BSF Study Questions John Lesson 20, Day 4: John 15:9-17

Summary of passage: Jesus loves us and tells us to obey his commands to remain in his love. If we do, we will have joy. We are to love others as Jesus has loved us. He has chosen us to bear fruit that will last and God will give us whatever we ask in Jesus’ name. Love each other as friends.

Questions:

9)  God’s love is immeasurable.  If we remain in His love by obeying Him, we will have complete joy and whatever we ask for.

10)  Part personal Question.  My answer: Because Christ loved us so much we are to love each other.  We were sent into this world and made for this purpose.  It is a pattern for a way of life.  If we love others, we build them up and strengthen them for Christ.  You can try to fake it until you make it.  If you choose to fake it, often it will not come.  If you choose not to fake it, blessings will come.  Pray and ask God for help to love those unloveables in our lives.  We all have them.  Exercise the fruits of the Spirit here: patience, love, kindness, and compassion.  God will help us.

11)  To bear fruit.  We are to remain in Christ and bear much fruit because of it.  If we obey His commands, discover God’s purpose for our lives, we will bear much fruit.  We pray.  We read His Word.  We grow closer to Jesus and God.  We become more Christ-like, loving others. We share the gospel.  Then His will will be done.

Conclusions: Another great lesson especially on loving others whom we cannot love.  Remember: All things are possible through Christ who strengthens me.  Find your purpose.  Love others, including the unloveable.  You will then have great joy, peace, and prosperity through Him.  Love is the answer to all.  Think of the opposite:  evil and hate.  Where does that lead?  The opposite of joy and peace and eternal life and satisfaction.

End Notes:  Jesus compares his love for others with that of the love God has for Jesus.  It’s protecting, sacrificing, serving, guiding, and blessing.  It’s never-ending, personal and unchanging.

Obey God’s commands and you will remain and stay connected in God’s love.  Then and only then will your joy be complete.  Joy is not happiness or excitement or pleasure in life.  It’s walking in God’s love and care.  The picture is a pitcher of water filled to the brim.

Jesus uses repetition to emphasis love.  Giving up your life is giving up everything you have.  You have nothing else to give.  It is complete.

In ancient times, the rabbi was not friends with his disciples and definitely not servants.  You are friends if you actively obey.  There are no secrets between friends.

Normally, the disciples chose the rabbi they wanted to learn from.  Jesus chose us.  He holds us, not us him.  We are to go and bear fruit which Jesus enables us to do as his chosen disciples.  Then our prayers will be answered.

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

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

Questions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus abides in us in an active way.

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

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

Verse 6 Interpretations of the cast out branches:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 19, Day 5: John 14:27-31

Summary of passage: Jesus says he’ll give the disciples peace. He tells them to not be afraid or troubled. He is going away and if the disciples loved him, they would be glad for he is fulfilling the Father’s wishes.

Questions:

12)  The Bible tells us that Satan is a fallen angel, a real being who tempts us and tries to destroy us. We see this in the temptation of Jesus. We are told he rules the world until Jesus comes again, hence a prince. He was hurled to earth and tries to lead us all astray.

13)  Personal Question. My answer: Jesus gives those who believe in him peace. Currently, I’m struggling with what God wants me to do in my life. Either quit my job and be a full-time mom or stay working and do everything else He calls me in this world. I know whatever I decide, it will be in His will and with His guidance. That gives me peace.

Conclusions:  If only we could grasp the peace Jesus offers every moment of our lives.  I know I struggle with peace and it only comes when I stay close to God and don’t stray or push him aside.  Staying in the Word like a bible study helps me to maintain that closeness we all so desperately need.

End Notes:  Jesus saying Peace be with you was and is a common Jewish departure saying and a common greeting as well.  However, Jesus is clarifying this customary saying to say my peace, or Jesus’ peace is the peace of God, an untroubled heart.  Hence, along with the Holy Spirit, Jesus is blessing his disciples with peace.

Jesus repeats 14:1.  With faith, the Holy Spirit, and peace, you will be untroubled.

The disciples were troubled at the news of Jesus’ departure.  Jesus says rejoice instead!  His work through the Holy Spirit will be greater than His work during the years of His earthly ministry.  For the sake of the world and yourselves, rejoice!  We sense that Jesus is joyful in his soon reunion with God.

