The author makes clear Jesus was a human, one he has heard, seen, and touched. God is light without darkness. If we have fellowship with him and walk in the darkness we lie to ourselves and do not live by the truth. We are all sinners and if we confess our sins, we will be purified and forgiven. Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins. We will know Jesus if we obey his commands.

Questions:

3)  Jesus (who is God as His Son, Jesus) because John has heard, seen, and touched him.

4) God is light and if we walk in the light, we’ll have fellowship with one another and Jesus’ blood will purify us of all sin.  He writes this to believers so that we may know we have eternal life, have fellowship with others, and with the Father and the Son.  He writes this so we won’t sin.

5)  Personal Question. My answer: False claims: 1) If you claim to have fellowship yet walk in the darkness. 2) If you claim to be without sin. 3) If you claim you have never sinned. Fellowship: 1) If we walk in the light. 2) If we confess our sins. 3) If we obey his commands. Well, I do sin but I don’t deny it. I do obey and walk in His ways. Do I stumble? Absolutely. But He picks me up. That’s all that matters.

Conclusions: Unsure why we’re reading 1 John at this point in our study right after the Last Supper. I hope the notes will shed some light on this. Great passage of how we are to walk in the light always and not tell ourselves we are when we still dally in the darkness.
End Notes: Much like the Book of Revelation, John does not expressly state that he is writing this letter. However, certain hints and distinctive writing patterns of style make it very likely that John the Apostle wrote this letter at an advanced age. This letter is eerily similar to the beginning of the Book of John and says how he was a close eyewitness of Jesus’ life.

John wrote the Book of John in order to bring readers to a belief in Christ. Here, this letter is directed to those who are already Christians, outlining how that faith should affect a person’s life. John starts with a few simple themes–light, truth, life, love–then builds variations on them. He defines a word, discusses its opposite, and then describes what a life should look like with God as the source of power in the Christian life.

Presumably, the Christian faith has been around for 50-60 years by the time of this letter.  John repeatedly begins with the phrase “If we claim” and then proceeds to show what actions must result if we claim to live in the true light and know God.

Most people understand that the important things in life are not things at all – they are the relationships we have. God has put a desire for relationship in every one of us, a desire He intended to be met with relationships with other people, but most of all, to be met by a relationship with Him. In this remarkable letter, John tells us the truth about relationships – and shows us how to have relationships that are real, for both now and eternity.  The whole purpose of the letter is to bring us to a relationship with God and His son, Jesus Christ.

The beginning John is referencing here is the beginning when there was only God.  He came to earth to know him (hence the seen, looked, and touched).  At the time John was writing, Gnosticism (from the Greek word for knowledge or gnosis) was gaining in popularity.  The gnostics believe Jesus was God’s Son but he never came to earth in a physical body.  They believed a physical body was intrinsically evil.  They believed Jesus was a phantom, a temporary apparition who only looked human.  Some said God descended on Jesus at his baptism but left him before death.

John debated these beliefs in person and he had them in mind when he said he touched, seen, and heard Jesus.  Throughout this letter he lambastes those who deny Jesus was flesh.

Gnostics believed all matter was evil.  Only the spirit was pure and they sought to rise to this spiritual level.  However, this led to horrible ethics as they believed they could act how they wanted since their spirit was pure and could not be tainted by earthly sins.

This is the same Logos (Word) spoken of in John 1:1.  For the Jews, God was often referred to as the Word because they knew God perfectly revealed Himself in His Word.  For the Greeks, their philosophers had spoken for centuries about the Logos – the basis for organization and intelligence in the universe, the Ultimate Reason which controls all things.

John is telling everyone, “I have seen and heard and touched and studied the Word!”.

John is calling Jesus the “eternal life”(John 5:26, 6:48; 11:25; Micah 5:2) equal to God.  He references the eternal relationship as well.  This eternal relationship is clearly described in the Scriptures, but we could also understand it from simple logic. If God is love (1 John 4:8) and God is eternal (Micah 5:2), we understand that love in isolation is meaningless. Love needs an object, and since there was a time before anything was created, there was a time when the only love in the universe was between the members of the Godhead: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Christ is life because he is the living one who has life in himself (John 1:4; 11:25; 14:6).  He is also the source of life and sovereign over life.  This letter begins and ends with the theme of eternal life.

