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31 October, 2015

The Scriptures —Study 19 — Exodus 26 and 27

Study 19 From The Book of Exodus Is: Exodus 26 and 27

1.      Chapter 26. What four layers of curtains covered the Tabernacle? What appearance would it have from without, and what from within? Cf. the contrast between Christ seen from without (Is. 53:2), and seen from within (Phil. 3:8).

Note. It will prove helpful to draw a ground plan of the Tabernacle so far as it has been described in these two chapters, with the court, the holy place, and the most holy place, and the altar, table of showbread, candlestick and ark in their proper positions.  

30 October, 2015

The Scriptures —Study 18 — Exodus 25

Study 18 From The Book of Exodus Is: Exodus 25

1.      What was the twofold purpose of the Tabernacle? See verses 8, 22 in particular.

2.      Notice the three articles of furniture described in this chapter, but observe specially the ark and what is said of it in verses 20, 22. What is the significance of the fact that only above the mercy seat could God and man meet and commune together? Cf. 1. Jn.2:1, 2.
Note.  Verses 17-22.  The ‘mercy seat’ or proprietary covering was a slave of pure gold, with cherubim at either end. This acted as a lid on the ark, covering the tables of testimony inside. On it the high priest sprinkled blood to make atonement.  Cf. Lv. 16:15, 16.

29 October, 2015

The Scriptures —Study 17— Exodus 23:20-24:18

Study 17 From The Book of Exodus Is: Exodus 23:20-24:18

1.      23:20 – 33. Consider the promises God makes to the people and the demands He makes of them.  Can you think of parallel spiritual promises made to Christian and demands made of them in the Christian life?

2.      24:1-18. Why was this a day of significance and importance in the history of Israel?  To what did the people commit themselves? Why is this covenant called (in 2 Cor. 3:7, 9) a ‘dispensation of condemnation’ and of ‘death’? What was God’s answer to the situation thus created? Cf. Lv. 17:11; Heb. 9:22.

28 October, 2015

The Scriptures —Study 16— Exodus 21:33-23:19

Study 16 From The Book of Exodus Is: Exodus 21:33-23:19

The laws in 21: 33-22:15 relate mainly to questions of property, and the remainder of the portion contains miscellaneous precepts.

1.      What instances of careless neglect, leading to injury or loss for others, are given in 21:33-22:15?  And what does God demand of the offender in such cases? Can you think of modern parallels to the careless neglect described here? 
2.      Gather out from 22:16-23:19 illustrations of the truth of the claims God makes here concerning Himself.  For these claims see 23:27; 23:7. Against what sin does He say that His wrath will wax hot?       
Note. Some of these laws are similar to those found in the famous code of Hamurabi, but the provisions are much more merciful. Notice in 22:31 the reference to being ‘consecrated’ to God. Cf. Lv. 11:44, 45.

27 October, 2015

The Scriptures —Study 15— Exodus 21:1-32

Study15 From The Book of Exodus Is: Exodus 21:1-32

The laws in this portion concern relations between people, particularly those between slaves and masters.  While slavery is tolerated, its severity is mitigated in various ways.

1.      What are the principles underlying the laws about persons? In particular, what kind of relationship between slave and master is contemplated in verses 2-6? Cf. also Dt. 15:12-18; Je. 34:12-17.

2.      For what kinds of transgression was the death penalty inflicted? See also 22:18-20; 31:15. Why is this? Cf. Mk. 9:43-48.

26 October, 2015

The Scriptures —Study 0— Exodus Introduction

Study 0 From The Book of Exodus Is: Introduction

Here is a reminder of what Exodus is all about.  
Although the twentieth chapter of the Exodus divides it into two distinct parts, we must remember that the book is really one.  The narrative of the opening chapters leads up to the law-giving of the later ones, and is bound to it with an intimate connection. When our section opens, Israel is encamped at the foot of Sinai. Behind them are the great experiences of God’s judgements upon journey. ‘Not a hoof’ was ‘left behind’ (Ex. 10:26). God had delivered Israel from bondage and separated them from Egypt that He might call them to himself and make known His will to them. In just the same way God has called us from the bondage of sin and the world, redeemed us with the precious blood of Christ, baptized us with His Holy Spirit, and separated us unto Himself.  Israel met with God on Sanai.  We have met with Him too, not only among the thunders of the law, but also in the face of Jesus Christ.  Holiness is His intention for us, as it was for them.
This shows how relevant these chapters of the Bible are.  There are many pictures not only of holiness and holy living which we can apply to our own lives, but also pictures of the great principles and doctrines of atonement, and above all of the suffering of our Saviour in redeeming us from sin.

