BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 5, Day 2: Romans 3:21-23

INTRODUCTORY NOTE:  This lesson is PACKED with the crux of Christianity: righteousness, justification, atonement, and redemption–all through Christ.  Some have called Romans 3:21-31 “the central theological passage in the Bible” (BSF devotes 2 weeks to this!).  I spent over 10 hours on this lesson.  Take your time and absorb it.  BSF gives us a whole week.  Use it.  Pray over it. Ponder.  Meditate.  Because if you get this lesson, you get Christ!  What is more important to spend your time on than this?!

Summary of passage:  Paul now explains how righteousness is attained only by faith in Jesus Christ, which the Law and Prophets testify to. All are sinners and equal before God.

Questions:

3)  According to Webster’s Dictionary, righteousness means “acting in accord with divine or moral law; free from guilt or sin.” Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary states it as “morally right behavior or character.  In general, any conformity to a standard.  God always acts in righteousness or has a right relationship with people and His action is to maintain that relationship.” It comes from God and is received by all believers through faith in Christ.  That’s how I understand it.

Zondervan has an amazing explanation of righteousness in the gospel:  “Paul tells us in Romans 1:16-17 that ‘a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last.’  The gospel is effective because a righteousness goes forth which is the provision of a right relationship with himself through the saving work of Jesus. To receive this gift is to be justified by faith.  Those who receive the gift then are to live as righteous people, devoted to the service of what God declares to be right.”

4)  Before Jesus, all those who obeyed the law had righteousness.  Here, Paul says apart from the law, meaning the law cannot save us nor can keeping the law save us, but God reveals a righteousness that will save us, which is  God’s plan of salvation in Jesus Christ. It is a salvation that is offered apart from the law, apart from our own earning and deserving, apart from our own merits.

5a)  God granted righteousness to those He deemed worthy, which is apart from the law.  He made a covenant with Israel and put the law in their minds and wrote it on their hearts.  He forgave Israel’s wickedness and remembered their sins no more.  God granted them cleansing from their impurities and gave them a new heart and spirit and saved them. Israel was chosen to be in God’s covenant, in right relationship with Him through faith and were expected to live in right relationship with others.  It matters because it was the only way to God before Jesus.  It also shows God’s faithfulness to His people and how He keeps His promises to us.

Other OT references:  Psalm 32:1-2.  Paul actually will quote this in Romans 4:6-8 as he continues to explain how God must credit righteousness based on faith.

Habakkuk 2:4 which Paul quotes in Romans 1:17.  This OT verse quoted by Paul is the verse Martin Luther read that changed his life and righteousness by faith became the rallying cry of the Protestant Reformation.

b) Part personal question. My answer:  Anyone who believes in their heart Jesus died for their sins and God raised him from the dead and confesses Jesus as their Lord.  Gratitude is my response.

Conclusions:  I love how Paul packs a lot of power into few words.  And it’s simple. Righteousness is easy:  believe in Jesus.

End Notes:  Paul just spent the first part of his letter showing us how all (Jews and Gentiles) are unrighteous (1:18-3:20).  Now, he will show how God provides us with a way to be righteous.

“But now”:  This either means 1)  Time.  And the now is the period righteousness from God has been made known or 2)  Logical.  Between the righteousness gained by observing the law (which is impossible v 20) and the righteousness provided by God.

Paul didn’t invent righteousness; it’s been around since the Prophets as always part of God’s plan.  We can’t earn merit before Him by following the law.  This is apart from the law.

Righteousness is something not earned, but received, through faith in Christ.  There is no other way to obtain righteousness.  It’s all trust.

Everyone must receive this gift because all sin and fall short.  We fail in so many ways: fail to give Him glory in our words, thoughts and actions.  We reject His glory.  Thus, justification through faith and grace is offered….

Famous Quotes about the Book of Romans

In the summer of 386, Augustine, lost and feeling dead for God, read:  not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires (Romans 13:13-14).  Through the power of God’s Word, Augustine gained the faith to give his whole life to Jesus Christ at that moment.

