A classic TULIP bouquet: service plans exploring five doctrinal distinctives, Page 2 of 2

Week Four-Irresistible grace

Opening of Worship
For this Sunday, we used resources from our brothers and sisters inAfrica, starting with “Come, All You People,” arranged by John Bell(SNC 4). The two hymns were chosen for their focus on grace: “Amid theThronging Worshipers” (PsH 239) and “Marvelous Grace of Our LovingLord” (TWC 472).

Confession/Reconciliation/Dedication to Holy Living
“Mayenziwe/Your Will Be Done” (SNC 198) served as our sung responseduring the confession section, which also included a prayer by aNigerian Christian (see box, p. 23). The choir sang the refrain thefirst time in Zulu, and then the congregation sang it the next twotimes in English.

Scripture Lessons
Genesis 12:1-9; Ephesians 2:1-10

Sermon Notes
Philip Yancey tells a C. S. Lewis story in his book What’s So AmazingAbout Grace? Attendees at a conference on comparative religions inBritain were debating if there was any belief that was unique toChristianity among world religions. Incarnation? No, other religionshad gods appearing in human form. Resurrection? No, other religions hadpeople coming back to life. Lewis walked in. “What’s the rumpus about?”he asked. When he heard what they were talking about, Lewis responded,“Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace.” Christianity is the only religion inwhich all of the hard work has already been done.

Why aren’t more people lining up to get into church? Maybe because theysee that the people in church don’t allow themselves to rest in God’sgrace. We imagine God with a red pen and a record book, waiting to giveus a demerit if we slip up. In truth, God is in heaven overseeing thecompletion of our rooms, like a parent awaiting the birth of a child.God is eager to have us home with him. God says, “You are mine and Ilove you. There is nothing you have to do. You are my child, I call youby name, and I love you. I will wash away your sins and clothe you inrighteousness. I will feed you from my table and supply all your needs.I will be with you always, to the end of the age.”

That’s grace. God loves us. Not because of anything we have done, butbecause that is who God is. The One who loves. The One who chooses. Theone who extends irresistible grace to his beloved children. Rest inGod’s love, rest in God’s care, rest in God’s grace.

Hymn of Response: “Amazing Grace” PsH 462, PH280, RL 456, SFL 209, TH 460, TWC 502

Offertory: “O Rest in the Lord,” Mendelssohn

Closing Hymn: “Siyahamba/We Are Marching in the Light of God” SNC 293

Opening Prayer
God of grace, you have given us minds to know you, hearts to love you,and voices to sing your praise. Fill us with your Spirit that we maycelebrate your glory and worship you in spirit and in truth; throughJesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

We Are Reconciled to God

Call to Confession
Remember that our Lord Jesus can sympathize with us in our weaknesses,since in every respect he was tempted as we are, yet without sin. Letus then with boldness approach the throne of grace, that we may receivemercy and find grace to help in time of need. Let us confess our sinsagainst God and our neighbor.

Sung Response: “Mayenziwe,” sung in Zulu by the choir

Prayer of Confession
God in heaven, you have helped my life grow like a tree. Now somethinghas happened. Satan, like a bird, has carried in one twig of his ownchoosing after another. Before I knew it, he had built a dwelling placeand was living in it. Today, my Father, I am throwing out both the birdand the nest.

—The Oxford Book of Prayer, George Appleton, editor

Sung Response: “Mayenziwe,” sung in English by congregation

Assurance of Pardon
Anyone who is in Christ is a new creation. The old life has gone; a newlife has begun. Know that you are forgiven and be at peace.

Amen.

Sung Response: “Mayenziwe,” sung by congregation

Prayer of Dedication
Let the healing grace of your love, O Lord, so transform us that we mayplay our part in the transfiguration of the world from a place ofsuffering, death, and corruption to a realm of infinite light, joy, andlove. Make us so obedient to your Spirit that our lives may become aliving prayer and a witness to your unfailing presence.

