Monday, March 11, 2024

2024.03.11 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 11:33–36

Read Romans 11:33–36

Questions from the Scripture text: How does the beginning of Romans 11:33 express astonishment? At what is the apostle astonished? What is it that is so astonishingly deep? Of what are these riches? Whose wisdom and knowledge? What can’t be done to His judgments? What can’t be done to His ways? What is the expected answer of the rhetorical question in Romans 11:34? In Romans 11:35? What two different things can man never do with respect to God? Why can’t man either inform or indebt God (Romans 11:36)? For what, then, does man exist?

How should we respond to the doctrine of God’s sovereign grace? Romans 11:33–36 prepares us for the sermon in the midweek prayer meeting. In these five verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that we should respond to the doctrine of God’s sovereign grace with wonder, worship, and humility. 

This passage concludes chapter 11’s explanation of God’s redemptive plan and Israel’s place in it. It also concludes chapters 9–11 and their explanation of election and reprobation. It also concludes chapters 1–11 and their explanation of how all of salvation is all by God’s grace. So this is a key passage for teaching us how to respond to these things. There will be no “offering our bodies as a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1) unless we are compelled by the mercies of God. So, how are we to respond to that mercy? Wonder, humility, and worship.

Wonder, Romans 11:33. It is appropriate that Romans 11:34 quotes Isaiah 40 and Romans 11:35 quotes Job 41. In each of those books, God’s sovereign grace brings His saint to his knees in wonder and adoration. 

In Isaiah, God announces His plan to save through the Christ, which includes in the near term a plan to restore Israel from exile by means of Cyrus. Some of His people are offended at this, but in Isaiah 45:15, when He has just explained that this is a means by which He will save even elect from among the nations, the response is to be amazed at the God of salvation.  

And Job discovers that, ultimately, God was doing him good all along—bringing him to such a knowledge of God through affliction that his prior knowledge of God was like a whisper or a rumor by comparison. As God asks the question about indebting God, He is bringing Job to put his hand over his mouth, to repent, and to worship.

This is how we, too, ought to respond to God’s sovereign grace. What He has taught us in Romans doesn’t give us to “have it all figured out.” But as much as He does tell us rings true and beautiful, and it gives us just a glimpse of God’s glory in His sovereign grace. It is a glimpse into “the depth.” We see the depths, even though we cannot see to the bottom. And the depth makes us to cry out in praise.

He shows the riches of His glory in mercy (cf. Romans 9:23), and He shows the riches of His glory in the perfection of His plan for applying that mercy (cf. Romans 11:30–32). If we have begun to see the depth of those riches, let our hearts cry out with the apostle’s in wonder and worship!

Humility, Romans 11:34-35. There is a gross creature that I have seen from time to time, even in the mirror for much of a season of my life: someone who takes a posture of superiority as a result of knowledge and conviction about the truth of sovereign grace. What a sad, sinful contradiction! It is that very doctrine that should have brought us to our knees and put us onto our faces! 

The answer to each of the rhetorical questions in this series is, “no one!” When we believe the marvelous truth that the Lord has taught us, that we could not have known any other way, the proper response is not pride but humiliation. Here is something that was entirely beyond my reach, and there is nothing more than this that I can reach, because I can only know about it whatever God is pleased to tell me! This is the point of the worship in Romans 11:34.

If I am to be humble with respect to my knowledge, how much more with respect to my actions. Have I ever done one thing that would put God into my debt? Even if I do all that is required, and properly say that I am a servant who has done as I should and have not profited God by it (cf. Luke 17:10), I must still also admit that everything that I have done has depended upon His grace! 

No, the essence of true, Christian humility is gratitude. God has always done me nothing but good. And He will always do me nothing but good. And there is nothing that I have ever done that earned a particle of this goodness. It was never debt, but always grace (c.f. Romans 4:2–4, Romans 11:6). And this is the point of the worship in Romans 11:35.

Worship, Romans 11:36. And so, what are we to do? We're to give him glory. Because He's the one who created all things at the beginning. And the only way we know about the beginning is by whatever He tells us. For, “of Him are all things.”

To give him glory because we are depending upon Him in every moment, now. If He was not sustaining us, helping us by his grace, we wouldn't have anything, understand anything, or be able to do anything. He's the one who upholds, all things by the word of His power. “Through him are all things.” 

We give Him glory because, He’s the One who created all and upholds all and gives to all their good. And  whatever glory there is in whatever happens, that glory belongs to Him. “To Him are all things.” 

And so the apostle concludes, “For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to Whom be glory forever. Amen.” Worship is the proper response to the mercy of God—both stated worship times, and also that worship that we will be thinking about in Romans 12:1, offering our bodies as a living sacrifice.

When was the last time that you were so taken with the wisdom of God’s plan of sovereign grace that you just marveled at the depth of the riches of that wisdom? How often do you dwell upon that wisdom and that salvation so as to wonder at the depths? In what circumstances are you most given to pride about theological knowledge or the good that grace has produced in you? In what circumstances are you least given to that pride? As you attend upon God by way of His means, what would it look like for humility to penetrate into those formerly proud times? 

Sample prayer:  O the depth of the riches, both of Your wisdom and knowledge, O God! How unsearchable are Your judgments and Your ways past finding out! No one has known Your mind, O Lord. No one could be Your counselor. You are the giver of every good gift and every perfect gift, and none can add to You. From You, and through You, and to You are all things. To You be the glory forever in Jesus Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP98 “O Sing a New Song to the LORD” or TPH226 “O The Deep, Unbounded Riches”

No comments:

Post a Comment