The Immediate Context    
The voice of God had proclaimed the Ten Commandments from Sinai (Ex. 20:1-16). On account of the people’s fear they fled from the mountain (20:18, 19) and asked that Moses should tell them God’s commands.  Moses therefore went up into the mountain (20:21, 22), and the words of chapter 21 are the words of God spoken to Moses alone on the mountain, with the command that he is to pass them on to the people.                 

25 October, 2015

The Scriptures —Study 28 — Romans 16:17-27

Study 28 From The Book of Romans Is: Romans 16:17-27
With this study, we end the book of Romans. In the next study we will go through the book of Exodus and of course since we started it a while back, we’ll pick up where we left off, from Exodus 21-40.

1.      (a) How may perverters of the gospel be recognized? Cf. 1 Tim. 6:3; Mt. 7:15-20. (b) How may we be safeguarded from them? Cf. 2 Jn. 10; 2 Tim. 2:14-16; 1 Thes. 5:22 (c) What encouragement have we in the conflict?

2.      How is God described? How does the present age differ from all that went before? What is the one all-important end to be achieved? Cf. 1:5. What is the method to be adopted?

Note.  Verses 25, 26. The mystery spoken of is fully expounded in the Epistle to the Ephesians. Cf., e.g., Eph. 3:3-6.

24 October, 2015

The Scriptures —Study 27 — Romans 16:1-16

Study 27 From The Book of Romans Is: Romans 16:1-16

1.      What may we learn about Phoebe from her name and the place where she lived (see Note 1); from the description of her as ‘sister’ and ‘deaconess of the church’, and from the service which she rendered? What did Paul ask for her from the Christians at Rome, and on what grounds?

2.      Looking down the list of names, note the references to (a) diligent service; (b) sufferings borne for Christ; and (c) Christian character.  Cf. 2 Cor. 5:9, 10.

3.      How often do you find the phrase ‘in the Lord’ or ‘in Christ Jesus’ or ‘in Christ’? Notice also the different connections in which it is used. What significance do you attach to the phrase?
1.    Verse 1. The name Phoebe, being that of a goddess, suggests that Phoebe had a heathen background.  But now she is a sister in the Lord, one of the household of faith.  Cenchreae, the eastern port of Corinth, was not an easy place in which to live as a Christian.
2.    Verse 7. ‘My kinsmen’: this probably means ‘fellow countrymen’, fellow prisoners’; they may at the time have been imprisoned with Paul because of the gospel.
3.    Verse 13.  Rufus, possibly the same as in Mk. 15:21.

23 October, 2015

The Scriptures —Study 26 — Romans 15:14-33

Study 26 From The Book of Romans Is: Romans 15:14-33

The Epistle from 1:16 onwards has been more like a treatise than a letter. Paul now resumes the epistolary form, and there are many links between this closing section and 1:1-15.

1.      How does Paul in verses 15-21 describe his work—in relation to its nature, scope, power and results? How far is the description applicable to our own work in connection with the gospel?

2.      What matters lay nearest to Paul’s heart at this time, as shown in verses 20-25? Also, what may we learn about the importance which he attached to intercessory prayer? Have we kindred spirit and outlook?
1.      Verse 16. The figure here is that of the sacrifices of the Old Testament ritual. Paul’s work was to bring the Gentiles to God as an offering, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.  
2.      The contributions of the Gentile churches to the poor of the church in Jerusalem were the result of much labour on Paul’s part, and he looked for important results in the drawing together of Jewish and gentile believers Cf. 2 Cor. 8 and 9, especially 9:12-15.          

22 October, 2015

The Scriptures —Study 25 — Romans 15:1-13

Study 25 From The Book of Romans Is: Romans 15:1-13

1.      The counsel given in verses 1, 2 is by no means easy to follow. What three sources of help and encouragement are suggested in verses 3-5?

