The One Man: Righteousness by Faith / Romans 1:16-17
The Gospel of Jesus Christ rescues people from the most deadly trap of the human frame -- self-righteousness. Because in Jesus, the righteousness of God is revealed. Jesus shows us a righteousness of shimmering light that renders our conceptions of our own decency rather dark by comparison. We are not righteous. We have within us, each one, all of the shadowy material responsible for the world's great evils. Dark seeds of bitterness, envy, malice, and fear are planted in the soil of our broken flesh. And when watered in the rain of politics and culture, they sprout into racism, classism, fascism, and lies. We are the enemies we claim to oppose. But a true righteousness has emerged from within this soup of human ruin. And he is Christ Jesus -- the righteousness of heaven breaking into our twisted history. His righteousness is ours to walk in, if only we would forsake every confidence in ourselves and receive his life as our own.
CALL TO WORSHIP
Since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,
by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,
and since we have a great priest over the house of God,
let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith,
with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Father, we have forgotten to stir up one another to love and good works.
We have neglected to meet together, following the patterns of this world
and failing to encourage one another.
Rescue us from this ongoing and deliberate folly. Save us from our sin and its ruin.
Great is the punishment we deserve. We have spurned the Son of God, profaned his blood,
and outraged the Spirit of grace. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Father, remind us of our better and abiding possession. Grant us the confidence faith, and its great reward.
We have need of endurance, so that in doing the will of God we may receive what is promised. For, "Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay;
but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him."
We are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.