The Doctrine of Faith According to Paul…

It is in Paul’s letters that the meaning of faith is most clearly and fully set forth.  In essence, faith is trust in the person of Jesus, the truth of his teaching, and the redemptive work he accomplished at Calvary, and, as a result, a total submission to him and his message, which are accepted as from God.  Faith in his person is faith in him as the eternal Son of God who died in the sinner’s stead, making possible justification with God, adoption into his family, sanctification, and ultimately, glorification upon our death.

His death brings redemption from sin in all of its aspects, which is verified when God raised Jesus from the dead.

Faith is NOT an intellectual assent to Christianity albeit this is necessary.  Faith is a radical and total commitment to Christ as the Lord of one’s own life.

Unbelief or lack of faith in the Christian gospel, appears everywhere in the New Testament as the supreme evil.  Not to make a decisive response to God’s offer in Christ means an individual remains in sin and is eternally lost.  Faith alone saves.

Taken from Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary by J.D. Douglas and Merrill C Tenney

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BSF Study Questions John Lesson 29, Day 2: John 21:1-14

Summary of passage:  While on an unsuccessful fishing trip, the disciples saw Jesus again.  He told them where to cast their net for fish.  John recognizes Jesus and impulsive Peter swims to him.  They all have a fish bake for breakfast on the shore, celebrating the 3rd time Jesus appeared to them.

Questions:

3)  John recognizes Jesus.  Peter is impulsive and enthusiastic.  Peter perhaps doesn’t want John to beat him again to Jesus like at the tomb so he throws himself overboard.  Or perhaps he thought he’d walk on water.  Peter is competitive.  Jesus’ power is unlimited and he uses it for specific purposes–here to encourage and fellowship.

4)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Jesus shows up when the disciples are discouraged on an unsuccessful fishing trip.  He provides them food when they need it.  Jesus meets their every day needs daily.  All of them do.  Jesus is there always in my little moments, which frequently are the moments I need him most.  He provides.  He encourages.  He walks with me and has breakfast and coffee!  Great stuff!

5)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Encourages me to always seek and ask him.

Conclusions:  I love this fish bake!  Jesus is amazing, isn’t he?  He cares about us in the daily struggles of life as much as he cares about our spiritual health.  He encourages us when we are discouraged and seeks to fellowship with us.  Jesus can have a cup of coffee with you.  Make a cup and open his word and he’ll speak!

This is my favorite scene in the whole book of John.  You can just see the enthusiasm of Peter as he jumps in the sea to swim to his Lord.  He’s gotta be on cloud 9.  This is a moment of pure pleasure and relaxation for all of them as they refuel in preparation for a hard road ahead.  I love how Jesus gives us these moments in our lives of pure fun to recharge before the grind of His work.  All are sitting around the fire, enjoying an incredible meal in fellowship.  Encouraging one another.  Laughing.  Having a good time.  Telling stories.  Great, great life stuff!

End Notes:  Now the disciples are back in Galilee near the Sea of Tiberias.  Peter’s name is listed first again amongst the 7 disciples there.  2 were unnamed and scholars say these represent the majority of the saints whose works do go unrecognized except by Jesus.

Jesus told them to return to Galilee in Matthew 28:7, 10.  Previously, the disciples had their food provided for them by donors of followers of Jesus.  Now, they must return to their previous occupation to earn a living.  This could also show their uncertainty as to their next move so they retreated to what they knew best (fishing) while awaiting clarity from prayer.

Perhaps it was hard to see Jesus on the shore so they didn’t recognize him.  It could have been foggy or too far.

“Friends” would better be translated “lads”.  The Greek word is a common greeting.

Jesus’ request was small and strange but still a test of faith in stranger’s fishing advice.  He rewards workers.

This story shows us the results of activity with Divine guidance and without.

The word for garment is the only time it appears in the New Testament.  Jews regarded a greeting as a religious act that could be done only when one was clothed.  Peter was preparing himself to greet the Lord.

Jesus is a servant again, having food already prepared for his disciples.  Peter drags up a net probably weighing close to 300 pounds by himself, the exactitude of the numbers is eyewitness detail.

Scholars have debated what the number 153 means.  However, it’s just a number.  Be wary of those trying to find hidden meanings in God’s word.