The Father is greater than Jesus in position but not in being.  Both are equally God.

At this very moment, Jesus is arranging Jesus’ arrest–Satan is coming.  Jesus goes to the cross willingly. Satan has no hold on him since he is sinless.

Now Jesus and his disciples are ending dinner and going to go the Garden at Gethesemane.  They are still in the room because Jesus doesn’t actually leave until John 18:1.  We can imagine Chapters 15-17 is Jesus speaking as the disciples gather round him in the room.  As one probably knows when there is a gathering of a big group of people it takes a bit to get them moving.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 15, Day 2: John 11:1-16

Summary of passage:  Mary’s brother, Lazarus, was sick.  Mary had previously washed Jesus’ feet with perfume.  She sent word to Jesus who knew God’s plan.  He waited 2 days for Lazarus to die and then he returns to Bethany (just outside Jerusalem and remember Jesus is somewhere on the other side of the Jordan River) despite the disciples’ protests.

Questions:

3a)  He knew God’s plan to raise Lazarus from the dead. God alone can raise the dead and this event will help initiate events that will lead to the cross–God’s ultimate plan and glory.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  To draw us closer to Him, rely on Him, and follow Him.

4a)  To let Lazarus die so that when he returns and raises Lazarus there will be no doubting God’s glory.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  It’s all in God’s timing and what’s right for us and Him.

5)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Those who walk with Jesus should have no fear.  Those who walk in darkness stumble and should have fear.

Conclusions:  I love how Jesus waits for Lazarus to die–waits on God’s timing.  Great lesson for us.  Patience is something many of us lack or need more of and this is a classic example of how good things come to those who wait.  Rely on God and His timing, not ours.

End Notes:  You could say Jesus saved the best miracle for last.  Here we have the 7th sign in John’s Gospel and it’s Jesus raising a man from the dead who had been dead for 4 days and whose body had begun to rot.  This puts Lazarus at having died shortly after the messengers left Bethany (1 day for travel, 2 days Jesus waited, 1 day to travel back).

Lazarus is the Greek form of “Eleazar” or God is my help.

John is the only one to record this miracle–the most astounding of all.  Why?  Some conjecture the other 3 Gospels were written while Lazarus was still alive and they didn’t want to offend anyone.  Some say it’s because Peter was not present with the Lord.  He was in Galilee preaching.  The other 3 Gospels may be based on Peter’s account of the Lord.

Note the women did not ask for a miracle from Jesus.  Just telling Jesus Lazarus was sick was enough.  They knew if Jesus could heal him, he would.  They had faith.

By the time Jesus got the message Lazarus was sick, he was already dead.  He knew this.  He also knew upon healing Lazarus, he’d set the course for his last days–the ultimate glory of God.

Note how Jesus loves all individually-Martha and Mary and Lazarus–as He does us.

He stayed two days deliberately until the fourth day.  This must have been agony for Martha and Mary but their faith did not waver.  This was bringing greater glory to God and shows us it’s in God’s timing, not ours.

Jesus could have healed Lazarus from afar.  Despite the dangers, he goes to Judea.  But Jesus still has work to do given to him by God.  There is enough time for us to do God’s purpose so don’t waste it!  No harm will come to them during this time.

Sleep is a metaphor for death.

Jesus is glad for many reasons:  grief was comforted, life was restored, many more believed, and the necessary death of Jesus was set in motion–not to mention his friend would live!

God often permits us to pass into profounder darkness, and deeper mysteries of pain, in order that we may prove more perfectly His power.

Remember Jesus was on the other side of the Jordan River.  He no heads back to Judea and Bethany to heal Lazarus.

All Jews in those days had two names – one a Hebrew name by which a man was known in his own circle, the other a Greek name by which he was known in a wider circle. Thomas is the Hebrew and Didymus, which is Greek for twin.  Thomas apparently looked like Jesus and hence his nickname.  Despite the risks, Thomas encourages the other disciples to accompany Jesus.  He may not understand the resurrection yet, but he knows Jesus enough to die for him.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 7, Day 5: John 5:31-47

Summary of passage:  Jesus explains how John the Baptist has testified for him.  How the work he is doing is a testimony for who Jesus is.  God has testified for him.  The Word has testified for him.  Jesus says they do not believe who he is.

