The Chapter of Great Security - Romans 8

A service plan focused on Romans 8, "the chapter of great security" in a series called "Great Chapters of the Bible." The theme of this service is our hope and confidence that we are "more than conquerors."

Worship Service

Theme of the Service

Romans 8 is known as "the chapter of great security." This worship service is built around and takes its structure from this chapter. The entire chapter will be read with meditations on each section of it. Worshipers will respond in song.

The theme of this service is the security of the child of God through the ministry of Christ and the Spirit. We are pardoned, adopted, living in hope, and confident that we are "more than conquerors."

* * *

We worship today as those who are set free and secure in Christ.

WE GATHER IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD

Prelude: "In Thee/You Is Gladness" [see music notes]

The Call to Worship

*Song of Praise: "In Thee/You Is Gladness" PsH 566, UMH 169

*Our Declaration of Trust and God's Greeting:

Congregation of Jesus Christ, who do you trust?
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.
Amen.

*Response: "Christ, the Life of All the Living" (PsH 371)

The Offertory:

The Offertory Prayer
Our Offering of Music: "Christ, the Life of All the Living" [see music notes]
We Offer our Gifts to.

The Pastoral Prayer

GOD SPEAKS ABOUT OUR FREEDOM IN CHRIST

Anthem: "We Will Sing Our Song to God," O'Brien [see music notes]

The Reading of Romans 8:1-11

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Meditation

Our Prayer for the Confession of Sin

The Assurance of God's Pardon

*Song: "And Can It Be" st. 1, 4 PsH 267, RL 451:1,5, RN 193, TH 455:1,5, TWC 473:1,5, UMH 363:1,5

GOD SPEAKS ABOUT OUR FULL ADOPTION

The Reading of Romans 8:12-17

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Meditation

Song: "How Great Is the Love of the Father" st. 1, 3 PsH 231, SFL 59

GOD SPEAKS ABOUT THE HOPE OF GLORY

The Reading of Romans 8:18-27

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Meditation

Song: "Beams of Heaven" PsH 577:1-3, UMH 524:1,2,4 [see music notes]

GOD CALLS US "MORE THAN CONQUERORS"

The Reading of Romans 8:28-39

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Meditation

A Prayer of Thanksgiving

*Song: "How Firm a Foundation" st. 2, 5 PH 361, PsH 500, RL 172, TH 94:2,6, TWC 612, UMH 529 [see music notes]

WE LEAVE WITH GOD'S LOVE

*The Benediction with Congregational Amen!

*Song: "Neither Death Nor Life," Haugen [see music notes]
(The Choir will sing the verses; the congregation will join on refrains.)

Postlude: "How Firm a Foundation" [see music notes]

*You are invited to stand.

Sermon Notes:

1. If you ask folks which chapter in the Bible is their favorite, many will point to Romans 8. It's the chapter that begins with "no condemnation" and ends with "no separation." Since the chapter is easily divided into four main sections, this worship service has been structured in that way. Likewise, the preacher's message for this service will be divided into four shorter messages. However, at the beginning it's important to note that the chapter begins with "Therefore" (v.1), a word that signals that what follows is naturally built upon what has gone before. It is necessary, therefore, to point to the teachings of chapters 1-7 on the seriousness of sin, the judgment of God, salvation by grace through faith, and our union with Christ. All the gems of the 8th chapter are built on this foundation.

2. The first meditation (vs.1-11) can center on the declaration of the first verse. The possibility of condemnation looms large for every sinner. But Paul cancels out any such possibility with the little word "no." He does so in strong language so that we sense he is saying, "There is not the slightest possibility of condemnation!" Paul's explanation of the work of Christ and the Spirit points to the way God has accomplished this. We live "in Christ," and the Holy Spirit "lives in us."

3. In the next section (vs.12-17) Paul speaks about our adoption by God. Whereas the first section spoke of our standing before God, this section speaks of our identity as children of God. Adopted children of God benefit from freedom from fear (v.15), intimacy with the Father (v.15), assurance of belonging (v.16) and inheritance with Christ (v.17). On this latter point, it would be wise to explore and explain the difference between being an heir and a co-heir. (A co-heir possesses everything that the other possesses!)

4. Then Paul turns his attention to our hope of glory (vs.18-27). He acknowledges the prevalence of groaning in this fallen world. The creation groans (v.22); we Christians groan (v.23); and, it can even be said, the Holy Spirit groans (v.26). All of this groaning is an expression of frustration with sin and a hope for renewal and redemption. In the context of all such groaning, Paul speaks firmly about our hope of redemption that will bring glory (v.18).

5. The final section of this great chapter (v.28-39) represents the peak and climax of it all. From the grand promise of v.28, through the golden chain of v.29, 30, to his tight line of reasoning in vs.31-35, he finally arrives at his bold confidence in vs.38 and 39. He takes the word for "conquerors" and moves it up a notch with a prefix that shows he is trying to call us "hyper-conquerors." The confidence and the hope are overwhelming!

