Is Christianity the Only True Religion? - Galatians 1, 1 Timothy 2
A service plan focused on the questions of validity in other world religions and the truth that salvation is found only in Jesus Christ, the son of God in a series addressing difficult questions of the faith.
Also in this Series
Knots of the Faith
This series of worship services explores seven tough questions and struggles that Christians often face.
Theme of the Service
Recall the theme of this series of messages ("Knots of the Faith") by referring to the introduction to the service for June 6. This is the fourth sermon in the series, which deals with some of the troublesome questions believers (and almost-believers) wrestle with.
This service will focus on the fundamental truth that salvation is found only in Jesus Christ, the Son of God who came to bear our sins. There is no other Savior. The songs, prayers, and readings will reflect this truth. The sermon will expound on it.
WE GATHER IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD
Prelude: "At the Name of Jesus," Johnson, Powell [organ]; Gramann [handbells]
"All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name," Whitford [organ]; Sherman [handbells]
"I Will Sing of My Redeemer," Stearns [organ]; Wilson [piano]; Crawshaw [handbells]
The Call to Worship
*Song: "We Come, O Christ, to You" (st. 1-4) PsH 238, TH 181, TWC 86
*Our Declaration of Trust and God's Greeting
Congregation of Jesus Christ, in whom are you trusting?
Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.
Grace, mercy, and peace to you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
*Response: "We Come, O Christ, to You" (st. 5)
WE ARE RENEWED IN GOD'S GRACE
The Call to Confession
Our Prayer of Confession
Gracious Lord, we know that our life has come from you as a matchless gift.
And we have been created to follow you in loving obedience.
We have not followed you.
We have loved ourselves more than others.
We have loved ourselves more than you.
Forgive us, we pray.
Cover us with the mercy of Jesus Christ,
your son, our only Savior. Amen.
The Assurance of Pardon: Romans 8:1
*Our Song of Thanksgiving: "And Can It Be" PsH 267, RL 451, RN 193, TH 455, TWC 473, UMH 363
or "There Is a Redeemer" RN 232, SNC 145
God's Call to Grateful Living: Matthew 22:37-40
GOD SPEAKS THROUGH HIS WORD
The Prayer for Illumination
The Reading of Scripture: Galatians 1:6-9; 1 Timothy 2:5-7
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!
Sermon: "Is Christianity the Only True Religion?" (Knots of the Faith - #4)
The Pastoral Prayer
WE CELEBRATE THE CERTAINTY OF OUR FAITH
*Song: "We Walk by Faith" PH 399, WOV 675
*Our United Profession of Faith: The Apostles' Creed
*Song: "Oh, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing" (st. 1, 7) PH 466, PsH 501, RL 363, RN 32, SFL 19, TH 164, TWC 130, UMH 57
A Dialog of Faith
Are all men saved through Christ just as all were lost through Adam?
No. Only those are saved who by true faith are grafted into Christ and
accept all his blessings.
What is true faith?
True faith is not only a knowledge and conviction that everything God reveals
in his Word is true; it is also a deep-rooted assurance, created in me by the
Holy Spirit through the gospel, that, out of sheer grace earned for us by Christ,
not only others, but I too, have had my sins forgiven, have been made forever
right with God, and have been granted salvation.
Why is the Son of God called "Jesus," meaning "Savior"?
Because he saves us from our sins. Salvation cannot be found in anyone else;
it is futile to look for any salvation elsewhere.(Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 7, 11)
Song: "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" PH 101, PsH 384, RL 293, RN 236, SFL 166, TH 252, TWC 213, UMH 298
or Anthem: "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross," Martin
A Litany of Faith
God remembered his promises
To reconcile the world to himself;
he has come among us in Jesus Christ,
the eternal Word made flesh.
He is the long-awaited Savior,
fully human and fully divine,
conceived by the Spirit of God
and born of the virgin Mary.
As our substitute
he suffered all his years on earth,
especially in the horrible torture of the cross.
He carried God's judgment on our sin;
his sacrifice removes our guilt.
He walked out of the grave, the Lord of life!
He conquered sin and death.
We are set right with God,
we are given new life, and called to walk with him
in freedom from sin's dominion.
Being both God and man,
Jesus is the only Mediator
between God and his people.
He alone paid the debt of our sin;
there is no other Savior!(Our World Belongs to God, st. 24, 27, 28)
Song: "To God Be the Glory" PsH 473, RN 258, TWC 46, UMH 99
or Anthem: "I Am the Way, the Truth, the Life," Young
Our Offering of Gifts for God's Kingdom
The Offering of Music: "We Walk by Faith," Biery [organ]
or "Oh, For a Thousand Tongues to Sing," Cherwien, [organ]; Sherman [handbells]
WE LEAVE WITH THANKFUL HEARTS
*The Benediction and Congregational Amen!
*Song: "Lift High The Cross" (st. 1, 4, 7) PH 371, PsH 373, RL 415, RN 297, SFL 171, TH 263, TWC 229, UMH 159
Postlude: "Lift High the Cross," Callahan [organ] or Carter [piano]
* you are invited to stand
- It will take some theological courage to write and preach this sermon. Our culture today doesn't welcome claims of exclusiveness, and we are surrounded by the influences of eclecticism and relativism. This sermon requires that we resist the trend toward saying all religions are OK, that all paths lead to the same place. Jesus Christ made a claim to be the only Savior and the Bible calls us to preach that. Yet the spirit in which we preach it must be pastoral and sensitive. We should try to avoid, on the one hand, arrogance that looks down on all others and, on the other hand, embarrassment at holding firmly to a truth the Bible clearly teaches.