2.      What does following Christ’s example involve (verse 7-12)?  Why does Paul lay such emphasis upon the inclusion of the Gentiles?

3.      What should characterize the life of the Christian church? See verses 2, 5-7, 13.

21 October, 2015

The Scriptures —Study 24 — Romans 14

Study 25 From The Book of Romans Is: Romans 14

1.      ‘A Christian man is a most free Lord of all, subject to none’ (Luther). What do verses 1-12 teach about Christian liberty?   

2.      ‘A Christian is a most dutiful servant of all, subject to all’ (Luther). For what reasons should Christian liberty be qualified? What are the most important things to be preserved at all cost, in the Christian community?

3.      If in doubt ourselves about the lawfulness of a thing, can we do it because we see other true Christian people doing it? If not, why not?
1.        Verse 1. Cf. NEB: ‘Accept him without attempting to settle doubtful points.’
2.        Verse 5.  There is no need to suppose that Paul was thinking of the weekly Sabbath here, but rather of Jewish holy days?  
3.        Verse 6.  There is an important principle here, akin to that of verse 23b. It is that if we can thank God in what we do, receiving it as His gift, it is right to do it; otherwise not.

20 October, 2015

The Scriptures —Study 23 — Romans 13

Study 23 From The Book of Romans Is: Romans 13

1.      What three main reasons does Paul give in verses 1-7 why it is right to submit to the civil power?  How will this submission express itself in practice?

2.      What single guiding principle should control the Christian’s life in society? See verse 8-10.

3.      Verses 11-14. Paul gave in 12:1 one powerful motive for living the life set forth in these chapters, namely, ‘the mercies of God’.  What further motive does he present here?  What will wearing the armour of light mean for you, both negatively and positively?

Note.  Verse 2. “ The state can rightly command obedience only within the limits of the purposes for which it has been divinely instituted—in particular the state not only may, but  must be resisted when it demands the allegiance due to God’s alone” 

19 October, 2015

The Scriptures —Study 22 — Romans 12

Study 22 From The Book of Romans Is: Romans 12

In the second part of his letter now shows what quality of life should characterize those who believe in the gospel as set out in chapters 1-11. The close connection between belief and conduct in emphasized by the significant word ‘therefore’ in 12:1.

1.      What should be the believers’ attitude (a) to God, and (b) to the world? What results should such a right attitude produce?  

2.      It has been suggested that the teaching of verse 3-8 might be summed up in the word ‘humility’ and that of verses 9-21 in the word of ‘love’.  How far is this true? At what points do I particularly come short of these standards?

1.        Verse 2. ‘Transformed’: the same Greek word is used three other times in the New Testament, in Mt. 17:2   and Mk. 9:2 (‘transfigured’); and in 2 Corinthian 3:18 (‘changed’).
2.      Verse 20. ‘Burning coals’: a figurative emblem of severe pain, here the pain of shame and contrition.  

18 October, 2015

The Scriptures —Study 21 — Romans 11:25-36

Study 21 From The Book of Romans Is: Romans 11:25-36

1.      What is God’s ultimate purpose for Israel, and how do the scriptures cited confirm that purpose?

2.      Consider the plan of God as revealed in chapters 9-11.  By what successive steps has God acted, and will He still act, to bring about the result stated in verse 32? Does the argument of these chapters lead you as naturally as it led Paul to the doxology of verses 33-36?

17 October, 2015

The Scriptures —Study 20 — Romans 11:11-24

Study 20 From The Book of Romans Is: Romans 11:11-24

1.       If a man trips and stumbles, he may either rise again or fall and perish.  What reasons does Paul give here for his confidence that Israel’s rejection is not final?

2.      Against what spirit does he warn Gentile believers? What lessons ought we to learn for ourselves from God’s dealings with Israel?

3.      How does this passage encourage the vigorous prosecution of Christian mission to the Jews?    

Note.  Verse 16. Cf. Nu. 15: 17-21. As the offering of the first-fruits was regarded as consecrating the whole harvest, so in the choice of the patriarchs the whole nation became set apart for God.  Cd. Verse 28. 

