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We Live by Faith - Romans 1

A service plan for October leading up to Reformation Day focused on the truth that we are saved by faith alone and we are called to live by faith in a four-week series on truths from the Reformation.

Worship Service
Also in this Series

Reformation Truths

This series of worship services explores the four main teachings of the Protestant Reformers

Theme of the Service

This service is the third in a series of four. Our focus in this service is, as the Reformers claimed, "sola fide." We are saved through faith, and we live by faith. This service, like the others, prepares the way for a celebration of the grace of God on Reformation Sunday next week.


Prelude: "How I Love You, Lord, My God" [see music notes]
or: "God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength"

The Call to Worship [see liturgy notes]

*Song: "God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength" PsH 46:1-3

*Our Declaration of Trust and God's Greeting:
People of God, where is your trust placed?
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.

Anthem: "God Is My Rock," Pote [see music notes]
or: "God Is Like a Rock," Sleeth


The Call to Confession

Our Prayer of Confession: SNC 53 [see liturgy notes]
Spoken Prayer
Sung Prayer: "Kyrie eleison"

The Assurance of Pardon

Our Hymn of Praise: "O Christ, the Great Foundation" PH 443, SNC 177, TWC 709 [see music notes]

God's Guide for Grateful Living: Romans 12:1-2, 9-16


The Prayer for Illumination

The Reading of Scripture: Romans 3:21-31 and Romans 1:16-17
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Sermon: We Live by Faith
Text: Romans 1:16-17
Reformation Truths #3

The Prayer of Application

[see liturgy notes]

*Song: "My Faith Looks Up to Thee" PH 383:1-4, PsH 262:1-4, RL 446:1-4, TWC 552:1-4, UMH 452:1-4, TH 528:1-4

*Congregational Profession:
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. (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 7)

*Profession of the Apostles' Creed

Anthem: "The Staff of Faith," Courtney [see music notes]

Choir and Congregation: "We Walk By Faith" Gather Comprehensive 590, PH 399, WOV 675
Verses 1-2 Choir
Verses 3-5 Congregation

The Prayers of the People

The Offertory
The Offering of Music: "Pues si vivimos / When We Are Living" [see music notes]
or: "O Christ, the Great Foundation"
We offer our gifts for...


*Song: "Pues si vivimos / When We Are Living" PH 400, SNC 193, UMH 356

*The Benediction with Congregational Amen! [see liturgy notes]
The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)

*Moment of Meditation

Postlude: "Trumpet Voluntary," Stanley [see music notes]

*You are invited to stand.

Sermon Notes:

We begin with a review of the four-week journey of this series of messages. The past two weeks that focused on God's sovereignty and the truthfulness of Scripture prepared the way for today's message on living by faith. All three point to our celebration of God's grace next Sunday in a Reformation Festival.

The words of our text were the catalysts for Martin Luther's leadership of the Reformation. Luther, who was trained in an "earn it by your efforts" brand of religion in medieval Catholicism and who had been told about the eternal condemnation of sinners, became very concerned for his own soul. He went to a monastery to separate himself from the world and complained, "My sin, oh my sin." It was toward the end of 1512 that he was reading the Bible and discovered Romans 1:17, "the righteous will live by faith." He recognized it as a quotation from the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk. The burden of his soul began to roll away, and he knew he no longer had to earn his own salvation. He began to study the book of Romans more intensely and found an emphasis on faith running throughout it. From chapter 1 he went to chapter 3 and learned that both Jew and Gentile are sinful and unable to save themselves, but their hope is that righteousness comes through faith (see Romans 3:21, 22, 28). As he went into chapter 4 he found that Abraham's righteousness came through believing (see Romans 4:2, 3). And Luther learned the same is true for everyone (see Romans 10:8-10).

We should turn inward as Luther did and ask questions about ourselves. How do/did we come to faith? How is it that we believe? Most of us can point to many possible ingredients of this process, but none explain it completely. I believe because my parents taught me to believe. I believe because my church taught me of its importance. I believe because as I grew up I found it all fit together (in a certain sense!). And I believe because the Bible tells me so, as I early learned to sing. All of these influenced me, but none fully explains how I came to believe. Finally, I must admit that I have come to believe because the grace of God has pursued me and opened my heart to him. Then I realize what Paul meant when he said, "It is a gift of God"(see Ephesians 2:8). This helps us understand the importance of Paul's profound statement in Romans 1:17, ".righteousness that is by faith from first to last."

But what really is faith? It's so easy to fall back on synonyms. "Faith is believing .it's trusting..." we say, but such attempts are quite unsatisfying. We can point to a variety of elements that are all involved in faith. Faith is a conviction of the supernatural; an ability to take God at his word, a willingness to reach out and receive a gift, an ability to entrust ourselves into the care of another. In short, it is all of these functioning together in such a way that we turn away from our sinfulness, turn away from our efforts to achieve righteousness by ourselves, and put ourselves completely into the merciful hands of God through Jesus Christ.

I remember the day a missionary was reporting on how difficult he found it to explain "faith" to his hearers in Asian culture. After many efforts and multiple analogies and illustrations, he casually sat down in the chair offered to him by his host. As he began to sit, his host with wide-eyed surprise said, "That's it! As you have put all your weight down into my chair, so I must place all of myself into the hands of the Savior!" This is faith. Freedom follows!

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)

The prelude suggestions are given for the setting of Psalm 18 in the Psalter Hymnal, a psalm that pairs well with the themes of Psalm 46. The alternate suggestion is based on the opening hymn.