Jesus probably appeared different since John writes how none questioned Jesus’ identity.  Perhaps his scars never went away.  Jesus eats with them and fellowships with them.

This is the 3rd time John has recorded Jesus’ appearance after the resurrection to the group of disciples–not the 3rd time in order Jesus has appeared.

The Apostle Peter (taken from Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary by JD Douglas and Merrill C Tenney):  “The personality of Peter is one of the most vividly drawn and charming in the New Testament.  His sheer humanness has made him one of the most beloved and winsome members of the apostolic band.  He was eager, impulsive, energetic, self-confident, aggressive, and daring, but also unstable, fickle, weak, and cowardly.  He was guided more by quick impulse than logical reasoning, and he readily swayed from one extreme to the other.  He was preeminently a man of action.  His life exhibits the defects of his character as well as his tremendous capacities for good.  He was forward and often rash, liable to instability and inconsistency, but his love for and associations with Christ molded him into a man of stability, humility, and courageous service for God.  In the power of the Holy Spirit eh became one of the noble pillars of the church (Galatians 2:9).”

And to think:  Jesus chose one such as him.  And he chose one such as you and I.  Despite our character flaws, God has great plans for us.  We merely have to believe in ourselves and in our Lord.  We can’t do it on our own.  Only God can.

Peter recedes into the background after Jesus’ resurrection, almost unheard of until his letters from Rome.  Tradition asserts that Peter went to Rome, labored there and was crucified there under the Emperor Nero.

What’s the Difference between the Pharisees and the Sadducees?

The Pharisees were a legalistic and separatistic group who strictly kept the law of Moses and the unwritten “tradition of the elders” (Matthew 15:2).  They were by far the most influential of the ruling groups (Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes).  It is believed this sect was formed out of the Hasidim (faithful ones), which was a broad movement in the second century BC that sought to preserve ancient Jewish tradition in the face of Hellenism.  The name first appears around 135 BC.

They were found everywhere in Palestine by the time of Jesus and wore a distinguishing garb so they could be easily recognized.  According to Josephus, they numbered around 6000.  Their goal was to preserve Judaism, which developed into national pride and a feeling of superiority over others as seen with the Samaritans.

They believed they were the only interpreters of God and His word.  As a whole, the Pharisees were seen by most other Jews as paragons of virtue and were highly regarded.

Their beliefs were often opposed to Jesus.  They believed in final rewards for good works and a special divine providence for them.  In the New Testament, the Pharisees are painted as purely evil.  However, most Jews respected them and some converted (Nicodemus and Paul that we know of).  Their goals and intentions were true; they just strayed a bit.  With the fall of the temple in 70 AD, the Pharisees continued to lose power and were eventually replaced by the rabbis.

The Sadducees were more politically minded and had theological difference with the Pharisees including denial of the resurrection, angels, and spirits.  The Sadducees were the political party of the Jewish aristocrat priesthood.  They were priests, but not all priests were Sadducees.  Under the Romans, they became the party favorable to the government.  As aristocrats they were naturally very conservative and were more interested in maintaining the political status quo than in the religious purity of the nation.  They were not popular with the people.  Being satisfied with the present age, they did not care for the coming Messianic age.

The Sadducees rejected the tradition of the elders, denied the resurrection of the body, denied the existence of angels and spirits, and denied the existence of divine providence.

They seemed to have ignored Jesus’ early ministry, but feared a messianic movement would bring them political ruin.  They sat in the Sanhedrin, which condemned Jesus.  They were active against the early church and arrested Peter and John.  They were responsible for the death of James, Jesus’ brother.  However, with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, they disappeared as well.  Hence, their struggle against Jesus, along with the Pharisees, resulted in demise anyways.  No one can thwart God’s plans.

(Most summarized from Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary by Douglas and Tenney).

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 15, Day 5: John 11:45-57

Summary of passage:  As usual, some believed in Jesus after Lazarus was raised from the dead and some didn’t.  The Sanhedrin met and were threatened by Jesus’ rise.  They would lose power and the Romans would take over.  Caiaphas, the high priest, said it is better for Jesus to die than lose the nation to Roman control.  They plotted against Jesus who moved to the desert near Ephraim with the disciples.  The next Passover came and Jesus did not appear since he would be arrested immediately if he did so (and likely put to death).

