BSF’s Next Study: Letters of Paul?

I’ve heard from many of you on the repetitive personal questions of the study of Romans.  I have noticed this as well.

I suggested a while back that Bible Study Fellowship shorten the study of Romans into a semester long course and then add on other smaller books for the rest of the year such as Galatians and Colossians.

I’ve dubbed this study idea of mine:  The Letters of Paul.

This is an informal poll.  Do you like this idea?  Now that we’re almost half-way through the study of Romans, what are your thoughts on the study, the questions, lecture, notes, etc?  I always love to gauge your opinion on the study at about this time.  Do you like it?  Is it challenging?  Are the questions just right?  Too hard?  Too easy?  Have you learned a lot?  Is BSF worth your time and energy?

Please try to be reflective of the study itself, not BSF as a whole.  Also, just being with God, we’ve all grown closer to Him.  Try to focus here on this study compared to other studies you may have done on the Bible.

Please leave a comment below or email me at atozmom.wordpress@gmail.com

I look forward to your ideas, comments, & suggestions.

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BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 12, Day 2: Romans 7:1-6

Summary of passage:  Paul uses an example from the law (marriage) to explain what Christ’s death means.  In Jewish law, a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives.  If he dies, she is released from this law.  If she remarries while her husband is still alive, she is still bound to her first husband.  This is the same relationship when Christ died.  With his death, we (believers) were released from the law and free to serve in the Holy Spirit.

Questions:

3)  Christ’s death grants us the Holy Spirit within (basically Christ within), uniting us closer to him.  Baptism as well.  His death crucified our old life into something new.

4a)  His death freed us from the law.  We belong to Christ so we can bear fruit to God.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer I’m sick of answering:  I’m trying to walk the path God wants me to and that path walks me through work, family, community, etc.  The freedom is in my attitude and beliefs and steps on that path.

5)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  These are opposites in every facet of life.  We either live and work for God or the devil/death.  We either sin or we don’t (new way versus old way).  Life of the Spirit is avoiding all sin which is the old way of the written code (sinful nature).  I’m gonna take issue with “patterns”.  I walk in the Spirit with stumbles (sin) on that path.  There is no pattern to it.  It’s either you walk with God or you don’t.  You won’t be perfect in your walk with Him, but the pattern is the same.

Conclusions:  Could Question 4b be any broader?  Question 5 has one answer:  opposites and I think we all can see that. There’s not a variety of ways to say it.

End Notes: In Romans 6:14, Paul told us that you are not under law but under grace. After the discussion in Romans 6:15-23 regarding practical implications of this, he now explains more completely how it is that we are no longer under the dominion of the law.

The ancient Greek wording here has no word “the” before law. This means Paul speaks of a principle broader than the Mosaic Law, which includes our innate law of creation and conscience.

Paul makes the point that death ends all obligations and contracts.  It decisively changes a person’s relationship to the law.

In Romans 6:3-8, Paul carefully explained that we died with Jesus and we also rose with Him, although Paul there only spoke of our death to sin. Now he explains that we also died to the law.  Paul wanted to make it clear to all that the law does not dictate our living nor sanctification before God.  We can’t do anything to win salvation.  With this freedom, however, we aren’t free to sin as Paul has carefully explained.  We are free to be married to Jesus and serve God and His will, not ours.

The law’s power to condemn no longer threatens believers.

Under the law, we did not bear fruit to God. Instead we bore fruit to death, because the law aroused the passions of sins within us.  The fruit of our union with the law was a physical and spiritual death–a separation from God.

To bear fruit to death: Paul will explain this problem of the law more fully in Romans 7:7-14.  We can only bear fruit to God if we’re free from the law because the law stimulates sin since the natural human tendency is to desire the forbidden thing.

Sinful nature is usually translated sinful flesh, which refers to the sinful state of human beings, often presented as a power in opposition to the Spirit.

When we are united to Christ the fruit of holiness is produced.

Verse 6 summarizes Romans 7:1-5.  The law does not justify nor sanctify us.  With Christ’s death, we are released from the law and free to serve God better.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 2, Day 3: Romans 1:21-23

Summary of passage:  Despite knowing God (in Creation and in their hearts and mind), mankind became foolish and gave up the glory given to them by God and instead worshiped false gods.

Questions:

6)  Through Free Will and denying who God is.  They did not glorify Him nor did they thank Him.

7a)  “Their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened” and they “became fools.”  Any consequence is appropriate and God can and will express His wrath in different forms.  Why would God reward those who reject Him in any way?  You can’t be wise if you deny God.  Part of His judgement against unbelievers is to suffer the damage sin causes.  You deserve no mercy when you reject Him.

b)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  He has sent His son, Jesus Christ, and whoever believes in Jesus has light within.  In Genesis 1:3, God made light and separated it from the darkness that was over the surface of the deep.  From the beginning, God planned and gave light to mankind.  Jesus tells us in Matthew to let our light and good deeds shine before men.  Do what Jesus would do with respect to others.  Praise God.  Walk in His ways.  Give Him all the credit.  All will see through you the power of God.

8 )  Humanity exchanged wisdom for foolishness and the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man, birds, animals, and reptiles.  Mankind becomes hardened to others.  Love is pushed out.  Evil reigns.  For instance, I recently read about how young men videotaped another young man drowning.  They laughed in the background and didn’t help or even call 911.  How sick is that?  That’s evil.  Pure evil in this world.  All because man has forsaken God and his mind is useless.  Worshiping false gods leads to emptiness and a desire by man to fill it–with evil thoughts and deeds.  Without God, there is no right and wrong.  Without right and wrong, it’s every man for himself and chaos reigns.  Just like Satan desires.