The word “with” indicates that this being, who is eternal, and is eternal life Himself, is distinct from the Father. John builds the New Testament understanding of the Trinity – that one God exists as three Persons, equal and one, yet distinct in their person.

The purpose of John’s declaration of the Word of life who is God yet distinct from the Father is to bring people into relationship with both God’s people and with God himself.

The idea of fellowship is one of the most important ideas in this letter of John’s. It is the ancient Greek word koinonia, which speaks of a sharing, a communion, a common bond and common life. It speaks of a living, breathing, sharing, loving relationship with another person.  It literally means common as in being shared by all.  We see this idea in common areas for animals to graze in.  We all share in the same resources and responsibilities of God and others.  Amazing grace at work!

This was a revolutionary idea in ancient times that man could have fellowship with God!  It’s the same idea as when Jesus told everyone to address God as Father (Matthew 6:9).  This relationship is only possible because Jesus was human.  We can become more like Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit because of this fellowship of a shared, common life–fellowship.  We share our life with Jesus and he shares his with us and we are better able to do life with Jesus.

Fellowships with others often leads to encounters with God.

Joy is optimism and cheerfulness and contentment.  John echoes Jesus (John 15:11; 16:24; 17:13).  Circumstances sap us of joy and we must fight to stay close to God to maintain it.

Verses 1-4 are one long sentence in the original manuscripts.  John sums up perfectly how to live our whole Christian life. God was.  He physically manifested.  He’s Jesus.  Fellowship with Jesus will bring you joy.

Verse 5 begins with John telling us this is what God says, not him. God is light.  Darkness is an absence of light. This is similar to saying God is perfect.

Some falsely claim to have fellowship.  “Walking” in the darkness is a pattern of life of wickedness and evil, not the occasional lapse we all experience.  This is active as we grow with Him.  “Walking” in the light is an obedient life–full of holiness and truth.  Since God is light, when we walk in the light we walk with God and experience the continual cleansing of the blood of Jesus.

Sin is the hindrance to fellowship and the blood of Jesus, received by faith as the payment for our sin, solves the problem of sin and opens the way to fellowship with God.

Note there is nothing said here about rites, ceremonies, baptisms, sacraments, the Eucharist, communion, etc.  It is only the blood of Jesus we need.

We are all sinners.  “Making mistakes” or being “only human” or “not perfect” will not get you to heaven.  Admitting you are a sinner will because Jesus came to rescue sinners.

We must keep on confessing our sins.  By admitting to God that what we have done is sin, and by asking for His divine forgiveness, we will be cleansed based on what Jesus has done for us on the cross.  Be truthful and God will be truthful.

This text doesn’t mean go and sin cause God will forgive you.  This is not fellowship with God and a right heart.  This is an evil heart and God will not forgive that.

If we don’t admit our sin, Jesus (the word) is not in us.  We will sin.  There is forgiveness in confessed sin.  Gnostics denied that their immoral actions were sinful.

God’s desire for us is not to sin, which is possible through Jesus Christ.  He is our defender if/when we sin and is our atoner and remover of our sins.  God’s wrath against man is satisfied and turned on to Jesus instead.  We must receive Christ’s sacrifice through faith (John 3:16).  This verse does not teach universalism (that all people ultimately will be saved), but that God is an impartial God and Christ’s sacrifice is open to all.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 21, Day 5: Romans 5:6-11; 6:23; Ephesians 2:1-10

Summary of passages:  Romans 5:6-11:  Christ died for the ungodly, demonstrating God’s ultimate love for us.  We are now justified by Christ’s blood, saved from God’s wrath, and reconciled to God through Jesus.

Romans 6:23:  “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Ephesians 2:1-10:  We were dead before Christ’s sacrifice as we followed Satan and his ways and sins, making us objects of God’s wrath.  Then God made us alive through Christ because of His love, grace, and mercy for us through faith in Jesus.

