Romans 7-11 (3.25.23)
Let’s grab our Bibles and dig into one of my favorite passages in Romans.
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
Romans 11:33-36 is where we, scripturally, get what is called the Doxology. It is a historic song that the church loves to sing:
Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heav’nly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!
In other words, how deep are the riches of God and how deep is the wisdom and knowledge of God. Let’s break down Romans 11:33-36 to help us answer who God is. To do this I want to pick apart this passage in a different order than written. Let’s start in verse 36.
Romans 11:36 “For from him and through him …”
- All things are from Him and through Him.
Paul says, “‘In him we live and move and have our being’” in Acts 17:28.
Ezra says, “You are the Lord, you alone; you have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.” In Nehemiah 9:6.
David says, “Whatever the Lord pleases he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps” in Psalm 135:6.
Solomon says, “The lot is cast into the lap, but the decision is wholly from the Lord” in Proverbs 16:33.
Job says, “He makes nations great, and he destroys them; he enlarges nations, and leads them away” in Job 12:23.
Daniel says, “… he removes kings and sets up kings; …” in Daniel 2:21.
All things are from Him and through Him! He is God! He is worthy. It gets better.
Romans 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! …
- The riches and wisdom and knowledge of God are really deep! That is what the “Oh” means! Ohhhhh, really deep!
How deep is God? How vast? How rich? In the 1st century, they would say, “A cattle on a thousand hills belongs to God” quoting Psalm 50:10. In an agricultural society, to say, “A thousand hills and all the cattle on them belong to the Lord” was a way that communicated “this is the expanse of the riches of God.”
Romans 11:35 “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?”
- Because He owns it all, no one can give a gift to God so that one is to be repaid by Him and thereby put God in one’s debt. You can’t give God something He doesn’t already own.
If everything is His, you and I have nothing to give Him that He doesn’t already own. This means, in the end, that God owes no man anything. He owes us nothing. Your very existence has been gifted to you by His grace. Every bit of laughter, every tasty morsel of food, every smile on your face is His grace, and He owes us nothing.
Romans 11:34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”
- No one can counsel God and give Him insight that He doesn’t already have.
Let me ask you, “What is the thing we tend to offer to God more than anything else? More than worship, more than obedience, more than respect, more than trust, more than honor?” We offer Him counsel. “God, I think, you should … How could you … God, why would you …?”
This is like when a four-year-old in the car seat is asking his dad if he knows where he’s going. Or worse, telling his dad which way he should go.
Nobody gets to counsel God. Nobody gets to give God advice. Nobody gets to straighten God’s path—no one.
Isaiah 55:8 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.”
Does He say to come bodily to the throne with our supplications? Yes. But we come with reverence and we come ultimately to yield to Him, and to seek His face and His will—not to tell Him.
Romans 11:33 … How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
- His judgments are often unsearchable and His ways often inscrutable and unfathomable—meaning they are understood by the mind of God and not the mind of man. This doesn’t mean we cannot understand Him. It just means we understand what He wants us to understand. He will remain being God and we will remain being His subjects.
We do understand much of how God works and His judgments. Paul spends the first 11 chapters of Romans describing such things. Today, this truth is still true. How could anyone scrutinize God? You and I can’t even comprehend and figure out our own shortcomings and our own failures. And yet, we’ll scrutinize God? He is God and we are not! This is good news!
There is so much to say about who God is, I could go on for days. The Bible sure does.
But we must move on and answer this question. What is God alone due? The answer is glory. We use the phrase “glory of God” so often that it can begin to lose its deserved awe. God’s glory is like the sun in the sense that it is no less blazing and no less beneficial just because people ignore it or don’t have a full comprehension about how radiant it is.
So, what is the glory of God? The glory of God is the holiness of God put on display. It is the infinite worth of God made manifest—His importance above all else.
Isaiah 6:3 … “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”
When the holiness of God fills the earth for people to see, it is called glory. Holy means “set apart from what is common.” In speaking of God’s glory, God’s infinite value shines. God’s glory is the radiance of His holiness, the outpouring of His infinite value. “The glory of God” is a way to say that there is an objective, absolute reality to which all human wonder, awe, veneration, praise, honor, acclaim, and worship is pointing. God alone is truly worthy of our worship and wonder forever!
