Luther and Us

A Reading of Confession and Praise for Reformation Sunday

Description: This reading of confession and praise for Reformation Sunday is based on Martin Luther’s teachings. 

Time: 7 minutes

Reader 1: A teacher, reminding us of history.
Reader 2: Teacher’s aide, sometimes accusing and sometimes encouraging Reader 3.
Reader 3: Represents the congregation. 


Reader 1: The great sixteenth-century Reformer Martin Luther, ending his defense at an assembly of the church’s leadership, declared, “I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.”

Reader 2: It is said he then added the famous words “Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise.”

Reader 3: What about us? Will we stand with Luther? 

Reader 1: Much of Luther’s teaching is summed up in the five “solas,” or “alones.” 

Reader 2: By Scripture alone, by faith alone, by grace alone, through Christ alone, and to the glory of God alone.

Reader 1: But in much of our living we add to these five “alones.”

Reader 3: How? How does our living add to these five “alones”?

Reader 1: By Scripture alone means the Bible is the only inspired and authoritative word of God, the only source for determining right doctrine.

Reader 3: Of course we believe that! 

Reader 1: Yet you are selective in your hearing and application of the Word.

Reader 2: You say “Person so-and-so sure could use this verse on greed” while ignoring how aptly it applies to yourself.

Reader 1: Or you think, “I’ve done enough to help others by giving to the Faith in Action Fund. No need to trouble myself with the problems of my next-door neighbors.”

Reader 3: Oh.

Reader 2: By Scripture alone means you need to accept God’s Word—all of it—without putting yourself above it or choosing when and how you will apply it.

Reader 1: The second “alone” is by faith alone. Our justification—our being made right with God—is received only by faith, without need for good works.

Reader 3: Yes! We’ve known that since we were young.

Reader 2: And yet there is a hidden place in our hearts that insists, “My faith is too weak. I must stack up a pile of good works, too, just to be sure I’m saved.”

Reader 3: But our faith often is weak!

Reader 2: Your faith may be weak, but your God is strong! However you may doubt, God requires nothing more of you for salvation than that you trust in Jesus.

Reader 1: By grace alone is the third “alone.” It teaches us that salvation comes only by God’s grace, as something unmerited by the sinner.

Reader 3: (slowly) Right. 

Reader 2: Have you ever thought about why God chose to save you? 

Reader 3: God chose us? We’re the ones who decided to become Christians. At least credit us with that much! And doesn’t being decent people make us better candidates?

Reader 2: So God chose you because you ranked a bit higher than those who ignore Christianity? I don’t think so. 

Reader 1: Luther reminded us that there is nothing in you or about you that causes you to merit God’s grace.

Reader 2: God simply chose you, although you were in rebellion against him.

Reader 1: The Holy Spirit went to work in your heart and ultimately caused you to accept God’s offer of salvation.

Reader 3: You don’t really leave us with much.

Reader 1: We leave you with nothing and with everything.

Reader 2: Nothing in yourself, but everything in God.

Reader 1: The fourth alone is through Christ alone. Jesus is the only mediator between God and us; our salvation comes only through Christ.

Reader 2: Not even a pastor or a church can be the mediator when it comes to salvation.

Reader 3: How true! Consider the example of Paul being saved on the road to Damascus. None of the disciples was there to preach, and all the Christ-followers were keeping far away from Paul’s persecution posse. It was just Jesus and Paul—and what a conversion it was!

Reader 1: Marvel at the simplicity of the miracle of salvation.

Reader 2: No ceremony, no test of knowledge, no mystic pronunciation, no great trial to pass. It is as simple as this: Jesus saves.

Reader 1: And finally the fifth “alone”: to the glory of God alone. Salvation is accomplished solely through God’s will and action, and therefore all glory is due to God alone.

Reader 2: Even our good works are a result of what God is doing in and through us, so the glory belongs entirely to God.

Reader 1: These teachings—by Scripture alone, by faith alone, by grace alone, through Christ alone, to the glory of God alone—these teachings are needed by the church of today just as they were in the 1500s!

Reader 2: God, through the Holy Spirit, empowered Martin Luther to draw the church closer to God.

Reader 1: Will we be prophets at work in God’s power, drawing today’s church always closer to God?

Reader 3: People of God, we need to pray!

Mighty God, it really is all about you and you alone. 
How foolish we are to keep adding ourselves in, 
distorting your word for our own purposes 
or taking credit for our own salvation. 
Forgive us.

Thank you for your Word and Spirit. 
May they be ever active in us, 
showing us truth, 
helping us to know and love you more and more.

We praise you, Father, for your free gift of salvation, 
which we need only accept by faith. 
Thank you for your amazing grace, 
for choosing to save us when we had absolutely nothing to offer, 
when we were running away from you.

And thank you for the marvelous simplicity of your salvation, 
received through Christ alone. 
In that salvation, we stand again as forgiven sinners. 

God, we glorify your name, 
for you alone have done what no other could do: 
you have saved us from our sinful rebellion and adopted us as your children. 
All praise be to you.

Lee Fennema is a part of the Brookfield (Wisconsin) Christian Reformed Church worship planning group, whose members contributed many excellent suggestions to improve this reading.

Reformed Worship 152 © June 2024, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.