Questions:

10a)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  God has provided us His Son so that we may live forever with Him.  I’ve accepted it and honored God with my life and being.

b)  Although we were sinners and completely undeserving of grace and mercy, God sent His Son to the cross to die for our sins so that we may become righteous before God.  All God asks is faith in His Son.  Those who believe are saved.  Those who don’t believe are not saved.  That is God’s justice and mercy.

11)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  To devote your life to Him and for Him and His people.  We are to walk in the light and confess our sins and ask God to forgive us every single day.  Let His mercy flow through us and from us to others.  I will show mercy to all as Jesus did.

Conclusions:  Could have been called the “Study of Romans” for the day.  God has forgiven us permanently with His Son, Jesus Christ.  All we have to do is accept Jesus as our Savior and live for God. Simple, right?

End Notes:  Romans 5:6-11:  Jesus died for all of us, the ungodly.  The difference between righteous and good here seems to be the righteous man does not care for others but only about himself; whereas, the good man is kind and benevolent towards others.

Ephesians 2:1-10:  Paul wants us never to forget where we came from:  death and sin to life and salvation.  We should feel different being alive in Christ than when we were dead in sin.  Here, we have past, present, and future:  God loved us so much He sent His Son to make us alive in Christ and live eternally with Him forevermore.  All through faith and God’s gift to us.

God’s workmanship.  What an amazing thought!  We are God’s creation.  One Greek translation uses the word poiema which is a poem.  We are God’s poems and poems are beautiful works of art.  How cool!

Now we are to do good works out of our faith, not to earn anything.

Conclusions to Lesson 21:  I groaned most of the time doing this lesson, especially Day 4 which was a repeat of last year’s Study of the Life of Moses.  This could be called “The Study of Romans” for this week.  Not for sure how this lesson will bolster my understanding of the Book of Revelation.  This was a study of God’s character, His justice and mercy, which is prominent in all the books of the Bible.  What I want to gain out of the study of Revelation is just that:  the study of “Revelation”, the End Times, the signs I need to be on the lookout for, the coming wrath, the impending doom for the unsaved whom I may be able to help save (although God is ultimately in charge of that).

Like I said before, Revelation is only 22 chapters so BSF is stretching this study.  This is a filler lesson, plain and simple.  I just wish we could have filled it with more of in-depth study of Revelation.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 21, Day 4: Exodus 32; 34:4-7

Summary of passages:  Exodus 32:  While Moses was up on the mountain, the people became afraid and asked Aaron to make them new gods to go before them since something probably happened to Moses on the mountain. So Aaron took all the gold earrings from the people and made them into a golden calf as their new god. Aaron made an altar to the calf and made sacrifices to it. Then they had a party.

God told Moses to go down off the mountain as the people have become corrupt. God was so angry He told Moses to leave Him be so that He could destroy them and find a new people. Moses pleaded for the people, saying the Egyptians would only gloat if God killed them. Moses reminded God of His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Israel and to make their descendants as numerous as the stars. So God relented and did not destroy the people.

Moses went down Mount Sinai with the Tablets in his hands. Joshua had waited for Moses on the mountain a bit away and he thought there was a war going on. Moses said it was singing. Moses was so angry when he saw the sin of the people that he threw the tablets down and they broke. He burned the calf and made the Israelites drink the powder it made. Moses asks Aaron how he let the people sin. Aaron tells Moses the story, but blaming it on how evil the people are and how a calf just “came out”.

Moses was not pleased that Aaron had made the Israelites a laughingstock to the world. Moses asks whomever is for God to come to him. The Levites come. God told the Levites to kill everyone else who is not for the Lord and they killed about 3000 that day. They will now be set apart and blessed for their loyalty to God.

Moses goes up to the Lord again to plead for the people’s forgiveness, saying to blot him out of the book if God does not forgive them. God says He will but when the times comes for punishment (judgment), He will punish them and blot them out of His book. He struck them with the plague as punishment (death of 3000).

