Galatians: Introduction to the Holy Spirit: Questions for Students (Tuesday, July 3, 2012 — Saturday, July 7, 2012)

The Holy Spirit

Fifth Week

Tuesday

July 3, 2012

Imagine the scene. Nearly all the Israelites who’d left Egypt with Moses had died in the desert. The next generation — desert-hardened, accustomed to traveling as led by God’s special presence in the camp — prepared to cross the Jordan and conquer the Promised Land.

God called the people together to remind them of the covenant he’d made with their parents — a covenant we call “Deuteronomy” or “Second Law,” because this was the second giving of the Law of Moses.

After recounting God’s mighty works on behalf of his beloved Israel, he declares —

(Deu 10:12-16 ESV)  12 “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul,  13 and to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD, which I am commanding you today for your good?  14 Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it.  15 Yet the LORD set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day.  16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn.

1. What did God mean by “circumcise … the foreskin of your heart”?

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2. It’s been commonly taught that Judaism was a religion of externals, in which the heart was unimportant. Is that true?

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3. Why say “be no longer stubborn”? What would be the opposite of stubborn?

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Near the end of Deuteronomy, Moses speaks of a future time when Israel rebels and is severely punished by God, driven from the Promised Land and scattered among the nations. But, Moses prophesies, if Israel repents, God will bring them back —

(Deu 30:3 ESV)  3 then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have mercy on you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you.

4. Did the scattering happen as prophesied? When?

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5. When did God gather Israel from all the people?

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Wednesday

July 4, 2012

(Deu 30:6 ESV)  6 And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.

Moses says that when God gathers his people together, “God will circumcise your heart.”

6. How does Deu 30:6 differ from Deu 10:12?

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7. How do you imagine God intended to honor his promise to circumcise the hearts of his people?

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8. What does he say is the purpose of this kind of circumcision?

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(Jer 4:4 ESV)  4 Circumcise yourselves to the LORD; remove the foreskin of your hearts, O men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem; lest my wrath go forth like fire, and burn with none to quench it, because of the evil of your deeds.”

Many years later, Jeremiah prophesied as Nebuchadnezzar was marching on Jerusalem to eventually overthrow the city, destroy the Temple, and take the Jews into Babylonian Captivity.

9. Why does Jeremiah command the Jews to “remove the foreskin of your hearts”? What would the Jews have had to do to accomplish that?

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Thursday

July 5, 2012

(Jer 31:31-34 ESV) 31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah,  32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD.  33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Jeremiah later speaks of a time after the Exile when God will make a “new covenant” with Israel.

10. When did God keep this promise? (Luke 22:20; 2 Cor 3:5-6; 3:16-18; Heb 8:8-13)

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11. How did God keep this promise? That is, how did/does God writes his laws on the hearts and minds of his people?

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(Eze 36:26-27 ESV)  26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

While Jeremiah was prophesying in Judea, Ezekiel had been taken captive in Babylon, where he prophesied for the benefit of the Jewish captives there.

12. When was this promise fulfilled by God?

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13. How did God fulfill this promise?

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14. What’s the effect of God’s work within his children promised by this passage?

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(Isa 44:3 ESV) 3 For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.

Isaiah prophesied before Jeremiah and Ezekiel, but said even more about the new covenant.

15. When did God pour his Spirit on the descendants of Israel?

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16. How is the outpouring of the Spirit like “water on the thirsty land”?

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Friday

July 6, 2012

(Eze 37:1-14 NIV) The hand of the LORD was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones.  2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry.  3 He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “Sovereign LORD, you alone know.”

4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD!  5 This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.  6 I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD. ‘”

7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone.  8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.

9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’”

10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet–a vast army.

11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’  12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel.  13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them.  14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.‘”

17. In light of the previous prophecies and teachings, what is this passage talking about? When was/is it fulfilled?

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18. This prophecy speaks of passing from death to life by the power of God’s Spirit. Do Christians ever experience the same thing? When?

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(Psa 51:10-11 NIV)  10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.

After David’s tragic sin with Bathsheba, he penned this psalm.

19. Why didn’t David simply fix his own heart? Why pray that God change his heart for him?

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20. Did God grant this request? If so, how?

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21. What did David mean by “do not cast me from your presence”? In what sense was God present with David in a way that David could lose?

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(Eze 36:26-27 ESV)  26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

(Jer 24:7 ESV) 7 I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.

22. What is God promising in these passages? How will he do it?

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23. What will be result of God keeping his promises?

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Saturday

July 7, 2012

(Rom 2:28-29 ESV)  28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical.  29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

24. What Old Testament passages does Paul assume his readers are already familiar with?

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25. Who receives this “circumcision … by the Spirit”?

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(Rom 8:1-2 ESV) There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

26. What passage is Paul likely thinking of when he says the Spirit takes us from death to life?

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27. Based on the earlier readings, what’s the difference between “the law of sin and death” and “the law of the Spirit of life”?

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(Rom 8:3-4 ESV)  3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,  4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

28. According to the earlier readings, what does it mean to “walk … according to the Spirit”?

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29. If we walk according to the Spirit, what is the promised result?

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30. In your experience, does God write any of his laws on your heart? Has he done anything to soften your heart? Has he kept these promises?

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About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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