BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 21, Day 5: Romans 12:1-2

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

Questions:

13)  Renewing of your mind through the power of the Holy Spirit/God.

14)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  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.  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.  Speaking God’s Word into the minds of others when the opportunity arises.  Taking my kids to church and bible study.  Teaching them to put God first in their world.

15)  “his good, pleasing, perfect will.”

“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.

Most people confuse their will with God’s will and justify their will as God’s.  People also use God as a scapegoat for their sinful actions.  Reality is it is hard to know God’s will since we can’t know everything like God does.  But if you know His Word, His character, His heart, and His justice then through prayer He will reveal it.  But if it has anything to do with sin, it’s not God.

16)

John 14:15:  God’s will can be found in loving Him and obeying His commands.

2 Corinthians 10:5:  Take captive your thoughts to make them align to God’s will and obedience to Christ and rid ourselves of arguments and pretensions that is against the Word of God.

1 Thessalonians 4:3-7:  We should live a sanctified/holy life, avoiding sexual immorality, learning to control your own body in a holy way, and not take advantage of others.

James 5:13-16:  One should pray when in trouble, sing when happy, have others pray over you if you’re sick, and confess your sins.  Our prayers are powerful and effective.

1 Peter 2:15:  Do good to silence the ignorance of the foolish.

1 Peter 3:17:  Live as servants of God (verse 16), respect others, love others, fear God, and honor God.

1 Peter 4:1-11:  Live for God’s will, which is being clear-minded and self-controlled so that you can pray, loving each other, offer hospitality to others without grumbling, use your gifts to serve others, speak as if speaking the very words of God, serve with God’s strength so that God is given the glory.

Conclusions:  One of my favorite parts of BSF is when they do send us to other parts of the Bible on certain subjects.  Hence, I loved question 16 because on my own I never would have made these connections.  Yeah, BSF!  I also love 2 Cor 10:5 because it puts the power in our hands.   1 Peter 4:11 is powerful.  Speak as if God were speaking.  Awesome!

All of this shows us how powerful we truly are.  We don’t give ourselves enough credit.  You don’t have to be Martin Luther King, Jr to change the world.  Change those around you and you’ll change the world.  Because then they will change others and the ripple effect will be far more than we’ll ever know.  Live God in you.  Quit worrying about others.  Change yourself.  Change your loved ones.  God will do the rest.

Conclusions to Lesson 21:  This was my favorite lesson so far.  Small verse focus but great questions that re-enforced key ideas we all need to be reminded of.  It all starts with you.  Change yourself first.  Live the life God wants you to live.  Remember others and love others.  Live for Him.  He’ll doe the rest.

End Notes: [Same as Day 2‘s]  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.

Verse 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 life 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.

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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 3: Romans 11:1-10

Summary of passage:  God did not reject His people.  They have rejected Him, but not all of them.  God has chosen a remnant (the elect) by grace and the others hearts’ were hardened towards Him.

Questions:

6)  Israel sought a law of righteousness.  They did not obtain it because righteousness is by faith, not works.

7 )  Personal Question.  My answer:

Isaiah 29:10-14:  The Lord has blinded some to faith and others He hasn’t.  Many have only a superficial faith–all words with no heart.

Psalm 69:22-26:  Some have eyes that cannot see the Truth and will face God’s wrath.

Matthew 13:12-15:  Jesus spoke in parables in order to reach those who do not understand and have hard hearts.

John 12:37-43:  Many did not believe in Jesus even after his miracles.  God had blinded them to the Truth and deadened their hearts. But some did believe.

Acts 28:24-28:  Paul would preach to the Jews and many would not believe.  Hence, God turned to the Gentiles who would listen.

Conclusions:  Nothing new here.  Many references in the Bible to the same idea:  Many heard the Truth and turned away.  Some believed.  This is true for us today.  Just tell the Truth.  Some will believe; some won’t.  It is God who chooses/elects.

End Notes:  [Same as Yesterday’s].  In the Old Testament, the Jews and Israel are God’s elect, those chosen to be those whom God revealed Himself and His will to, and through whom he could exhibit and declare to the world his purposes and salvation.  In the New Testament, Jesus is the Elect One, and through Him the church, replacing the old Israel in the purposes of God.  This new race is mostly composed of poor and ordinary people (1 Corinthians 1:27-29).

The question as to whether the Jews are, as a people, still the elect of God is faced by Paul here in Romans 9-11 in the light of the salvation of God in and through Jesus.  In chapters 9 & 10 Paul painfully admits that, on the whole, the Jews did not believe in Christ.  Despite all the advantages of Old Testament history, they “stumbled over the ‘stumbling stone'” (Romans 9:32).  In chapter 11, Paul goes back over that history and asks whether it was futile.  Will the Jews come to believe in Christ some day?  Did their tragic experience produce any advantage for the rest of the world?  This chapter clearly shows God’s eternal love for his chosen people.  Paul will conclude with a poetic outburst, celebrating God’s mysterious ways of working on earth.

