Monday, December 31, 2012

Romans Bible Study Notes- Chapter 11

Romans 11


-Paul makes it clear that the Lord has NOT rejected His people, the Israelites, forever. The key Scripture here for us is Romans 11:25, “a partial hardening has come over upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” There is still a remnant that will serve Him, as Paul was, but the majority, it is prophesied, will harden their hearts for the purpose of bringing in all the Gentiles who will accept the Jewish Messiah as King and Lord. This in no way nullifies the promises of God towards His people as they will come back to Him in the end and “all Israel will be saved (Romans 11:26).” This debunks the notion of replacement theology. God still has His chosen people in mind and will use them in His Kingdom purposes. He is simply bringing in as many as will receive Him from among the Gentiles during this church age in which we currently live. He has NOT forgotten His people or His promises. We as Gentiles can be “grafted in” to His family (the olive tree as it is illustrated in this chapter by Paul), but we should never become arrogant or prideful toward the “natural branches” realizing that they are our supporting root system (Romans 11:17-18). Belief is the key issue as we can clearly see in this passage. The believing faithful will inherit His blessings; the unbelievers will be cut off from His mercy and kindness (Romans 11:20). His gifts and call is irrevocable (ametamelatos- not to be regretted, not to be taken back) to His people (Romans 11:29). His covenant is secure and will endure to all generations. He has never and will never fail to fulfill His promises. Israel’s disobedience only gives God more glory because we as Gentiles can enter His rest in His mercy, riches, wisdom, and knowledge (Romans 11:32-33). His judgments are unsearchable (in other words, don’t try to figure them out) and His ways are inscrutable (mysterious, unfathomable) (Romans 11:33). He is the ultimate Counselor and He needs no repayment (Job 35:7, Isaiah 40:13, Romans 11:34-35). “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things (Romans 11:36).” All glory belongs to our God! *Application* Jealousy and strife over this issue of salvation and who it is designed for should be relegated to deepest halls of hell. God wants to graft as many into His Kingdom, both Jew and Gentile, as He can. Repent from your sins and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and YOU will be saved (Mark 1:15).


Verses to Memorize- Romans 11:25, 29, 36

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Romans Bible Study Notes- Chapter 10

Romans 10


-In the midst of hearing about Paul’s burden for his people, Israel, we see some very important theological truths regarding saving faith in Jesus Christ. First, a zeal for God is not enough. This zeal must be accompanied with knowledge of the Truth in Christ (Romans 10:2). The Jewish people Paul claims established their own righteousness based on the Law. The end of the Law he rightly says is Christ Jesus for righteousness to everyone who believes (Romans 10:4). The person who does the commandments for their righteousness must live by them (Leviticus 18:5, Romans 10:5). This puts humanity in a quandary because perfect completion of the Law proves to be impossible by our own strength and power since we are born with a pull toward sin and depravity by nature. Therefore, the word of faith is the only thing that can save through believing in the promise and completed work of Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved (Romans 10:9-10).” “Everyone who believes in Him will not be put to shame (Romans 10:11).” This applies to all people Jew and Gentile. The Lord is the same unto all people and bestows His riches on all who call upon Him (Romans 10:12). “For everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13).” *Application* If you have not called on the Name of the Lord Jesus to save you by His work of perfect sinless life, vicarious atoning death on the cross to cover our sins, burial, and physical-eternal resurrection, do so right now. Call upon the Name of the Lord and be saved! Waiting is a negative response. He wants you to be His child by faith and faith alone. This can make you righteous in His sight.

-Paul makes a plea for going out as witnesses through the preaching of the Word of God, which is all about faith in Jesus Christ, the Messiah. Without hearing, people cannot believe. There can be no hearing if there is no preaching. There can be no preaching unless someone is sent. The feet of those who bring good news are beautiful (Romans 10:14-15). *Application* Is the Lord calling you dear friend to spread His gospel by your voice. Preach the Word of God to anyone who will listen. Make your sent feet beautiful! “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ (Romans 10:17).”

-Paul’s final citations and words in this chapter yearn for acceptance of the gospel by the people of Israel. He sees the fulfillment of the Holy Scriptures in their turning away from the completed work of Christ Jesus and is in complete distress over it. He reiterates the prophecy of the coming jealousy by the Jews over the acceptance of the gospel of Christ among the Gentiles (Deuteronomy 32:21). Those who did not even seek the Messiah will be shown the righteousness by faith, whereas the Israelites missed it (Isaiah 65:1, Romans 10:20). This Paul correctly points out is simply because of their disobedience and contrary spirit towards the things of God (Isaiah 65:2, Romans 10:21). *Application* How foolish it is for any of us to turn away from God by His merciful gift of righteousness by faith in the work He has done for us. We cannot establish our own form of righteousness that is correct only in our own eyes. This was the problem during the times of the Judges and it can still be a monumental error today if we are not careful (Judges 17:6; 21:25, Isaiah 5:21). It’s not our way that is right, but God’s way. Obey Him; it’s easier than you might think.


Verses to Memorize- Romans 10:9-10, 13, 17

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Romans Bible Study Notes- Chapter 9

Romans 9


-Paul’s longing as he comes out of his expose on life in the Spirit is for his people according to the flesh, the Israelites. As he speaks truth (Romans 9:1), he has great sorrow and unceasing anguish in his heart for his brothers and kinsmen to which belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the Law, the worship, the promises, the patriarchs, and the Messiah (Romans 9:2-5). He would give up even his relationship with Christ, he tells us, for their sake if they would receive their Savior. What an incredible statement the writer makes here. I personally wouldn’t want to give up my relationship with Christ Jesus for anything, but he loves them that much even though it had been Jewish people who had tried to take his life for his belief in Messiah Jesus. This plea of course is completely hypothetical and rhetorical. He had just finished a section on how nothing could separate him from the love of God in Christ Jesus. So, his relationship is secure and assured even though his desire is for his brethren and their salvation. *Application* Do we love those who persecute and ridicule us this much? If not, we need to check our spirit and do some confession and repentance. Christ’s love extends to all and our love needs to as well.

-Paul now addresses the fact that their rejection of their Messiah does not nullify the Word of God in any way. He goes into an explanation of the promise and how it applies to those of faith. The Father is working things for His glory, even in those He foreknew would reject Him and turn unto their own wide path of destruction. He is the Potter and we are the clay. He has mercy on whomever He wills, and he hardens whomever He wills (Romans 9:18). Some will take this as a double predestination proof text (Romans 9:14-21). There is no doubt that the Lord is sovereign and will get the glory even in those who turn away from His love and mercy. But, He also extends His plan the same to all as we can see in other portions of His Word (John 3:16, 1 Timothy 2:4, 2 Peter 3:9). He is impartial and wants all to know Him in truth (2 Chronicles 19:7, Job 34:19, Acts 10:34, Romans 2:11, Galatians 2:6, Ephesians 6:9, Colossians 3:25, 1 Peter 1:17). Paul’s point in this context should be clear enough. Even though God had given His people every opportunity to accept Him through His Son, they turned away, just as He knew they would, but He works it all together for good in that others are now opened up to the promise of God and the opportunity to hear about salvation by faith. This he verifies by the prophetic Word from the Old Testament passages he cites. The message is this: Christ has become a stumbling block because of their unbelief in Him as their chosen Messiah. *Application* God has an over arching plan and purpose for everything that He wills and allows in His sovereignty. We have limited understanding about all the intricacies of His work to bring Himself ultimate glory, which He deserves. Our job is to love Him with all our heart and share the good news with as many as He will call to Himself for salvation. Salvation is of God, not man. Enter by the narrow gate (Matthew 7:13-14). Trust in Him!


