BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 26, Day 5: Romans 14:19-23

Summary of passage:  Paul reiterates getting along with others.  Don’t destroy someone’s belief over petty issues like food.  Avoid causing your brother to fail.  Keep your beliefs to yourself and don’t shame others into your beliefs.

Questions:

13)  It could cause others to stumble, feel shame and guilt and begin to doubt God and potentially sin.

14)  “Make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification.”  “Keep your beliefs about these issues between yourself and God.”

15)  “It is better for the stronger believer to not eat meat or drink wine or do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.”  The weaker believer should not “condemn himself by what he approves.”

16)  Personal Question.  My answer:  This has nothing to do with straying from God but the one thing I can think of is having candy in the house.  My kids eat candy and I don’t but my husband, who is trying to lose weight, can’t resist it. I’m becoming more cognizant of what I’m buying so he won’t stumble.

Conclusions:  Important passage.  We need to put others’ needs first.  Whether it’s not drink around those who struggle with drunkenness or not eat certain foods around those struggling with their weight/health.  It’s being considerate of others at its foundation.

End Notes:  Paul is not talking about catering to legalism here such as eating certain foods.

Keep your faith between yourself and God. You don’t have to parade it around weak Christians.  You can keep your standards and convictions.  However, you’re not permitted to flaunt it around others.

There are things God may challenge us to give up, but we go on approving them in our life – thus we condemn ourselves. It may not be that the thing itself is clearly good or bad, but it is enough that God speaks to us about the matter.

Each of us must ask: “God, what is there in my life hindering a closer walk with You? I want to know the happiness that comes from not condemning myself by what I approve in my life.” This takes faith, because we often cling to hindering things because we think they make us happy. Real happiness is found being closer and closer to Jesus, and by not being condemned by what we approve.

If we are troubled by something, it is likely sin, not faith.  We can check ourselves when we tend to justify things we permit this way.

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BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 25, Day 4: Romans 13:12-14

Summary of passage:  Put aside sin (orgies, drunkenness, sexual immorality, debauchery, dissension, jealousy, etc) and put on Jesus (the armor of light).

Questions:

10)  I don’t know about normalized but it’s more ignored.  These behaviors are so widespread now that I think society has given up the fight.  We are so overwhelmed with the prevalence that we can’t handle it so we choose to ignore it.

11)  The opposite of verse 13:  sexual purity, abstinence or moderation in drink, compassionate, helpful, etc.

12)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I do tend to get jealous when others do things I want to do or follow in my footsteps because I like to think I’m unique.  I tend to hold back instead of be forthright and giving.

Conclusions: More ways Paul encourages us to be good people and godly.  Remember our time here is limited.  Avoid sin.  Walk with Jesus.

End Notes:  Putting aside darkness (sin) and putting on light is a metaphor with putting on clothes (which we all do).  Put on Jesus (the armor of light) every morning!

Spurgeon explains this passage: “The rags of sin must come off if we put on the robe of Christ. There must be a taking away of the love of sin, there must be a renouncing of the practices and habits of sin, or else a man cannot be a Christian. It will be an idle attempt to try and wear religion as a sort of celestial overall over the top of old sins.”

The night is the present evil age.  This is a clear teaching of the nearness of the end times (1 Corinthians 7:29; Philippians 4:5; James 5:9, 1 Peter 4:7; 1 John 2:18).  Early Christians did not believe Jesus would return within a few years.  Instead, they saw the death and resurrection of Jesus as the events that began the last days (Hebrews 1:1-2).  “The night is nearly over” is the next great event in God’s plan, which is the Second Coming.  The day is when Jesus does come and ushers in the consummation of the kingdom.

The armor of light allows us to both defend and attack like in battle.

We have to work to not let sin creep into our lives since it is our nature to sin.  This is part of being present so you can stop sin in its tracks!

When we clothe ourselves with Jesus, he becomes our partner and helper and he works through us (not for us) to combat sin.

Fun Fact: God used this passage to show Augustine, the great theologian of the early church, that he really could live the Christian life as empowered by the Holy Spirit – he just had to do it. And so do we.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 25, Day 2: Romans 13:8-10 with Romans 12:9-21; 1 Corinthians 13:1-8

Summary of passages:  Romans 13:8-10:  Love others and you will fulfill the law.  Love your neighbor as yourself.

