Friday, June 19, 2020

From Praise to Praise

"Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out!" (Romans 11:33)

Theology should begin in praise and lead to praise. This is how our worship services should be structured, and it is the structure of history itself. Consider that Adam was created on the sixth day, so that his first full day was the Sabbath—the day of praise and worship. While Adam rebelled and did not begin his life in praise, the principle still stands: the first day of the week is also the last day, so that we begin and end each week in praise.

Praise and thanksgiving should permeate our lives—though sadly they all too often don’t. The apostle Paul breaks into doxology (praise) from time to time in his writings, showing that his theological meditations led him to worship. Paul did not study the Bible so that he could know more than everyone else; he studied so that he could praise the Lord better. His theologizing led to worship.

Here in Romans 11:33–36, Paul launches into doxology. This paragraph is the climax of the first eleven chapters of Romans, which lay out the theology of the book. Starting in chapter 12, Paul makes applications based on his teachings. His outburst of praise is thus not only the fitting conclusion to his discussion of God’s truth but also the first application of that truth. Our first response to God is to shout an “amen” of thanks and praise to Him.

Coming in contact with God’s thoughts and God’s plan, Paul is amazed at the vastness of God’s knowledge and wisdom, and bows his mind before that of the Creator. “Who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counselor?” (verse 34).

“For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things” (verse 36). Behind all the machinations of human history that Paul has been discussing stands the sovereign predestinating God. “From Him”: He is the creator of everyone and of all things. “Through Him”: All things exist by His activity and through His power. “To Him”: Not only that, but all things exist for Him, for His glory. Human history takes its rise from God’s great plan, exists only by means of God’s plan, and ultimately is for the purpose of glorifying God and leading all creation back to Him.

This principal, “To Him are all things,” is critical for our understanding. Remember that the great expanse of the universe, the intricacy and design of creation, the panoramic scope of history, even the great plan of redemption all find their ultimate meaning and significance not in the pleasure of man, but as they glorify God.