One mark of truly orthodox theologians is that their writings always include expressions of doxology. Knowledge of the Lord’s character and His work should inspire heartfelt praise, for why learn about God if we are not moved to fulfill the purpose for which we are created — to worship and glorify the Creator (Isa. 43:7)? When studying theology does not prompt us to adoration, we must question whether we are more concerned to puff ourselves up with knowledge than to glorify God.
As sound theologians, the apostles could not help but include doxologies as they expounded the divine mysteries revealed to them. Paul, for example, bursts into doxology — a word of glory to God — at several points in his epistles, including today’s passage. Having contemplated the great work of God, and prayed for us to be rooted in Christ’s love (Eph. 1:1–3:19), the apostle ends his prayer with praise to God (3:20–21). Like all words of glory, this doxology does not increase the “amount” of inherent glory our triune Creator possesses; rather, it acknowledges His worthiness and extols Him for what He has done, announcing His glories to creation (Pss. 29:2; 96:8; Isa. 42:12).
Besides exalting the name of our God, Paul’s doxology also comforts us with the knowledge that the Lord “is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us” (Eph. 3:20). There is no limit to what God can achieve for His people, and it is impossible to ask Him to do too much, so we should not fear asking Him for too many blessings. He can and will grant us wonderful things — in accordance with His will, of course (James 4:2b–3; 1 John 5:14).
As we rightly approach the study of doctrine, we will certainly break out in doxology and realize that we can indeed ask God for great things. This can be especially true as we consider the writings of those thinkers who have been faithful to Scripture. C.S. Lewis writes in his introduction to St. Athanasius on the Incarnation: “I tend to find the doctrinal books often more helpful in devotion than the devotional books, and I rather suspect that the same experience may await many others. I believe that many who find that ‘nothing happens’ when they sit down, or kneel down, to a book of devotion, would find that the heart sings unbidden while they are working their way through a tough bit of theology with a pipe in their teeth and a pencil in their hand.”
Knowing about the Lord is pointless without worship and praise. After all, the Devil knows far more about God than we do, and yet this knowledge gives him no benefit because he refuses to bow the knee in humble adoration (James 2:19). Let us continually ask ourselves whether our study of theology is making us more arrogant and eager to pick fights with those less knowledgeable, or if it is making us worship the Lord in humility.