Romans 12:9-21:  Paul offers sage words for living:  Love others.  Honor others above yourselves.  Always serve God.  Be joyful, patience, and faithful.  Share with those who are in need.  Practice hospitality.Bless your enemies.  Be happy with others and sad with others.  Be humble and mindful of others.  Do what is right.  Don’t seek retribution.  Be at peace with all.  Let God handle judgment/revenge.  Be kind to your enemies.  Overcome evil with good.

1 Corinthians 13:1-8:  Everything is meaningless (faith, generosity, speaking in tongues, etc) without love.  Love is patient, kind, protects, trusts, perseveres, and never fails.  It does not envy, boast, be prideful, envious or rude.  It keeps no record of wrongs, it’s not easily angered, and it’s not self-seeking.  Love rejoices in truth and does not delight in evil.

Questions:

3) To love is the one debt that is never paid off.  No matter how much people have loved, they are under obligation to keep on loving. Because out of our selfishness we hurt others instead of love.  Our nature is sin, not love.  We cannot love one another perfectly.  It’s impossible.  Only Jesus can.  Hence, our perpetual need for Christ in our lives.

4)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Legalistic is when you do things because they are the law.  It’s strict adherence, or the principle of strict adherence, to law or prescription, especially to the letter rather than the spirit.  It’s when you put the law above all else including mercy, compassion, and moral values.  Loving obedience is following the law but with the heart.  Paul says here to let love lead the way with grace and mercy at the forefront.  We see this when even though people break laws they are not punished out of mercy and compassion.  Personally, I do lean towards legalistic.  I like laws and like others to follow them.  However, mercy and grace have a place.  It’s a balance we all need.

5)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Others in general.  It reveals how selfish I truly am.  I’m not in denial of this.  I pray about it and make small steps daily towards the kind of love Jesus is/shows/gives.

6)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The fulfillment of the law is perfect obedience to God and since love is the greatest commandment and the ultimate test it would fulfill God’s desire for us.  Love is the greatest gift (besides His Son) God has given us.  Imagine how our lives would be if we approached every person, every problem, every sin, everything out of love.  We would be compassionate, generous, forthright, and amazing people like Jesus.

Conclusions:  1 Corinthians 13:1-8 is one of the most famous Bible verses and one of my favorites.  It sums up love beautifully and perfectly.  Paul was definitely a gifted and God-led writer.  I love how BSF brings up the fact we are to love with a heart of grace and mercy and not be such a stickler when it comes to the law.  Remember Jesus came to replace the law which wasn’t working and was imperfect with his perfection.  What did Jesus bring?  Love.  Great stuff here!

End NotesRomans 13:8-10:  The only debt we are to hold (both to others and to God) is to love another.  No, this isn’t against borrowing money as Jesus permitted borrowing in Matthew 5:42.  This is just referencing love.

Paul echoes Jesus’ words as recorded in Matthew 22:36-40. This is one of the two commands upon which hang all the Law and the Prophets.

Love your neighbor means to love the people you actually meet with and deal with every day. It is easy for us to love in the theoretical and the abstract, but God demands that we love real people.

Spurgeon says about this passage:  “No man can compass the ends of life by drawing a little line around himself upon the ground. No man can fulfill his calling as a Christian by seeking the welfare of his wife and family only, for these are only a sort of greater self.”

Love is the fulfillment of the law: It is easy to do all the right religious “things” but to neglect love. Our love is the true measure of our obedience to God.

Mosaic law:  Both moral and social responsibilities.

Romans 12:9-21:  (Taken from Lesson 23 Days 3, 4 & 5)

Other translations say:  “Let love be without hypocrisy”.  This isn’t real love at all.  However, I firmly believe in “fake it till you make it.”  Some people are hard to love, but treating them with dignity and respect can grow into love.

We are to hate evil AND cling to what is good.  Most of time we pick only one to do.

Be affectionate and genuine to one another.

This is simply a call for good manners, right?  A lot of kids nowadays have no manners at all.

We are also called to work hard.

“Spiritual fervor” can be translated as “boiling.”