Verses to Memorize- Romans 9:22-24

Friday, December 28, 2012

Romans Bible Study Notes- Chapter 8

Romans 8


-The unique and unadulterated qualities of the Spirit-filled life are the emphasis in this amazing and hope-inspiring chapter of Scripture. Paul makes his turn from the self-centered and egocentric past into a transformed future for everyone who receives the Spirit of life that sets us free from the Law of sin and death erasing any condemnation and weakness of the flesh (Romans 8:1-3a). This Spirit of life comes from the indwelling Spirit of Jesus Christ, thus the phrase “in Christ” is important for us to meditate on and consider for our Christian walk in this world (Romans 8:1, 2, 9, 10, 11, 38-39). This is a hallmark phrase for not only Paul, but all in Scripture depicting the new spiritual birth and ongoing relationship we have with our Savior (John 3; 15; 16:33; 17:20-23, 1 Peter 1:3; 3:18; 5:10, 14, 2 Peter 1:8, Jude 1:1). We are now at one with Him and He is in us as believers to sanctify and seal for the day of redemption (John 17:19, Acts 26:18, 1 Corinthians 1:2; 6:11, 2 Corinthians 1:22, Ephesians 1:13; 4:30, Hebrews 10:14-23).

-Once the Spirit of life has come in and changed us we no longer have to walk as people of flesh, consumed with our natural desires and temptations. We now walk in newness of life according to His Spirit who controls and dominates our thoughts, words, and actions for the perpetuation of His Kingdom and a victorious-peaceful life in Him. This is the life that pleases our God as it dies to sin and lives in Him! *Application* We have no power in us to do good apart from the Holy Spirit that indwells us. Everyone has the Spirit working on them to convict and do right (kind of like the cartoon depiction you see with the angel on one side and the devil on the other trying to convince in a particular decision, John 16:8). But, only the believer has the indwelling Holy Spirit based on their yieldedness and surrender in faith. This is the power to overcome evil with good as It fills us and dominates our lives (Romans 12:21). He is the One who puts to death the deeds of our natural body (Romans 8:13). It truly is “by the Spirit.”

-If you have the Spirit, you have life and will not fall back into the spirit of slavery in fear (Romans 8:15). Your spirit will bear witness with His Spirit that you are a child of God through adoption as sons (or daughters for females). This relationship is familial and we can always cry out to our Heavenly Daddy as heirs with Christ Jesus. This at times will be a life of suffering as we see here in Scripture (Romans 8:17-25), but it is a life of hope that we will one day be glorified with Him just as He was in His resurrected state (1 Corinthians 15). This is a life of patient endurance that relies on prayers of intercession from the Spirit of God in our weakness (Romans 8:25-26). His promise is to intercede for us with groanings too deep for words that will help us comply with His will in whatever particular circumstance knowing that all things are working together for good for those that love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:26-28).

-Paul gives us, in what my opinion is, the most important section in Scripture in determining the interpretation of election and the sovereign will of God as to predestination (Romans 8:29-30). Paul, being led by the Holy Spirit, gives us the proper order written down in the halls of eternity past as to salvation. Notice in his description that he begins with God’s foreknowledge. God is omniscient (knowing all things) and has perfect knowledge of everything we will think, say, and do during the course of our lives. In other words, He knows every decision and choice that we will make even before we make it. Based on that knowledge, He predestines (this is not deterministic) whom will be conformed to His Son’s image (the first born among many brothers in the spiritual sense, this is not to say we are co-equal with Jesus Christ, but co-heirs, let this be clear, Romans 8:17). The predestination of God, based on His complete foreknowledge of the end from the beginning, initiates the call on one’s life. Those who are called, again with His all-knowing capacity to discern thoughts and intentions and perpetuation, in faith accept His deliverance, which brings on justification (again, this is a legal term declaring the person innocent of all wrongdoing). The justified have His Spirit and will be glorified upon departure from this earth to life with Him eternally.

-Because of this fact, Paul finishes this section with an emphatic exhortation that spells out just how God is for us and will never leave us or forsake us in this journey through life with all its peaks and valleys giving us all things that we need. Through Him we are conquerors because He loves us (Romans 8:37)! Nothing will separate us from this love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 8:38-39)! *Application* Live in Christ by His Spirit.


Verses to Memorize- Romans 8:1, 9, 28

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Romans Bible Study Notes- Chapter 7

Romans 7


-Paul sets up his teaching on the Spirit-filled life by instructing on how the Law no longer applies post death. He uses a well known fact from the Law to point this out concerning marriage obligations (Romans 7:2-3). Just like this Law, Paul says that the believer has died to the old self, which was indulging in the flesh through the knowledge of the Law producing the fruits of death by our sinful passions (Romans 7:5). Christ Jesus frees us from the obligations of the Law, which held us in captivity, so that we can serve the Lord in the new way of the Spirit forsaking the necessity of the old written code (Romans 7:6).

-This does not give us the right to be licentious in any way. Paul says again, “Certainly not (Ma genoita, Romans 7:7)!” The Law is righteous and reveals what sin is. It doesn’t excuse us from it, but simply points us to the Savior, who can redeem us from its consequences in grace through His love and mercy. The commandment made sin alive and its temptation real in the lives of us all. It promised life to those who could follow it, but the sinful nature of mankind proves too strong to overcome by our own strength, which necessitates the need for a Savior, who is Jesus Christ our Lord. The Law is holy and righteous and good, but sin takes opportunity through the giving of the commandments to deceive and kill (Romans 7:10-13).

-The statement “The Law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin (Romans 7:14)” is critical for our understanding of this whole section of Scripture. We find ourselves in a cosmic war for our souls with a natural-fallen flesh that has a propensity toward sin and evil because of our inborn depravity through the sins of our ancestors (Remember in Adam all die, Romans 5:14-19, 1 Corinthians 15:22). This limitation restricts our understanding and confuses our ability to discern right from wrong, good from evil. This leads us to do the very things we hate and causes consternation within us taking our peace and oneness with the Lord. We might desire to do what is right, but we don’t have the ability within our flesh to carry it out (Romans 7:18). Nothing good dwells in us through our natural state. This message could resonate within the Hellenistic culture that Paul was teaching thanks to the Platonic thought where the flesh/spirit dichotomy was accepted and lived by. It is the sin within us as the operating power, which many scholars believe even extends to the believer in a carnal state of sanctified disease. This is why Paul says it like this, “For I delight in the Law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death (Romans 7:22-24)?”

-The conclusion to all of this confusion and hopeless is actually positive. The credit and thanksgiving goes to Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior who rescues us from this total depravity and gives us His Spirit, which is taken up in the new life described in chapter 8.

-*Application* It is important for us to observe the first person personal pronouns that Paul uses to describe himself in this section. For an interesting exercise, count up all the “I’s” in this section. This is purposeful for our edification in this cosmic spiritual battle we find ourselves in. Compare the end of chapter 7 to the entire chapter 8 of Romans as the Spirit becomes the dominant Word for the power to live correctly in peace and victory. The point is this: We can’t live righteously by ourselves; it is only through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit dominating our lives that we can overcome our sin nature and live a life pleasing to our Creator. Yield to the Spirit and quit trying to do it by yourself in the flesh!


Verse to Memorize- Romans 7:24-25

Romans Bible Study Notes- Chapter 6

Romans 6


-The contrast between death to sin and life in Christ is expounded upon by Paul in this classic section that begins to develop what the Christian life is all about for the believer. First, we should note that there is a setting free from sin that occurs, not based on the Law, but on grace working through faith. This is so that righteous may abound in the believer’s life, not sin, corruption, and licentiousness. Paul says a couple of times, “May this never be (Ma genoita)!” to display an emphatic negation of unrighteous living in the Christian once separated from the world and it desires through faith in the salvation which comes through Jesus Christ (Romans 6:2, 15). The deals is this: We have been crucified in our old selves when we trusted in the Savior and took on His death to sin. It no longer reigns in our mortal beings because if we died to sin, we now live in and to Christ Jesus with His resurrection power that dominates and controls our new lives in Him! Sin no longer has dominion as we escape the corruption which the Law pronounces upon us through His grace (Romans 6:14)! This is done in obedience to our benevolent and loving God who we are now slaves to in righteousness (Romans 6:18, 22). This leads progressively to our sanctification (being set apart and growing) for “the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).” *Application* You will be a slave no matter what the Bible says (Romans 6:17-18). It is better to give yourself over to the Master who can save you and set you free from the bondage and ownership of sin in your life. Sin will seem fun for a season, but its end is death and destruction and will take you down a terrible road ultimately. Trust Christ for redemption and reconciliation, which sets you free from Satan’s dominion over you. Your new life is dominated by good and His plan, which is to prosper you and cause you no harm with purpose, life, a future, and hope (Jeremiah 29:11). You can’t beat that!

