Your Personal Grow-Pray-Study (GPS) Guide

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October 2023

SOLO GRATIA: GRACE ALONE

SOLA-Essentials_Of_The_Reformation

Scripture for this week includes Psalm 46:1-11, Ephesians 2:1-10, & Luke 7:36-50.

A note to begin: Salvation does not depend upon our activities (how could it be if we are dead before God's gift?); God gives it through grace alone - His unmerited gift. If salvation is not earned but bestowed by God, there are far-reaching implications for legalism. First, many people will try to earn grace through works and following God's laws. While we should undoubtedly follow God's commandments, this is an outworking of salvation (which the Church calls "sanctification"), not a prerequisite for it. Second, this has pushed some believers to a form of gatekeeping -- excluding others from faith because, according to one person's judgment, they do not "fit the part." But again, grace is a gift not predicated on anyone's actions or life; it is an unmerited gift of God. Thus, living legalistically or expecting that of those around us misses the wonder of grace.

In addition to the individual questions offered for each day, also consider some practical ways you can live out the truth of "By Grace Alone" in your daily lives and your interactions with others.

Day 1 (Monday): Grace is often defined as "Goodwill and favor shown to one who can plead no merit." Thus, grace is goodness given to someone who has not done anything to deserve or earn it. In your life, other than in your relationship with God, where have you been the recipient of grace?

Day 2 (Tuesday): Read Ephesians 2:1-10. Paul describes our state before God's grace in Ephesians 2:1-3. What does this passage reveal about our natural condition without God's intervention?

Day 3 (Wednesday): Reread Ephesians 2:1-10. When you think about your default reactions to situations or perhaps your first response to adversity or criticism, how have you seen Paul's words at work?

Day 4 (Thursday): In contrast, Ephesians 2:4-7 speaks of God's rich mercy and great love. How does your understanding that our salvation is not earned but freely given impact your relationship with God?

Day 5 (Friday): Ephesians 2:8-9 emphasizes that salvation is a gift from God and not something we can boast about. How can we guard against pride or a works-based mentality in our Christian walk?

Day 6 (Saturday): Paul mentions that we are "created in Christ Jesus for good works" (Ephesians 2:10). How do you understand the relationship between God's grace and the good works that we are called to do?

Recent additional GO DEEPER reading opportunities available on Amazon Books (#ads):

Watch this week's sermon or read the entire message & GPS here.


SOLA FIDE: FAITH ALONE

SOLA-Essentials_Of_The_Reformation

This week's message and GPS passages are Psalm 62:1-2 & Psalm 62:5-8, Galatians 2:15-21, & John 3:14-21.

A NOTE TO BEGIN: If sola Scriptura is the authority for theological discussion and sola gratia is the give of salvific grace, sola fide is how we acquire salvation: we are saved by faith alone. This does not mean that faith in and of itself is the primary good. Instead, it is the object of faith that is good: Christ. Salvation is given as a gift through Christ and is accepted by faith, not works. This distinguished the Reforems from the Catholic and Orthodox churches, which argue that works were part of the process of salvation (of which faith is also central). The reformers say that works play no salvific role in justification. Unfortunately, faith and works are often considered opposites in theological conversation. But the Reformation was not a question of faith versus works but about faith's relationship to works. Martin Luther, for example, writes in his Romans commentary, "Oh, it is a living, busy, active, mighty thing, this faith; and it is impossible for it not do good work incessantly. It does not ask whether there are good works to do, but before the question arises, it has already done them and is always the doing of them. He who does not do these works is a faithless man. He gropes and looks about after faith and good works and knows neither." Good works are the result of true faith.

Day 1 (Monday): After reading the above Background, consider these questions: (1) Other than faith in God, has there been a point in your life? (2) What was that like?

Day 2 (Tuesday): After reading the above Background, consider these questions: (1) In your life, how have the themes of "faith" and "works been presented to you? (2) How has that molded the way you've viewed God?

Day 3 (Wednesday): Read Galatians 2:15-21. In this passage, Paul emphasizes that we are justified (saved) by faith in Christ, not by works of the law. Though no one, other than Jesus, has been able to follow the law perfectly - we tend to become legalistic people, relying on our works to save us somehow. How have you fallen into this trap?

Day 4 (Thursday): Read John 3:14-21. In John 3, Jesus speaks about believing in Him for eternal life. What does "believing" look like?

Day 5 (Friday): Read John 3:14-21. In John 3, Jesus speaks about believing in Him for eternal life. We know that belief changes the heart, but does it also change attitudes, behaviors, etc.?

Day 6 (Saturday): Read John 3:14-21. In John 3, Jesus speaks about believing in Him for eternal life. What is the relationship between faith and works?

Recent additional GO DEEPER reading opportunities available on Amazon Books (#ads):

Watch this week's sermon or read the entire message & GPS here.


SOLA SCRIPTURA: Scripture Alone

SOLA-Essentials_Of_The_Reformation

This week's Scriptures for the message are from Psalm 119:105-112, 2 Timothy 3:14-17, and Matthew 4:1-11.

