BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 28, Day 5: Romans 15:30-33 with Acts 20:22-23

Summary of passages:  Romans 15:30-33:  Paul urges the Romans to pray for him, for his safety in Judea and for his service/offering to be accepted by the Jews in Jerusalem.

Acts 20:22-23:  On Paul’s journey to Jerusalem Paul knows hardships and prison await as the Holy Spirit as given him this premonition.

Questions

13)  Hardships, prison, unbelievers in Judea

14)  Prayer.  He believes in its power.

15)  He prayed to be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea and that his service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints there so that he can come to the Roman church with joy and refreshment.

16)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  First century AD was a period of constant upheaval and wars in this region–both spiritual wars and physical wars.  God grants peace in all of this.  It’s hard to convert people to Christ when their lives are in upheavals and survival is the primary goal in mind.  When our worlds are peaceful, so are our minds and therefore our minds are more open to conversion.  Financial and peace with finding His will in my life.

Conclusions:  We all face dangers in our lives (just not so extreme as Paul’s).  What does he do?  He prays and asks others for prayer while walking through the danger, which is God’s calling for Him.  So must we.  We must pray and ask others to pray for us in all areas in our lives, especially the upheavals.  Only God can grant us peace as Paul says.

End Notes:  Sensing that danger awaited him in Jerusalem (having been warned several times as recorded in Acts 20:22-23 and Acts 21:10-14), Paul knew he needed the prayers of God’s people to see him through the difficulty promised him.

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BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 28, Day 2: Romans 15:14-16

Summary of passage:  Paul says he believes the Jews are full of goodness and competent to instruct each other.  He is writing to remind them of God’s word and as a minister to the Gentiles to bring them the Good News so that they too may be sanctified by God.

Questions:

3)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  “Full of goodness, complete in knowledge, and competent to instruct one another.”  I will encourage them with my presence, be a listening ear, offer up advice when needed, and support them in their dreams and God’s desire for their lives.

4)  Personal Question.  My answer:  We all need reminders of God’s Word, how to live, and what God desires for our lives especially in today’s society because it’s so easy to get caught up in the lies of Satan and the evils of this world.  Paul is reminding the Jews that he is preaching to them as a reminder and he has confidence in them to follow God’s Word.  He is also preaching for the sake of the Gentiles as well.

5)  Paul says his priestly duty is “to proclaim the gospel of God so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”

In the Old Testament, the priest was our intermediary to God.  He was the only one who could approach God and cleanse the Jews of their sins.  Then Jesus came and became our high priest, our intermediary, eliminating the need for a formal priest to intercede for us.

According to Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, “the term is applied primarily to those authorized to perform the rites of the Israelite religion, but it can also be used with reference to pagan priests.

The formal priesthood in Israel began with the time of Exodus.  In the patriarchal times the heads of families offered sacrifices and intercessory prayers and performed general religious functions, but there seems to have been no specialization and no separate priestly office.  God appoints Aaron the tribe of the Levites to be the priests for the people in Exodus 28-29 and Leviticus 8.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the one and only New Covenant priest, described in detail in Hebrews.  Traditionally, Christ has three offices:  prophet, priest, and king.  With Christ’s death, the atonement was finishes, essentially eliminating the traditional role of priest. Now, priests are teachers, not atoners.  When Christ gave up his life on the cross, the atonement was finished once and for all with absolutely nothing more for God or man to add to it.  We are saved!

Conclusions:  Loved reading about the history of the priesthood in my Bible Dictionary!  Love knowing Christ once again is the end all.  Praise God for His almighty goodness to us sinners!

End Notes:  Paul’s whole point of writing the book of Romans is encouragement as he says in this passage.  He is also writing proclaiming the Gentiles as an offering to God as well.

Romans 15:16 is filled with the language of priesthood. Paul says he serves as a “ministering priest” of Jesus Christ presenting the gospel as a “priestly service” so Gentile converts would be an acceptable sacrifice to God.

Scholar Murry explains:  “When Paul defines his ministry as ministering the gospel of God the apostle uses a word occurring nowhere else in the New Testament which may properly be rendered ‘acting as a priest.’ So the ministry of the gospel is conceived of after the pattern of priestly offering.”

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 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!