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.

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BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 18, Day 4: Romans 10:16-17

Summary of passage:  Not all the Israelites who heard the good news accepted.  Faith is accepting Christ.

Questions:

9)  It’s so simple people dismiss it.  Also, it requires believing in the unseen (Christ) and many resist that.  God hardens their hearts.  Man by nature is evil.  God is infinitely good.  The two don’t mix very well.

10)  “From hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”  The Bible, which is full of the message and the words of Christ, will strengthen our faith as we read, absorb, contemplate, and pray on God’s Holy words.  The more you study, the more doubt will be erased, and the more you are like Christ, and the more you can testify to others and spread the Good News.

11)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Too many to choose!  Always when I read or study the Bible something is renewed or strengthened or my understanding is deepened.  Not one second is wasted.  I turn to Him in the good and the bad.  Frequently, God’s word is something I need to hear at that moment and God is so good to direct me!  He is awesome!

Conclusions:  One important point to bring forth in this passage is this:  not all who hear God’s word will accept it.  This is so important to keep in mind as we share the Good News.  People aren’t rejecting us.  They are rejecting God.  Don’t take it personally.  Remember God has already chosen who will come to Him.  It is our job to put forth Him and let Him do the rest.

End Notes:  People are not saved without trust.  Many did not trust Isaiah or others who spoke of Jesus.  In the first century, most people could not read.  To know God and Christ, one had to be told.  Thus, “hearing the message.”  In our day, we are so blessed to be able to read the Word at our own pace, pray and think and contemplate it.  There really is no excuse for saving faith.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 12, Day 4: Romans 7:14-20

Summary of passage:  Sin makes man do what he does not what to do–evil things.

Questions:

8 )  Paul is unspiritual because he is corrupted by sin.  All believers have the seeds of rebellion in their hearts.  The law is holy because it has its origin in God.

9)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Sin is man’s nature and the struggle to overcome that is only won through Jesus’s death and the Holy Spirit within fighting daily.

10)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Lose my temper too much.  Help others more.

Conclusions:  Again, I feel like so much is here and BSF does a poor job of pulling it out with these personal questions.

End Notes:  “I am” suggests Paul is describing the personal Christian experience here (see YESTERDAY for in depth on this analysis).

“Unspiritual” is usually translated as carnal.   Carnal uses the ancient Greek word sarkikos, which means, “characterized by the flesh.” In this context it speaks of the person who can and should do differently but does not. Paul sees this carnality in himself, and knows that the law, though it is spiritual, has no answer for his carnal nature.

“Sold as a slave to sin.”  Very, very strong description that many refuse to accept it as descriptive of a Christian.  However, it may graphically point out the failure even of Christians to meet the radical, ethical, and moral demands of the gospel.  It also shows the persistent nature of sin.

Paul is in bondage under sin and the law can’t help him.  The law can only help if he is innocent, but Paul knows that he’s guilty and that the law argues against him, not for him.

Paul is not saying how we hold no responsibility and sin is to blame for our actions.  No.  He’s merely pointing out how great control sin has over our lives.

You can be carnal and still be a Christian.  It’s the awareness of our fallen nature, our acknowledgment and hatred of it in ourselves, which leads to praising and loving God.

Paul describes in verses 15-19 his feeling of helplessness.  He wants to do what is right and indeed knows what is right but under his own power he cannot.  The law gives us no power to keep them; it merely tells us what is right and wrong.

This paradox of recognizing we are sinners, owning our sin, and repenting of it comes from the law and not from our Christian nature.

What is the law anyways?  To most of Paul’s audience, the word law stands for the huge collection of rules and rituals detailed in the Old Testament.  Whenever he starts talking about “the new covenant” or “freedom in Christ”, his Jewish listeners want to know what he things about Moses’ law.  Does God still require obedience?  That’s what all of chapter 7 discusses.

Thanks to his years as a Pharisee, Paul knows Moses’ law well. This chapter, the most personal and autobiographical in Romans, reveals Paul’s thoughts on this issue.

When the Law is Helpful:  Paul never recommends discarding the law.  He sees it reveals a basic code of morality, an expression of behavior that pleases God.  The law is good for one thing:  exposing sin.  Rules such as the Ten Commandments are helpful, healthful, and good.

When the Law is Helpless:  The law has one major problem:  After proving how bad you are, it doesn’t make you any better.  Paul’s conscience is very sensitive from his legalism days.  This makes him feel guilty.  This law that shows us our failures cannot provide the power to overcome them.  The law or any set of rules leads to death.

Romans 7 shows the struggle when an imperfect person commits himself to a perfect God.  How can I ever get rid of my nagging sins?  The invisible sins (lust, anger, coveting) can be just as toxic as the outward sins (stealing, adultery, murder).  In the face of God’s standards, all of us feel helpless and that is precisely Paul’s point and confession.  No set of rules can break the terrible cycle of guilt and failure.  We need outside help and Chapter 8 brings it!  Hint:  The Holy Spirit!