Verse to Memorize- Romans 6:23

Romans Bible Study Notes- Chapter 5

Romans 5


-Let’s now take a look at the beautiful truths of God’s demonstrated grace over the sins of mankind in this fifth chapter of Romans that is crucial for our understanding for forgiveness. Paul begins again with the fact that justification by faith is what saves us. This justification (a legal term declaring the guilty innocent and completely pardoned) gives us peace with God through the work of Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1). This grace allows us to stand and we can rejoice continually in the hope of this magnificent glory of God (Romans 5:2). This hope endures all things and allows us to rejoice even if life’s difficulties. For we can “rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Romans 5:3-5).” *Application* The Christian has hope, the world ultimately does not. Our belief in the Son of God and His work saves us from everything this messed up world can bring at us. Through Him we have complete and assured VICTORY!!!!

-Paul goes on to reflect on the state of the unregenerate before Christ comes in to do His saving work. The phrase, “While we were still sinners (Romans 5:8),” is important because it totally abandons the need for us to falsely think we did anything to deserve this mercy of the LORD. In other words, the author says that “While we were still weak (Romans 5:6),” Christ died for us, the ungodly and dysfunctional fallen. This happened at the right time, which in another place is called the fullness of time (pleroma, Galatians 4:4). The coming of Christ during the Roman era was the perfect, God-ordained, moment in history for His plans and His purposes. He never makes mistakes and orchestrated these events for His glory and the redemption of mankind to anyone who chooses to believe. The enemies of God can now be reconciled (reconnected, made right again) by the death of His Son. This reconciliation saves us by His resurrected and eternal life (Romans 5:10)! This gives us everlasting joy in our Lord Jesus Christ deserving of our continual praise and devotion (Romans 5:11)! *Application* This is the best news we’ve ever heard!!!! God died in our place that both He and us may life eternally starting at our moment of belief! We don’t have to wait for the afterlife to start celebrating. Our joy is now and should be absolutely contagious to those around us. We are the aroma of Christ (Genesis 8:21, 2 Corinthians 2:14-15)!

-Paul now develops the doctrine of the depravity of man through the sin of one man, Adam (Romans 5:12-21). Adam is contrasted by the Savior, Jesus Christ, and His work to make all alive spiritually who will trust in Him through His death, burial, and resurrection (the atoning work). This is clearly stated as “a free gift,” which negates the need for any boasting on our behalf as to earning salvation (Romans 5:15-17, 1 Corinthians 1:26-31, Ephesians 2:8-9). Notice the play on obedience in verse 19 as well. Whereas mankind proved disobedient resulting in the making sin, the Son’s obedience makes righteous those who will turn in faith to the Living Sacrifice. The Law came in to increase the trespass (in other words, give us a knowledge of what we do wrong), but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more (overflowed) leading to life eternally in righteousness through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 5:20-21). *Application* If you are a believer and have been one for some time, pause a few moments and re-reflect on God’s faithful provision and abundant life that He has freely given to you out of His grace and mercy. If you have never trusted the Savior, today is your opportunity for new life in Christ and forgiveness of all sin. Call on Him today! Don’t delay! A delay is a nay because of the uncertainty of time. The gospel is simple and free, though it will cost you your life. No worries, it is the best kind of life one could ever want. Remember we can have peace (Romans 5:1)!

Verse to Memorize- Romans 5:8, 10

Romans Bible Study Notes- Chapter 4

Romans 4


-Paul goes into the faithful walk of Abraham in his argument that it is faith that justifies a person by the work of Jesus Christ the Savior (Romans 4:13, 16, 20-22). He not only applies this message to the great patriarch, but to all those who have faith (Romans 4:16, 23-25). This is the hope of the promise of God and extends to us by His grace, not obedience to the Law on our part (again because this proves to be impossible with our sin nature). He also uses a quote from Psalms 32:1-2 to show the nature of God to forgive transgressions and cover the depravity of man by His mercy. This is the great theological passage that woke up Martin Luther, who triggered the reformation, when he realized what the gospel was really all about compared to the false teaching the Romans Catholic (Universal) Church had been propagating in the early 1500’s.

-This gift of salvation through faith is clearly opened up, not only to the circumcised Jews, but the uncircumcised Gentiles as well. One needs to remember that Abraham did not even yet have the Law of Moses when his righteousness was counted to him by his faith (even though he was given circumcision as a sign). Faith in the promise is what it is all about. God gives the Law to point out sin and transgression many years later. The Law restrains evil, but it can never impute righteousness. This is the main idea to what Paul through the Holy Spirit is communicating.

-Lastly today, notice the importance of the resurrection in the belief system leading to righteousness (Romans 4:24). Our faith that God raised His Son Jesus Christ from the dead is an essential ingredient in the salvific message (Romans 10:9-10). This is where the rubber meets the road so to speak.

-*Application* What do you actually believe when it comes to the Person Jesus Christ and the work that He did for you personally? This is the pivotal question that each and every individual must ask. This is the question that has eternal implications as we learn from reading, studying, and understanding the Holy Scriptures and God’s plan for our salvation. Believe and receive by faith!


Verse to Memorize- Romans 4:3

Friday, December 21, 2012

Romans Bible Study Notes- Chapter 3

Romans 3


-Peter rightly said in his epistle that some of the things that Paul writes are on the surface difficult to learn and comprehend (2 Peter 3:15-16). Paul is a master theologian inspired by the Holy Spirit to write deep Scripture, as Peter points out in the above verses. He is given authority to write biblical content by the Lord who saved him and brings us to new levels of understanding God’s Holy Word through exposing the mysteries of the gospel (Romans 16:25-26).

-Here in chapter 3 this theological explanation is developed in the justice of God through His faithfulness. He further debunks the notion that man can earn salvation outwardly by external and cultural means. He develops the idea that we are totally dependent and reliant on the faithfulness of God for redemption with an eye on conformity to His will, plan, and direction for our lives. He addresses the common argument of cheap grace in verse 8 as he weaves a beautiful tapestry of God’s truth verses the lies and deceptions of man. He quotes Psalms 51:4, which is David’s remorseful Psalm of repentance, to verify and justify God’s Word and His sovereignty in understanding salvation matters in his argument that Jews are no better off when it comes to the payment for the release of sin. All are under sin and require a Redeemer Savior.

-Paul further cites the Old Testament from Psalm 14:1-3; 53:1-3; 5:9; 140:3; 10:7, Proverbs 1:16, and Isaiah 59:7-8. He ends his lengthy cross reference for illumination with Psalm 36:1 that postulates the essential reason for their debauchery, “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” The summation is clear, “by works of the Law no human being will be justified in His (The LORD’s) sight, since through the knowledge of the Law comes knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20).”

-The “But now” contrast is an important and hopeful turn in the course of human dignity and restoration as Paul gives us the plan of God for salvation through Jesus Christ in taking on His righteousness as believers in His work on the cross apart from the Law. Christ is our propitiation (the act of atoning for sin or wrongdoing, especially appeasing Deity) by His blood received through faith giving us His righteousness. God in His forbearance passes over our former sins divinely through faith in Jesus (Romans 3:25). Christ is the Just and the Justifier of anyone who believes (Romans 3:26)!

-This then excludes boasting. Salvation is a work of the Lord, not man, which means that He deserves full credit and glory for the operation of it. In other words, Paul is making it clear that we, on our part, can never work our way into God’s good graces by our own merit. This does not nullify the Law, but upholds it as the teacher of what is holy verses what is corruption in God’s sight (Galatians 3:22-26). The law of faith is that which saves from the penalty of the law. *Application* These intricate concepts are essential for us to understand if we are to be secure in our salvific faith in Christ Jesus. Just as people struggled with their identity 2,000 years ago in Christ, we also have a tendency to do the same thing today. Belief in what He has done is the only thing that can save a soul from Hell. Only He has the ability to cleanse us from the sins which we have committed against Him and our fellow man. This frees us from the bondage of works based religion, which is the deception of the world. Amen!



