Series: The Judged
Message: Guilty Go Free
Preacher: Elia King
Reflection: Elia King
Live Wonder: Jessyka Albert
Live Adventure: Jessyka Albert
Live Purpose: Japhet De Oliveira
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Romans 3:21-31 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: A few months ago, we celebrated the 500-year anniversary of the Reformation. Maybe the word “celebrated” is a bit misleading if we take that word to mean that we remembered this event in some meaningful fashion. Very few of my friends took up monastic living or vows of silence. Fewer still opted to visit their local parish with a copy of their own theses to nail to the church doors. In fact, to walk in the way of the reformers might feel less like a celebration and more like tribulation than most of us would like to imagine. Changing the church was not easy work. In fact, for the men and women we now call "the reformers," it was a difficult, painful, and even dangerous journey. It required changing the way the church thought about herself.
In retrospect, we could argue that the Reformation made the church stronger and healthier. One of the many benefits of that challenging period of history was that it gave us some new language through which to (hopefully) better understand and express how the Divine operates. New vocabulary to use to talk about God—literally what we might call new theology. Or perhaps even more accurately, a new expression of rather old theology. Part of that language is presented in a set of five ideas that we call the five solas or solae. These are:
Sola scriptura: Scripture alone is the highest authority.
Sola gratia: We are saved by the grace of God alone.
Solo Christo: Christ alone is our Lord and Savior.
Soli Deo gloria: We live for the glory of God alone.
Sola fide: We are justified through faith alone in Jesus Christ.
There is one sola that you may notice is missing, even if you aren’t fluent in Latin. Sola iuris—that we are saved by observance of the law. Of course it’s not there because that’s not what Christians believe. At least it’s not written down anywhere. But take a look at any faith community, regardless of the name on the outside of their building, and you may notice a message that is often implied, even if it is never said out loud: people who follow the rules get to go to heaven.
In his letter to the church in Rome, Paul showed that he understood something about the way people operate. He understood that we love rules (even if we think we only like to break them), and he understood that even though we may say we put our faith in Jesus, one of the oldest temptations we face is the one to make our own rules.
One of the reasons the text we are looking at this week is both exciting and troubling is that it strikes right at the heart of our human nature and raises the question: In whom will we put our ultimate trust?
Recalibrate: Is there someone or something in your life that you know you can depend on no matter what—even when everything else seems to fail? How did that person or thing become so trustworthy for you?
Respond: Pray for the ability to trust God completely with something that has previously seemed impossible.
Research: Listen to Andy Stanley’s sermon, “How Good is Good Enough?” What ideas do you agree with? What ideas do you disagree with? What ideas challenged you to think about the Divine in a different way?
Remember: “God makes people right with himself through their faith in Jesus Christ. This is true for all who believe in Christ, because all people are the same” (Romans 3:22, NCV).
Elia King is a singer, songwriter, designer, and guitarist who has been leading music in worship settings around the world for more than two decades. He owns Trail Ridge Printing, a screen printing company in Estes Park, CO, and is worship leader at Boulder Adventist Church. Elia graduated with a BA in religion from Andrews University in 2004. He is married to Dena, owner of The Grey House—a mountain boutique—and they have two children, Ellie and Anderson.
The Bible says God has a way to make things right. What are some things surrounding you and your family that don’t seem to be going right? Read through the text in the International Children’s Bible translation. Let the words affirm both your child and yourself as a child of God. Be confident that He has a way to make all those wrong things right again. Pray for faith in His promise.
The Bible says that sin turned the world upside down. What is the longest amount of time you have hung upside down? Maybe you were upside down on the monkey bars or your mom or dad held you upside down by your feet. It can be kind of fun, but after a while it makes your head feel dizzy and not good. In Romans, Paul tells us that God has a way to make things right, to turn them right side up again.
But now! Whenever someone starts a speech with those words, you know something has changed. If you have been following our study of Paul’s letter to the Romans, you were probably hoping for a “but now!” moment, since the verses we looked at last week were really hard to accept. Seriously, no one is doing well! All of us are off cue. What chance is there that we could ever be saved? But now comes the good news. There is a way forward and it is Jesus! Have you ever been the “but now” for a friend? Ever had a friend be a “but now” for you? Ever thought you could never ever fall in love again, and then a “but now” moment happens? Ever think that you have failed or that you have done something so bad that there is no recovery and a “but now” comes along? That is exactly what Paul wants to deliver to you and this “but now” is wrapped up in Jesus.