Your Personal Grow-Pray-Study (GPS) Guide

Sola

SOLUS CHRISTUS: CHRIST ALONE

SOLA-Essentials_Of_The_ReformationThe scriptures for this week include Revelations 7:9-17, 1 John 3:1-3, and John 14:1-7.

A note to begin: Solus Christus orders the other solas, as Christ is the source and giver of salvation. We are saved by grace alone (sola gratia), from the Father through the work of Christ alone on the cross (Romans 5:21). Further, we receive this grace through faith alone (sola fide), but our faith is simply the receiving of Christ's give of grace. In other words, Christ's life and death are the means of our salvation from beginning to end. His work is sufficient insofar as we need nothing further for salvation. In addition, it is exclusive, as salvation cannot come from another. Christ's exclusive identity as god and his atoning work is the only way to salvation. This sola does not mean that God the Father and the Holy Spirit are not part of the salvation of believers, too. Christ's work on the cross is the atoning sacrifice, but this is not in exclusion of the work of the Father and Son. Throughout the Scriptures, the salvific work of God is discussed in trinitarian language.

Day 1 (Monday): As you read through the "note to begin," consider this question -- "Why does our culture often find exclusive religious claims offensive?"

Day 2 (Tuesday): Read John 14:1-7. In John 14, Jesus makes a bold claim. He says, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." What do these words mean for our lives and the lives of those who desire more than this world offers?

Day 3 (Wednesday): Some people may find Jesus' statement in John 14:6 exclusive or narrow-minded. How can we understand and explain this exclusivity in a way that allows us to live a world with many other belief systems in an evangelistic rather than crusader-istic way?

Day 4 (Thursday): Consider this question -- "In what ways have you experienced the significance of Christ alone in your own faith journey or life experiences?"

Day 5 (Friday): Consider this question -- "How can the understanding of "Christ Alone" foster unity among Christians despite denominational differences or theological nuances?"

Day 6 (Saturday): Consider this question -- "How does the concept of "Christ Alone" align with the other solas we have talked about (grace alone, scripture alone, and faith alone)?"

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SOLO GRATIA: GRACE ALONE

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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?

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SOLA FIDE: FAITH ALONE

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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?

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SOLA SCRIPTURA: Scripture Alone

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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?

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