Verse to Memorize- Romans 3:23

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Bible Study Notes in Romans- Chapter 2

Romans 2


-Chapter two begins with the fact that man is without excuse in his judgments. It harkens back to Jesus’ teaching on taking the log out of one’s own eye before making assumptions and calling out our brother in judgment (Matthew 7:1-5). This was of particular interest to the sin of the Jews in not accepting the Christ, which is more than likely Paul’s theological argument throughout this passage and possibly the entire letter. They could not sit in a place to correct others because they were involved in the same sins they were denouncing (Romans 2:2-3, 17-24). Paul’s point through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is that it is God’s kindness that is meant to lead us to repentance, and we are never to presume upon (take lightly, scorn, despise, look down on) those riches that He bestows on us through His mercy (Romans 2:4). The hard and impenitent heart will do these evil things, which stores up God’s punishment rather than releasing His joy upon us. *Application* God is our righteous judge and will be corrected by no one. His kindness, patience, and forbearance are the only hope we have as people who have naturally fallen from His grace through our indwelling sin, which was bestowed through Adam (Hosea 6:7, 1 Corinthians 15:21-22). Jesus Christ is the only answer for our salvation and He is the only One worthy to judge us. The good news is that He doesn’t want to judge us, but forgive us if we accept and receive His sacrifice on the cross. Even though we don’t deserve it and could never earn it, God loves us that much to offer it to us freely.

-The next main thought in this chapter deals with the impartiality of God. He plays no favorites! Each man will be judged according to his own works and will be held accountable. Here in lies a huge problem for us as depraved human beings that no doubt have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We are on the side of evil coming into this world and bent on it in every way. To do good on our own accord proves futile in the end because we prove over and over again to be miserable failures at it. God, who is rich in grace, mercy, and forgiveness, relents (changes His mind, takes pity on us) when we turn to Him in faith and gives us a new birth through His Son (2 Corinthians 5:17). This is the power to do good as we seek what Paul talks about here in glory, honor, peace and immortality with eternal life. Notice that the author says that those who are self-seeking, disobedient, and unrighteous will in fact incur God’s just wrath and fury. For these, there will be eternal tribulation and distress both Jewish and Greek (Romans 2:8-9). *Application* It is our opportunity to take the righteousness of Christ because He makes it abundantly available to all. To reject this offer means doom and perishing of our own doing. Turn to God and receive His glory, honor, peace, and eternal life!

-“It is not the hearers of the Law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the Law who will be justified (Romans 2:13).” Paul and James actually do have the same theology don’t they (James 1:22; 2:18-26)? The question for us becomes: 1. What is the Law? 2. And how can we do the Law? To answer the first question, think of Jesus’ answer when asked which commandment was greatest. Love God and love people was His response, correct? How can we accomplish that? By turning completely to Jesus in faith and dying to ourselves. It is just that simple. When we turn to God, His righteousness can indwell us through His Holy Spirit and we are made new. This is God’s graceful act of mercy that produces permanent life change. It is a free gift that will produce deep-affectionate love resulting in continual good works (Ephesians 2:8-10). This is what sanctification, in the growing sense, is all about. *Application* Be a doer, not just a hearer.

-Lastly, we see an inward focus here in Paul’s theological treatise. Outward conformity to forms of religion (he talks of circumcision here) is not sufficient for transformation of the spirit of man. This comes only through the Holy Spirit of God, not by the letter of the Law (Romans 2:29). This leaves no glory for man and his doings, but only praise from, through, and to God (Romans 11:36)! *Application* Where does your hope and salvation come from? You or the Lord? Think about the meaning of the Name Jesus (it means God saves).


Verse to Memorize- Romans 2:4

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Bible Study Notes in Romans- Chapter 1

Romans 1


-Paul begins his most complete theological epistle in his usual fashion by declaring himself a slave (a doulos, a bond-servant). This is significant and was a trademark of all Christians who had been bought with the price of Christ’s blood for redemption. This indicated total life change and submission to the will of the Lord in every facet of their being. *Application* Are you sold out as a slave to Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior?

-Paul also includes his calling as an apostle in the introduction to this letter to all the believers in Rome. He claims sanctification, or a setting apart, for the gospel (truth) of God, which the Lord had promised beforehand in the Old Testament Holy Scriptures through His prophets (Romans 1:1-2). This gospel concerned God’s Son, Jesus Christ, who was descended from David (another important and significant theme of the entire Word of God), according to the flesh (Christ was no mirage or spirit, He was incarnate in body form). His proving power by the Spirit of Holiness was His resurrection from the dead, which is a constant and necessary biblical doctrine that Paul emphasizes here (Romans 1:4). This Lord has given His believers grace, apostleship, and peace through faith (faithful obedience, Romans 1:5) in His work for the sake of His Name. This is to spread among all the nations as a righteous calling to a heavenly destiny as saints, loved by God (Romans 1:5-6). *Application* What a wonderful world it will be when we all are set free from the bondage of sin and depravity by the grace, peace, and love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ through faith in Him alone. God has called you to be His child and disciple. Submit to that revelation and live eternally with joy!

-Paul goes on to thank the Lord for these believers. This is also a trademark of Pauline authorship and a biblical mandate. *Application* We are to give thanks in all things (Ephesians 5:20). Have a heart of gratitude towards those that God has blessed you with in your life, especially those of like faith.

-Paul adds a personal note about how he mentions these Romans believers without ceasing, meaning that everywhere he goes he talks about them and their faith. He had not yet been to Rome we see in the text (Romans 1:10, 13). This letter was probably written in Corinth in approximately 57 A.D. before Paul went to Jerusalem and was arrested, which eventually landed him in Rome as a prisoner appealing to Caesar. He wanted to impart some spiritual gift to his brethren to strengthen them. Here we see another great theme of Pauline authorship. He was huge on edification (building up, Romans 14:19, 15:2, 1 Corinthians 10:23; 14:12, 26, 2 Corinthians 10:8, 13:10, Ephesians 4:12, 16, 29). *Application* Encouragement is so vital to our Christian walk. Paul talks about mutual encouragement and building up (Romans 1:12). Encourage others as you go through life in the Lord. Also, receive positive words of building up and meditate on their significance. Words are powerful (Proverbs 10:31, Matthew 12:36-37, Luke 19:22).

-We can see Paul’s eagerness to preach the gospel here in the passage, even stated (Romans 1:15). He is not ashamed of this gospel for a reason. It is the power of God for salvation (redemption, cleansing, perfection in God’s eyes) for everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). It was for the Jew first, but also included is the Gentile, to whom Paul is writing (Romans 1:16b). Paul says that “in it” (the gospel), the righteousness of God is revealed from faith (a faithful God) for faith (our reciprocating free will choice by humanity) (Romans 1:17). It is all about faith as the author quotes Habakkuk 2:4, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

-Now that introductions are through and some insight gained, Paul begins to hit hard with his theological message beginning with the depravity of man who suppresses the truth by their ungodliness and unrighteousness, which justly brings on the revealed wrath of God the Father (Romans 1:18). Paul makes the point that man is without excuse for coming to the Lord in obedience even out of natural revelation (Romans 1:19-20). Even though people knew about God, they did not honor Him as God or give Him thanks (Romans 1:21). The rebellion made their thinking futile and their hearts became darkened (Romans 1:21). They thought they were wise, but became fools in this natural and demonic state (Romans 1:22). This led to an exchanging of glory. The immortal God was cast aside for images resembling mortal man, birds, animals, and creeping things (in another word: idols). God gave them over to these false gods as they exchanged the truth of God for lies and deception. *Application* In life it all comes down to your object of worship. You as a human being will worship something or someone. It is the natural way that God has designed. Cling to His truth and don’t be deceived. Satan is a roaring lion seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). God will let you go your own way if you choose. He is not a deterministic God, but He does love you and died for you so that you can come back to Him in faith and repentance for eternal life. By Jesus’ wounds we are healed (1 Peter 2:24)!

