Join our mailing list

Therefore: The Big Word in Christian Living - Romans 12, HCLD 32

A service plan focused on the need and motive for grateful obedience on the part of those who have come to know God's grace in a series on the Ten Commandments, as explained in the Heidelberg Catechism.

Worship Service

Theme of the Service

With this service we begin a new season and a new series. The series will focus on the Ten Commandments. They will be presented as the rule that God gives his children for the sake of shaping their lives of grateful obedience to him as their deliverer.

Reformed theologians have identified three possible functions of God's law. First, it serves to convict us of our sin so that we will seek God's mercy. Second, it serves to gives us direction for the life of grateful obedience. And third, it provides the foundational moral principles on which human society should be built so that sin can be restrained.

In this series we will be focusing primarily on the second function identified above. The law is given in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 after the preface indicating that these come from a delivering God to his delivered people. Therefore, the Heidelberg Catechism treats the summary of the law in its first section, Our Misery, but addresses the Ten Commandments thoroughly in the third section, Our Gratitude. Similarly, the Westminster Catechism treats the Ten Commandments after its consideration of justification and sanctification.

The theme of the first service of this series is the need and motive for grateful obedience on the part of those who have come to know God's grace. "Therefore" is the first word of Romans 12:1 (NIV), and it signals a significant turning point in the epistle. After spending eleven chapters expounding the redemption that God provides by grace through faith and concluding that with a doxology (11:33-36), Paul explains the enormous response that is expected on our part, grateful obedience.


We suggest a number of resources that will be valuable tools for you in this study of the Ten Commandments.

  • Each week we will provide references for you from the Heidelberg Catechism and both the Larger and the Shorter Westminster Catechism.
  • The website of the Center for Excellence in Preaching at Calvin Theological Seminary also provides sermon ideas for each of these commandments and Lord's Days.
  • Comfort and Joy: A Study of the Heidelberg Catechism, Andrew Kuyvenhoven, Grand Rapids: CRC Publications, 1988.
  • Our Only Comfort: A Comprehensive Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism (vol. 2), Fred Klooster, Grand Rapids: Faith Alive Christian Resources, 2001.
  • The Ten Commandments: Manual for the Christian Life, Jochem Douma, tr. Nelson D. Kloosterman, Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 1996.
  • Mere Morality: What God Expects from Ordinary People, Lewis B. Smedes, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 1983.

Catechism References:
Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 32
Westminster Larger Catechism, Q.91-100
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q.39-40


Prelude: "You Servants of God, Your Master Proclaim" [see <href="#music" >music notes]

The Call to Worship

*Song: "You Servants of God, Your Master Proclaim" PH 477:1-3, PsH 477:1-3, TWC 103:1-3, UMH 181:1-3, RL 598:1-3, TH 165:1-3 [see <href="#music" >music notes]

*Our Declaration of Trust and God's Greeting:
Congregation of 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.

*Song of Response: "You Servants of God, Your Master Proclaim" PH 477:4, PsH 477:4, TWC 103:4, UMH 181:4, RL 598:4, TH 165: 4


The Call to Confession [see <href="#liturgy" >liturgy notes]

Our Prayer of Confession

The Assurance of God's Pardon

The Call to Grateful Living

Song of Response: "The Ten Commandments" PsH 153: 1, 9


The Children's Moment [see <href="#liturgy" >liturgy notes]

*Song of Preparation: "How Great Is the Love of the Father" PsH 231, SFL 59
or: "Behold, What Manner of Love" SWM 237

The Prayer for Illumination

The Reading of the Heidelberg Catechism: Lord's Day 32, Q&A 86 and 87 [see <href="#liturgy" >liturgy notes]

The Reading of Scripture: Exodus 20:1, 2 and Romans 12:1-8
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Sermon: Therefore: The Big Word in Christian Living
Shaping Our Gratitude 1
Text: Romans 12:1

The Prayer of Application


Anthem: "May the Mind of Christ, My Savior" [see <href="#music" >music notes]

*Our Renewed Vows of Obedience [see <href="#liturgy" >liturgy notes]

*Song: "Be Thou My Vision" PH 339, RL 67, RN 151, TH 642, TWC 532, WOV 776, UMH 451

The Offertory:
The Offering of Music: "Be Thou My Vision" [see <href="#music" >music notes]
We offer our gifts for..

The Prayers of the People


*Words of Sending: Colossians 3:17 or 1 Corinthians 10:31 [see <href="#liturgy" >liturgy notes]

*The Benediction with Congregational Amen!

