Text: Romans 11:33-36
We are concluding our series on The Five Solas with our last sermon titled God’s Glory Alone.
In Romans 11:33-36, Paul breaks out into praise about God’s glory.
33 Oh, the depth of the riches &wisdom and knowledge of God!
Paul goes on to explain this further…
How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
His judgments and decisions and his ways are inscrutable, mysterious and profound. No one can question his judgment or his ways. God is righteous and holy in all that he does.
34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counsellor?”
No one can know his mind to be his counsellor. You cannot conceive of a plan that is better than God’s plan. He knows what’s best, even more than what we think is best for us. He knows the beginning from the end, he is the alpha and omega.
35 “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?”
Has anyone given any gift to God that God owes them something? God owns all things. He is no man’s debtor. Everything we have is a gift from him.
36 For from him & thru him & to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen
All things are from him and through him.
All things are from him: he is the ultimate origin, the ultimate cause, the ultimate source and foundation of all things.
All things are through him – everything exists because of him. Life exists through him. He is the one who sustains of all things. God is the ultimate explanation for all things. We are utterly dependent on him.
Today we are going to see the depth of the riches God’s wisdom and knowledge in two areas of life. One is in the area of salvation and the other is suffering.
A. God’s Glory revealed in our salvation
In Romans, Paul writes a masterpiece, a detailed, comprehensive and thorough explanation of the gospel. In chapters 1-3, he shows how all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. In chapters 4-5, he shows that we are justified by faith and not by our works. In chapters 6-8, he explains that we are made alive with Christ and in chapters 9-11 he talks about God’s plans for Jews and gentiles. It is in this context we find this passage in Romans 11:33-36 and he finishes with this spontaneous outburst of praise.
When we affirm the Five Solas, we are not just coming back to scripture but we are coming back to God as center of all things. By affirming that our salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone as revealed in scripture alone, the church was not returning to just scripture as their basis and foundation. Yes, but it was more than that. It was returning to the glory of God in all things. It was dethroning man as the ultimate goal and giving God the rightful place of supremacy in all things. The reformation solas point to his glory. We see God’s glory revealed in his plan of salvation.
We are saved by grace alone: It is a gift of God. We did not choose him, he chose us. Not because we were good or special but it was out of his rich mercy and grace. He didn’t have to choose us nor was obligated to save us. We are saved by grace alone.
We are saved through faith alone: We are saved not because we are part of some family, or tradition, or go to church, or said some prayer. God justifies the ungodly through faith. We don’t earn salvation, cant buy it and don’t deserve it. We are saved and justified by faith alone.
We are saved by Christ alone: We are not saved by our works or by being good or trying hard. We are saved only by the perfect work of Christ on our behalf. We are saved by Christ alone.
We are saved by the plan of salvation revealed in scripture alone: God sovereignly revealed himself to us through scripture. Faith comes by hearing the word of God alone.
Our salvation has nothing to do with us, rather it has everything to do with God. It originates from him and proceeds from him. We are sustained by him and finished by him. We have no part in it. We have nothing to boast and we bring nothing or offer anything. We are saved by God for his glory alone!
Oh the riches &wisdom and knowledge of God!
Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.
God chose you by his grace even before the foundations of this world. God predestined you to know him and to be adopted to himself. God has obtained you an inheritance in Christ. God planned our redemption and salvation from eternity past for his glory.
Do you see what God has done for you? Do you see his love for you? Do you see God’s wisdom in giving you Jesus? The perfect and glorious one who died on the cross, without whom we can never live or be forgiven.
Isn’t his wisdom breath-taking? Isn’t his mercy humbling? The Son of God gave up his glory so we can become glorious in him.
Oh, the depth of the riches & wisdom & knowledge of God! God’s glory is revealed in our salvation.
B. God’s glory revealed in our suffering
Paul explains a mystery in Romans 9-11. He has explained till chapter 9 that salvation is not by works but by faith in Christ. In chapter 9-11, he’s wrestling about the fact that his own Jewish people have rejected Christ. The Jews, chosen people of God have rejected Christ as Messiah and now gentiles have accepted Christ. Paul uses imagery about an olive tree with branches to explain God’s doing. God has removed these branches in the olive tree and grafted in wild shoots.
Some of the questions he could be asking because of what God has done could be, Is God unjust? Is he unfair in his dealing with Israel? Has he forgotten his promise to Abraham? This must be God’s fault. Has God failed Israel?
It’s a mystery and he is dealing with his own people and God’s decision to harden Israel’s heart so gentiles could come into his fold. Why did God do this? Is this right? Isn’t there any other way?
It is in this context of personal dilemma, Paul explodes with praise about God’s wisdom and knowledge and glory.
The Bible explains that God uses suffering for his glory and for our good. Sometimes we struggle to understand how suffering can be for God’s glory. We struggle to see how suffering can be for our good. How is sickness, pain, suffering for my good? How is disappointment for my good? How does a little child suffering innocently lead to God’s glory?
We think there could be a better way. Even we can think of a better way. Wouldn’t he be more glorified if he removed suffering altogether? Wouldn’t it be better for me, if I did not suffer at all? If God loves me so much, why does he let me suffer? And we presume that we know more than God.
It is in this context Paul says, no one can understand God’s ways. No one can question, no one can counsel, no one is more wise or good than God.
If you don’t grasp the glory of God in all things, there is a tendency to lose heart, to lose sight of God’s goodness and struggle with meaning and purpose in suffering.
1 Peter 4:13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.
John 16:33 In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
God promises that one day he will remove all suffering, all pain, tears, sickness and death. But he has allowed suffering and sin in this world momentarily. God sovereignly allows suffering in our lives for our good & for his glory. Can I trust in God’s wisdom and knowledge?
2 Corinthians 4:16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
Every suffering we face, when we patiently endure, is doing something for us. It is preparing, producing, creating eternal glory, which is beyond all comprehension.
The cross you carry, physical pain, sickness you endure, injustice you face, unrealized dreams and hopes, unanswered prayers, tears, hurts and burdens you carry, they are all preparing for you an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison
How is this possible?
Look at Jesus on the cross. The king of glory hung in shame, humiliated, abandoned and cursed. What looked like a victory for evil, the end of Christ and the death of the Son of God, God turned into glory!
God says, when you suffer, my child, look at the cross. I did not just let you go through suffering alone, I suffered so one day, you will no longer have to suffer.
Even in your suffering, can you say, Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!
I don’t understand his ways, his wisdom cannot be fathomed, but I trust in his goodness and I rest in his power.
Does your salvation reveal God’s glory? In your suffering, look up my child. Do you see the king of Glory?