-Paul gives us the scenario for what happens in individuals and cultures that turn their back on the Lord and His ways. God in His freedom allows men and women to go their own way if they choose to abandon His glory and exchange it for something else. The result is a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. Paul lists some of these corruptions here including homosexuality, unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice (intent to do harm, hatred, meanness), envy, murder, strife, deceit, gossip, slander, hating God, insolence (disrespectful), haughtiness (pride), being boastful, inventors of evil, disobedience to parents, foolishness, faithless (perhaps the most important one here), heartless, and ruthless. Even though they know God’s righteous decree that those who do these things deserve to die, they do them and give approval to those who practice such atrocities (Romans 1:32). *Application* Paul paints a realistic picture of what we know the world to be in its unregenerated state apart from God’s forgiveness and mercy by faith. The point is that we are without excuse. God has demonstrated what He expects and has even provided the payment for sin on the cross through His Son’s work if we will accept it (Romans 5:8). Heed the call of the Lord in this power packed chapter of Scripture!


Verse to Memorize- Romans 1:16

Monday, December 17, 2012

Acts Bible Study Notes- Chapter 28

Acts 28


-The remarkable description of the events on Malta begin the last chapter of this incredible book of Scripture. The natives, which history tells us were of Phoenician descent, were extremely kind and helpful to the weary and beaten down travelers. They were nourished back to well being. *Application* The word of God is clear that we should be welcoming to strangers and sojourners who come along our path (Exodus 22:21; 23:9, Leviticus 19:10, 33-34; 23:22, Deuteronomy 24:20-21; 26:11, Zechariah 7:10, Matthew 25:34-40). In fact we may at times be entertaining angels and be total unaware of it (Hebrews 13:2). These people from Malta should be our example in how to help people in a sincere and loving fashion.

-Paul pulls out a snake that fastens to his hand and flings it in the fire on the Island of Malta. When he doesn’t swell up and die, the accusers turn to worshipers (Luke 10:19, Mark 16:17-18). Although the text is silent after this event where the islanders proclaim him to be a god, I am sure that Paul corrected them and directed them to the true God and Lord, Jesus Christ, who gives the power for protection and all good things.

-Paul does a healing of a leading man of the island’s dad. This leads to other miraculous healings and a powerful witness on the island. The crew destined for Rome is treated well with many marks of respect as they set sail and were provided with all that they needed for their journey (Acts 28:10). *Application* What a powerful story of hospitality in a desperate situation. God ordained this event for safe passage to the capital of the Roman empire so that His fame could be spread throughout the whole world! God looks after His servants and works all things out for good (Romans 8:28).

-As the party ventured northward towards Rome they made several stops along the way. It is fascinating to read how the brethren (God fearing believers in Christ) connected up with Paul and his entourage. The question becomes, how did they come to know Christ in these places? The answer lies somewhere in the spreading of the gospel throughout the Roman Empire. It may have been other converts that matriculated to these environs. It could have been people who were in Jerusalem at Pentecost and returned with the joy and Spirit of the Lord to spread the gospel (Acts 2:10). In any event, the word of God was reaching places further and further away from Jerusalem as was prophesied (Acts 1:8). These brethren encouraged Paul a great deal. This gave him the vigor and strength to go on and face the call of God on his life in Rome. *Application* Be an encourager to someone today. All they may need to continue on is a good word from you. People need words of blessing and hope.

-Paul finally enters Rome and is given some privileges by his guardians. He calls together the leading men of the Jews and witnesses to them defending his innocence of being against his people and their customs. We must understand that Paul never ventured away from his Jewish roots. He abided by the Law, but accurately pointed out its deficiencies in its ability to provide salvation (Galatians 2:15-3:29). As was always the case, some were persuaded to believe in Christ and received eternal life. Other rejected the message of God and left unbelieving. Paul quotes Isaiah 6:9-10 upon their rejection of the gospel and again turned his message of salvation to the Gentiles. There arose a great dispute over the issue of Jesus concerning His work on the cross and resurrection. *Application* This fight of faith still rages today doesn’t it?

-Paul remains two full years in his own rented quarters awaiting trial and his accusers. He was welcoming all who would come to him as he preached the Kingdom of God and taught the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered (Acts 28:31). God had given him an open door! He was even able to penetrate Caesar’s household with faith in Christ (Philippians 4:21-23). We are not told from Scripture what happened next in Paul’s life. The point of the Holy Spirit’s work unto the utter ends of the earth (Rome was the commercial and governmental center of the known world) was accomplished in the text, and therefore there was no need for further revelation. Historical tradition has that Paul was released for a short period of time (maybe because of the two year limit on the prosecution bringing a case to trial). There is no record of him standing before Caesar. He also indicated that he hoped he would soon be released in his letter to the Philippians (Philippians 2:24). Paul mentioned places he would like to take the gospel like Spain (Romans 15:24, 28). He may have gotten that chance according to early Christian literature that speak plainly about other travels by Paul.

Writings from nonbiblical orthodox and heterodox traditions include:

  • The Acts of Paul (Orthodox, 160-190) A collection of legendary stories which emphasize the asceticism of Paul and his followers
  • The Acts of Thecla (Orthodox, circulated separately and as a part of the Acts of Paul, 160-190) Legends about a young virgin from Iconium (now Konya, Turkey) who refused to marry and followed Paul in the face of many persecutions
  • The Acts of Peter and Paul (Orthodox, c. 200) Only the first chapters of this book describing Paul and Peters last days and their confrontation with Nero survive
  • Acts of Xanthippe, Polyxena, and Rebecca (Orthodox, c. 270) Legends about some women in Spain who leave their husbands to follow Paul
  • Apocalypse of Paul (Orthodox, c. 380) A widely circulated book which claimed to describe Paul's experiences when he was caught up in the third heaven (I Corinthians 12:2-4)
  • Apocalypse of Paul (Gnostic, 2nd century) This heterodox fragment of a book exalts Paul above all of the other apostles. It is entirely different from the one by the same name listed above.

Tradition tells us that Paul eventually died a martyr’s death in Rome in the mid to late 60s A.D. His life is a testimony of the graciousness of God and a man who died to himself and lived in Christ’s resurrection power (Galatians 2:21). His example has been the standard for Christian missionaries ever since.

-God’s church was expanding and the world was becoming aware of His love and chance for redemption. We read in Acts the work of the Holy Spirit in ever-widening circles of influence through merchants, travelers, slaves, jailers, church leaders, males, females, Gentiles, Jews, rich, and poor. The gospel is for all and we should receive and transmit it gladly. It is the hope for eternity! Continue the story of God’s glory!


Verses to Memorize: Acts 28:30-31

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Acts Bible Study Notes- Chapter 27

Acts 27


-Paul finds himself being boarded an Adramyttian ship on the first leg of his journey toward Rome and an appeal to Caesar. Luke is on the trip as evidenced from the use of his pronouns in this narrative. Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica who was spoken of when they were in Ephesus, also accompanied them (Acts 19:29; 20:4, Philemon 1:24). The centurion given charge of Paul was Julius of the Augustan battalion. He gave Paul some favorable treatment and spared his life during the course of travel, probably because he had a closeness in proximity to the Apostle and gained respect for him (Acts 27:3, 31, 42-43).

-The Lord was with them during this long and arduous trip, even though there were times that brought the company to the point of despair and hopelessness. Just at the crucial moment, “that very night,” an angel of the Lord came to Paul and told him, “Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar; and behold, God has granted you all those who are sailing with you (Acts 27:24).” Paul then addressed the men, “Therefore, keep up your courage, men, for I believe God that it will turn out exactly as I have been told (Acts 27:25).” *Application* God is near us in our times of need. He is an ever present help in time of trouble (Psalm 37:39; 46:1). Many times God will take us to the brink of disaster so that our confidence and faith will be solely on Him. God is our great rescuer.

