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This coming Tuesday, October 31, will mark the 500th anniversary of the day upon which Martin Luther posted the Ninety-Five Theses in 1517. It was a dramatic act that arguably began a reformation of monumental import. But the Reformation is best understood, not as a mere series of historical events, but a set of important ideas. In this case, the ideas were theological and biblical. We know very clearly that Martin Luther was a sinner, and we have no intention to paper over the significant disagreements we have with him. Yet we are thankful to God for the work he brought about so that we would know and believe the gospel so hidden in late Medieval Catholicism. In commemoration of this event, over this month the sermons and services of worship have re-proclaimed the doctrines of the Protestant Reformation that we still believe are so vital to biblical Christianity. After sermons on faith alone, Scripture alone, Christ alone, and grace alone, we have finally reached the end of these sermons with a sermon on glory to God alone. This really brings all the so-called solas together, and it well sums up the whole of the Christian faith. Fittingly, our call to worship is taken from Rom 11:33-36, the final verse of which reads, For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen. Each week, soli Deo gloria is truly the theme of our service. It is in many respects the theme of our church life and worship and fellowship. All to the glory of God. We must be that kind of people, a people who glorifies God alone in all things. As we gather for worship again this Lord’s Day, let us remember once again that this is why God gave us life in the first place and then saved us by his grace in Christ: that we might be those who readily say: to Him be the glory forever.
In the prayer service, I’m planning on briefly speaking on how the five solas relate to our prayer. We’ll begin the service singing Martin Luther’s hymn, “Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Thy Word” (Red 368).
The sermon this Sunday is taken from 1 Timothy 1:17. I was first drawn to this text while walking in our sanctuary. As I considered its broader context in Paul’s marvelous “rabbit trail” on Christ’s grace to him in calling him into ministry, it seemed to me to fit perfectly with the themes we have been discussing this month. It’s a wonderful doxology, and teaches us precious truths about God and his glory. The sermon will not only look at this passage, but it will also consider the relation of soli Deo gloria to the other solas. Finally, we will consider how it is that we ought to glorify God ourselves, something that is an evergreen theme for those who have been saved by faith in Jesus Christ.
Call to Worship: Romans 11:33-36
Hymn 36 [Blue] A Mighty Fortress is Our God
Congregational Reading: Psalm 115:1-11
Doxology: Gloria Patri, Red 436
Hymn [Insert] Glory Be to God the Father
Hymn 280 [Red] For All the Saints This hymn by William W. How may seem a strange hymn to choose for a service whose theme is glory to God alone. After all, the hymn is about “all the saints.” Should we be singing a hymn about saints if God alone is to get the glory? I think we should, when it is a hymn like For All the Saints, for this is a hymn that rightly expresses praise to God for the lives of believers who have gone before us. God is the object of praise, for he is the one who graciously used the saints of old for his glory. The prayer says that it is for all the saints that thy name, O Jesus, be forever blessed. The second stanza gives all the praise to Jesus: Thou wast their Rock… In the glorious day, while the saints are all assembled, we behold the real desire of nations: the King of glory passes on His way. And then the hymn ends with a doxology: Singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost, Alleluia, Alleluia. This hymn is most appropriate, then, for we ourselves are remembering the noble fight of saints of old, and giving glory to God for them. Moreover, it fittingly marks this time of year where many Christian churches recognize “All Saint’s Day.” So glory be to God alone for the Reformers. We stand on the shoulders of men who served Christ by the grace of God. Praise the Lord.
Scripture Reading: Exodus 26:15-37 & John 16:1-15
Hymn 291 [Red] All Glory Be to God on High
Sermon: Glory to God Alone from 1 Timothy 1:17
Hymn 225 [Red] Savior of the Nations, Come
In Sunday School, I will be teaching on Catechism questions 48 & 49.
48 Q. What did God reveal to man for the rule of his obedience?
A. The rule which God revealed to man for his obedience, is the moral law, which is summarized in the two great commandments.
49 Q. What are the two great commandments?
A. The two great commandments are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind; and our neighbor as ourselves.1
1 Matt 22:37-40