This brings us back to Romans 11:36—to its perfect climax.
Romans 11:36 … and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
- To Him are all things. To Him be glory forever!
The glory of God is the ultimate purpose of everything that exists.
What is included in “all things”?
- God is ultimately for God’s glory:
God is God-centered! It is important that we see that Scripture teaches that the primary reason that God acts, and saves, is “ultimately” for His sake and His glory and not ours.
Colossians 1:15-18 He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, the in everything he might be preeminent.
Everything that exists, including our lives, exists ultimately for the glory of God. Not only do we exist for God’s glory, but we are saved ultimately for the glory of God.
Isaiah 43:25 “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”
Ezekiel 20:44 “And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I deal with you for my name’s sake, not according to your evil ways, nor according to your corrupt deeds, O house of Israel, declares the LORD GOD.”
It is vital that we acknowledge that God is ultimately for God. His eternal glory is the highest purpose in all that He does.
- The universe, and everything in it, is ultimately for God’s glory:
The glory of God is the goal of all things.
Psalm 96:1-3 Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth! Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!
What this helps us understand is that the things of life are the everyday things we have come to enjoy. These things He has created and entrusted to us, are to be enjoyed so that we will see Him as central to it all and give Him praise.
How do we glorify God alone in our daily living?
We treasure Him above all else!
Our ultimate purpose in life is to give God glory; and the best way we can do that is to not begrudgingly crouch on bended-knee for every hour of our lives. Instead, our lives will most purely, authentically, and fully point to His glory and wonder when it is an overflow of our satisfaction in Him!
In the 17th century, the Westminster Shorter Catechism was written to bring a clarity to our ultimate purpose for life. The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
Notice that is says, “chief end”—not chief ends. What the original authors had discovered was this—giving God glory and enjoying Him forever are the same thing.
True, authentic praise of anything comes out of the mouth of one who has found great enjoyment in it. If not, then that praise is quite possibly founded in something fake or mechanical. Who wants that kind of praise? Nobody.
My favorite quote is one of John Piper’s most famous sayings, “God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in Him.”
When it comes to the greatest thing you and I could ever, and will ever, enjoy, it is God Himself that He has given us! It is “in Him” that we will become most satisfied.
Glory to God alone means that God is the ultimate prize. Those who want Jesus just to get heaven and not God will not enjoy heaven because eternity in God’s kingdom is all about the glory, wonder, and majesty of God.
In heaven, we will be in the perfect and holy presence of the God of the universe in all His power and glory. If you don’t get this, then you still don’t get God. If you don’t like this, then you still worship the idol in your heart and not God.
So, when we are looking for the best way to give God unceasing glory and praise, we don’t accomplish this by trying really hard to be a “good Christian”. We accomplish this by feasting deeply in Him; and as a result, we will overflow with praise and glory that will terminate not on us and our temporary pleasures, but on Him and His eternal supremacy!
The Apostle Paul got this when he said in Philippians 3:8, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord …”
How does Paul glorify God above all else? By treasuring Christ above all else so that everything else in his life is as nothing by comparison. I count everything—money as loss; food as loss; beauty as loss; friends as loss; family as loss; job and success as loss; graduation as loss—in comparison with the treasure that Christ has become for me.
In the words of the hymn, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”
In Christ, to God alone be the glory, colors every corner of your life. Your motivation of self-glory is replaced with a deep desire to glorify Him above all else.
In this, we begin to ask questions we’ve never asked before:
How can God use this relationship I’m entering into, to bring glory to Himself?
How can I use this new job to bring glory to God?
What is God trying to teach me through this circumstance, ultimately for His glory?
How can I use this new car for God’s glory?
How can I use my apartment for God’s glory?
How can I use this computer for God’s glory?
What can I do in my retirement for God’s glory that I couldn’t do otherwise?
How would God have me use this tough time for His glory?
In Christ, God’s glory is why we do what we do. Why we have what we have. It’s why we date this person, but not that person. Why we speak like this, and not like that. It’s why we live like this, and not like that. It’s why we work hard, as for God, not just for men. It’s why we give sacrificially. It’s why we volunteer our time and talents. It’s why we hold fast to God’s word. May he be glorified in us all.
By His grace and for His glory,
Pastor Joshua Kirstine