-In the end, God’s word of prophecy comes to fruition and they all were brought safely to land. *Application* God always keeps His promises.


Verse to Memorize: Acts 27:24-25

Friday, December 14, 2012

Acts Bible Study Notes- Chapter 26

Acts 26


-Paul makes his defense before Agrippa and Festus pointing out Agrippa’s vast knowledge (Acts 26:3) and faith in Judaism (Acts 26:27) and recounting his testimony as he himself turned to Christ. He made a vital point that it was not his religion that saved him, but it was the Savior, Jesus Christ (Acts 26:4-5). This defense was convincing and almost persuaded Agrippa to become a Christian it appears from the text. Paul would have been let go had it not been for his appeal to Caesar (Acts 26:32). They concluded he had done nothing worthy of death or imprisonment (Acts 26:31).

-Some interesting words of Christ are given in this third detailed account of Paul’s Damascus road conversion. God called Paul and sent him “to open their eyes so that they (Jews and Gentiles) may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me (Acts 26:18).” There is some great theology in this statement by Jesus. First, there must be recognition (an opening of the eyes) of our depravity before a living, holy, and righteous God. Our sin is great and separates us from the God who illuminates us in His light and His control (dominion). Repentance (a turning, a changing of the mind, a new direction in life) must occur for us to begin to inherit the Lord’s salvation and receive forgiveness of the terrible and horrible sins we have committed that tear us apart from the God who loves us (John 3:16). The crucial last step is sanctification (a setting apart, a making holy), which happens as a result of our faith in Christ Jesus’ atonement based on His death on the cross, burial, and resurrection (faith is only as good as the object it is placed in). Christ gave Paul this message upon revealing Himself to him along that Damascus road and Paul was faithful to preach it everywhere he went after receiving it. *Application* Have you been saved and sanctified? Have you turned from the darkness of Satan’s dominion to the light of the Lord’s authority? Have you believed in Him?

-*Application* Some people might think we are crazy as Festus did with Paul. But the facts of the gospel stand and the resurrection gives us power to hope in a bright future for all eternity. Paul’s hope was for all to be as he was as a believer (Acts 26:6, 29). Let us also tell the good news of Jesus Christ to everyone we meet.


Verses to Memorize: Acts 26:6, 18-19, 29

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Acts Bible Study Notes- Chapter 25

Acts 25

-Festus arrives in the province to be governor and three days later he went up to Jerusalem from Caesarea Maritima, the Roman port city on the west coast of Israel. He is confronted by the chief priests and leading Jewish men concerning Paul as they wanted him to be brought back to Jerusalem for a trial and planned to kill him on the way.
-Festus wisely has them come to Caesarea for the accusations at first, but wants him to consent to a trial in Jerusalem as a favor to the Jews. This was a political move much like Felix had done to attempt to keep the peace with these religious fanatics from the Roman perspective. Paul, however, maintains his innocence of any wrongdoing and appeals to Caesar as a Roman citizen.
-King Agrippa and Bernice come and spend many days with Felix in Caesarea and hear about the situation with Paul. Amid great pomp and circumstance Paul is brought out before the king and the prominent men of the city to give his defense to his accusations. *Application* Paul’s life had been prophesied and now was the time of fulfillment to stand before kings and give an account for the hope that was in him through Jesus Christ, his living Savior (Acts 9:15-16). How about you? Has God given you a word about your future and the destiny that He has for you? Abide in His plan and work and He will bring forth all His good promises for you even though there will be suffering associated with it. Keep the faith and persevere!

Verse to Memorize: Acts 25:12

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Acts Bible Study Notes- Chapter 24

Acts 24


-After five days in Caesarea Maritima, the high priest Ananias (who had struck Paul in the mouth and been rebuked by the Apostle, Acts 23:2-3), came with his attorney, Tertullus, to accuse Paul before the governor, Felix. Tertullus smooth talks this high political figure to gain favor and a decisive advantage in their case against the Apostle. The Jews along with him joined in the accusations. Here we see the venom of these religious power players. *Application* Religious fervency doesn’t necessarily put one in the right. The truth is what we should all be after. These Jews were sincere, but sincerely wrong just as Paul had been at one point in his life. They had so hardened themselves to the truth of the gospel and its saving power that they missed the entire point of Paul’s message, which he states in his defense, “having a hope in God,” and “resurrection” of the soul (Acts 24:15). Paul’s message was not for destruction, but for life change into the abundant grace of God (2 Corinthians 5:17). We too can become so callous in our beliefs that we make no room for truth to invade our lives and change us to what God really wants us to be. Be an open vessel and pliable clay in the hands of the living God (Isaiah 64:8).

-Paul makes a successful defense and questions where his accusers from Asia were at because they should have been present for this trial, though they were not. He also appealed to his presentation before the Council when he was in Jerusalem, which did not incriminate him in any way as to the accusations which were now being levied against him.

-Felix ends up postponing the case as a political favor to the Jews and waits for Lysias, the commander, to come down to the coast there in Caesarea Maritima. Felix gives Paul quite vast freedoms in his custody allowing his friends to minister to him in whatever things he needed. He listened to Paul often concerning faith in Christ Jesus, but never would accept Him and sought after a bribe never getting one from the Lord’s anointed apostle. *Application* It is a tragic mistake to turn God away when He comes calling in your life. Felix was close to salvation by his hearing of the message, but he denied the power of it and is now suffering the consequences of that. We will too if we don’t accept the truth of Jesus Christ and let it change our lives.

-Paul was left imprisoned for two years until Porcius Festus succeeded Felix. This was a season in Paul’s life where he was forced to slow down as the Lord willed it. He took this time to minister to those who would come to see him as he had opportunity and he no doubt wrote some of his letters to the churches that we now have as the New Testament. *Application* Make the most of the time that the Lord gives you no matter what the situation. As the old saying goes, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!”


Verse to Memorize: Acts 24:14

Acts Bible Study Notes- Chapter 23

Acts 23


-Paul defends himself before the Council of the Jews declaring his life lived under a good conscience before God. Ananias had him illegally struck on the mouth for this comment and Paul rebuked him strongly in the presence of all. However, when he found out that Ananias was the high priest, he retracted his comments and apologized in accordance to the Law (Exodus 22:28). *Application* Ananias’ inability to follow the very Law that he was supposed to be chief priest over left him unrecognizable to Paul. The same can happen to us if we are covert Christians who do not really represent Christ Jesus. Do people actually know who you are in this world O Christian?

-Paul then astutely divides the Council with his hope and resurrection of the dead beliefs. This led to a great dissension and the binding of Paul being taken into the custody of Roman barracks.

-This orchestrates the vow made on Paul by 40 Jews to kill him. Paul’s nephew learns of this mayhem and saves Paul’s life. Paul makes his way to Caesarea Maritima under custody of the Romans and is incarcerated in the official governor’s residence of Herod’s Praetorium waiting to appear before Felix, the governor.

-God appears to Paul in the middle of all this crisis in Jerusalem and gives him His word that he will solemnly witness the Lord’s cause in Rome. *Application* The voice of the Lord is sure. His promises never fail and we can count on every one of them. The Lord stands beside His chosen people. Paul does end up in Rome spreading the gospel of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!


Verse to Memorize: Acts 23:11

Acts Bible Study Notes- Chapter 22

Acts 22


-Paul makes his defense before the Jews in Jerusalem in Hebrew recounting his testimony. This time he emphasizes the question he asked of the God, “What shall I do Lord (Acts 22:10)?” *Application* This question reflects steps in a journey that begins with our finding the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Paul asks the right questions: 1. Who are You, Lord? and 2. What shall I do? Once we figure these two things out the rest of life naturally falls into place one step at a time.

-Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles is what makes them extremely upset and wanting to kill him. This reveals the exclusive nature of their thinking, which was not at all what God intended when He choose the Jews to be His people. *Application* Exclusivity should not be a part of the Kingdom of God once Jesus Christ is introduced (Galatians 3:27-29).