Questions:

12)  Some believed; others were threatened by him.

13a)  “What are we accomplishing?”  “The Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”  “It is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”

b)  Part personal question.  My answer:  Not to lose power.  Political survival.  Be careful not to oppose God when you’re single-minded about power and driven by greed.

14)  Part personal question.  My answer:  The significance is Caiaphas took this as a literal death to save the nation of Israel whereas Jesus did this spiritually:  he died for the nation to save their souls not their lives and gather all God’s people (Jews and Gentiles) as one to Jesus.  God is good.

Conclusions:  I can’t imagine Jesus enjoying this time on earth where he has to constantly hide from the Pharisees instead of ministering to the people.  It’s a good lesson for us.  There are times in our lives when we just have to do the grunt work and times in our lives that aren’t pleasant but we must endure like Jesus.  I think a lot of people picture Jesus just doing his miracles and then dying.  They forget the day-in and day-out living that he did like we all do to get to God’s purpose.

End Notes:  The people are divided and some went to the Pharisees.  John either learned of what transpired during this meeting through Nicodemus or Joseph of Arimathaea or someone who was on the council and then converted to Christianity.

Now the Sanhedrin admit he is performing miracles and is the Messiah.  So now Jesus is a threat to them and he must be stopped.

In all four Gospels, the Pharisees appear as Jesus’ principal opponents throughout his public ministry. But they lacked political power, and it is the chief priests who were prominent in the events that led to Jesus’ crucifixion.  Here both groups are associated in a meeting of the Sanhedrin.  They did not deny the reality of the miraculous signs but they did not understand their meaning, for they failed to believe.

People probably imagine the “what if” again.  What if Jesus had lived?  Would everyone believe?  Maybe.  But then we wouldn’t be saved.  There is no “what if” ing God and His will.  What happens to you is for a reason.  Period.  Move on. Don’t dwell on “what if’s” because they will never be.  You can lament them.  But you can’t change them.

“Our place” refers to the temple.  It had become an idol to the Sanhedrin, thinking of it as theirs.  It’s God. Always.

Little did the Sanhedrin know that history would take its course and the Jews would love “our place” anyways in 70 AD when the Romans did invade Jerusalem, scattering the nation, and eradicating the nation of Israel for almost 2000 years.  And this had nothing to do with Jesus.

Caiaphas was logical but not moral.  He was willing to kill an innocent man to save many.

Caiaphas was high priest for 11 years.  “That year” is to draw emphasis to the year Jesus died. God overruled what he said here.  His words were true in a way he could not imagine.

Now, the high officials are joining with the lesser officials to kill Jesus.  Lazarus’ raising was the last straw to them.

Jesus retreats again because his time had not yet come.  He was not afraid.

Now, we are about to speed up history and Jesus’ days are numbered.  John jumps to a few days before Jesus’ last Passover.  The chief priests are the Sadducees and they were often in opposition to the Sanhedrin.  Not when it came to Jesus.  Both were united against him.

Note of location of Ephraim:  Ephraim was one of the original tribes of Israel but Jesus retreated to the town of Ephraim.  Unfortunately, no one knows exactly where that is and I couldn’t find any maps.  One could suppose it was located somewhere within this region.  Map HERE

Who was Caiaphas?  He was the official high priest during the ministry and the trial of Jesus (18-36 AD). By this point in history, the high priesthood had evolved into a political office, the priests still coming from the descendants of Aaron but being generally appointed for worldly considerations.  When Pompey gained control of Judea in 63 BC, the Romans took over the authority of appointing not only the civil rulers but the high priests also, with the result that the office declined spiritually.  Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, had been high priest by appointed of the Romans from 7-14 AD.  In-between, three of his sons had succeeded him but Annas was still considered a high priest.

We shall see after Jesus’ betrayal, it was the house of Annas where he was brought and tried.  Caiaphas then took a leading role in the persecution of the early church.  Summarized from Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary by Douglas and Tenney.