Paul answers in Chapter 11:  If Israel’s rejection of the gospel was somehow both consistent with God’s eternal plan (Romans 9:1-29) and Israel’s own choosing (Romans 9:30-10:21), then does this mean that Israel’s fate is settled, and there is no possibility of restoration?  No!

For one, Paul is a Jew and he has been saved. We first look to ourselves for God’s grace.  There is a remnant of Jews who embrace Jesus and like Elijah, God will work through them for the sake of the others.  God often works in small groups and in the first century Jews believers in Christ were small and in Elijah’s time it was just him!

A remnant is “something left over”.  In the Bible, it’s those who would survive God’s judgement and become the new, true Israel.  The elect are those whom God has chosen for salvation out of His great love, not merit.

And it is by God’s grace (not works), and elect was chosen.  God enlightens whom He so chooses because He’s God and can do whatever He wants.  The Jews of Paul’s day were so secure in their idea of being the chosen people that the very idea became the thing that ruined them.  This spiritual dullness had continued since Isaiah’s day.

The passage from Psalm was probably originally spoken by David concerning his enemies; Paul uses it to describe the results of the divine hardening.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 18, Day 5: Romans 10:18-21

Summary of passage:  Israel heard the Good News, but chose to be disobedient and obstinate.  Instead, the Gentiles believed when the Good News was revealed to them.

Questions:

12) God revealed Himself to the Gentiles in an attempt to make the Israelites jealous and then turn to Him.  Hearing is listening to words but no action.  Understanding is knowing what the words mean but no action.  Believing is taking action and agreeing with the words.  For example, “Go pick up your room.”  My kids hear the command.  They understand it.  Then they ignore me and don’t do it.  Same with God.  “Believe in my Son.”  The Israelites heard this.  They understand it’s meaning.  But they turned their backs on Christ.

13)  The Israelites who did not believe in Christ.  The Gentiles who heard the Good News.

14)  Personal Question we just answered in Question 8.  My repetitive answer: Where is everywhere I encounter others whom He puts in my path whom He desires to be there.  I encourage others just by listening and sharing God’s truths about love and comfort and purpose, etc.

Conclusions:  Paul is saying Israel has no excuse for they have heard the message and declined.

End Notes:  Israel is ignoring God and the prophets, Moses and Isaiah, making them more accountable and responsible.  This, however, God knew.  God’s chosen people ignored Him, all the more heart-breaking to God.  He holds out His hands and they slap it away.  He continues to reach out to His people in spite of their disobedience.  Same for us.  God hurts when we reject Him.

Conclusions BSF Romans Lesson 18:  Not a lot of verses covered and a simple message by Paul:  All have heard the message and it is simply have faith in Christ.  Nice respite and should be fairly quick to complete.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 18, Day 3: Romans 10:14-15

Summary of passage:  Paul says how awesome are those who spread the Good News so that others may hear and believe.

Questions:

6)  Matthew 28:18-20:  Jesus gave the Great Commission for all to go out and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.  In essence, spread the Word!

Acts 1:8:  We are to be witnesses to Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 13:46-47:  We are to spread the light and bring salvation to the ends of the earth.

Romans 15:20:  We are to preach the Gospel to places where Christ is not known.

2 Corinthians 2:12-14:  The Lord opens the doors for us to spread the Gospel as we are an aroma to Him.

2 Corinthians 10:15-16:  As our faith grows, so does our ministry and we can spread the Gospel in circles around us.

7)  Isaiah is speaking of God’s people returning from exile with the Lord leading the way.  Paul applied this joyful cheer to the messengers who, like himself, bore the Good News of Jesus Christ.  So in essence all believers who spread the news.  The feet are beautiful because they are moving to spread the beautiful news of Christ.

8 )  Personal Question we’ve answered several times this year.  The good thing about repetition:  You won’t forget!!  My answer:  How is through nudges and whispers and putting people in my path whom He desires to be there.  All who haven’t heard of Christ are in despair (not just the places of destitute and dilapidation).  All who don’t believe are candidates for us to share Christ.

Conclusions:  Unnecessary to spend two days on these two verses.

End Notes:  [Same as yesterday’s]. Paul rightly observes that it all goes back to the preaching of the gospel, and preachers must be sent – both by God and the Christian community at large.