-Paul goes through quite an ordeal with the Roman commanders, and Paul uses his Roman citizenship, as he had before, to his advantage and well being.


Verses to Memorize: Acts 22:14-16

Acts Bible Study Notes- Chapter 21

Acts 21


-Paul and the team go back to Jerusalem despite the prophetic words that he would be bound. *Application* Paul’s courage should embolden us to step up for Christ in this Godless-secular age in which we live. If we love the Lord we will not be cowards.

-Paul meets with the elders and reports all God has done among the Gentiles. They advise him to purify himself and pay four men’s expenses for head shaving (keeping the Law).

-Asian Jews stir up the Temple crowd and Paul is beaten and seized by the Romans, but now he wants to address the Jewish crowd with the gospel of Jesus Christ. *Application* What selfless heroics we see in this sold out man of God. He will go through whatever punishment and sacrifices that it takes to gain an ear for the message of Christ and His salvation. He typifies here what he wrote about in Romans 12:1-2. Let us be that yielded to the Spirit’s work in our lives!


Verse to Memorize: Acts 21:13

Acts Bible Study Notes- Chapter 20

Acts 20


-After the debacle in Ephesus, Paul exhorts the brethren there and takes leave to Macedonia through those districts giving much exhortation all the way southward into Greece.

-He returned through Macedonia because of a plot by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria.

-Back in Asia in Troas he teaches for a week during Unleavened Bread days. This is where Eutychus falls from the 3rd floor after falling asleep during Paul’s midnight message. *Application* Don’t fall asleep in church, bad things can happen J. However, Paul falls upon him and the young man’s life returns to him (a miracle). Paul goes back up and preaches until daybreak and then goes by land to Assos. *Application* This gives us a glimpse into the hard core nature of the early church. There were no watch watchers in Paul’s audience. He would go all night! These disciples of Christ were fervent!

-The disciples go from Mitylene to Chios to Samos to Miletus. In Miletus Paul called to him the elders of the church in Ephesus and gave his farewell message to them. These are the things he did while laboring over them in the Name of Jesus Christ: He was humble, shed tears, suffered in trials, did not shrink back from declaring the word of God and anything that was profitable and according to the whole purpose of God, went from house to house, taught repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ, did not covet, and worked hard to help the weak remembering the words of Jesus, “It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).”

-Paul prophesies what awaited him in Jerusalem. He relates that his life was meaningless in comparison of finishing his course for God in His strength. He tells the elders to beware and be alert for the savage wolves that would come in (Revelation 2:1-7).

-The tearful goodbye with embracing and affectionate brotherly kisses ends Paul’s time with the elders as he moves on toward the Promised Land. *Application* What a picture perfect way to say so long. Paul had no regrets in his labor over this body of believers he had diligently poured into. He is beloved and the brethren knew this would be it. Remember to say good-bye appropriately and passionately when the time comes to leave any particular situation. Remember too that we as believers will all be reunited in the eschaton when we are resurrected in Christ.


Verses to Memorize: Acts 20:18-24, 27-28, 35

Acts Bible Study Notes- Chapter 19

Acts 19


-While Apollos was in Ephesus, Paul came once again and believers received the Holy Spirit who were familiar only with the baptism of John. They were baptized in the Name of Jesus and Paul laid hands on them. With that laying on of hands they received the Holy Spirit and began speaking in tongues and prophesying (the power of God came upon them!). There were about twelve of them. *Application* Oh the mighty power of God when He is in a place. I have seen His awesomeness sweep through a place that is hungry for Him and allows Him to have His way in all things. It is truly supernatural and just as real as in these New Testament times. Praise the LORD!

-Paul taught in the synagogue for 3 months with effectiveness, but some were becoming hardened and disobedient to the faith speaking evil of him and the Way. *Application* Any time God’s Spirit is moving there will be a counter punch by the enemy. These are spiritual battles we should expect and prepare for with fervent praying and many times fasting (Matthew 17:21).

-Paul withdraws then from the synagogue and takes disciples that were of faith in Christ. They reason together in the school of Tyrannus for 2 years. In this amount of time the Bible states that all in Asia heard the word of the Lord (Acts 19:10). *Application* Notice that the message of Christ was not taught in the traditional setting here as the church grew in Asia. In Christian work and ministry we must remember to be flexible. The church is the body of Christ and not a building. His message can spread from any location. Be flexible and adaptable in your service for the Lord as Paul shows in this passage. God can do great things in whatsoever manner He pleases. Rejection in a traditional place doesn’t mean God is through working through you in that particular locale.

-God was giving great power and authority to Paul. The seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were trying to cast out demons but the demons didn’t know them and chased them out naked and wounded. Fear of the Lord was on Ephesus as a result of these remarkable events and magic practices were being eradicated and destroyed. The word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing (Acts 19:20)! *Application* Our nation at this time needs some of this type of Holy Spirit type fire and power. However, Christians must stand up for God and what is right for this to happen. Are we giving God a chance to show up big for us?

-The Demetrius incident occurs, but it is subdued concerning Artemis’ idol worship. *Application* What are the idols in our modern society? Where would we see this kind of back lash to the growth of the gospel and sold out Christianity? I know one thing for certain here where I live in Texas. If you dared to put a Christian meeting up against high school football in the fall, there would be an uproar from the carnal saints. Where do our affections reside?


Verse to Memorize: Acts 19:20

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Acts Bible Study Notes- Chapter 18

Acts 18


-Paul arrives now in Corinth and receives the vision of the Lord in the night to stay at that point speaking out unafraid and boldly in the Name of Jesus Christ. He is told further that no one will attack him in order to harm him for God has many people for Himself in that city (Acts 18:9-10).

-The leaders of the synagogue and many Gentiles in Corinth come to believe in Christ. *Application* God always fulfills His word; His promises are magnificent, great, and sure (2 Peter 1:4). Trust in what He reveals.

-During Gallio’s proconsul a disturbance is brought before the judgment seat but is dismissed. Sosthenes is beaten but Paul stayed out with the brethren’s protective efforts. He stays many more days and meets the believers, Priscilla and Aquila, there doing tent making together for provision.

-Paul departs Corinth finally going to Cenchrea and Ephesus, Caesarea, Jerusalem, and back to Antioch.

-After spending some time there back at the home bases, he ventures out on a third missionary journey starting by land through Galatia and Phrygia. In Ephesus, Apollos the Jewish Alexandrian who was an eloquent speaker and knew Jesus from John the Baptist’s testimony and studying the Scriptures is introduced. He was taught Christ’s completed work through Priscilla and Aquila. He had great power and giftedness as the Lord was upon him. *Application* God gifts certain people for His mighty purposes. Sometimes these need growth and understanding. Who knows, you may influence the next great Christian leader of the future generation by your simple acts of Christian obedience. Think about that for a bit.


Verses to Memorize: Acts 18:9-10

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Acts Bible Study Notes- Chapter 17

Acts 17


-As the team moves out from Philippi they go through Amphipolis and Apollonia (two good sized cities but apparently without a synagogue to connect the gospel with) coming into a city where there was a synagogue of the Jews, Thessalonica. As was the custom, Paul began with the Jews reasoning with them for several weeks of Sabbaths from the Scriptures concerning Jesus as Messiah preaching the suffering of Immanuel and His resurrection. *Application* This has always been how God has worked. He begins with His people in His plan for salvation. The Old Testament focuses primarily on the Hebrew people, who were chosen as His instruments for bringing Jesus the Savior into the world. Jesus was primarily concerned for “the lost sheep of Israel” in His earthly ministry (Matthew 15:24). Even the church begins with the Jewish people in the proclamation of the gospel. So salvation and its message begins with the Jews and extends outward to all the nations (Luke 24:47). We need to thank God for His willingness to include all of us in His plan for redemption and His impartiality (Deuteronomy 10:17, Acts 10:34, Romans 2:11, Galatians 2:6, Ephesians 6:9).