* Song: "Benediction/My Friends, May You Grow in Grace" SNC 288

Postlude: "Prelude from 'the Te Deum,' " Charpentier [see <href="#music" >music notes]

*You are invited to stand.

Sermon Notes:

As a child, I was always fascinated by playing with tops. I couldn't imagine how this spinning thing could remain erect on such a little point at its bottom. I graduated to larger and more complex tops, and finally my parents gave me a gyroscope. I learned I could pull the string and make it balance on anything by resting it on its small bottom point. So much could balance on a small point!

The word "therefore" serves as a pivot in the same way as the point of a top. Look at its location as a bridge between chapters 1-11 and chapters 12-16. In the first eleven chapters Paul sets forth the truth of our sinfulness (see Romans 3:23) and proclaims that the only way to be set free is through the redemption that comes through Jesus Christ (summarized in Romans 3:24). While we continue to struggle with sin (see Romans 7:21-25), we (Romans 9-11) live with assurance and the expectation of victory (see Romans 8:1-2 and 37-39). It is no surprise that Paul concludes with a doxology (Romans 11:33-36).

Then the big word comes-"therefore" (Romans 12:1). His message does not end with a verbal doxology; rather, we are called to respond by being a living doxology. The remainder of Romans is an exposition on the Christian life of gratitude. You'll find a similar pattern in many of his other epistles too.

Similarly, a "therefore" is implicit in God's law. The preface to the commandments (see Exodus 20:1, 2 and Deuteronomy 5:1-6) sets forth the deliverance of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt, and the commandments that follow are a response to the new life God has given them individually and corporately.

Obedience is important, but motives for obedience are just as important. Some religions (and individuals) say "I'll be good so I can impress God." Others say, "I'll be good to please other people." Still others try to be good for their own sense of self-esteem ("I feel better when I am good"). All these have degraded both the matter of obedience and the practice of religion. Paul's "therefore," the preface of Exodus 20, and the explanation of Q&A 86 of the Heidelberg Catechism teach us a higher motivation for a life of good behavior. We know grace, and because we know his grace, we desire that our life displays our gratitude.

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)
SWM Sing With Me (children's songbook; 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)

The prelude suggestions, based on the opening hymn, are combined with alternative harmonizations. The theme of this hymn is reflective of the doxology of Romans 11:36—the passage immediately preceding the "therefore."

HANOVER ["You Servants of God, Your Master Proclaim"]

Burkhardt, Michael. Oh, Worship the King. Morningstar MSM-10-583 [2005] (E-M)
Cherwien, David. Interpretations, bk. 1. AMSI OR1 [1980] (E-M)
Haan, Raymond H. Festival Hymn Preludes. SMP KK329 [1985] (E-M)
Peeters, Flor. Hymn Preludes for the Liturgical Year, vol. 6. Peters 6406 [1966] (M)
Schalk, Carl. Easy Hymn Preludes for Organ, vol. 1. Concordia 97-7001 [2002] (E)
Thiman, Eric H. Four Chorale Improvisations. Novello (Original Compositions No. 147) [1933]
Young, Gordon. Chorale Preludes on Seven Hymn Tunes. Flammer HF-5002 [1960] (M)

Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
Busarow, Donald. Thirty More Accompaniments for Hymns in Canon. Augsburg 11-10163
Goode, Jack C. Thirty-four Changes on Hymn Tunes. H W Grey GB 644 [1978]
Thiman, Eric. Varied Accompaniments to Thirty-Four Well-Known Hymn Tunes. Oxford ISBN 0 19 323210 3 [1937]

The response anthem following the sermon could be done with a number of different settings. If sung congregationally, the text and music can be found in PsH 291. An alternative with slightly altered text set to a new tune can be found in SWM 211. "Sing with Me" is a recently published children's songbook that coordinates with a children's curriculum. This could be sung as children's choir anthem, by a soloist or congregationally. A SATB and keyboard setting of this text by Craig Courtney, titled "Song of Aspiration," is published by Beckenhorst BP 1361 [1990] (M).

