Romans 11:36 “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.”
The verse above comes at the end of Paul’s presentation of the gospel to the church in Rome. It is one of the most glorious, sweeping statements about God’s sovereignty in all of the Scriptures. It should not be one of those declarations in God’s Word that we pass over quickly. As you read it, doesn’t the grandeur and reality of it make you pause, contemplate, and worship? That’s my aim in this article.
It is an understatement to say that we could ever fully comprehend the glory of God in this life. In the verses leading up to this great statement about God, Paul wrote, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor?” The answer to Paul’s question is clear. No one!
Rom. 11:36 let’s us know what we will discover about God in our pursuit of knowing and loving Him. We will discover His glory! In Peter’s first epistle, he wrote a similar declaration about God and His glory. “Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4:11). All the glory belongs to Him. Why? Because all of creation and the history of the world is His doing. We exist for this one grand purpose—His glory.
Everything! When Paul wrote “all things” he meant everything. He didn’t mean all kinds of things, but everything. In the Greek, when the word for “all” is used with an article, it tells the reader that the author meant everything in totality. (Check out W.E. Vines explanation of all in his Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words if you want to see it for yourself. Vol. 1, pg. 46). The significance of the Greek construction can be understood when you consider Rom. 8:28. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” He didn’t put an article before all because he wanted to communicate that God uses all kinds of things to conform us to the image of Christ. In Rom. 11:36, we learn that God is at work writing His story. Everything has a purpose—glory to God. The main point of Jonathan Edwards treatise, The End for Which God Created the World, is this: “The great end of God’s works… is indeed but ONE; and this one end is most properly and comprehensively called, THE GLORY OF GOD” [quoted in John Piper in God’s Passion for His Glory (Crossway, 1998), p. 246].
With this in mind, take a moment and pause, contemplate, and worship God to whom you belong, your creator. Step out of yourself and look at your life from God’s viewpoint from eternity. Every event, whether good or bad from your perspective, every thought, whether good or bad from your perspective, every good or bad feeling, every pain, hurt, or disappointment and every joy, blessing, or accomplishment, will ultimately be used for one great purpose: The Glory of God.
Check out the prepositions! God is the ultimate source, the ultimate means, and the ultimate end of all things. Yes, He uses His creation and His creatures as His agents, but they never exist or act apart or contrary to God’s ultimate purpose. From our perspective, this is beyond comprehension. We are left to take it at face value. Either believe it or don’t believe it. We either humble ourselves and trust God’s word about Himself, or in pride, we trust ourselves. Andrew Murray wrote, “Humility is nothing but the disappearance of self in the vision that God is all” (“Humility and Absolute Surrender”, p.33, Hendrickson Publishers, 2005). To further his point, he added, “The highest glory of the creature is in being only a vessel, to receive and enjoy and show forth the glory of God. It can do this only as it is willing to be nothing in itself, that God may be all. Water always fills first the lowest places. The lower, the emptier a man lies before God, the speedier and the fuller will be the inflow of the divine glory” (p. 55).
Paul echoed what he wrote to the Romans about God in his first letter to the Corinthians. “Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him” (1 Cor. 8:6). Hopefully, this causes us to pause, contemplate, and worship God as the Great Giver. We are totally and forever dependent on Him for life, breath, sustenance, preservation, health, strength, and length of days. We live in His kingdom, and His kingdom is coming every day and every minute of our lives. We can be confident that God is at work in all things. Jesus has His hand in all that occurs in our lives. We worship Him by receiving the truth and applying it to everything that happens.
Since God is accomplishing His will in everything through His Son, Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, all the glory goes to Him. When Paul wrote about the end of history he said, “In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth” (Eph. 1:10). When all of history is summed up, it will be seen that Jesus Christ is the sum of everything.
One of the great takeaways from Rom. 11:36 and these supporting Scriptures is this: God is the great giver and we are merely receivers. Another important realization is that God is glorified forever because He is the one who is at work in all things according to His will and purposes. When we pause and contemplate these two realities, our reasonable worship is to receive the truth and give Him the glory He deserves. When we do this, we will find that there’s no room for pride, unbelief, bitterness, hardness, disappointment, discouragement, hopelessness, worry, or a thousand other things that torment our souls when we make life all about ourselves. Rather, out of that place of humble worship flows peace, love, joy, hope, and all of the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
Do you believe Rom. 11:36? I hope you do. It’s the foundation of all that you do. This great statement of faith is born out of fixing your eyes on Jesus. His character, purpose, and power will give you confidence in whatever station or season in life you find yourself. God is writing His story in your life for His glory. You may count on it! You may rely on Him. You may expect to participate in the great climactic event when Jesus returns. Paul said that Christ in you is the hope of glory (Col. 1:27). He also informed us that when Jesus returns, He will be glorified in the saints and marveled at by all who believe (2 Thess. 1:10).
How would you like for Jesus to be glorified in you when He returns? You can count on it if you live to love with Him today and everyday until THAT DAY. The way you live to love with Jesus is by believing that He is the vine and you are a branch. You exist for the joy and glory of the Vinedresser. Your life of love flows from and through the Vine. The Holy Spirit produces the fruit as the life pours through you, the branch. Everything in your life is from Him, through Him, and to Him. That’s how loving the members of the Jesus’ body is when you love with Him. When you abide in Christ, your love comes from Him, through Him, and to Him. Pause, contemplate this wonderful truth, and worship Him by giving yourself to Him for His purpose and for His glory.
May God’s Word be a light unto our paths and a lamp unto our feet. May we pause, contemplate, and worship God “for from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.”
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