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Sin the human problem, the gospel of grace God’s solution

February 20, 2024
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Daily Scripture

Ephesians 2:1-7, Romans 3:21-26

Ephesians 2
1 At one time you were like a dead person because of the things you did wrong and your offenses against God. 2 You used to live like people of this world. You followed the rule of a destructive spiritual power. This is the spirit of disobedience to God’s will that is now at work in persons whose lives are characterized by disobedience. 3 At one time you were like those persons. All of you used to do whatever felt good and whatever you thought you wanted so that you were children headed for punishment just like everyone else.
4-5 However, God is rich in mercy. He brought us to life with Christ while we were dead as a result of those things that we did wrong. He did this because of the great love that he has for us. You are saved by God’s grace! 6 And God raised us up and seated us in the heavens with Christ Jesus. 7 God did this to show future generations the greatness of his grace by the goodness that God has shown us in Christ Jesus.

Romans 3
21 But now God’s righteousness has been revealed apart from the Law, which is confirmed by the Law and the Prophets. 22 God’s righteousness comes through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who have faith in him. There’s no distinction. 23 All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, 24 but all are treated as righteous freely by his grace because of a ransom that was paid by Christ Jesus. 25 Through his faithfulness, God displayed Jesus as the place of sacrifice where mercy is found by means of his blood. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness in passing over sins that happened before, 26 during the time of God’s patient tolerance. He also did this to demonstrate that he is righteous in the present time, and to treat the one who has faith in Jesus as righteous.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

NOTE: The GPS usually offers 5-10 verses of Scripture. If you’d like to dig deeper than that, Pastor Hamilton says, “Join me during Lent, as we focus on Paul’s messages, to read the 13 letters attributed to Paul in the New Testament–the earliest documents of our New Testament.” Click here to download our reading plan that will allow you to read all of Paul’s letters between now and Easter.

The apostle Paul said God revealed righteousness apart from the Law (“torah” in Hebrew), yet “the Law and the Prophets” (the Hebrew Scriptures) confirmed it. He told Christians in Ephesus that the positive changes in their lives (cf. Acts 19:18-20) were not just their doing, but God’s doing, shaping them to live out the transformed life God designed them to live. We don’t find salvation through arduous self-improvement. We trust in the good news of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.

  • Before he met Jesus, Paul had trusted in his own goodness as one of God’s “chosen people” (cf. Philippians 3:4-7). But no more. In today’s reading, he said, “There’s no distinction. All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, but all are treated as righteous freely by his grace.” What helps you (especially if you’re a competitive “high achiever”) to remember that a key part of the gospel’s good news is “there’s no distinction”?
  • Once you realize God accepts you through sheer grace, Paul said, that throws out any bragging (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:29). But, hey, you’re a polite person anyway. You’d never “brag,” right? Have you ever seen a (quiet, carefully hidden) sense of superiority lead someone else (not you!) to set himself/herself apart from (and just a bit above) others? How can you keep that kind of thinking from creeping into your attitudes, and so avoid that kind of divisive thinking?
Prayer

Lord Jesus, you didn’t accept me because I’m such a superior specimen. Thank you for your grace. Help me extend your grace to all the people with whom I share your world. Amen.

GPS Insights

Brandon Gregory

Brandon Gregory

Brandon Gregory is a volunteer for the worship and missions teams at Church of the Resurrection. He helps lead worship at Leawood's modern worship services, as well as at the West and Downtown services, and is involved with the Malawi missions team at home.

Kansas City has been in a whirlwind of emotions over the past two weeks. A major football championship win for our home team led to a parade in the city. People came decked out in Chiefs gear, proud of our city and our football team. Then, toward the end of the parade, violence erupted as gunfire broke out between two youth, killing or injuring many. This brought great sorrow to our community, but also led to many conversations about what happened and how to prevent it.

I’m one of those chronically online people, so I spent some time perusing Kansas City forums and seeing the conversations that happened there. One user asked how we could prevent violence and social factors that contribute to it. This sparked a lot of debate: people argued for and against gun control legislation, others argued that systemic issues in the city needed to be addressed, still others talked about a “culture of violence” that needed to be fixed. Conversations became very heated.

There are no doubt a lot of strong feelings among readers of this blog on those issues, but there’s one answer that I wanted to talk about today. A few posters in this thread simply said that people need God. The statement itself is not wrong—people do need God, and God and Christians never want to see violence erupt. But the intention behind this statement is what I want to address.

Most of the time I see statements like “people need God,” there’s something else that’s implied. The implication is that people like that need God. I hardly ever see the statement applied to the people who are making the claim—there’s always this unstated class of people who need God so they can live like us. People like that need God so they can be people like me.

I want to make sure I’m being clear with this: there is no excuse for violence like we saw in our city last week. There are things we can do to help prevent it, but the blame for it cannot be passed off. That said, our common tendency to lump people into large groups of simply good and evil people does not address the problem, and that’s part of what today’s passage is trying to drive home.

When Paul says, “There’s no distinction. All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory,” he means that people need God—but all of us are in equal standing before God. All of us, including us faithful church-goers, including pastors, including Paul, need God, and all of us need repentance in the same way.

Simply passing off major problems like what we saw in Kansas City last week as someone else’s problem does not help to solve the problem. It was a raw display of the brokenness and darkness of humanity. When we admit that all of us are broken, and all of us are in need of God, we can come together to work on solutions. We can work across political, racial, and socioeconomic boundaries to solve a problem that we all have a stake in. Problems like this don’t have easy answers, but it’s not a problem for people like that—it’s a problem for all of us, and all of us need to take some responsibility for the solution.

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Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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