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.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 4, Day 2: Genesis 3:1-6

Summary of passage:  The crafty serpent asked Eve, “Did God really say not to eat from any tree in the garden?”  Eve tells him they can eat from any tree except from the tree in the middle of the garden or they will die.  The serpent plants doubt, saying surely you won’t die; you will just be like God, knowing good and evil.

So, Eve took some and ate it and gave some to Adam (who was with her the whole time) and ate it as well.

Questions:

3)  the devil or Satan

4a)  Adam was to care for the trees in the garden and he was free to eat from any tree in the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and evil because if he ate from that, he would die.

b)  Yes.  Why else would God plant it and why would he instruct Adam to eat from any tree (including the tree of life)  Verses 9 & 16.  Everything God does has a purpose.  God gave man Free Will–to choose life or death.  And man chose.

5a)  The serpent planted doubt.  He questioned God’s words by asking, “Are you sure God said that?”  It made Eve wonder if God did indeed say that.  Then he questions God’s word and twists it by saying Eve wouldn’t die if she ate it.  Why would God do such a thing?  Then the serpent does speak some truth by saying their eyes will be opened.  They just wouldn’t be opened how the serpent says.  Finally, he tempted by saying “You will gain knowledge of good and evil” and be equal with God.

b)  First, Eve talked to the serpent.  Then she listened to the serpent.  Then she believed the serpent.  Then she gave in to her desire for wisdom and partook  of the fruit.

c)  God first and foremost.  God’s truths.  God’s words.  God’s goodness.  God himself really.

6a)  Jesus used God’s truths to defeat the devil.  Granted, Eve didn’t have the Bible to use but in a way she had something just as powerful:  a personal relationship with God.  Eve doubted God’s goodness; Jesus never did.  Eve doubted God’s ways; Jesus never did.

Of course, Jesus was God on earth and Eve was merely a human so it’s hard to compare.

But the serpent does use the same methods:  lust of the flesh; lust of the eyes; and pride.

b)  No.  James says after desire (temptation) has conceived (been planted), then it gives birth to sin (one sins) and sin leads to death.

Because Eve coveted the fruit didn’t mean she sinned.  She only sinned when she ate the fruit (disobeyed God’s commands).  At any moment before then she could have walked away.  But she didn’t.

The definition of sin according to Webster’s Dictionary is “a transgression of the law of God”.  Transgression means a violation of a law or command; to go beyond the limits.

According to my bible dictionary (Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary by Douglas and Tenney) sin is “revolt against the holiness and sovereign will of God.  It is a condition of the heart and the outworking of that condition through one’s words and actions.”

We are all tempted (“to entice to do wrong by promise of pleasure or gain” says Webster’s).  Satan tempts to undermine our faith.  God tests (not tempts) to strengthen our faith.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  To quit God’s work and purpose for my life.  Some days it’s just not worth it.  It’s a constant temptation.  I’m also tempted to say mean things or not be giving.  Constant temptation to not do as Jesus would do.  Temptation to do what I want to do and not what God wants me to do.

Conclusions:  We discussed the whole sin versus temptation thing in Acts last year except we were asked if it was okay to doubt (see lesson HERE).  We are human.  We will be tempted.  Constantly by the devil.  But we have Free Will to say no.  God always offers us an out (1 Corinthians 10:13) so we can stand up to the devil.  God will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear.

From Eve we can learn the common steps the devil uses to make us sin:  he plants doubt in our mind; he makes us question God’s word; he entices with something seemingly better.  This pattern we need to be aware of so we don’t fall into sin.  So we can stand up to the devil and say “NO!” in God’s name.  So we don’t lose sight of God like Eve did.

Interesting Side Notes:  Note that God instructed Adam to not partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge.  Then God created Eve.  Eve must have been told by Adam but she was not instructed by God.  Hence, she was chosen by the serpent to tempt as she was the weaker link.  We don’t know what Adam said to Eve but Adam was standing right there.  He knew it was wrong.  Eve disobeyed God and Adam.

Also, if Adam had been chosen to eat first, Eve might have had an out by saying she was only obeying her husband, the head of the household.  Hence, God allowed Eve to be tested first.

Eve doesn’t even seem to know the name of the tree and exactly what God said since she uses the word “touch” instead of “eat” as God did.  This is not an excuse.  But it does fall upon Adam to communicate to her God’s commands.