- Examine the context and the content of Paul's claim in Galatians 1, noting the firmness with which Paul addresses the matter and the strong claim he makes.
- Then examine his claim in 1 Timothy 2, written late in his ministry, in which he affirms what he said in Galatians 1.
- After these two didactic passages, reinforce their message with references to the ministry of Jesus and the claims that he made-John 3:18, 36; John 10:7-9; John 14:6; John 15:1-5. And then reinforce those claims with the proclamation of the fact that Jesus is the only "religious teacher" who actually returned from the dead. His resurrection confirms his claims. All this is summarized by Peter in Acts 4:12.
- Our response should be unembarrassed courage, strong personal certainty, and eagerness to proclaim the gospel of Christ.
Glossary of Hymnal Abbreviations:
PH The Presbyterian Hymnal (Presbyterian Church USA; Westminster/John Knox Press)
PsH The Psalter Hymnal (Christian Reformed Church; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
RL Rejoice in the Lord (Reformed Church in America; W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.)
RN Renew! (Hope Publishing Company)
SFL Songs for LiFE (children's songbook; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
SNC Sing! A New Creation (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Christian Reformed Church,
Reformed Church in America; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
TH Trinity Hymnal (Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in America; Great
TWC The Worshiping Church (Hope Publishing Company)
UMH The United Methodist Hymnal (United Methodist Publishing House)
WOV With One Voice (Augsburg Fortress)
- The suggestions for prelude provide a variety of music, all consistent with the theme of this service.
"At the Name of Jesus" (KING'S WESTON) can be found in the following:
— "Easy Trios," an organ collection by David Johnson, published by Augsburg 11-9291
— "Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart," an organ collection by Robert J. Powell also published by
Augsburg 11-10478  (E-M).
— "Fantasy on 'King's Weston,'" arranged for 3-6 octave handbell choir by Fred
Gramann, published by Agape 1671  (M).
"All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name" can be found in
— "Five Choral Paraphrases set 2" (CORONATION), arranged for organ by Homer
Whitford, published by H. W. Grey GB355  (E-M).
— "Crown Him Lord of All" (MILES LANE), arranged for 3-5 octave handbell choir by
Arnold B. Sherman, published by Agape 1891  (E-M).
"I Will Sing of My Redeemer" (HYFRYDOL) can be found in
— "Twelve Hymn Preludes for General Use," an organ collection by Peter Pindar
Stearns, published by Flammer HF-5145  (E-M).
— "A Sacrifice of Praise", a piano collection by John F. Wilson, published by Hope 347
— "Hallelujah, What a Savior", arranged for 3 octave handbell choir by Craig Crawshaw, published by Jenson 469-08019  (E-M).
- The music surrounding the professions can be sung congregationally. Alternate suggestions for choral anthems are provided. These include "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross," arranged for SATB choir by Gilbert M. Martin, published by Presser 312-40785  (E-M), and "I Am the Way, the Truth, the Life," arranged for SATB choir by Gordon Young, published by SMP E.40  (E-M). We encourage much congregational singing, believing that your congregation is the primary choir of the service.
- The suggestions for offertory are based on the opening songs of the response section of the service. Doing so helps pull the section together.
"We Walk by Faith" (DUNLAP'S CREEK), arranged by James Biery in "The Augsburg Organ Library-Easter," published by Augsburg 11-11075  (E-M).
"Oh, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing" (AZMON), arranged for organ by David Cherwien in "Groundings," published by Augsburg 11-11119  (E-M); and "Acclamation on 'Azmon,' " arranged for 3-5 octave handbell choir by Arnold B. Sherman, published by Agape 1363  (E-M).
- The postlude suggestions on "Lift High the Cross" can be found in "Partita on 'Crucifer,' " arranged by Charles Callahan for organ and published by Concordia 97-6456  (E-M). The first movement of this partita works very well as a postlude. The alternate suggestion for piano is taken from John Carter's collection "The Wondrous Cross," published by Hope 1747  (E-M).
- It would be helpful to note the theme of this service in the Call to Worship, so that all worshipers are conscious of the exclusiveness of the claim of the Jesus whom we are worshiping.
- The post-sermon part of the service is designed to be our response to the Word of God and the claim of "salvation only through Christ." This section should have firmness and strength.
- The responsive dialog, based on readings from the Heidelberg Catechism, will be meaningful when read responsively between worship leader and congregation.
- The litany of faith is structured for multiple voices. The bold-faced sections indicate suggestions of how it can be structured. This litany can be a dialog between worship leader and congregation, or between several readers, or between two halves of the congregation. Use your creativity to be sure that such a profession comes from the heart of the worshiping congregation. The source for this reading is Our World Belongs to God, a contemporary testimony of the Christian Reformed Church. It is available in the back of the Psalter Hymnal, or from Faith Alive Christian Resources (2850 Kalamazoo Ave, SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49560; 1-800-333-8300; www.FaithAliveResources.org.)