Conclusions:  Great emphasis on the peril of mankind without God.  A Godless life is dark and black and unrewarding and destitute.  People deal with this in different ways:  violence against self (suicide), violence against others (rape, murder, assault), waging war on strangers or kids or animals or the weak or the poor or the downtrodden.  Those without God lead an empty life no matter how materially successful they are.  If you don’t work for God, your life is sad.  Very, very sad.

End Notes:  Knowledge of God is useless–by itself.  Every person on this planet past and present has “known” God.  You must glorify Him and thank Him, the God of the Bible.  An attitude of gratitude will change your life and the lives of those around you.

We must also be on guard to worship the God of the Bible, not the god of our mind’s creation.  Constantly be on guard for society and other influences to change in your mind whom you know God to be.

Knowledge leads to worship and gratitude.

As soon as man rejects God in Jesus, he becomes foolish.  Once foolish, he’ll believe any lie Satan says.  It is only when we turn back to God and stay with Him does wisdom return.  Sound familiar in our lives when we stray from Him?

Paul, Our Author…

The greatest example of a complete 180 turnaround in life is the apostle Paul.  He went from being a fanatical Jew whose mission in life was to stamp out this new religion of Christianity to experiencing Jesus and devoting his entire life to him.

Paul was an anomaly in the ancient world.  He was an education Jew and a Roman citizen–the equivalent of lords and ladies in the Middle Ages, just below royalty.  He used this as a huge advantage and this fact saved him from many a fate.  He was fluent in Greek and his writings are rich in theology and the times of the day.  Paul studied theology in Jerusalem under the famous rabbi Gamaliel.  He had every advantage a person could have in this time.

Paul’s Hebrew name was Saul and probably used both from his youth.  This was a common practice among the Jews of the Dispersion.  He was born in Tarsus where he learned his trade of tent making (Acts 18:3), the son of a Pharisee.

Paul became one of the first missionaries, spreading the word of Christ to all who would listen.  He traveled almost incessantly all around the Mediterranean Sea.  He experienced many harrowing moments in his travels from a ship wreak, a snakebite, beatings, and narrow escapes–stuff of movies today.  He started many churches and 13 of his letters are in the New Testament.  He was the first one to say God loves all equally and to bring the Gentiles to God through Jesus Christ.  “For God does not show favoritism,” he wrote to the Romans (Romans 2:11).

He faced many personal threats and challenges.  He survived a stoning and many of his travels were marked by frequent comings and goings due to threats on his life.  He was imprisoned in Rome twice, where he was eventually executed in late 66 or early 67 AD.  Tradition says he was beheaded on the Ostian Way, a major trade road in Rome.

Paul’s life is an example to us all.  Having understood his duty, he followed it unflinchingly, undeterred by possible consequences to himself.  He had native zeal and ardor, giving himself wholly to his work.  He was warm-hearted and affectionate.  He was humble, sincere, and sympathetic.  In essence, he was possessed and empowered by the living Christ.  Isn’t that what we all want?

Introduction to Bible Study Fellowship’s Study of Romans

If stranded on a deserted island, many people would choose the book of Romans to take along.  Its importance to Christianity has been compared to the Constitution and democracy.  It’s Paul’s concise outline of the Christian faith.  It has been called the Cathedral of the Christian faith.  Thorough, it’s the longest of the thirteen epistles attributed by Paul and the first letter in the long-established canonical order.  Romans 15:23-29 gives us the date for this letter and the place.  Paul was writing from Corinth in Greece during his third missionary journey (56-57 AD) to the Christian church in Rome, which was struggling with Jewish-Gentile relations.  Paul was on his way to Jerusalem to drop off some money from the Gentiles to the Jews in Judea.  He was then going to visit Rome on his way to Spain.  The structure of this letter is built around Paul’s travel plans.

Paul’s purpose for this letter:  As the apostle of the Gentiles and Rome being the capital of the Gentile world, it’s easy to see why Paul would want to visit it.  There was friction and misunderstanding between Jewish and Gentile Christians in the New Testament church.  Clarification was needed by Paul:  Grace belongs to the Gentiles as well despite what the Judaizers said.  He also addressed doctrine and practical problems facing the Roman church.

The theme of the letter is why Paul is coming to visit them.  Yes, the greatest theological theme is justification by faith, but this again is a practical letter to the people of the time for living.  And those practicalities extend to us today.

Outline of Book of Romans:

Chapters 1-3 present the need for the Good News and God’s righteousness in the face of both the Gentiles’ and the Jews’ sin.

The end of chapter 3 is the central theological passage in the entire Bible.

Chapters 4-5 continue with the theology as Paul expounds and defends his message of justification by faith.

Chapters 6-8 show how the gospel works in a Christian’s life through sanctification.

Chapters 9-11 Paul backtracks to link the Gospel with the Old Testament Jews and the current problem of Israel’s unbelief in Jesus as the Son of God.  God has not forgotten His people.

Chapters 12-16 (the rest of the Book) is practical advice on specific problems involving the Christian life.

Things of Note in Paul’s Epistle:

  1. The most systematic of Paul’s letters. It reads more like an elaborate theological essay than a letter.
  2. Emphasis on Christian doctrine. The number and importance of the theological themes touched upon are impressive: sin and death, salvation, grace, faith, righteousness, justification, sanctification, redemption, resurrection and glorification.
  3. Widespread use of OT quotations. Although Paul regularly quotes from the OT in his letters, in Romans the argument is sometimes carried along by such quotations such as in chapters 9-11.
  4. Deep concern for Israel. Paul writes about her present status, her relationship to the Gentiles and her final salvation.