We will be spending 3 weeks studying Chapter 8–hope!

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 11, Day 5: Romans 6:19-23

Summary of passage:  We now offer our bodies in slavery to righteousness, which leads to holiness and eternal life.  Sin leads to death.

Questions:

11)  In essence, people want to be free to do whatever they wish with no repercussions.  This is just not reality. Under your own strength, you can’t do anything.  True freedom is living under God’s strength to overcome sin.  Following our own path is a slave to Satan.  It’s not how we were designed to live.  It’s a lie Satan tells you to keep on sinning.  When you do your own thing, Satan is in charge.

12)  Slave to sin: death.  Slave to God: holiness and eternal life.

13a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Sin leads you to feeling broken and hopeless, unworthy and guilty, shameful and evil.  God uses these experiences to make you yearn for Him and His ways.  He replaces those feelings with hope and worthiness and holiness.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Gratitude (my stock answer).  A desire to do His will through His strength.  Be more like Jesus every day.

Conclusions:  Question 13 is repetitive and could have done without it.  Question 11 is too broad.  It’s any sin.  Weak lesson.  Paul is basically repeating himself as well to emphasize how we now are free in Jesus.

End Notes:  The “human terms” is Paul apologizing for using slavery as his example from human lives because so many back then were slaves or if not slaves per se in essence slaves because Rome dictated their lives, but it was an accurate description of his point.

Paul speaks of habits when he says “impurity to ever-increasing wickedness”.  The longer you do something, the more ingrained it is and the harder to change.  In times of temptation, we must remember ever-lasting life.

Slavery to God produces holiness, and eventually eternal life.  There is no eternal life without holiness (Hebrews 12:14).

We must fight against every occasional sin because the benefits (life) far outweighs death!  This is Paul’s answer to Romans 6:15.  Remember, it’s a gift, not earned.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 10, Day 2: Romans 6:1-4

Summary of passage:  Paul pauses to answer any questions and to clarify:  No!  We don’t go on sinning just because grace is bigger than sin! When we’re baptized, we’re baptized into Christ and his life and death.

Questions:

3)  Paul had just explained that God’s grace is bigger than our sins and no matter how great our sins, God’s grace and Jesus’s death and resurrection are greater to justify us all.  He wants to clarify to all that continuing to choose sin because you know God will forgive you is a sin!

4)  God is not happy.

5)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Honestly, this thought has never occurred to me.  I’ve never read Romans before nor have I heard a lecture on this topic.  Hence, I’ve never sinned with that thought ever.  Again, honestly, they don’t really strengthen me (this idea).  I know sin is evil and against God so I in my human fallacy choose God instead.

Conclusions:  Questions were great up until question number 5 where it got personal and didn’t apply to me (and I’m sure to many of you).  Who purposely sins?  As Paul explains, then they are not right with God when they do.

End Notes:  In verses 3:21-5:21 Paul explains how God has provided for our redemption and justification.  He next explains the doctrine of sanctification–the process by which believers grow to maturity in Christ and are made holy.  He treats the subject in 3 parts:  1) freedom from sin’s tyranny (ch 6)  2)  freedom from the law’s condemnation (ch 7)  3)  life in the power of the Holy Spirit (ch 8)  This will be Chapters 6:1-8:39

Throughout history, you’d be surprised who twisted these verses (and Paul’s words) to justify their wrong-doings (this is why Paul is harping on this topic).  The Russian, self-proclaimed monk Rasputin for one said “I’ll sin more to earn more forgiveness.”  If you don’t know much about Rasputin, he’s a fascinating character (albeit evil one) in history who led a bizarre life of immorality, but heavily influenced the last Imperial family of Russia.  In essence, he was a very good con man, which was unfortunate for the Royals and some scholars even say he contributed to their downfall.

Paul often used this writing technique:  He pauses in the middle of an argument to answer objections or questions that may be occurring to the reader.

Paul’s concern here is that people will misuse God’s grace and use God’s forgiveness of their sins as an excuse to continue sinning (like Rasputin did).  It’s God’s job to forgive and our job to sin, right?

This explains the early church’s emphasis on an angry God, His wrath, and the law because man has no motivation to stay the straight and narrow path.

Paul points out that when we accepted Jesus our relationship to sin has changed; therefore, we have died to sin and a life of sinning is incompatible with life.  Paul will explain this in detail but his point is clear:  Before, we were dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1); now we are dead to sin.

In New Testament Times baptism so closely followed conversion that the two were considered part of one event.  Baptism is closely associated with faith although not the means by which we enter into a faith relationship with Jesus.