Eve was truly deceived by the devil; Adam sinned in full knowledge of what God had said. (Romans 5:12; 1 Corinthians 15:22; 1 Timothy 2:14).

I was always told it was Eve’s fault man sinned.  But upon close examination Adam bears most of the burden.  He was right there (Genesis 3:6) the entire time.  At any moment either one could have ran from the serpent.  But neither did.  It just shows how powerful and cunning the devil truly is.  And what we must fight against daily.

If Adam and Eve could be tricked and disobey–those who actually walked with God–then we must be extra vigilant and strong in the Word in order to resist.

Great explanation of Genesis 3 HERE

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 11, Day 5: Hebrews 6:4-20

Summary of passage:  The Hebrews writer says it is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, tasted the heavenly gift, shared in the Holy Spirit, and tasted the goodness of God’s word and powers to be brought back to repentance if they fall away.  Land that drinks in the rain and produces a crop is blessed.  Land that produces thorns is worthless and cursed.

Things that accompany salvation is God’s love and mercy as  you work to love his people to the end with faith and patience.  God kept His promise to Abraham and swore by himself to make the unchanging nature of what he promised very clear to Abraham’s heirs.  This shows it is impossible for God to lie and should offer us hope and encouragement.  This hope is the anchor for our soul, allowing us access to the inner sanctuary (God) because Jesus went before us.

Questions:

13a)  Been enlightened, tasted the heavenly gift, shared in the Holy Spirit, tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age

b)  Apostasy according to Webster’s Dictionary means renunciation of a religious faith or abandonment of a previous loyalty; defection.  According to Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary by Douglas and Tenney, apostasy means the abandonment of one’s religion.

c)  I’m not for sure I think it is impossible.  If you accept Jesus into your heart and then one day you wake up and renounce him, I would call that apostasy (the abandonment and renunciation of your faith).  The question then becomes:  is this person still promised eternal salvation (which is NOT what BSF is asking)?

I think this would be between God and the person to determine if the person really did accept Jesus in His heart and then decide to one day forsake Jesus.  God never abandons us but would He abandon this person?  We also have Free Will.  Free Will to choose Jesus and then to change our minds.  I’m not for sure the Bible addresses this.

A rationale person who genuinely partook of spiritual experiences would not commit apostasy I believe because once you accept Jesus into your heart you are transformed with the Spirit of truth (John 14:15-17) and therefore it would be impossible to rescind the Lord Jesus.  (1 Corinthians 3:16 and 6:19) tell how we are now His and not ours any more.

Hebrews 10:26-27  “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.”

The Hebrews author believes even if you have been enlightened and then you fall away (commit apostasy or continue to willingly and deliberately sin) then you will not be saved.  Over.  Done.  Toast.

Only God knows if people have truly accepted Him and His Son or not or if they are going through the motions and abandons Him in the end.

The issue is complicated by Free Will.

In the end, it’s not up to us to judge anyways.

14)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Basically, it says God will reward us for our faithfulness and diligence to Him, His word, and His commandments (to help others).  So even though it seems daunting (our life here on Earth and its myriad of challenges we each face) we must remain diligent and faithful to God and His calling.  Have patience and we will inherit the Promised Land.

We must remember Him when everything else in the world comes against us.

15a)  Hope offered to us (eternal salvation through Christ) and encouragement (by God’s purpose, promises, and knowledge He give to us).

God doesn’t lie at all so I’m not sure why we’re even debating this fact.  But since the Bible talks about God lying, I would project this is due to man’s thinking God lies, giving God man’s qualities when they shouldn’t, and man’s overall  insecurity in who God is.

This tells me that God’s deepest desire is for us to be with Him and He has done everything throughout time to make that possible.  It’s definitely heartening to say the least.

b) It tells me that no matter what (what mistakes I make) I will be in Heaven as God has planned it all along because my soul is anchored in Him.

Conclusions:  This was a challenging lesson because it required me at least to think through implications.  In the end, I gained a deeper understanding of God’s heart as I see more how everything is laid out for us.  A greater picture of God’s love.  And I do feel as if my soul is anchored just a little bit deeper in Him.  Praise God!