Music Notes :

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 Company)
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
Commission Publications)
TWC The Worshiping Church (Hope Publishing Company)
UMH The United Methodist Hymnal (United Methodist Publishing House)
WOV With One Voice ( Augsburg Fortress)

1. The suggestions for prelude based on the hymn tune IN DIR IST FREUDE can be found in the following resources:

IN DIR IST FREUDE ["In Thee/You Is Gladness"]
Organ:

Bach, J.S. The Liturgical Year (ed. Riemenschneider) Ditson [1933] (M)
Beck, Theodore Augsburg Organ Library - Epiphany Augsburg 11-11073 [2001] (E-M)
Beck, Theodore Five Hymn Preludes Concordia 97-5391 [1976] (E-M)
Burkhardt, Michael Six General Hymn Improvisations set 1 Morningstar MSM-10-846 [1992] (E-M)
Haan, Raymond H. Introduction and Variations on In Thee Is Gladness Concordia 97-5995 [1988] (E-M, for organ and trumpet)
Sedio, Mark Eight Hymn Introductions Morningstar MSM-10-836 [1991] (E-M)

2. Suggestions for offertory music, based on the hymn tune can be found in:
JESU, MEINES LEBENS LEBEN ["Christ, the Life of All the Living"]
Organ:

Leupold, A.W. An Organ Book Chantry Music Press [1960] (E-M)
Peeters, Flor (1966-Peters) Augsburg Organ Library - Lent Augsburg 11-11036 [2000] (E-M)

Piano:

Organ, Anne Krentz Christ, Mighty Savior Augsburg 11-10819 [1997] (E-M)

3. The anthem "We Will Sing Our Song to God" by Francis Patrick O'Brien is published by GIA G-3777 [1992] (SATB with keyboard and congregational refrain, based on Romans 8, E).

4. We recommend piano accompaniment for "Beams of Heaven."

5. Alternative harmonizations for the closing hymn "How Firm a Foundation" can be found in the following resources:
FOUNDATION ["How Firm a Foundation"]
Choral Resource:

Rutter, John How Firm A Foundation Hinshaw HMC-667 [1983]

Alternative Harmonization for Organ:

Busarow, Donald All Praise to You, Eternal God Augsburg 11-9076 [1980]
Goode, Jack C. Thirty-four Changes on Hymn Tunes H W Grey GB 644 [1978]

Alternative Harmonization for Piano:

Wellman, Samuel Let It Rip! At the Piano Augsburg 11-11045 [2000]

6. The anthem "Neither Death Nor Life" by Marty Haugen is published by GIA G-5650 [2001] (SATB with keyboard and congregational refrain, based on the closing verses of Romans 8, E-M).

7. The organ postlude suggestions on "How Firm a Foundation" can be found in the following resources:
FOUNDATION ["How Firm a Foundation"]
Organ:

Bish, Diane The Diane Bish Organ Book vol. 4Fred Bock B-G0776 [1985] (M)
Cherwien, David Interpretations bk. 9 AMSI SP-106 [1992] (E-M)
Haan, Raymond H. Four Hymns of Rejoicing Morningstar MSM-10-518 [1998] (E-M)
Held, Wilbur Seven Settings of American Folk Hymns Concordia 97-5829 [1984] (E-M)
Linker, Janet Variations on "How Firm A Foundation" Concordia 97-6586 [1996] (M)
Murphree, Claude Toccata on How Firm a Foundation H.W. Grey GSTC 813 [1955] (E-M)

Piano:

David, Anne Marie Here I Am, Lord Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7566-5 [2002] (M)
Medema, Ken Sanctuary Genevox 4181-16 [1989] (M)

Liturgy Notes:

1. You will notice that we have allowed the natural division of Romans 8 to be the shaping influence for the structure of this service. Such a structure allows the worship service to do two things -- to give us an overview of the entire chapter and its flow of thought (for each of its truths becomes more precious when viewed in the light of the whole!) and to respond in songs of faith to each of the teachings. Such a structure enables us to capture more vividly the dialogic nature of worship -- God speaks and we respond, a cycle that occurs multiple times.

2. Since there are four separate readings of sections of Romans 8, you might want to include lay persons as readers so that the voice that reads is a separate voice from the voice that gives the meditation. Four separate readers could be included, one for each section. It is important that they are able readers - familiar with the passage and clear and strong in their reading so that they represent the spirit and intent of the passage as they read it. Some coaching and rehearsal may be wise here!

3. You will find three prayers in this service of worship. Each has a distinct purpose. The pastoral prayer near the beginning of the service can be an intercessory prayer for needs within the congregation and the world-wide church, and it can serve as a prayer for illumination as we step into this great chapter of Romans 8. The second prayer is specifically a prayer of confession of sin so we can claim the great promise of Romans 8:1. The third prayer near the end of the service is intended to be a prayer of thanksgiving for all God's riches to us.

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