BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 14, Day 4: Genesis 15:1-11

Summary of passage:  Abram received the word of the Lord in a vision:  Do not be afraid for I am your shield and your very great reward.

Abram questions God as to where is this promised heir.  God assures Abram he will have a son from his own body and his offspring will be as numerous as the stars in the heavens. God also reiterates to Abram that He brought him from Ur to give him this land.

Again, Abram questions God, asking for reassurances of this promise.  God tells Abram to bring him a heifer, goat, ram, dove, and a pigeon.  Abram cut these in half (except the birds).  As Abram awaits God’s arrival, birds of prey come to feed on the carcasses so Abram drives them away.

Questions:

8 )  No.  Justification is being right with God.  We achieve this through faith in Jesus Christ who eradicates our sins and allows us to be clean, right, and thus justified before God.  We are given works by God to do while here on earth that James says proves our faith.

Here’s the crux:  when you are justified you have the Holy Spirit within.  When you have the Holy Spirit, you have no choice BUT to do good works for you are changed and now desire to do good works, which are a sign of your faith and your justification.

We discussed this James passage last year (see HERE) and my opinion is you can be justified with no good works for all that is required is faith.  There is no “work” we must do to get to heaven and be justified for this is a gift from God.  All we must do is accept Jesus as our Savior and we’re there.

As I have seen in the study of Genesis, everything is a gift from God.  Man does absolutely nothing nor does he deserve what he gets.

9a)  We are all dead unless we accept Jesus as our Savior.  Then we are reborn with the Holy Spirit and only then will be have eternal life.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Life is meaningless without a purpose.  If I didn’t have God, my life would be empty.  It would be full of “busyness”, things to distract me, and an inner peace would not exist.  Working for God’s-given purpose, gives life to the mundane, life to the evil, and life to the dead.

All those diapers are for a purpose.  Those long days at a dead-end job are serving a purpose.  When the most horrific thing happens to you such as the death of a loved one, rape, bankruptcy, abuse, loss of a job and every other evil, unfair thing in life and God is the only thing that remains, you have life–even if all you feel is dead.

10a)  Abram believed in God’s promises and they were all fulfilled.  He was strengthened by these promises and gave glory to God while he waited.  He had faith.  He obeyed.  He acted.  He took steps out of obedience.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The same.  Believe in God, who He is, in His promises, and have faith they will come true in God’s timing.  Have patience.  Give God the glory.  Be strengthened by my knowledge in Him.  Obey God and what He is telling me to do.  Take those little steps of faith.

Conclusions:  I feel as redundant as when I teach my kids their letters but I’ll say it anyways:  Didn’t like this lesson either.  We didn’t once refer to the passage at the beginning, instead exploring Romans and James and we explored James last year.

That being said, I did like re-reading works and faith.  And I did like the reminder we are not dead even though at times I feel dead, indifferent, lost, and immune to the world around me.

My qualm is this:  if this is a study of Genesis, then let’s study Genesis.  If it’s a study of works and justification in the Bible, then don’t bill it as “Genesis 15:1-11”.

End Commentary on Faith and Works taken from Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary by J D Douglas and Merrill C Tenney:

Being made in God’s image, human beings perform works as they live in God’s world. These deeds are based on the condition of the heart.  Works can be done out of evil motivation or even done in order to earn favor with God.  These are unacceptable to Him.

True works arise out of an inner gratitude to God for what He has done for us.  These naturally spring from our faith in Him.  Thus, Paul in Romans emphasized the need for faith in God for good deeds, James stresses that good works are evidence of true faith.  (P. 1532)

I believe the point is this:  you naturally do good works because God dwells inside of you. Works is not a requirement set forth by God in order to be loved, cherished, and accepted by Him.  This is where history went awry in the Middle Ages with indulgences, the Crusades, and earning your way to heaven.

Works is a gift from God that we as Christians just do without thinking.  We’re not trying to prove how Godly we are (for all of us would fail in that realm).  We’re merely following the Holy Spirit and doing what Jesus would do.  Because of our faith in Him.

It’s a simple as that.

Intellectual faith is not what God is seeking; He is seeking faith of the heart.  It’s the difference between saying and doing something.  Many say they are Christians; but is God in their hearts?

Salvation is a gift from God that is by faith alone.  Yet we are created to do good works (Ephesians 2:10).  It’s a two-fold process.  One, you accept Jesus.  Two, good works are produced.  And if you truly have Jesus in your heart you have no choice:  good works will follow.  A life lived for Jesus.

The notes from BSF of Acts Lesson 27 have a great explanation on the James’ passage.