Resources for "Be Thou My Vision" are as follows:

SLANE ["Be Thou My Vision"]

Choral Resource:
Basler, Paul. Be Thou My Vision. Plymouth Music 36-20120 [1999] (SATB with piano and horn;
Godfrey, Graham. Be Thou My Vision. Ditson 332-15116 [1952] (SATB with organ; hymn-
based; E-M)

Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
Busarow, Donald. Thirty More Accompaniments for Hymns in Canon. Augsburg 11-10163 [1992]
Eggert, John. Creative Hymn Accompaniments for Organ, vol. 2. CPH 97-6851 [2000]
Pelz, Walter L. Lord of All Hopefulness. Concordia 97-5691 [1981]

Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
Carlson, J. Bert. Let It Rip! At the Piano. Augsburg 11-11045 [2000]

Ashdown, Franklin D. Augsburg Organ Library - Lent. Augsburg 11-11036 [2000] (M)
Callahan, Charles. Partita on Slane. Concordia 97-6046 [1990] (E-M)
Cherwien, David. Interpretations, bk. 8. AMSI SP-105 [1991] (E-M)
Cherwien, David. Joyful Praise. Morningstar MSM-10-738 [2004] (E-M)
Held, Wilbur. Easy Hymn Preludes for Organ, vol. 4. Concordia 97-7032 [2005] (E)
Manz, Paul. Ten Chorale Improvisations, set 9. Concordia 97-5556 [1980] (E-M)
Swenson, Warren. Seven Hymn Preludes in a New Style. H. W. Grey. GB 637 [1977] (E-M)
Wood, Dale. Wood Works. SMP KK357 [1986] (E-M)
Young, Gordon. Eight Voluntaries. Presser 413-41034-30 [1961] (E-M)

Hayes, Mark. Lord Be Glorified, vol. 2. Word 301 0063 318 [1992] (M)
Leavitt, John. How Sweet the Sound. CPH 97-6891 [2000] (E-M)
Shackley, Larry. Celtic Hymn Settings for Piano. Hope 8117 [2001] (E-M)

Hopson, Hal H. Be Thou My Vision. Coronet CP2004 [1982] (3 octaves, E-M)

The postlude can be found in "The Oxford Book of Wedding Music" published by Oxford ISBN 0-19-375119-4 [1991] (E-M)

Liturgy Notes:

1. We suggestion that the Service of Renewal be designed similarly each week of this series so that the focus continues to be on God's Law, which convicts us of our sins (and prompts us to confess) and shows us how to shape our life of gratitude. You will find many resources for designing this part of the service inThe Worship Sourcebook, pp. 81-111.

2. The Children's Moment, shortly before the sermon, provides an opportunity to speak about "why" we obey someone. Obedience done grudgingly is something they can readily identify. This is an opportunity to explain to them that God's word tells all of us that we should obey God because he loves us and we love him, not because we have to.

3. We suggest that the words of the Heidelberg Catechism be read responsively with the congregation and so we have printed them here in case you do not have access to them. You may either design this so that the worship leader reads the question and the congregation responds with the answer, or vice versa. To reprint for personal use, a ministry setting, or classroom use, include this credit line: © 1987, CRC Publications, Grand Rapids MI. Reprinted with permission.

We have been delivered from our misery
by God's grace alone through Christ
and not because we have earned it:
why then must we still do good?

To be sure, Christ has redeemed us by his blood.
But we do good because
Christ by his Spirit is also renewing us to be like himself,
so that in all our living
we may show that we are thankful to God
for all he has done for us,
and so that he may be praised through us.
And we do good
so that we may be assured of our faith by its fruits,
and so that by our godly living
our neighbors may be won over to Christ.

Can those be saved who do not turn to God
from their ungrateful and impenitent ways?

By no means. Scripture tells us that
no unchaste person, no idolater, adulterer, thief,
no covetous person, no drunkard, slanderer, robber,
or the like is going to inherit the kingdom of God.

4. For each Sunday in this series, the service will include a section after the sermon entitled "We Respond with Our Renewed Commitments." The commandments, in one of its forms, should be the substance of this commitment. There are a variety of resources you may draw from: Section 2.7 of The Worship Sourcebook(pp. 127-137) provides a variety of resources for this purpose, and The Psalter Hymnal (pp. 1013-1018) provides addition responsive readings of the Ten Commandments.
To reprint responsive readings of the Ten Commandments for personal use, a ministry setting, or classroom use, include this credit line: © 1987, CRC Publications, Grand Rapids MI. Reprinted with permission.

5. The Sending captures God's action of sending us forth to carry out the renewed vows of commitment we just made. We've suggested two possible passages in this service. Still other possibilities can be found inThe Worship Sourcebook, pp. 351-355.