Exodus 34:4-7:  Moses chiseled out 2 stone tablets and went up to Mount Sinai.  The Lord came down from a cloud and proclaimed His name and passed in front of Moses, proclaiming His compassion, love, forgiveness, and judgements.

Questions:

8a)  God at first wants to kill all the people.  Moses convinces him not to.  He asks for those who will stand for God and all the Levites rallied.  Then the Levites killed 3000 people for not turning back to God.  Moses again asks for forgiveness, which God grants some but He sends a plague upon the people, killing more.  God judges some and spares some.

b)  God relented because Moses asked him to.  Jesus asked God to spare us and he died for our sins and God did.

c)  No.  They all deserved death but only some received it.  God showed mercy.

9)  This is the ultimate show of judgment and mercy.  God is in control and He decides who pays the penalty and who is forgiven and who had turned to Him in their hearts.  God is great.

Conclusions:  We studied Exodus 32 in Lesson 11 last year for one whole week and answered very similar questions on how Moses interceded for the people just like Jesus did/does for us today.  Think this is redundant and unnecessary for a study of the “book of Revelation.”

End Notes:  Exodus 32:  This calf was probably small (only a few inches high) lifted onto a pedestal for the people to see. It was not huge like depicted in the movies.

Some translations say Moses was “delayed”. This was a test for the people and their faith which we failed. This is a lesson for us: how do we handle God’s delays in our life? Do we fall into sin like the Israelites here or do we grow in our faith and strength in Him?

The not knowing drove the people to act. How many times have we acted in the midst of our fear of the unknown?

Scholars say calf is not the best translation here: it is meant to be a bull in the prime of its life–full of strength and vigor.

Aaron was a follower, not a leader. He was weak.

Aaron still remembered the Lord here (verse 5) but God was not sufficient; they needed an image to worship.

Note how the people rose early to worship the calf. Most people only get up early if they have to–work–or if it’s something important to them. What do you rise early to do? Is it to worship God first thing in the morning or do your BSF homework or read God’s Word? You all know I post these things very early in the morning. It’s important for me to meet God early in my day or I will fall into sin. I also get up early to exercise, write books, read books, and have “me” time. I also have “me and God” time. Consider how you spend your early mornings and ask God how He wants you to spend yours.

Revelry here is sexual revelry.

God is disowning His people by calling them Moses’s people. He wanted to start over with Moses.

“Stiff-necked” was a common phrase in Biblical times that refers to ox that won’t move. It references stubbornness in man.

Moses pleaded with the Lord for mercy, grace, His glory, and His promises and goodness.

God knew He wasn’t going to destroy the people. He was developing Moses and His heart for the people as He does often in us.

Joshua is correct: there was a war going on down below–a spiritual war.

It is Moses’s anger that will keep him from the Promised Land (Numbers 20:10-12). It is a problem he has all his life.

Aaron has no idea how great his sin was. He tries to calm Moses down and then lies to Moses about his part. He tries to make it seem as if a miracle produced the calf when it reality it was his hands, his workmanship. Why one would lie to the man closest to God ever is beyond me but Moses doesn’t buy Aaron’s excuse at all.

Even now in sin Aaron is defiant. Little did he know how close to death he was (Deuteronomy 9:20).

Other translations say the people were “unrestrained”. Basically, they had no moral compass and were following whatever made them feel good. Hence, their hearts were hard and they paid the ultimate price.

The Levites were the only group who decided, acted, and separated for God. So we must as well.

Stand for God, or you stand for nothing.

Moses understood the gravity of the people’s sin so asks for forgiveness again, even offering himself as a sacrifice, sensing that an animal’s blood would not suffice. God says no because He knows Jesus is coming. I want such a sacrificial heart. Moses appeals to God’s grace and mercy. Still, God’s punishment is that none of these adults will see the Promised Land.

Exodus 34:4-7:  This description of God became the cornerstone for the Jews as the most profound statement of God’s nature.

As Christians, knowing God as Moses knew God–His character–should be our highest striving.

Fun Fact: Exodus 34:6-7 is the most alluded to passage in the Old Testament.