God could have chosen any means for the message of salvation to come, such as angelic messengers or directly working without a human preacher.  God’s “normal” way of bringing people to Jesus Christ is through the preaching of the gospel.

The feet speak of activity, motion, and progress, and those who are active and moving in the work of preaching the gospel have beautiful feet.

This is joyful cheer of those who are spreading the Good News.  It should bring us great joy when we spread the Gospel as well!!

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 17, Day 2: Romans 9:30-33

Summary of passage:  Israel has been denied righteousness because they pursued it by works.  The Gentiles were granted righteousness because they had faith.  This is all according to God’s will.

Questions:

3)  Israel tried to earn righteousness by works and were denied.  The Gentiles had faith and were thus granted righteousness by God.

4)  Pursuing righteous behavior is trying to be more like Jesus, obeying God’s calling and His rules.  Only God can grant us righteous standing.  That is, only He can tell us if our behavior is right or wrong and give His stamp of approval or not.  We cannot make ourselves righteous before God.  Faith is what we need to be granted righteousness.  Faith in Jesus Christ as God’s Son and our Savior.  Without faith all you do is meaningless.

5)  A crucified Savior–Jesus Christ.  The fact Jesus died for our sins and his death covers our sins and saves us and thereby accepting this fact you are saved eternally.  Simple concept.  Hard to accept in its simplicity.

Conclusions:  Paul’s conclusion to Chapter 9, saying faith is the way to righteousness, not works, no matter who you are.

End Notes:  Israel missed the Messiah because they refused to come by faith.  The Gentiles found righteousness even though they weren’t necessarily seeking it.  Israel tried to work for the righteousness of God and couldn’t find it.  The Jews tried to justify themselves before God by performing works according to the law of righteousness instead of the righteousness of faith.  The Jews needed to seek righteousness by faith.

Paul does not use God as an excuse here and His right to choose.  Nope.  It’s all on the Israelites; they did not seek it by faith.  This is Paul presenting the problem from the side of human responsibility and not from the side of God’s right to choose.  Both are responsible for Israel’s unsaved state.

Israel was rejected because she failed to obey her own God-given law, which in reality was pointing to Christ.  She disobeyed, pursued the law–not by faith but by works–failing to believe.  Hence, God rejected Israel.

Paul has already shown in Romans that the only possible way to be saved is through faith, not the works of the law; and that this salvation comes only through the work of a crucified Savior – which was a stumbling block to Israel (1 Corinthians 1:22-23).

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 16, Day 3: Romans 9:6-13

Summary of passage:  It is only Abraham’s children through Sarah who are chosen by God to be saved.  Not all are chosen.

Questions:

6a)  God calls those whom He chooses and those who are governed by Him by grace.

b)  Paul reminds us that those chosen were from Sarah’s son, Isaac, not in Ishmael’s line.  Both had Abraham as a father.  God choose one son only.  Similarly, God chose Jacob over Esau.

7)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Paul’s example.  All is in God’s grace.  God chooses whom He wants.  There is always hope because we don’t know whom God chooses and why.  Our job is just to pray.

Conclusions:  In essence, Paul says God chooses whom He wants.  It’s all planned.  It is not for us to question or wonder why.  And we are grateful.  Can you imagine if we were in charge?

End Notes:  One meaning of the name “Israel” is governed by God, which is what Paul means here.  He means not all of Israel is governed by God.  Same is true for the word “Christian”.  Not everyone who is called a Christian is a follower of Christ.

When people ask:  “How can God’s promise stand when so many who comprise Israel are unbelieving and therefore cut off?”  Here’s the answer:

God’s word didn’t fail.  Instead, it reaches the children of the promise which may not include all of Israel.  Paul uses Ismael here as an example.  He is of the flesh not of God.  God chose Jacob over Esau before they were born out of grace not works.  It is God’s sovereign right to choose whom He wants.

God’s love and hate here is merely God’s preference to Jacob over Esau.  The idea here is more like accepted and rejected.  Places in the Bible where hate clearly seems to mean something like “loved less”: (Genesis 29:3133Deuteronomy 21:15Matthew 6:24Luke 14:26John 12:25).

Esau was a very blessed man indeed.  Just not with the covenant.

“A woman once said to Mr. Spurgeon, ‘I cannot understand why God should say that He hated Esau.’ ‘That,’ Spurgeon replied, ‘is not my difficulty, madam. My trouble is to understand how God could love Jacob.'” (Newell)

We may not be able to fathom God’s reasons for choosing, and they are reasons He alone knows and answers to, but God’s choices are not capricious. He has a plan and a reason.  We just don’t know it.  Expecting to know God’s plan is where a lot of us cause ourselves heartache and despair.  Let God handle it.