16 October, 2015

The Scriptures —Study 19 — Romans 11:1-10

Study 19 From The Book of Romans Is: Romans 11:1-10

1.    What three reasons are given in this passage to show that God has not cast Israel wholly away?  

2.      How have the remnant who have been saved come into that blessedness, and how have the others failed to obtain salvation?  What has been God’s part in the result, and what man’s?

15 October, 2015

The Scriptures —Study 18 — Romans 9:30-10:21

Study 18 From The Book of Romans Is: Romans 9:30-10:21

1.      What are the two ways of seeking acceptance with God which are here contrasted? How are they shown to be mutually exclusive? See 9:30-10:9. What was the cause of Israel’s failure?

2.      Righteousness by faith (10:8-15).  What does the apostle say regarding (a) its simplicity; (b) its universal application; and (c) the necessity of proclaiming it?

3.      What light does 10:14-21 throw upon man’s responsibility (a) in proclaiming the gospel; (b) in hearing it?

14 October, 2015

The Scriptures —Study 17 — Romans 9:14-29

Study 17 From The Book of Romans Is: Romans 9:14-29

1.      How does Paul show that in His election of men God retains absolute liberty of action (a) without compromising His own righteousness, and (b) without giving man any just ground for complaint? See verses 14-22.  At the same time, observe how Paul lays emphasis upon God’s mercy.   See verse 15, 16, 23-26.

2.      What is the purpose of God’s election, and how do the scriptures which Paul quotes illuminate that purpose? How does this truth concern me?   

13 October, 2015

The Scriptures —Study 16— Romans 9:1-13

Study 16 From The Book of Romans Is: Romans 9:1-13

In chapters 9-11 Paul deals with the great problem of the rejection of their Messiah by the bulk of the Jewish nation, and God’s consequent rejection of them. Two questions arise: (a) ‘Has God broken His promises? And (b) if not, how are they to be fulfilled?’ Paul answers the first question in chapters 9 and 10, and the second in chapter 11.

     1.      Chapter 8 is full of triumphant joy. How, then, can Paul speak of having great sorrow and unceasing pain in his heart? See especially 9:3. What made him sorrowful?  How much of this Christian Joy and how much of this Christian sorrow do we ourselves know?

2.      Verses 9-13. The question with which Paul is here dealing is: ‘If God reject those Jews who reject Jesus as Messiah, has not His word come to nought? For were not the promises (verse 4) made to the Jews?  How does Paul answer this question? And what two principles of God’s election does he find in the Old Testament stories of the births of (a) Isaac and (b) Jacob and Esau? 

12 October, 2015

The Scriptures —Study 15 — Romans 8:18-39

Study 15 From The Book of Romans Is: Romans 8:18-39

1.      What threefold ground of confidence does Paul give in verses 18-27 that the present time of suffering will issue in glory? See verses 18-22, 23-25 and 26, 27, nothing the words, ‘groan’, or ‘sighs.’  Cf. Ex. 2:23-25; Rom. 5:3-5.

2.      In verses 28-39 how many distinct reasons does Paul give for the Christian to rejoice, though everything in this world should seem against him?

Note. Verse 28. Cf. NEB: ‘In everything, as we know, he (the spirit, verse 27) co-operates for good with those who love God.’ Cf. 1 Cor. 2:9

11 October, 2015

The Scriptures —Study 14 — Romans 8:1-17

Study 14 From The Book of Romans Is: Romans 8:1-17

1.      Verses 1-4. What is the happy condition of those who are ‘in (union with) Christ Jesus’?  How has their deliverance been brought about, and what is God’s purpose in effecting it?

2.      Verses 5-17.  Life according to the flesh, and life according to the Spirit, are here contrasted.  What is it that effects the change from one to the other? How do we know that life in the Spirit carries with it also ultimate victory over death?  If this life is ours what is our present duty and why? And what are your present privileges?

1.        Verse 1. ‘Condemnation’ probably means ‘the punishment following sentence’ i.e penal servitude.
2.        Verse 2. The Spirit, sin and death are regarded as powers exercising authority, and the Spirit proves the stronger.  Cf. Gal. 5:16-17.
3.        Verse 3. ‘In the death of His own Son, who has come in our nature to make atonement for sin, God has pronounced the doom of sin, and brought its claims and authority over men to an end’ (Denney)
4.      Verses 5-8, 12, 13. ‘Flesh’ here denotes our corrupt human nature.