ABERYSTWYTH ["How I Love You, Lord, My God"]

Haan, Raymond H. Welsh Hymn Tune Preludes. SMP KK426 [1989] (E-M)
Harris, David S. Ten Hymn Preludes in Trio Style, set 2. H. W. Grey GB643 [1978] (E)
Held, Wilbur. Those Wonderful Welsh, set 2. Morningstar MSM-10-842 [1992] (E-M)
Krapf, Gerhard. Sing and Rejoice, vol. 5. SMP KK323 [1984] (adaptable for piano, E-M)
Linker, Janet. Suite for Holy Week. Beckenhorst OC5 [1989] (E-M)
Near, Gerald. Augsburg Organ Library - Lent. Augsburg 11-11036 [2000] (E-M)
Swenson, Warren. Seven Hymn Preludes in a New Style. H. W. Grey GB 637 [1977] (E-M)
Willan, Healy. Ten Hymn Preludes, set 1. Peters 6011 [1956] (E-M)
Young, Gordon. Preludes on the Familiar. Fischer 0 4886 [1972] (E-M)

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

NOEL ["God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength"]

Johnson, David N. Easy Trios. Augsburg 11-9291 [1969] (E)

The anthem suggestions pick up on the theme set in the prelude and the opening hymn. The children's choir suggestion could also be sung in unison by an adult choir. "God Is My Rock" by Allen Pote is scored for SATB voices and keyboard with optional trumpet. It is published by Belwin Mills BSC00131 [1990] (M). "God Is Like a Rock" by Natalie Sleeth is a unison anthem published by Choristers Guild CGA-395 [1986] (E).

Alternative harmonizations for a stanza of the hymn of praise following the assurance of pardon can be found in:

AURELIA ["O Christ, the Great Foundation"]

Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
Ferguson, John. Hymn Harmonizations, bk. 5. Ludwig O-14 [1992]
Thiman, Eric. Varied Accompaniments to Thirty-Four Well-Known Hymn Tunes. Oxford ISBN 0
19 323210 3 [1937]

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

The response anthem "The Staff of Faith" by Craig Courtney is scored for SATB voices and keyboard, two flutes and a snare drum. It is published by Beckenhorst BP1481 [1996] (M).

The offertory music is based on the closing hymn. Notice how the text combines both the theme of faith and service. The alternate suggestion returns to a hymn that was used earlier in the service.

SOMOS DEL SEÑOR ["Pues si vivimos / When We Are Living"]

Kolander, Keith. When Our Song Says Peace. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 0-8006-2345-2 [2006]

AURELIA ["O Christ, the Great Foundation"]

Barr, John G. Three Preludes on Hymn Tunes. H. W. Grey GSTC 01079 [1992] (E-M)
Burkhardt, Michael. Six General Hymn Improvisations, set 2. Morningstar MSM-10-534 [1999]
Cherwien, David. Interpretations, bk. 5. AMSI SP-102 [1985] (E-M)
Hildebrand, Kevin. Easy Hymn Preludes for Organ, vol. 3. Concordia 97-7052 [2004] (adaptable
for piano; E)
Honore, Jeffrey. Classic Embellishments. Augsburg 11-11005 [1999] (could include solo
instrument ; E-M)
Jordan, Alice A. Joyful Noise. Broadman 4570-62 [1984] (E-M)
Kemner, Gerald. Fantasies on Nine Familiar Hymn Tunes. Augsburg 11-5919 [1990] (M)
Krapf, Gerhard. Sing and Rejoice, vol. 5. SMP KK323 [1984] (adaptable for piano; E-M)
Peeters, Flor. Hymn Preludes for the Liturgical Year, vol. 10. Peters 6410 [1966] (M)

Organ, Anne Krentz. Piano Reflections for the Church Year. Augsburg Fortress 11-11209
[2001] (E-M)

The organ postlude suggestion "Trumpet Voluntary" by John Stanley is found in "Suite for Organ" published by Oxford. It can also be found in "The Organists' Manual," a method book by Roger E. Davis in a hands alone version. In either version a solo trumpet could be added on the theme lines.

Liturgy Notes:

1. An extemporaneous call to worship could emphasize that coming to worship is an act of faith. It involves a conviction that God exists and that he is willing to meet with us. Coming to worship is an act of reaching for God's blessing. Hebrews 11:6 could form the core of these thoughts.

2. We suggest that SNC 53 be consulted for the service of renewal. Here the prayer of confession is provided, after which the congregation sings the "Kyrie." Words for the assurance of pardon are also provided there.

3. After God's Word has been preached, it seems fitting that the worshipers respond with a corporate expression of their faith. Therefore, this liturgy includes songs, professions, prayers and an offering to give expression of our faith commitment. Understanding these acts of worship as a response will help worshipers engage thoughtfully. You might also want to remind worshipers that these acts of worship are preparation for expressing our faith even more completely next Sunday when we come to the Lord's table.
To reprint profession from Heidelberg Catechism for personal use, a ministry setting, or classroom use, include this credit line: © 1987, CRC Publications, Grand Rapids MI. Reprinted with permission.

4. The benediction could have special significance at the conclusion of this service. Worshipers should be reminded that the words of the benediction are a promise from God, and our receipt of them is an act of faith. You may even suggest that people could represent this by holding their hands open. We take God at his word and trust that he will accompany us all week.