Grow Deep - Strange Places Edition - Week 2
Week 2: October 27-November 2
The Right Places to Live With God
Memory Verse: “For in the Gospel the righteousness of God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” Romans 1:17
Martin Luther hated the phrase, “the righteousness of God” that he read in Romans 1:17. As a young priest in the Roman Catholic Church, he would read of the righteousness of God and fear the wrath of an angry God. He did not understand how he could ever please this righteous God. But as he dug deeper into Romans, he discovered the Gospel. A righteousness equal to God’s wasn’t something Luther was supposed to … or even could … achieve on his own. Righteousness was a gift given to him by God through faith. He came to realize that “righteousness” really means having a “right relationship.” He wrote:
A Christian is an utterly free man, lord of all, subject to none.
A Christian is an utterly dutiful man, servant of all, subject to all.
Luther came to understand that the Bible talked about two kinds of righteousness. The first is our “right relationship” with God. We do nothing to earn this relationship; it is the free gift in Christ Jesus. We simply receive it. It’s passive. Through it we are “utterly free” of eternal punishment. Ephesians 2:8 says it this way: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”
Later in Ephesians, Paul writes: “For we are [God’s] workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Paul goes from writing about the free gift of Jesus to our Christian calling to do good works for one another.
The second type of “right relationship” is how we care for our fellow humans. It’s active. We are servants to all. What Luther discovered changed the course of Christianity for him. And it changes our lives, too. We receive God’s righteousness freely so that we can serve others in His name.
Sunday, October 27
Read: Romans 1:16-17, 3:21-24
Anyone who believes and confesses his faith in Jesus is justified by grace, and God’s righteousness is imputed to every believer through faith.
Reflect: Who are the righteous? How are they made righteous? How do the righteous live by faith? How can you explain righteousness to a non-believer?
Monday, October 28
Read: Galatians 5:2-6
By His grace God has freed us from a yoke of slavery to the law. Instead, He has bestowed on us His righteousness. We express that righteousness and freedom through service to others.
Reflect: If following the law gains us nothing before God, how do we gain salvation? How might God’s laws help you to help and serve your neighbors?
Tuesday, October 29
Read: 2 Corinthians 5:17-21
It is God who reconciled us to Himself through Jesus and made us to be righteous. He made us to be His ambassadors to share His message of reconciliation with others.
Reflect: Who initiated reconciliation? And who did God trust with this message of reconciliation? What does it mean to be an ambassador? What about that definition changes how you think of your life as representing Christ?
Wednesday, October 30
Read: Philippians 3:7-11
Paul’s desire was to live all of his life honoring God and conformed to Christ, not because of anything he did but because of God’s mercy and grace and the righteousness of Christ that comes through faith.
Reflect: Paul let go of all he had in order to receive Christ’s righteousness. Luther, too, spoke about how easy it was to trust in things of this world for salvation and not Christ. Say a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to reveal any mistrust in your life. Ask Him to point you to Christ alone.
Thursday, October 31
Read: Ephesians 2:4-10
We cannot save ourselves from the wrath of God that our sin deserves; it is God’s unmerited grace and favor that saves us. He has prepared in advance works for us to do that serve our neighbor.
Reflect: How might a person ‘boast’ about his/her works? How does a person come to have a right relationship with God? Read verse 10 again. If we are defined by the faith we receive from God, why do we do works?
Friday, November 1
Read: Romans 10:3-10
The righteousness of God does not come by observing the law but is the free gift of faith in Christ—in spoken word and believed in the heart.
Reflect: Think about the connection between the end of this text and the beginning. We are saved by confessing our faith. By speaking! Yet those who have not heard about God’s righteousness in Jesus establish their own ways. For God’s truth to spread in the world, what are His followers invited to do?
Saturday, November 2
Read: Psalm 103:1-5
The Psalmist expresses praise for God’s love and compassion in Jesus, who heals our diseases, redeems our lives from the pit, and gives us a crown jeweled with the fullness of His love and righteousness.
Reflect: We receive good gifts from God. Read again today’s verses and contemplate how you have received such gifts. Praise God for His generosity. How might you take these gifts you have received to turn and bless your neighbors the same way?