-Once again we see the conflict that the message of Christ brings eventually with those being confronted with the truth of God. Jealousy springs forth from the unbelieving Jews and a mob scene ensues in an attack on the house of Jason who had welcomed the disciples. The famous quote is mentioned here, “These men who have upset the world (inhabited earth) have come here also (Acts 17:6b).” *Application* May we have the courage, boldness, and tenacity to “upset” our world with the message of Christ Jesus. In other places of Scripture we see why this message was not accepted right away. The cross was the barrier along with unbelief. To the Jews the Messiah would perform signs and wonders and leave no doubt about His Kingdom. Jesus became a stumbling block for them because they could not see the humility of their Messiah. To the Greeks this criminal that was hanged on a cross showed no wisdom and power that they were accustomed to seeing in their saviors. For more read 1 Corinthians 1:18-31.

-The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas out of Thessalonica to Berea, where there was another synagogue of the Jews. “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so (Acts 17:11).” Actual reading of God’s word and letting the Spirit of God move how He wanted is what led many to believe here in Berea. *Application* How eager are we to get into God’s Word and examine the Scriptures daily to find His truth? God’s Word is the power tool for transformation in one’s life.

-Trouble comes from the raging Jews coming over from Thessalonica pretty quickly and Paul departs for Athens, the great city of Greece, which was full of idols. As Paul was waiting for Silas and Timothy to arrive he observed the city of great prominence and prestige in regard to philosophical debate. He was reasoning with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles in the synagogue and the market place every day. Eventually Paul is given an open door to speak in the Areopagus about the salvation message of Christ Jesus. This he does in brilliant fashion as we get perhaps the best biblical glimpse of his artistry and form for presenting the good news. He connects with his crowd by observation of their worldview and quoting their own poets. He preached repentance and judgment and the righteousness of Christ to save furnishing proof through the resurrection from the dead. Some rejected the message and mocked, but some believed and wanted to hear more from this stranger. *Application* Here is the best biblical example of assimilation into a culture for the missionary purpose. If we are to evangelize an area, any area home or foreign, we must be observant and relevant to the culture we are engaging. Otherwise, our message will have no impact. Notice too that Paul does not compromise the gospel in any form or fashion. He speaks the truth boldly with no concession. This is how the message of Christ goes forward into the darkness of lost people.


Verses to Memorize: Acts 17:11, 30-31

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Acts Bible Study Notes- Chapter 16

Acts 16


-Paul and Silas come back to Derbe and to Lystra on this second missionary journey of Paul. Lystra is where Paul picks up his son in the faith, Timothy, who is circumcised by him since his father was Greek. Timothy had a Godly heritage from his mom and grandmother and proved to be indispensable in partnership with the Apostle Paul (2 Timothy 1:5). *Application* This narrative proves that Paul was a man of custom who did not desire to cause any offense to the gospel. He knew that the first priority in the cities they would go to would be the Jews in the synagogues. If Timothy was to be effective and accepted by the Jews, he would need to be circumcised to prevent any kind of offense towards the gospel of Jesus Christ. This willingness to be “all things to all men” was a hallmark of Paul and Timothy’s ministry (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). In our lives it is good to know your audience when relating the gospel, and remember to do all you can to prevent any distractions from telling the good news of Jesus Christ.

-The purpose for this second missionary journey is described for us in verse four. They were basically relaying the information discerned and approved of by the Jerusalem Council for the Gentile believers in these areas they had previously evangelized in Asia Minor. Verse five says that they continued to strengthen all the churches in the faith and the church kept increasing in numbers daily. *Application* How awesome to see the early church’s methodology of doing something every single day to affect life change in people. This is something that we’ve gotten away from in our modern culture. Does your church have activity which could daily change lives, or is it primarily a once or twice a week show for the saints? Compare the Scriptural difference we see here and ask, “What can I do to make a difference every single day?” or “What can our church do to make it more effective in the society we live in?”

-The leading of the Holy Spirit is again paramount as these missionaries desire to go one direction, but the Lord directs them another. Paul’s Macedonian vision is an important development as the team goes into Europe for the first time with the gospel. Notice that the action was immediate when the word of the Lord came. They got the call and responded without question and/or rationalization. God had great things in store for them as they went forward in obedience. *Application* When God reveals His will to you it is important to obey. This will not always be easy as we see here in the Scriptures (Paul and Silas were beaten and incarcerated for their faith), but the blessings and the power of God was on their lives through this following of God’s revealed plan. When you turn away from what you know the Lord wants you to do, you rob yourself of blessing, honor, and power in the spiritual realm. Act out your faith, and don’t ever compromise it.

-Philippi is where a majority of the action takes place as the missionaries invade Europe. Lydia is converted with her household and the disciples find a place to stay there with her. A spiritist girl is radically transformed angering her masters and upsetting the city. This leads to the beating and imprisonment, illegally, of Paul and Silas. This sets up the earthquake and dramatic conversion of the jailer and his household. What an array of diverse church members the Philippian church had! The point is that God was at work and He was calling all people to Himself for salvation using a variety of methods and encounters. *Application* God is at work in your life too! Allow Him to direct you through each day and see where He is at work reconciling the world to Himself using you as an instrument for His glory. We are no different than Paul and Silas. Get to work! The simple message you proclaim is this, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…(Acts 16:31).”


Verse to Memorize: Acts 16:10

Monday, December 3, 2012

Acts Bible Study Notes- Chapter 15

Acts 15


-The Jerusalem Council is the focus of this important biblical chapter. It was vital for the early church to come to some kind of understanding as to the requirements of those coming to faith in Messiah Jesus from Gentile backgrounds and cultural customs. Obviously there were some important differences pertaining to what Moses had laid out under the direction of a Holy God on Mt. Sinai. Pharisaical believers were convinced that new converts must keep all the requirements of Mosaic Law to fully come into salvific faith, but the disciples lead by Peter, Barnabas, and Paul who had actually ministered to the Gentiles expressed a different viewpoint and emphasized belief over the requirements of the Law. James, the elder, brings the council into agreement with four basic requirements that deal primarily with the idolatry Gentiles were being saved from. The council sends out the edict that they should abstain from: 1) things sacrificed to idols (a requirement Paul addresses in 1 Corinthians 8), 2) things from blood (the life is in the blood, Leviticus 17:14), 3) things strangled, and 4) fornication (any sexual sin, it related to many of the nations idolatrous pagan practices). These requirements were accepted with great joy because they encouraged the Gentile brothers with a light load in regards to following the extensive demands of the Mosaic Law. *Application* Jesus said that He came to fulfill the Law, not to abolish it (Matthew 5:17). The fact remains that God’s Law is perfect and there is no contradiction in it for life, love, and happiness. If a society could ever carry out this Law of the Lord there would be a utopia. But, the reality is that we are marred and corrupted and have no hope for ever keeping God’s perfect commands. This is the point that Peter makes here to the council in stating that the yoke of the Law no man can bear. It is Christ and His work on the cross that makes a way to God, and we grasp that by faith (Acts 15:10-11). For a more detailed look at this theology see Galatians 3:5-29 and the entire book of Romans.

-The church continues to grow and prosper under this new directive in Antioch. Judas and Silas make their way to this developing center of Christianity as prophets, preaching the Word of God. After some time Barnabas and Paul determine to go back west to the churches they had planted on a second missionary journey to see how things were going. This is where a sharp disagreement occurs over John Mark and his usefulness to the mission since he had abandoned them on the first missionary journey (Acts 13:13). Barnabas and Paul end up separating over the matter as Barnabas takes John Mark to Cyprus, and Paul takes Silas along the land route through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches. *Application* Sometimes it is best to separate when there is dissension and disagreement. Both sides felt they were in the right in this case, and it proved to be the will of God that they branch out and go different directions in the Lord’s work. In time they were able to reconcile their differences and accept each other’s position (2 Timothy 4:11). If you are having trouble agreeing with a particular spiritual viewpoint, there are times when it makes sense to break apart and find like-minded believers that are better connected to the things that are important to you. However, we always need to maintain the greater unity in the body of Christ and work in love in all situations. Say good and do good! Love one another (John 13:34-35). 


Verses to Memorize: Acts 15:10-11