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Oh the Depth of the Riches

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Open your Bibles to Romans 11:33-36

Spurgeon “I will affirm that there is no man living who can preach from my text a sermon worthy of it; nay, that among all sacred orators and the eloquent pleaders for God, there never did live and never will live a man capable of reaching the height of the great argument contained in these few simple words”

So with all this discussion about what a man can’t do someone suggested maybe I should have my wife preach this . . .

The subject of all Scripture is God . . . without question, but occasionally on the journey of studying and reading Scripture we turn a corner and come so directly face to face with the God of the universe that we fall immediately to our knees in prayer and praise (and repentance). 

The text for this morning is one such passage . . . which doesn’t seek to illustrate who God is by telling us stories of his workings with humans, but actually expounds on His character through the praises of Paul.

Let’s Read together Romans 11:33-36

Oh, great God and Father . . . open our eyes that we may see you this morning!  Loose my tongue that I may speak of your great fame, and cause our hearts to bow in full submission to your sovereign rule over all things.  Teach us, who we are, in the light of your majesty that we might revere you as the center of all that exists.

As we consider this amazing passage, it is important to understand the context.  What has led Paul to write down this amazing doxology to God?

Throughout the book of Romans, Paul has been explaining God’s history with a particular focus on His work in bringing about salvation and defeating sin through His son!  Paul has addressed some difficult issues, like election, the rejection of God by Israel, and the sovereign will of God.

And as Paul concludes this weighty section of theology, his theology gives way to doxology.  That is the more he studies God . . . the more he is led to praise God.

How important is theology?  Tozer said that “what a man thinks about God is the most important thing about him!”  For how can we worship what we don’t know.

As I was thinking about this I came to the conclusion that doxology without proper theology leads to idolatry.  Repeat:  Doxology without proper theology leads to idolatry for we end up worshipping something other than God!

What happens too often, is that we picture theology to be a cold a lifeless dissection of God’s ways . . . but what a tragedy this would be.  Paul couldn’t contain himself as he came to understand God in deeper ways his theology turned into worship from the center of his being.

Paul isn’t going to attempt to define God, but rather he declares God’s worth . . . He compares God to us . . . and then caps it all with a finale of worship.

The challenge for Paul and for us: getting know the indescribable God!

So let’s see what Paul declares about God . . .

Romans 11:33 – Declarations of Praise

Starts with “OH, the depth”  Exclamation!  Oh how abundant . . . like the waters of the sea so great are your “riches . . . wisdom . . . and knowledge”  Those of you who have been on a ship at sea have a sense for how big the ocean is . . . but most of us have never been far under the sea . . . 5 miles down!

His riches – again the context is salvation here . . . but it is not a stretch to think of these riches as the abundant provision of God for us . . . both in salvation as well as in material blessings.  All things are His!

His Wisdom – This wisdom pertains to the correctness of His decisions.  He is always right in his counsel and always justified in His plans.

His Knowledge – He is the source of all truth and all things.  When we mapped the human genome . . . God is the one who wrote the map . . . when we discovered the “pillars of creation” out in space or the sombrero galaxy . . . God said, “I am the one who painted those.”  Anywhere we discover truth, from psychology to physics, from philosophy to Scripture, God was there before we started to search!

Paul concludes his declarations of praise with two parallel statements . . . God’s judgments are unsearchable and His ways are inscrutable.  Both statements ultimately mean that humanity cannot fully fathom God . . . we can know the things he has revealed and we can rest assured that what we know is trustworthy just as

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV)

We have what we need, but God is more amazing than we can ever put our minds to!

The word judgment here is not a negative word, but means the decisions that God makes and the word inscrutable is a word that hunters this time of the year can relate to . . . because it is a picture of tracking for footprint . . . and God is pictured here as one who takes paths and roads that we cannot follow.  He can’t be tracked down.

And all of this leads Paul to ask Three questions of us in order to highlight a Comparison of Praise in:

Romans 11:34-35 – Comparisons of Praise

Notice that verse 33 mentions riches, wisdom and knowledge . . . for now Paul crafts three questions of us dealing with these in reverse order . . .

First, Who has KNOWN the mind of the Lord?  Who has the knowledge that he has obtained?  Our knowledge is paltry by comparison to God!  The prophet Isaiah says in Isaiah 55:8 (ESV)

How Big is your God?  How much more does he know than you?  Are you close or even worthy of comparison?  The only knowledge I have is what he has uncovered for me!

Second, Who has been his counselor?  This is just a ludicrous question until you consider how often we would like to tell God how to run things.  How wise are the decisions of God!  His decisions are always right where I am only make right decisions as I conform to HIM! 

1 Corinthians 1:25 (ESV) .

Paul then gives a third and final question, “Who has given him a gift that he might be repaid?”  Well didn’t we just take up an offering YOU ASK?  Didn’t we just give our gifts to God?  Well, yes . . . and NO!  For as we are about to see clearly all that we have comes from his hand.  Isn’t our offering ultimately a reminder of how blessed we are!  Well, I worked hard for this money . . . who gave you hands to perform your job?  Who gave you a mind that is useful to your employer?  Who gave growth to the food that we have eaten this week?  ALL THINGS COMES FROM HIM! 

And now as a Finale, Paul gives us a most meaty and central statement that is quite possibly the deepest reality of human life.

Romans 11:36 – Finale of Praise

For From Him and Through Him and To Him are all things . . .

All things are from him . . . He is the divine and true source . . . of all authority, of all matter, of all relationships, of all life!  He is the well spring of eternal riches . . . Can he be trusted?  Amen . . . for we have no choice because . . .

All things are through HIM!  He is the sustainer of us all!  The earth continues to rotate producing days, because God wills it . . . gravity continues to function, because God wills it,  the stock market is down, because God wills it . . . We are all alive and seated here today because God wills it! 

And Lastly all things are to HIM!  He is the ultimate goal of it all.  When all things are wrapped up here . . . and we settle into the ages of eternity . . . we will find that all things have been worked out for HIS HONOR AND HIS GLORY FOREVER AND EVER AND EVER AND EVER AND EVER and if we get done with the evers then AMEN!

TO HIM BE (not just some Glory . . . not just most of the Glory) but THE GLORY!  As in all of it!  For all of the AGES to COME! 

Oh, friends . . . HOW BIG IS YOUR GOD?  HE is indescribable and yet for even that I give Him Praise! 

I have no Knowledge that can be compared to Him.  My wisdom is nothing by measurement compared to Him.  I come before Him empty handed for everything comes from Him!  I have no gift to give.

John Calvin “How unreasonable would it be for creatures, whom he has formed and whom he sustains, to live for any other purpose than for making his glory known?”

In the depths of his riches, wisdom and knowledge . . . he condescended and made himself as one of us in his Son Jesus.  He then was subjected to many things including crucifixion in order to cover our sins.  He died but didn’t stay that way for he rose three days later as the victor over sin and death!

Let’s bow together . . .

There are likely three types of people here this morning . . . those who do not have a relationship with the God who has been described this morning, those who have a relationship with Him, but have lost sight of How amazing this God is, and lastly those who have a relationship with God and are regularly mining Scripture to know Him better.

Where are you?  If you are here and you have a relationship with God but you would say . . . I have lost sight of how majestic and amazing He is, please raise your hand so I can pray for you this week.

Lastly, If you are here this morning and you would like to know how to start a relationship with this amazing God through Jesus Christ, would you please raise your hand. 

I am going to ask you to come down front and speak with me, as Pastor Steve Closes our time in Prayer. (Or Prayer)

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