The call to hope in the Bible usually has in mind the call to our ultimate home with Jesus.  Everything we do must be with an eye towards heaven.  Difficult times and troubles do not excuse us to abandon our hope and love and prayer.  Just because we’re having a bad day doesn’t mean you should make others have a bad day.  Always cling to Jesus and what he offers.  It’s a cause for joy (1 Peter 1:3-9).

Leon Morris explains patient as: “denotes not a passive putting up with things, but an active, steadfast endurance.”  Enduring triumphantly which is necessary for Christians because affliction is our inevitable experience (John 16:33; 2 Timothy 3:12)  Tribulation/affliction: “denotes not some minor pinprick, but deep and serious trouble.”

“Faithful in prayer”:  One must not only pray in hard times, but also maintain communion with God through prayer at all times (Luke 18:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:17).

God’s people is sometimes translated as “saints”, which all believers are.  The idea here is practice what you preach. Put into action what you believe.  The ancient Greek word for hospitality is literally translated “love for strangers.” In addition, “given” (translated for us as practice) is a strong word, sometimes translated “persecute” (as in Romans 12:14).  The idea is to “pursue” people you don’t know with hospitality.  This is love in action, not just feelings.

We are not to hate anyone, even our persecutors.  Matthew 5:46For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? Persecution can be from inside the church as well.  Jesus told us the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service (John 16:2).  Inquisition anyone?  Holocaust?

Be considerate of the feelings of others instead of waiting on them to be considerate towards you.

Conceited here is pride again.  Other translations say “Do not be wise in your own opinion”, which is thinking you are always right.  Again, reminders from Paul to step outside of ourselves and see others before ourselves.

Matthew 5:38-45. We are to love our enemies and treat well those who treat us badly.

Note Paul’s caveat:  If it is possible.  It may not always be possible since we cannot control others.  But he says do your part.

If you trust God, then you know it’s not necessary to avenge.  God will handle it.

Do good to your enemies.  “Heaping burning coals on his head” most likely refers to a “burning conviction” that our kindness places on our enemy.  It may bring about his repentance.  Or, some think it refers to the practice of lending coals from a fire to help a neighbor start their own – an appreciated act of kindness.

Either way we see that we can destroy our enemy by making him our friend.

Great read on God’s vengeance and the heaping coals HERE

1 Corinthians 13:1-8:   The Corinthians were enamored with spiritual gifts, particularly the gift of tongues. Paul reminds them even the gift of tongues is meaningless without love.  It is nothing but empty noise.

The ancient Greek word translated tongues has the simple idea of “languages” in some places (Acts 2:11 and Revelation 5:9). This has led some to say the gift of tongues is simply the ability to communicate the gospel in other languages, or it is the capability of learning languages quickly. But the way tongues is used here shows it can, and usually does, refer to a supernatural language by which a believer communicates to God. There is no other way to understand the reference to tongues of angels.

In Paul’s day, many Jews believed angels had their own language, and by the Spirit, one could speak it. The reference to tongues of angels shows that though the genuine gift of tongues is a legitimate language, it may not be a “living” human language, or may not be a human language at all. Apparently, there are angelic languages men can speak by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Poole has a fascinating comment, suggesting that the tongues of angels answer to how God may speak to us in a non-verbal way: “Angels have no tongues, nor make any articulate audible sounds, by which they understand one another; but yet there is certainly a society or intercourse among angels, which could not be upheld without some way amongst them to communicate their minds and wills to each other. How this is we cannot tell: some of the schoolmen say, it is by way of impression: that way God, indeed, communicates his mind sometimes to his people, making secret impressions of his will upon their minds and understandings.”

Prophecy, knowledge, and faith to do miracles are likewise irrelevant apart from love. Paul, quoting the idea of Jesus, refers to faith which could remove mountains (Matthew 17:20).   Yet even with this kind of faith we are nothing without love.

Excellent commentary on legalism HERE

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 24, Day 2: Romans 13:1-5

Summary of passage:  You must submit to government authorities because God is the one who has given them authority so in essence you are submitting to God.  If you rebel against the government, you are rebelling against God and are therefore subject to judgment.  Do what is right and you have nothing to fear.  The ruler is God’s servant ready to punish the wrongdoer.  Thus, submit to authorities so you’re not punished and because of conscience.