In August of 1513, a monk lectured on the Book of Psalms to seminary students, but his inner life was nothing but turmoil.  In his studies he came across Psalm 31:1: In Thy righteousness deliver me. The passage confused Luther; how could God’s righteousness do anything but condemn him to hell as a righteous punishment for his sins? Luther kept thinking about Romans 1:17, which says, the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “He who through faith is righteous shall live.”  The monk went on to say: “Night and day I pondered until . . . I grasped the truth that the righteousness of God is that righteousness whereby, through grace and sheer mercy, he justifies us by faith. Therefore I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise . . . This passage of Paul became to me a gateway into heaven.” Martin Luther was born again, and the Reformation began in his heart.

In May of 1738, a failed minister and missionary reluctantly went to a small Bible study where someone read aloud from Martin Luther’s Commentary on Romans. “While he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for my salvation, and an assurance was given me that he had taken my sins away, even mine.” John Wesley was saved that night in London.

Martin Luther praised Romans: “It is the chief part of the New Testament and the perfect gospel . . . the absolute epitome of the gospel.”

Luther’s successor Philip Melancthon called Romans, “The compendium of Christian doctrine.”

John Calvin said of the Book of Romans, “When anyone understands this Epistle, he has a passage opened to him to the understanding of the whole Scripture.”

Samuel Coleridge, English poet and literary critic said Paul’s letter to the Romans is “The most profound work in existence.”

Frederick Godet, 19th Century Swiss theologian called the Book of Romans “The cathedral of the Christian faith.”

G. Campbell Morgan said Romans was “the most pessimistic page of literature upon which your eyes ever rested” and at the same time, “the most optimistic poem to which your ears ever listened.”

Richard Lenski wrote that the Book of Romans is “beyond question the most dynamic of all New Testament letters even as it was written at the climax of Paul’s apostolic career.”

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 4, Day 2: Matthew 4:1-11

Summary of passage:  Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.  He fasted for 40 days and nights and the tempter told him to turn stones to bread.  Jesus said he only needed the word of God to live.  The tempter took him to the highest point of the temple and told him to jump.  Jesus said not to test God.

The devil offered him to rule the world if he only would worship him.  Jesus told him to go away for only God deserves to be worshipped.  Angels came to him afterwards.

Questions:

3a)  The desert.  To be tempted.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  To share in our humanity, to become merciful and a faithful high priest in service to God so that he might make atonement for the sins of people.  Because he suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.  It encourages me because I know how much God loves us.  He didn’t need to be tempted for he understood us, His creation, completely.  But God sent Jesus to become man for our benefit–so we would more fully believe in Him.  So we would have an example of how to defeat the devil.  So that we could identify with him.  And so we could see Jesus’ holiness.

Jesus used a weapon we all can use–God’s word.

4a)  Eve was almost immediately blinded by the things of this world:  how good the fruit was and how pleasing to the eye it was and also her desire for wisdom.  She lost track of the things of God’s world, which at that point was His word since Adam and Eve lived in Paradise, and also God’s character and who He was.

Jesus never forgot who God was.  He used God’s words against the devil as defense.  He didn’t care for the kingdoms of this world for his eye was fixed on the kingdoms of God’s world.

b)  Differences:  Jesus used God’s words against the devil.  Eve had no defense in essence.  She believed the devil over God.  Adam and Eve tested God’s words; Jesus didn’t.  Eve gave into lust of the eyes, flesh, and pride.  Jesus did not.

Similarities:  The serpent/devil was equally crafty and deceptive.  He tried to plant doubt of God in both Eve’s mind and Jesus’.  The devil was in physical form.  Both had a personal relationship with God and both had the same weapons available.

Conclusions:  Very similar to a lesson in Genesis last year (see Lesson HERE) where we were asked the exact same question with regards to Jesus.

Take away:  God loves us so much He allows us to be tempted so that we may turn to Him in faith.

Martin Luther once said that prayer, meditation, and temptation are the best instructors of God’s word.  Because in it we learn who He is.

We also see 40 days and nights in Noah and the Flood and the Israelites wandering in the wilderness.

Satan quotes God’s word as well but he twists it and leaves out important phrases.  It’s our job to know God’s word so we do not fall into the trap of twisted lies.

We will all face temptation.  But it is a sin when we give in.  The devil cannot win against us if we use God’s word as a weapon.  It is too powerful.  Through Jesus we know we can defeat the devil’s tactics.