Background: If you have been in Protestant Churches before, you have probably heard the phrase "Sola Scriptura" or "Scripture Alone." Rev. Dr. Martin Luther, the Augustinian monk who, in many ways, began the Reformation, argued that Scripture should be the ultimate authority for faith and practice. The Reformers asserted that Scripture should govern church interpretation and traditions as the principium theolgia (the foundation of theology) and norma normans (norm of norms), the source and standard for all theological reflection. In other words, the ultimate authority for theological discussions is the Scriptures. This pushed Reformers to reject several theological doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church at the time, such as the sale of indulgences. Sola Scriptura has occasionally led Christians to think that Scripture is the only source for theological reflection. But if we read the Reformers, this does not seem to be the case; they regularly use doctrines from the patristic and medieval periods. Sola Scripture means that creeds, confessional documents, and theological opinions are subject to Scripture, which must be the measuring rod used to evaluate all else. Church tradition is a valuable resource that should be used in theological reflection, as the Reformers argued, but everything should be measured against Scripture.

Day 1 (Monday): After reading the above Background, consider these questions: (1) What do you think is the ultimate authority in our society today (not what should be but what is)? (2) How does this play into societal norms and rules?

Day 2 (Tuesday): Read Psalm 119:105-112. The Psalm testifies to the power and significance of God's Word. What verses from this passage stand out to you the most, and why?

Day 3 (Wednesday): Read 2 Timothy 3:14-17. How does Paul emphasize the role of Scripture in the life of a believer? What does it mean for the Word of God to be "God-breathed"?

Day 4 (Thursday): Read 2 Timothy 3:14-17. When has it been difficult for you to accept Scripture as God's Word for your life?

Day 5 (Friday): Read Matthew 4:1-11. In what ways does a strong foundation in Scripture impact your ability to discern God's will and make decisions in your life?

Day 6 (Saturday): As you think back over the Background and the Scriptures for this week, how might you change your opinions on submitting to  Scriptures look like?

Recent additional GO DEEPER reading opportunities available on Amazon Books (#ads):

Watch this week's sermon or read the entire message & GPS here.


Let Your Light Shine

Love-where-you-live

Day 1 (Monday): Read 1 Peter 2:4-12. What stands out in this passage about how Christians are called to live in their communities?

Day 2 (Tuesday): In 1 Peter 2:9, Peter talks about believers being a "chosen people." How does understanding yourself as chosen impact your attitude toward your community and neighbors?

Day 3 (Wednesday): Peter describes believers as "strangers and aliens" in 1 Peter 2:11. As Christians, it seems as though we are often exiles in the lands we reside in. Our values do not match up with the values of others. The ways in which Christ calls us have us looking a touch crazy to the world.

Day 4 (Thursday): Though we are strangers and aliens, we all have a role to play here on Earth and in the lands we live in.  How would you summarize that role based on 1 Peter 2:4-12 and the passages we have discussed in the previous weeks?

Day 5 (Friday): In 1 Peter 2:13-17, Peter discusses the importance of submitting to human authority (something Christians today, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, struggle with). How can Christians demonstrate love for trying to do what is right in your community?

Day 6 (Saturday): Peter mentions suffering for doing good in 1 Peter 2:20. Can you think of a time when you or someone you know faced challenges or opposition for trying to do what is right in your community?

Recent additional GO DEEPER reading opportunities available on Amazon Books (#ads):

Watch this week's sermon or read the entire message & GPS here.


Love Your Neighbor

Love-where-you-live

Day 1 (Monday): Read 1 Peter 1:13-25. How would you define "loving your neighbor" in your own words? What does it look like? What doesn't look like?

Day 2 (Tuesday): Peter encourages believers to "prepare their minds for action" (1 Peter 1:13). How can having a prepared mind affect our ability to love neighbors effectively?

Day 3 (Wednesday): According to the scripture in 1 Peter 1, we are called to be holy in all we do. When we think of "holiness," our minds ought to think of Jesus. Pursuing holiness isn't about becoming perfect by our own standards or strength but seeking to conform to the ways of Jesus. How can this understanding of holiness influence your interactions with others (especially those that irritate you)?

Day 4 (Thursday): Peter mentions "fervent love" (1 Peter 1:22). What does fervent love look like in practical terms when it comes to loving our neighbors? This passage talks about the cost of redemption through Christ's sacrifice. How can the concept of sacrifice love inspire us to love our neighbors sacrificially?

Day 5 (Friday): Consider these questions - What are some common challenges or obstacles you face in loving your neighbors? How can you overcome these challenges?

Day 6 (Saturday): Consider these questions - How can the body of Christ, working through Life Groups and the larger church community actively demonstrate love for your neighbors? What are some ideas or experiences that show love to our neighbors?

Recent additional GO DEEPER reading opportunities available on Amazon Books (#ads):

Watch this week's sermon or read the entire message & GPS here.