Paul’s confrontation with Peter summarizes several key elements of the concept of righteousness by faith.
Pens and paper, a few hymnals, whiteboard, markers
Connecting with the Scripture Topic
- Have you ever made a “fortunate” mistake—i.e., something that initially seemed uncomfortable or embarrassing but eventually turned out for the good? If you feel comfortable, tell the group about your experience.
- Do you learn best from observation or experience? Do you see others make mistakes and learn from their examples, or do you have to make your own messes and clean them up to learn valuable lessons? Go around your group and have each person simply say “observation” or “experience”—without comment.
Sharing and Receiving Scripture
- For two minutes, write down every piece of really good news that you can ever remember receiving in your life. Then quickly read your list to the group. Do you notice any similarities or common themes in these events?
- Thought Questions
- The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
- This speaks about the seeking phase, not yet being justified.
- Humans only notice the outward sins—but God reads the heart.
- Our human frailties should not reflect on the mercy and majesty of Christ, who never promotes sin.
- While sin is actively seeking to destroy us, Christ seeks to save us.
- We can be found in Christ.
- Our attempts at righteousness (from keeping the law) are never considered.
- We can have Christ’s righteousness through faith.
- True righteousness comes from God, not from ourselves.
- However it works, it’s just good to know that I’m no longer a stranger to God’s covenant.
Did Abram earn righteousness when Genesis 15:5, 6 says God credited it to him for believing the promise?
- Yes—it’s a reward for Abram’s behavior.
- No—God did this freely, not as an obligation to Abram.
- Yes—God would not have extended this credit if Abram had not believed.
- No—crediting righteousness to Abram is no different than freely forgiving a sinner.
- Both—God gave Abram something he couldn’t earn, but in this case, it was only in response to Abram’s act of belief.
- Verse 11—Good can’t possibly result from this because there is “no one who seeks God.”
- Verse 12—All who turn away become worthless, and that can’t be good.
- Verses 15-16—It’s nearly impossible to bring good out of bloodshed, ruin, and misery.
- Verse 17—Those who do evil can’t understand good.
- Verse 20—If, through the law, we become conscious of sin, evil will be repulsive to us.
Applying the Message of Scripture
Gather in groups of two or three. Choose one of the following options and work on a solution. Then report back to your group when your facilitator says time is up.
- Option 1: Have you ever had to deal with a friend or coworker who was “two-faced”? Outline the steps you might take to address this problem with such a person. After you present your strategy to the larger group, ask this question: “Do you think this will really work?”
- Option 2: Using the hymnals provided, find a hymn that expounds on righteousness by faith (the topical index in the back will help). On the whiteboard, list all the key words about this concept that you find in the hymn. Share the list with your group and be ready to lead everyone in singing at least one stanza (a cappella if necessary) of this hymn.
- Option 3: Rewrite Romans 3:10-18 in positive terms—as a description of the righteous. What would their tongues, lips, and feet do? Try and make it an uplifting psalm or poem to share with your group.
Valuing Scripture in Your Life
- Spend three minutes considering your standing in God’s eyes. Acknowledge that you are considered righteous in the courts of heaven. How does that feel?
- After three minutes, those who choose to may share their thoughts. Conclude with prayer.