Questions:

3)  The definition of submit according to Webster’s Dictionary is “to yield to governance or authority; to subject to a condition, treatment, or operation; to yield oneself to the authority or will of another”.  Everyone must submit to governing authorities because God is the one who had given them authority so in essence you are submitting to God.

4)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  The same reasons people struggle with submitting to God (which in this passage Paul says is the same thing i.e. God and authorities are the same):  people want to do what they want to do (selfishness) and not what others tell them to do.  Human nature is inherently evil and if a person wants to be able to kill another, that’s what he wants to do.  Man wants power and to lord over others.  God established rules/government so there would not be anarchy in this world.  I’m fine with following the government (when you’re brought up in society it’s relatively easy to obey).  It’s the daily selfishness I struggle with such as when I’m driving being nice to others or putting others needs before mine or giving up my time for others.

5)  When man/human authority asks us to go against God and His Word.  Daniel ignores the decree by King Darius to not pray to God.  This is against God.  When you’re asked to do something that goes against your conscience or that you know is wrong.  Then you can disobey.  Killing others, persecuting others, causing physical harm to others, etc.

Conclusions:  Great passage by Paul and very important today when people are so against governing authorities.  You may not like who is in office, but God put them there so respect them and the laws of your country.

End Notes:  Connecting Romans 12, people are not to take vengeance but the government can punish wrongdoers since God gave them the authority to do so.  Paul is speaking to some Jews who refused to acknowledge the authority of the rulers and thus paid no taxes.

“Be subject to” is a significant theme for Romans 13:1-7.  The civil rulers, all of whom were probably pagans at the time Paul was writing.  Christians may have been tempted not to submit to them and to claim allegiance only to Christ.  Even the possibility of a persecuting state did not shake Paul’s conviction that civil government is ordained by God (1 Peter 2:13-17).

Government authorities serve a purpose for God.  God appoints a nation’s leaders, but not always to bless the people. Sometimes it is to judge the people like we read in Daniel and how God used the Babylonian empire to judge His people.

Paul wrote this during the reign of the Roman Empire. It was no democracy, and no special friend to Christians – yet he still saw their legitimate authority.

“Your Savior suffered under Pontius Pilate, one of the worst Roman governors Judea ever had; and Paul under Nero, the worst Roman Emperor. And neither our Lord nor His Apostle denied or reviled the ‘authority!’ ” (Newell)

Since governments have authority from God, we are bound to obey them – unless, of course, they order us to do something in contradiction to God’s law. Then, we are commanded to obey God before man (as in Acts 4:19).  Paul is describing the ideal rulers here.  Obviously, man is fallen so this is not always the case the rulers will do what is right.

God uses governing authorities as a check upon man’s sinful desires and tendencies. Government can be an effective tool in resisting the effects of man’s fallenness.

Paul’s idea is that Christians should be the best citizens of all. Even though they are loyal to God before they are loyal to the state, Christians are good citizens because they are honest, give no trouble to the state, pay their taxes, and – most importantly – pray for the state and the rulers.

Paul describes government officials as God’s minister. They have a ministry in the plan and administration of God, just as much as church leaders do.

If the state’s rulers are God’s minister (servant), they should remember that they are only servants, and not gods themselves.

It is through the just punishment of evil that government serves its function in God’s plan of holding man’s sinful tendencies in check. When a government fails to do this consistently, it opens itself up to God’s judgment and correction.

The sword is a reference to capital punishment. In the Roman Empire, criminals were typically executed by beheading with a sword (crucifixion was reserved for the worst criminals of the lowest classes). Paul, speaking by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, has no doubt that the state has the legitimate authority to execute criminals.

We must be subject to government; not only because we fear punishment, but because we know it is right before God to do so.  Christian obedience to the state is never blind – it obeys with the eyes of conscience wide open.  Christians must duly honor the government in order to maintain a good conscience.