Week Five-Perseverance of the saints

Opening of Worship
We sang “O Worship the King” (PsH 428, PH 476, RL 2, TH 2, TWC 29),which focuses on God’s sovereignty and God’s care for his children. Ouropening litany was based on Psalm 103, our psalm lesson for the day(see box).

Confession/Reconciliation/Dedication to Holy Living
Our sung call to confession was “Come, You Sinners, Poor and Needy,”which emphasizes God’s activity in our salvation and our inactivity:“all that he requires as fitness is to know your need of him” (see box,p. 24).

Scripture Lessons
Psalm 103; Romans 12

Sermon Notes
Many biblical writers compare the Christian life to running a race.Does perseverance of the saints mean that we Christians need topersevere, to stay the course, to do everything we can to make it tothe finish line? No. Instead it reflects our belief that God has chosenthose who will finish this race, and that God the Holy Spirit comesalongside us as we run and ensures that we will finish.

In an interview aired on National Public Radio, an Iowa universityprofessor described three important principles he teaches students inhis course on marathon running:

  • First, he teaches them to view themselves as marathoners. Theyaren’t people who hope to run a marathon, they are marathoners.Similarly, God encourages us to view ourselves as God’s holy children.If we view ourselves this way, we will be less likely to veer offcourse.
  • Second, he teaches them accountability by having them traintogether. That principle is equally applicable to the Christian life.Running our best race happens in community. Our election in Christ wasnot just about us. God chose us with a purpose that we fulfill incommunity with other people. God’s perseverance in getting us homeincludes working through us for the benefit of our fellow runners andusing them to bless us.
  • Finally, he teaches them to add the phrase “but it doesn’t matter”at the end of every complaint about training. As in, “It’s really coldout here today—but it doesn’t matter.” In this way students learn tofocus on the goal. God’s people need to be assured that, in light ofthe goal, our past mistakes and failures no longer matter. God forgivesus and longs for us to follow in obedience and love. As far as the eastis from the west, so far does God remove our transgressions from us.Nothing we have ever done can make us lose our salvation. Nothing wehave ever done will make God give up on us.

The perseverance of the saints means that the Holy Spirit is alwayswith us, even on the side roads. God will never leave us or forsake us.No matter what happens, we are children of God, placed in the communionof saints, washed in the blood of the lamb. No matter what happens, weare held by God forever.

Hymn of Response: “When Peace Like a River” PsH 489, TH 691, TWC 519

Closing Hymn: “For All the Saints” PsH 505, PH 526, RL 397, SFL 195, TH 358, TWC 751   

Psalm of Entrance
This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Wecome together to worship the God of creation, of salvation, of time andeternity; the God of all peoples, all nations, all people everywhere.

Praise the Lord! All that is within me, praise God’s holy name.

Praise the Lord and remember all his kindness: in forgiving our sins;in curing our diseases; in saving us from destruction; in surroundingus with love.

The Lord is full of mercy and compassion. The Lord is slow to anger andgenerous in love. Praise the Lord! Oh, all that is within me, praisethe Lord!

We Are Reconciled to God


Sung Call to Confession: “Come, You Sinners, Poor and Needy” PsH 534, TWC 451

Prayer of Confession
Eternal God, our judge and redeemer, we confess that we have tried tohide from you, for we have done wrong. We have lived for ourselves, andapart from you. We have turned from our neighbors, and refused to bearthe burdens of others. We have ignored the pain of the world, andpassed by the hungry, the poor, and the oppressed.

In your great mercy forgive our sins and free us from selfishness, thatwe may obey your commandments, through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon:
Hear the good news! Who is in a position to condemn? Only Christ, andChrist died for us, Christ rose for us, Christ reigns in power for us,Christ prays for us. Anyone who is in Christ is a new creation. The oldlife has gone; a new life is begun. Know that you are forgiven and beat peace.

Thanks be to God! Amen.