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BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 6, Day 4: Acts 13:14b-41

Summary of passage:  Barnabas and Saul are in Pisidian Antioch (Turkey, yesterday’s map HERE) at the synogogue. Paul is invited to speak.  He tells the people God has prospered them in Egypt, led them out of Egypt and gave them Canaan to live on, and sent them judges.  He sent King Saul and King David.  From David God sent Jesus who preached repentance and baptism.

The prophecies of the Old Testament were fulfilled:  no one recognized Jesus as the Savior, the executed him with no evidence of a crime, and God raised him from the dead and traveled amongst them for many days.  God has fulfilled His promise to His people through Jesus.

Through Jesus we (the people) are forgiven and justified.  And be warned if you do not accept Jesus, you shall perish as the prophets have predicted.

Questions:

9a)  First division:  16-25  Second division:  26-37  Third division:  38-41

b)  God chose men of Israel and the Gentiles who worshipped God.  He prospered His people in Egypt and led them out of that country.  He cared for them for 40 years in the desert and overthrew 7 nations in Canaan so He could establish His people there.  He gave them judges and when the people asked for a king God gave them Saul and then David. (verses 17-22)

God endured their conduct while in the desert (verse 18). The people asked for a king (verse 21).

God chose David so Jesus could come from his line.  John the Baptist tried to prepare the people for Jesus by preaching repentance and baptism. (verse 23-4)

10)  Personal Question.  My answer:  By giving me a Christian mom who took me to church.  Giving me a Christian husband.  Leading me to my church where I was baptized as a young adult.  Leading me to BSF and other bible studies where I can learn and grow in God’s word so I can teach others and raise my children knowing and seeking Him.

11)  The prophecies were fulfilled to the letter with Jesus’ coming.  No one recognized Jesus as the Savior.  He was unjustly condemned and sentenced to death.  He was risen from the tomb once killed and continued to abide here on Earth and seen by many as witnesses.  Jesus fulfilled God’s promises.

12a)  Forgiveness of our sins (verse 38) through Jesus Christ our Savior.  Everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses (basically saying OT is nulled and void and now NT–Jesus–rids us of the OT ways and ushers in new ways).  Verse 39

b)  Believing in Jesus (verse 39)

c)  According to Webster’s believe means “to have a firm religious faith; to accept trustfully and on faith; to have a firm conviction as to the reality or goodness of something.”

In this instance, if you accept Jesus as your Savior, trust He is real and everlasting, hold a firm conviction of His reality, and hold faithfully to this knowledge in your heart, then you believe in Him.

d)  If we wonder about Jesus, if we are complacent and do not believe, we will perish.  For Jesus is coming (the something God will do we won’t believe).  Paul is quoting from the Old Testament here (Habakkuk 1:5) before Jesus has come.

e)  According to Webster’s Dictionary, to scoff is “to show contempt by derisive acts or language; to treat with derision; mock”.  People mock Christians, saying their beliefs are antiquated and question whether there is a God or not who would allow such horrible doings on this planet.

In my limited worldly experience of human behavior, I would say a lot of these people who scoff are masking a jealously or a fear.  They are jealous of those who profess faith or are afraid of what turning their heart over to Jesus would mean for them.  They might have to give something up or quit doing something in their lifestyle–a vice if you will.

Paul calls all these people out with dire consequences.

Conclusions:  I think Question 12 nailed it.  I think many today are “dreamers” and do more thinking than they do acting.  If we wait too long to accept Jesus, we might miss the boat and die, ending up on the wrong boat for eternity.  In this generation there is a tendency to “play it safe” and not take risks, a tendency to sit on the sidelines and let someone else make all the decisions.

Here Paul warns if that is you, you will perish.  Period.  End of story.  Too late.

So decide and make it quick.  For one day you might not wake up.

End Tip:  I must have changed my divisions 10 times while doing this lesson.  So I decided to skip that question and answer the rest and fill in the divisions based off of BSF’s questions.  So these are my guesses based off of what I believe BSF is looking for.

End Note on Justification:  I believe this is the first time the thought and idea of justification is expressed since Jesus’ death.  We talked about this last year in Isaiah but I needed to look it up again so I thought I’d review it here.  Most of this is summarized from my Bible Dictionary (Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary by J D Douglas and Merrill C Tenney) found under justification.

When Jesus died, he absolved all of man from sin.  If man believes in Jesus through faith then man is declared righteous in God’s eyes.  Being righteous means we have a right relationship with God (basically we can once again stand in His presence because sin had always separated us from the perfectness of God.  Here sin is washed away, we are righteous, we are right in God’s eyes, so we can be with Him again).

Paul’s last words are trying to convey the key point:  if you don’t have faith, you won’t be justified nor saved and you will perish.  One must have faith to have justification.  The sinner (us) must accept the work of Christ and his death on the cross.