Questions:

11)  Part-personal Question.  My answer:  John the Baptist verse 33.  The work God has given him and that Jesus is doing verse 36.  God verse 37.  The Scriptures verse 39.  Moses verse 46.  My response is belief.

12)  Part-personal Question.  My answer:  They refused to believe testimonies.  They do not have the love of God in their hearts.  They missed the Truth in the Word.  Pride, vanity, self-love.  They lived on each other’s praise.  Their belief in their own self-importance blinded them to the One who is truly important.  How will I pray?  Well, I’ll just pray.

13)  Part-personal Question.  My answer:  They did not believe in the Scriptures.  They misinterpreted the Scriptures, looking for a military savior.  They were looking for what they wanted to find.  They were blinded.  We must read with an open mind and not preconceived notions.   We must be open to God speaking the Truth to us.  I’d ask for eyes to see and a humble heart from God to see the Truth.

Conclusions:  All personal questions.  All modern man has are the Scriptures.  John the Baptist is dead.  Jesus is not here on earth.  Again, the pride of man is the downfall of many.  We are blinded to the truth and we must ask God to show us.  We must let Him lead.  We must submit to Him.  Or all of us will be spiritually blinded and will miss Jesus.  And our lives are too short for that.

End Notes:  Jesus’ testimony about himself is not enough because anyone can claim anything.  Debt 19:15 says one witness is not enough.  Two or three are needed.  Here, Jesus goes beyond that by citing 5 witnesses.

The religious leaders for a time believed John the Baptist.  A lamp is light, the light of God.

Jesus’ works were of compassion to others, not military might.  This Messiah is not the one expected because again man misconstrues God’s word.

Everything Jesus does is God’s testimony but in Luke 3:22 God specifically anoints Jesus at his baptism.

They studied the Scriptures but never found the Truth there.  How tragic!  What a message for us!

The religious leaders were unwilling to come to Jesus out of pride.  They did not love God.  This was a heart issue.

Jesus prophesies the Anti-Christ here and others who will claim to be the Messiah.

New Testament writers all took the stand that the Old Testament as a whole points to Jesus (Luke 24:25-27, 44-46).

These men did not believe Moses who wrote extensively of the Messiah (Deut 18:15; Num 20:8-12, 21:8-9; Lev 1-7; Exodus 21:5-6).

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 29, Day 3: Revelation 22:12-16

Summary of passage:  Jesus is coming to reward those according to what they’ve done.  He’s the Alpha, Omega, First and Last, Beginning, End.  Blessed are the righteous who have the tree of life.  Outside the gates of the city are the dogs who are immoral and practice falsehoods.  Jesus is the Root, Offspring of David, the Morning Star.

Questions:

6)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  He’s the Alpha, Omega, First and Last, Beginning, End, the Root, Offspring of David, the Morning Star.  The first and the last or alpha and omega because everything starts, ends, and everything in between is his.  He is the beginning, the middle, and the end for every Christian.

7a)  Blessed are those who accept Jesus as their Savior and not blessed are those who don’t.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Those who accept Jesus because he lives inside of me via the Holy Spirit.

8 )  Personal Question.  My answer:  Pray to be more like Jesus.

Conclusions:  All personal.  No meat.  I love how Jesus uses all his titles here.  We see most of them in Revelation and throughout the Bible.  It’s a culmination of who he is.

End Notes:  Be ready.  This is stated 3 times in this chapter (verses 7, 12, 20).  It’s meaning is not soon but when they come it will be in rapid succession.  The church and us are meant to be ready always.

“And My reward is with Me.”  The word for “reward” means to “pay for service—good or bad” (more literally, as a “wage”).  Jesus will compensate the saints (Revelation 11:18) as well as the unrighteous (2 Peter 2:12-13).  A believer shall be given the gift of life and rewarded for good works, whereas the unbeliever shall be given the wages of death (Romans 6:23).  There is no partiality with God.  He “will render to each one according to his deeds” (Romans 2:5-16).

What you do here matters.

Jesus uses titles normally associated with God.  Alpha and Omega is in Revelation 1:8; 21:6.  The First and the Last is in Isaiah 41:4.  Jesus wants to leave no doubt he is a Triune God.

