God, the Source of All
“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! … For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”- Romans 11:33-36
Doxology—the praise of God—must be the final end or goal of all theology, and this is a truth that we as Christians who are part of the Reformed tradition must be particularly vigilant to stress. Reformed Christians are well known for their concern for theological precision and their careful, logical exposition of the Word of God, and these are tremendous gifts to Christ’s church. Because we are so intent on the study of theology, however, some of us can be prone to turn God into just another subject about which we learn. But the Lord is no mere subject, and if our pursuit of sound doctrine does not end in heartfelt praise for our most holy Creator, something is seriously wrong with our theology.
In today’s passage, Paul models the goal to which all theology should be directed. Until this point in his epistle to the Romans, the Apostle has focused on some complex and sometimes difficult-to-hear truths, particularly beginning in Romans 9:1. He has anguished over the present state of ethnic Israel and its large-scale rejection of Christ (9:1-5). He has pointed out that salvation and, yes, even damnation are ultimately in the hands of our Creator (vv. 6-29). Paul has placed the blame on Israel for its stumbling over Christ while admitting at the same time that the Lord has hardened Israel in order to save the Gentiles (9:30-11:32). In short, Paul has proclaimed an extremely strong view of divine sovereignty that puts God in full, absolute control of all things, and yet the Apostle does not shy away from making sinners alone morally responsible for their evil. While doing all of this, he has peeled back some of the layers of mystery, but he has not answered all of our questions, nor does he feel the need to do so. Paul is content to let God be God, to acknowledge his own finitude as a creature, and to bow to the Lord’s wisdom as infinitely superior to his own. And he shows this plainly by bursting forth into praise for the Lord as the Source of all things, the Agent involved in all things, and the final End of all things (11:33-36). Having said all that he can, Paul bows in worship.
John Calvin comments, “Whenever then we enter on a discourse respecting the eternal counsels of God, let a bridle be always set on our thoughts and tongue, so that after having spoken soberly and within the limits of God’s word, our reasoning may at last end in admiration.” We must affirm God’s exhaustive sovereignty and humanity’s moral responsibility side by side, and thereby realize our own finite understanding. Worship must then result.
Douglas J. Moo writes in his commentary Romans: “What should be our response to our contemplation of God’s supremacy in all the universe? Like Paul’s, doxology.” Worship is the only appropriate response to the revelation of God’s deepest truths. We are finite creatures who will never understand the Lord exhaustively, even as we learn more and more about Him throughout eternity. We will never cease to be in awe of Him. Instead, our awe must and will grow. Let us worship our Lord.
Passages for Further Study