Fun Fact (taken from Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary):  The Bible, by exhortation and commandment, requires submission and obedience to six principal authorities:

  1.  Parents (Ephesians 6:1; Colossians 3:20; 1 Timothy 3:4)
  2.  Teachers (Proverbs 5:12-13)
  3.  Husbands (Ephesians 5:21-22, 24; Colossians 3:18; Titus 2:5; 1 Peter 3:1, 5-6)
  4.  Masters–or today, employers (Ephesians 6:4, Colossians 3:22, Titus 2:9, 1 Peter 2:18)
  5.  Government (Romans 13:1-2, 5: Titus 3:1, 1 Peter 2:13)
  6.  God (Genesis 26:5, Ephesians 5:24, Hebrews 5:9; 12:9, James 4:7)

The supreme test of faith is obedience (1 Samuel 28:18).  The Bible often links obedience to faith (Genesis 22:18; Romans 1:5; 1 Peter 1:14).  Jesus obedience to the Father is the supreme example for Christians.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 22, Day 3: Romans 12:4-5

Summary of passage:  All Christians form the body of Christ, acting as a whole with different functions.

Questions:

7)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  The human body.  The body works together for one goal, which is the health and function of the human body.  So are Christians. We all have different functions in the body, working together for Christ.

8 )  Each member depends on the other member to function properly and efficiently.  Each member has its own unique skills, designs, and qualifications to contribute to the smooth functioning of the body.

Conclusions:  Inherently self-explanatory passage.

End Notes:  The church is a unified whole with distinct members.  In the body of Christ there is unity but not uniformity (unity within diversity).  There is a delicate balance between unity and individuality.  Both co-exist but not at the expense of the other.  Christ is our common ground.

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.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 19, Day 5: Romans 11:25-32

Summary of passage:  God’s plan is to harden the hearts of the Jews until the full number of Gentiles has come in and then all of Israel will be saved.  Israel has become disobedient so that God may show them mercy like He has done the Gentiles.

Questions:

11)  All of Israel could mean that literally:  all people of ethnic, Jewish descent or it could mean all of Israel that God has chosen to be saved by faith in Jesus (the elect).  I think all of the elect because we know faith is a choice.  Man must choose God.  And not all will choose Him (even His chosen people).

12)  They will be saved.  We can be sure because God says so through Isaiah.  God will once again turn His attention to the Jews.

13)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  God has reasons behind all His actions.  He loves all His people and wants as many as will turn to Him to come.  God works through all for His purposes.  I am comforted because I know God’s ways are not mine and everything has a purpose for Him.

14)  He showed mercy by allowing them to be disobedient and then forgiving them and offering them salvation.  We all need mercy because we are all sinners and deserve death.  Instead, God offers us eternal life through His Son, Jesus Christ.  Without mercy, heaven would be empty.

Conclusions:  This is the first time I have read all of Israel will be saved at the End Times and I was hoping to dive into this truth more.  I love gaining insight into God and His ways and seeing how He won’t leave any behind is awesome!  God never gives up on you, on me, on the people of Israel, on anyone.  Just imagine what a world this would be if all of us embraced that truth!

End Notes:  The mystery religions of Paul’s day used the Greek word (mysterion) in the sense of something that was to be revealed only to the initiated.  Paul uses this word to refer to something formerly hidden or obscure but now revealed by God for all to know and understand.  This word is used of the incarnation, the death of Christ, God’s purpose to sum up all things in Christ and especially to include both Jews and Gentiles in the NT church, the change that will take place at the resurrection and the plan of God by which both Jew and Gentile will be included in his kingdom.

Paul continues from Romans 11:11-24 by saying Israel is blind for the sake of the elect Gentiles.  God’s attention is temporarily off the Jews until He is finished with the Gentiles.  However, He will come back to His people.  The hardening is partial and temporary.

“All of Israel” does not mean every last person of Jewish descent.  It means Israel as a nation.  And they will be saved the same way the Gentiles are saved:  by faith in Jesus.  There is no special or other way for the Jews.  Salvation is not universal.  All must choose God.

Jesus will not return again until God turns the focus of His saving mercies on Israel again, and Israel responds to God through Jesus Christ (Matthew 23:39Zechariah 12:10-11).  Isaiah confirms this truth.

The Jewish people will always be loved by God for the sake of the patriarchs.  God has not given up on them (or us) as His calling endures.

Paul reminds all of us we are lawbreakers and all of us have received mercy from God.  None of us are better than another.