Monday, July 18, 2011

The Wonder of God in Salvation (Romans 11:33-36)

The apostle Paul ended Romans 11 with a doxology. A doxology is a brief formula for expressing praise or glory to God. Doxologies generally contain two elements, an ascription of praise to God and an expression of His infinite nature. This is true of Paul’s doxology in Romans 11:33-36. Here Paul begins with an expression of God’s infinite nature and then gives an ascription of praise to God. The final analysis is that God gets the glory for His ministry.

This doxology is based on how God has not and will not fail to keep His promises to Israel and how God is using Israel’s failure and turning it into salvation for the world. Understanding God’s plan of salvation for the Jews and the Gentiles should result in worshipping God and giving Him glory. Theology becomes doxology! Only a wise and worthy God could take the fall of Israel and turn it into salvation for the world. This doxology is based on the wonder of God in salvation. In it we see three wonders of God.

First, we see that God’s wisdom is unsearchable (Romans 11:33). Paul speaks of the depth of God’s wisdom and knowledge. The word “depth” means the extreme depth of something or that which does not have a bottom. Paul is saying that finite man cannot get to the bottom of God’s infinite wisdom. This infinite wisdom of God can be glimpsed in God’s plan of salvation but it cannot be plumbed. Just the truth alone that God is using the fall of Israel to save the Gentiles should give us a glimpse of God’s wisdom. Since the promises and covenants of God belonged to the Jews, if they would have received Jesus as their Lord and Savior, God would have sent Jesus to restore the kingdom to Israel (Acts 3:19-21) and the Gentiles would not have a chance to be saved. In His wisdom, God has seen to it that the first would be last and the last first. In this way we Gentiles have the opportunity to be saved and God is able to accomplish His promises to Abraham (Galatians 3:14).

Not only does Paul speak of the depth of God’s wisdom and knowledge which has no bottom, he also speaks of the judgments of God that are also unsearchable. The opposite of unsearchable is searchable or apparent. What Paul is saying is that God’s judgments are not apparent; they are not searchable. Since the judgments of God are unsearchable, then we must be sure that we do not attempt to discern them by appearance. When it appears to us that God doesn’t know what He is doing, we can rest assured that He does and that it is we who don’t understand what God is doing. Since God’s wisdom and knowledge and judgments are unsearchable then it must be revealed to us in His Word. As we study God’s Word we do not get to the bottom of God’s wisdom but we do see that He knows exactly what He is doing. God’s wisdom is unsearchable.

Second, we see that God’s ways are untraceable (Romans 11:33-35). Unfathomable means that something cannot be traced out. God’s ways cannot be explored. God’s ways are incomprehensible. The word for “ways” means a road that is not heavily traveled. Doesn’t this mean that the way God does something will not be readily apparent to man? This is why God said, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). The ways of God are superior to the ways of man and are not easily understood.

We cannot trace or comprehend all of God’s ways because His ways are higher than ours. Since God’s ways are higher than our ways, we don’t give God advice for the way we think things should be done (Romans 11:34). Has God ever awakened you in the night to ask your advice on how He should do something? Me neither! We are not to argue with God and think that we could have a better plan of salvation than He has. We are to look and see that the wisdom and ways of God are infinitely perfect. Since we cannot get to the bottom of God’s wisdom or trace out His ways, we are to trust them completely because of who He is. We are to trust in the Lord with all our hearts and lean not on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). We don’t become God’s counselor and give Him advice for the way things should be done.

We have never given anything to God so He doesn’t owe us anything (Romans 11:35). What have you ever given to God that makes Him feel like He owes you back? What share do we have in causing God to be more God? What wisdom have we given God? What wealth have we given God? What worth have we added to God? None! God is completely sufficient in His own being. Nothing can be added to God and nothing taken away from Him. He is perfect in wisdom. He is perfect in love. He is perfect in power. He is perfect in His ways. God’s wisdom is unsearchable and His ways are untraceable. We cannot add one iota to better God’s wisdom or ways.

Third, we see that God’s worth is untouchable (Romans 11:36). Since God is perfect in His wisdom and ways and we cannot improve Him, His worth is untouchable. All the glory goes to God for His wisdom and ways in His plan of salvation. God’s wisdom and ways are from Him – they are out of Him – and absolutely have no other source than God Himself.

Salvation is based on the wisdom of God. It is from Him. He has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all (Romans 11:32). Salvation is accomplished by the ways of God. It is through Him. Salvation was offered to the Jew first whom God knew would reject his offer of grace. Now it is being offered to the Gentiles until the fullness of the Gentiles come in. After that it will be offered to the Jew and their fullness will come in (Romans 11:25).

Salvation witnesses to the worth of God. All the glory goes to Him. God owes no man salvation but He gives it to the one who believes the Gospel. And then, those saved by God’s grace through faith in Christ proclaim the excellencies of Him who called them out of darkness into His marvelous light; for they once were not a people, but now they are the people of God; they had not received mercy but now they have received mercy.

His glory is great in thy salvation. We proclaim the excellence of God’s wisdom, the excellence of God’s ways, and the excellence of God’s worth. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

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