The ancient Greek word for baptized means “to immerse or overwhelm something.” When a person is baptized in water, they are immersed or covered over with water. When they are baptized with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11Acts 1:5), they are “immersed” or “covered over” with the Holy Spirit. When they are baptized with suffering (Mark 10:39), they are “immersed” or “covered over” with suffering.  Here, Paul refers to being baptized – “immersed” or “covered over” – in Christ Jesus.

Being baptized with water is us identifying with Jesus’s death and resurrection.  It’s not cleansing here as Paul uses the term.  In essence, you can’t die and rise again without it changing you.  It’s akin to almost dying.  You’re changed when you have a near-death experience. We die spiritually and rise with Jesus!

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 5, Day 4: Romans 3:24-26

Summary of passage:  God granted us redemption through Jesus’s death on the cross through his blood in order to demonstrate his justice.

Questions:

9)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  To atone is to reconcile.  Atonement is a cleansing of sins.  It is the central doctrine of faith and can properly include all that Jesus accomplished for us on the cross.  Jesus stands as our substitute/sacrifice that satisfies the righteous wrath of God.  Without this, we’re all destined for eternal punishment.  It doesn’t.  I don’t need assurance.  God said so.  Done.  God loved us so much He sent Himself (Jesus, Holy Trinity) as the only thing to justify us.

10) Part personal Question.  All of our answers are mere guesses. Love.  I would say God loved his creation, mankind, so much He sent His perfect Son to us to help us, guide, us, and cleanse us so we can be with Him for all of eternity.  Jesus was the only perfect human and thus the only one worthy to be our final atoning sacrifice.. There are no words of thanks large enough for this.

Conclusions: I don’t like the “assured” questions.  For me, I shouldn’t have to be assured of anything.  If you have faith, you don’t need assurance because you don’t question or doubt.  God in His mercy and love gives us proof and assurance because of our humanity.  But we shouldn’t need it.

End Notes:  Christ was our substitute sacrifice/atonement/propitiation so God could demonstrate His righteousness in judgment.  Propitiation is in all cultures.  It’s the act of appeasing the gods and the gods’s anger against mankind through a sacrifice of some kind.  Aztecs, Mayas, Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Native Americans, etc.

The ancient Greek word for propitiation (hilasterion) is also used in the Septuagint for the mercy seat, the lid covering the Ark of the Covenant, upon which sacrificial blood was sprinkled as an atonement for sin. While it might be said that this passage means “Jesus is our mercy seat,” it probably has the more straightforward idea of propitiation – a substitute sacrifice.

Inside the Ark of the Covenant was the evidence of man’s great sin: the tablets of law; the manna received ungratefully; the budded rod of Aaron, showing man’s rejection of God’s leadership. The Ark was decorated with golden cherubim as symbols of God’s holy presence.  In between the cherubim stood the mercy seat, and as sacrificial blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16), God’s wrath was averted because a substitute had been slain on behalf of sinners coming by faith.  Jesus is our “mercy seat,” standing between guilty sinners and the holiness of God.

God willingly gives His Son.  He wants us with Him!

God no longer passed over sin with the temporary OT sacrifice of animal blood.  He freed us forever from sin with Jesus’s sacrifice.  Jesus paid the price.

At the cross, God demonstrated His righteousness by offering man justification (a legal verdict of “not guilty”), while remaining completely just (because the righteous penalty of sin had been paid at the cross).

Clarke states:  God “Of his justice, in requiring a sacrifice, and absolutely refusing to give salvation to a lost world in any other way; and of his mercy, in providing the sacrifice which his justice required.”

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 4, Day 5: Romans 3:19-20

Summary of passage:  The whole world is accountable to God and His Word.  His Word makes all conscious of sin and merely observing the law does not make you righteous.

Questions:

11)  The whole world is accountable to God and His Word.  His Word makes all conscious of sin and merely observing the law does not make you righteous.

12a) Just that:  To silence every critic, God is making it clear ALL are guilty before Him.

b) So far, it hasn’t really. I’ve learned more about the importance of it, but it hasn’t had an concrete effects on identifying and confessing sins.  It’s Week 4.

Conclusions: Unsure why we need a whole day on these two verses (besides the obvious that Romans only has 16 chapters for a 30 week study), which in my mind only emphasizes the facts we’re not righteous just because we obey the law, which is what we’ve been talking about all week.

End Notes:  The law cannot save you.  It gives you knowledge of your sins, not salvation.  In fact, it condemns you, not saves you.  Yes, God wants you to keep His laws and walk in His ways.  But that alone will not give you eternal life.  Only the purifying blood of Jesus can do so under the New Covenant.

J.B. Phillip’s paraphrase of “through the law we become conscious of sin” is striking.  He writes, “it is the straight-edge of the Law that shows us how crooked we are.