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God’s River of Grace Cancels Religious Legalism

ZwPI8cfkGod’s River of Grace Cancels Religious Legalism

About 20 minutes, applies John 1:17 and Revelation 22:1

Participants (No need to memorize lines; the aim is to relive sacred events, not perform)
   Lori
   Victor
   Julie
   Tino
   Jason
   Prompter          Shout a brief line and Echoes repeat it.
   Echoes             Children and all adults who want to take part. Echoes need no script.

Lori

I am Lori. Victor and I have married, and life is a paradise,
until one day Victor comes home from work with a clouded face.

Prompter & Echoes

Gloom!

Lori

What’s wrong, Victor?

Victor

The shop downsized. I’m out of work.

Prompter & Echoes

Oh no!

Lori

I hope you find work soon.
I just found out that our family is about to grow. .

Victor

Really? Wow! Okay, tomorrow I’ll go find a job.

Prompter & Echoes

But he finds no work!

Victor

Lori, three weeks have gone by, and no luck.
We can’t pay the rent.

Lori

I’m afraid God is punishing me;
I’ve done a lot of wrong things,
and we both suffer.

Victor

Not just you; I’m ashamed of how I’ve lived.
We don’t have any religion. My employer, Jason,
said some friends are meeting tonight at his house
they meditate on how to live holy lives.
The group is called Sanctity Society. Let’s try it.

Lori

Good idea! I’ll get ready.

Victor

You go on ahead, Lori. I’ll come later,
after I go beg our landlord to wait a bit longer for our rent.
Here’s Jason’s address.

Prompter & Echoes

But the address has a wrong number!

Lori

Hello! Is this where you meet to meditate?

Julie

Oh, you must mean our fellowship meeting. Come in.
I’m Julie. We’re just getting started. I’ll introduce you.

Prompter & Echoes

Something’s different about this!

Lori

I’m Lori.
Oh my! They are laughing and praying for one another
in the name of Jesus. I hope they don’t ask me to pray, Julie.
I’ve never prayed aloud. I’d be mortified!
Now they are telling what God has done for them.

Prompter & Echoes

Joyful testimonies of salvation!

Tino

Tonight we look at God’s river of grace.
A year ago, I didn’t know that God’s grace covers
all the shameful things I’ve done; I was miserable.
Now that we’ve found Christ, that has changed.

Lori

I like the way they share things about God’s grace
and healing, Julie.

Prompter & Echoes

They weep and laugh!

Julie

Praise God!
You don’t know how miserable I used to be, Lori,
hooked by mind-poisoning drugs,
but our Lord Jesus Christ freed me.
I have been clean for months.

Prompter & Echoes

Amazing grace!

     Lori

Julie, I hope they don’t expect me to speak.
This is all new to me.

Julie

Talk only if you want, Lori.

Tino

Let’s read about grace in Romans 5.

Julie

Here’s a Bible, Lori. I’ll help you find Romans 5.

Tino

Notice verses 20 and 21.
“Where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that,
just as sin reigned in death, grace reigns through righteousness
to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Prompter & Echoes

Amen!

Lori

I like the way everyone discusses God’s river of grace, Julie.

Julie

I love the promise in Isaiah 55:1, “Come, all who are thirsty,
come to the waters; and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!”

Prompter & Echoes

Drink freely!

Toni

The meeting is over. Help yourselves to the cookies.

Lori

Julie, why do you call yourselves the Sanctity Society?

Julie

Oh! They meet next door. You came here by mistake!

Lori

Then it’s the luckiest mistake I ever made!

Julie

Look. They are leaving that house now. They look sad!

Prompter & Echoes

Tense and unhappy!

Lori

Good night, Julie!
Oh! There’s my husband Victor. He looks forlorn!
Victor! I am here! I went to the wrong house.
I’m glad I did, I learned about God’s river of grace.
It’s big! It flows to us freely, from God in Heaven.

Victor

What do you mean, Lori? What did you drink at the meeting?
Did you do drugs?

Lori

Oh no! I learned about God’s wonderful grace, Victor.
We don’t save ourselves by following a lot of religious rules.

Victor

The Sanctity Society teaches that we must do many things
to be saved and stay saved.
There are even more things that a Christian must not do.
They gave me this long list of sins to avoid.

Prompter & Echoes

How negative!

Victor

But there’s also good news, Lori.
My cousin Jason gave me a job in his shop.

Lori

Wonderful!

Victor

Let’s go to your group next week, and learn about God’s grace.

Prompter & Echoes

Infinite grace!

Lori

At the next meeting we discuss the meaning
of Christ’s death and resurrection.
Afterwards the leader, Tino, encourages Victor.

Tino

God forgives all who receive the good news about Jesus.

Victor

It’s too good to be true, Tino. In my heart, I know it is so.
Lori, let’s receive Christ right now.

Prompter & Echoes

Born again!