There is debate about who speaks this last beatitude in Revelation:  John, an angel, or Jesus.

Some versions say blessed are those who do his commandments instead of who wash their robes. The difference stems from a Greek word:  HOIPLUNONTESTASSTOLAS (washed their robes) or
HOIPOIOUNTESTASENTOLAS (do His commandments).  This would be a copyist’s error.  Still, the meaning is clear.  This is the desire of our hearts.  Obviously, we all fail.  But our desire is to keep his commandments and wash our robes.  That is what matters.  The unbeliever has no such desire.

We saw washing of robes in Revelation 7:14 or washing in Jesus’s blood.  It means fully committing to the Lord Jesus Christ, our lives.

Being on the outside is not literal here.  There are not throngs of unbelievers standing outside the New Jerusalem.  It means they are not in the eternal city.  Jesus is making clear one last time who will stand with him and who will stand against him.

Dogs here is a derogatory term for the morally impure or unbelievers (Matthew 7:6; Philippians 3:2).  Dogs were considered unclean and despised.

Jesus assures us here the Book of Revelation is his word to us, the churches, to be known.

The Root is a Messianic title (Isaiah 11:1).  It shows that Jesus is both the Creator of King David and His descendent.  Jesus spoke this same idea in Matthew 22:41-46.

The Morning Star is another Messianic title from the Old Testament (Numbers 24:17) and the New Testament (Revelation 2:28).  Just as the Morning Star (generally held to be the planet Venus) shines and welcomes the new day, so does Jesus.

Fun Fact:  This is the first reference to the church since the letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 7, Day 4: Romans 11

Summary of passage:  God has preserved a remnant by grace alone.  Sadly, a lot of Jews did not accept Jesus.  Hence, God turned to the Gentiles, allowed them to be a part of the remnant by grace in hopes of saving His people (the Jews) for eternity.  Once the Gentiles have come to God, all of Israel will be saved as well.

Questions:

8 )  God sent Jesus to save His people, the Jews, first and then He opened it up to the Gentiles–mainly to make the Jews jealous so all Jews will accept Christ.

9a)  The root is the Jews.  The broken branches and wild shoot are the Gentiles.

b)  Even those who fall, reject Him, and would otherwise be cut off, God grafts them in again.  He gives them chances to come to Him again and repent.  He provides the way–Jesus.

10)  Personal Question.  My answer:  By offering me the will to believe and accept Jesus.  I try to lead the life He has for me.

Conclusions:  Good study on history of Jews.  I remember when we studied Isaiah how important the Jews are to God.  They will always be first in His heart and He will always be striving to save all of them.  As a Gentile, it gives me more humbleness and awe that I’m included in His plan.

I can see how it would be extremely difficult for first century Jews to accept Jesus.  For millennium, it had always been them and God.  Even though He promised a Savior, they envisioned a ruler–not God’s son.  For us, it’s a bit easier to accept; we haven’t lived our own life with only God as their guide.

This lesson compliments yesterday’s lesson nicely.  Yesterday, we see Peter converting the first Jews to Jesus and promising the Holy Spirit for all whom God calls.  Today, we see Paul explain why God has called the Gentiles and how they receive God’s Spirit as well.

End Notes:  Because the Jews rejected Jesus (not all but a vast majority), it caused the word to go out to the Gentiles and open that pathway.  Had the Jews accepted Jesus as the Savior, perhaps they would have remained as they had in OT days:  a nation apart and everyone else infidels.

Instead of making Israel jealous, Christians treated them with malice, scorn, jealousy, and persecution.

Israel is the roots, the base, the support, the foundation of the branches, the Gentiles.

Once all the Gentiles are brought in, Israel as a nation will accept Jesus (there will always be individuals whose hard is hardened and will not heed God’s call–both Jew and Gentile).  This is a sign of the End Times.  Israel will be converted en masse before Jesus’ Second Coming (Matthew 23:39, Zechariah 12:10-11).

God’s call is irrevocable.  He will not give up nor leave behind His people (both Jews and Gentiles).

Once again, the evidence there is only one God is overwhelming.  Man couldn’t possibly have thought up Israel, the church, Jesus, etc.  It is all by Him and for Him and Paul praises God’s omniscience here.