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This Lord’s Day, we observe the Lord’s Table in the morning worship service and begin a five week series on the “Five Solas” of the Reformation: Faith Alone, Scripture Alone, Christ Alone, Grace Alone, and Glory to God Alone. This Sunday, the sermons begin with a treatment of the precious doctrine of “Faith Alone.” Our call to worship comes from the doxology of Romans 16:25-27, Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen. This doxology brings together reminds us that the Gospel so well recovered and proclaimed by the Reformers is intended to bring God glory. In fact, this doxology arguably brings together the five solas. It is, of course, a doxology to the glory of God. Scripture is referenced in the apostolic preaching and prophetic writings; Jesus Christ is both the object of the preaching and the one through whom the Father gets glory. Faith is aim the preaching, and an implicit reference to God’s grace comes through Paul’s acknowledgement that God alone strengthens us through Jesus Christ. At any rate, the truths that the Reformers boldly proclaimed and for which they hazarded their very lives are very precious indeed. As we approach the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s posting of the 95 Theses, it is right for us to pause and acknowledge the biblical doctrines these men lifted up for the world to see, and all for the glory of God.
In the prayer service, we will return the book of Daniel and his prayer of confession. This month, I want us to learn a hymn by Martin Luther that is most appropriate for us this month: “Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Thy Word” (Red 368).
As I said above, we consider this week the doctrine of justification by Faith Alone from Romans 3:21-26. One of the most important questions a man can answer (if not the most important) is how can a man be right with God? Martin Luther was a man of keen spiritual insight into the importance of this question. He sharply felt his own inadequacy before God, and the guilt of his sins before a holy God. He knew he could not meet God’s holy standard. This sense of guilt was so deep that he soon found that he hated God. Then he was given the responsibility of teaching God’s Word, and was forced for the first time to wrestle truly with what the Bible itself said. Soon he found himself teaching Romans in 1515 and then Galatians in 1516-17. This awakened him. He came to understand the Gospel, that Jesus Christ alone saves, and that the merits of his atoning death and resurrection were offered to all to be received by faith. This turned his world upside down. Other events would transform into the Reformer we know him to be today. But it was the Bible’s teaching that Christ saves sinners by grace through faith that alone released him from the guilt and condemnation he knew he had deserved.
Call to Worship: Romans 16:25-27
Hymn 338 [Red] A Mighty Fortress Is Our God This great Reformation hymn by Martin Luther is one of history’s great hymns. And yet it profoundly states the truth of Faith Alone. The second verse is key: Did we in our strength confide, our striving would be losing, were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing. Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus it is He—Lord Sabaoth His name, from age to age the same—and he must win the battle. When by faith we are untied to Jesus Christ, we know we are God’s and that we are justified. Such faith demands that we abandon our own good works. Faith demands that we not “confide” in our own strength. Faith says our own strength is losing. It looks instead to the “right Man,” to Jesus Christ, and to him alone, for salvation.
Congregational Reading: Psalm 130
Doxology: Gloria Patri, Red 436
Ministry of Music: The Lord Bless You and Keep You, by John Rutter
Scripture Reading: Exodus 24 & John 14:1-14
Hymn 269 [Red] Christ Jesus Lay in Death’s Strong Bands
Sermon: Faith Alone from Romans 3:21-26
Hymn 260 [Red] Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness
The Lord’s Table
Hymn 359 [Blue] My Faith Looks Up to Thee
In Sunday School, Eric White will teach on catechism questions 43-44:
43 Q. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at their death?
The souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness1 and do immediately pass into glory,2 and their bodies3 do rest in their graves4 till the resurrection.5
1 Heb 12:23 2 Phil 1:23; 2 Cor 5:8; Luke 23:43
3 1 Thess 4:14 4 Isa 57:2 5 Job 19:26
44 Q. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection?
At the resurrection, believers being raised up in glory,1 shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted,2 and made perfectly blessed both in soul and body in the full enjoying of God3 to all eternity.4
1 1 Cor 15:43 2 Matt 10:32
3 1 John 3:2; 1 Cor 13:12 4 1 Thess 4:17