Tino

Since you’ve repented and trust in Christ, you should be baptized.

Lori

Jason has a list of things we’d have to quit doing to be baptized.
I’d have to wear long, drab dresses, and stop using cosmetics.
Victor would have to stop bowling on Sunday.
After reading that long list, I felt stepped on and squashed!

Victor

The apostles baptized new believers at once;
they required nothing but faith in Jesus.
Satan’s cruelest weapon is his flaming arrow labeled ‘legalism.’
Its venom keeps people from trusting God’s grace!

Lori

Oh! Here comes Jason to your house now, Tino.
He’s Victor’s boss at work. This might be interesting.

Victor

Hi, Jason! Meet our small group leader, Tino.
He’s arranging our baptism.

Jason

So soon? No one can be baptized until they
straighten out their lives for at least a year.
Following strict rules makes us more spiritual.

Tino

Victor and Lori are newborn in Christ, Jason,
just babies, spiritually.
We’ll bring them into a loving church body at once,
as the apostles did. They need its warmth.
They’re not perfect, and neither are you and I,
but Scripture shows that baptism is for bad people.
The apostles baptized really bad people at once
when they trusted Jesus.

Prompter & Echoes

So Victor and Lori qualify!

Lori

Tino baptizes Victor and me, and we feel happily assured.
But Jason points out sins that we still have in our lives.

Victor

Jason, we know we have to grow in Christ.
Tino said the apostles received new believers that still had sin;
the apostles corrected that sin without condemning them.

Tino

Yes. Paul dealt with believers’ wicked sins in 1 Corinthians
without condemning their souls.
He reminded them of who they were, newborn sons of God,
and urged them to live up to their new identity in Christ.

Jason

James said that faith without works is dead.
So works are necessary to be saved.

Tino

You have the cause-and-effect backwards, Jason.
Good works are essential,
not as the cause of salvation but its result.
Ephesians 2 says we’re saved “for” good works,
not “by” them.

Prompter & Echoes

Saved to serve!

Lori

At our next meeting, Julie takes me aside.

Julie

Lori, you look troubled. What’s wrong?

Lori

I’ve lost the joy I had. The river of grace dried up for me.
I’ve been bad. I argued with Victor when I should’ve submitted.
I was terribly stubborn. I can’t act nice like you do, Julie!

Julie

You don’t know the struggles I had as a very new Christian.
You’re a new believer, Lori, a spiritual child in Christ.
All of God’s children fail from time to time.
You’re letting your feelings control you;
Satan prods our feelings to make us doubt God’s grace.
Let’s join the others; the meeting is starting.

Tino

I have a proposal.
Our group is too large for everyone to take part
as Scripture requires.
Victor, you and Lori have won friends to Christ.
It’s time for you to start leading a new group.

Victor

But I’m so inexperienced! I’ll make mistakes!

Tino

Yes, you might make almost as many mistakes as I did
when I started. Julie and I will coach you and Lori,
as long as you need it.

Prompter & Echoes

Wonderful!

Prompter & Echoes Tino

That’s pure gold!

Lori

Victor begins leading a group;
two new couples are from Tino’s group.

Victor

It’s easier than I thought, Lori.
I simply repeat what Tino and Julie did for us and their group.
Paul told the Corinthians, ‘Imitate me as I imitate Christ.’
So we imitate our mentor Tino, as he imitates Jesus.

Prompter & Echoes

Many more find God’s grace!

Victor

Lori, God’s grace flows through the spiritual gifts
that he gives to believers.
The same Greek word means both grace and gifts: charisma.
The different gifts help believers carry out the ministries
that the New Testament requires.

Prompter & Echoes

Our tiny group is now a church!

Lori

What are the required ministries that you mentioned?

Victor

They include to shepherd, correct, heal, show mercy,
evangelize and gather new believers, and go nearby and afar
to reach the lost.

Lori

Here comes Jason. Oh! He looks upset.

Jason

No need to go to work today, Victor. My shop burned down!

Victor

Oh, no!

Jason

Totally. Nothing but ashes. It ruined all my equipment.
Like a fool, I had let the insurance lapse.

Lori

Sit, Jason. We’ll pray, and I’ll bring you some chili that I just made.

Victor

Tell us, Jason, how can we help you?

Jason

You can’t. God did it to me!

Lori

No. Satan did it.

Jason

Lori, bring matches.

Lori

Okay. Here. But why do you want matches?

Jason

See this list? I will burn it up.
It’s the list I gave you and Victor, with things to do,
and not to do, to be authentic believers. Here goes!

Prompter & Echoes

He burns it up!

Jason

My dad taught me these prohibitions;
he said God would punish me if I didn’t comply.
I’ve lived in fear, and tried to pass that fear on to you.
Losing my shop woke me up, and I read those verses about grace
that you gave me. I will never again resist God’s grace!”

Lori

I don’t know whether to weep or laugh for joy!

Prompter & Echoes

She does both!