Friday, March 9, 2012
There are a lot of theological words used in Christian circles. Even the word theology has great significance in terms of its meaning. Theology: the study of the nature of God. Think about it. To study God, a being that defies human logic. God, who by nature is beyond our capacity to comprehend. But yet, that is exactly the privilege that we have been given in Scripture. God has revealed Himself to us through His written Word. Of course, what He reveals to us is only a glimpse of His glory and majesty. But it’s enough to cause us to give pause and reflect on His character and wonder.
In Romans, it could seem peculiar that the Apostle Paul would begin meditating on this very thing, God’s character. Toward the end of Romans 11 is what Christian theologians have described as “doxology.” Again, it’s another one of those big words. Doxology, as it is described by The Mountain Retreat, is this:
Doxology is from the two Greek words [doxa] meaning glory, and [logos], meaning to speak. By implication the word logos can mean "word." These are the same Greek words found in your Bible that are translated "word" and "glory." So very literally, doxology means "words to glorify." When Christians speak or sing words of praise, it is called the doxology. In Church services it is usually songs/psalms that encourage everyone on earth, and in heaven, to praise God.
Paul was at this point, in writing Romans, describing what was taking place as Gentiles were embracing faith in Jesus Christ for their salvation. He was describing a mystery. This mystery involved a hardening of hearts on the part of the Israelites. Paul said that the reason the Israelites’ hearts were hardened was so that the Gentiles would receive God’s mercy. If this is confusing to you, believe me, I’m confused too. But look at what Romans 11:30-32 says:
30 Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. 32 For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.
It’s quite possible at this point that Paul was experiencing a little confusion himself. As I said earlier, it may seem peculiar that at this time in his writing Paul would begin reflecting on God’s character, but that is exactly what he does. Instead of doubting, or even knocking himself out trying to understand something beyond his capability, Paul finds himself in worship. The doxology that Paul writes goes like this:
33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay them?”
36 For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.
What Paul writes here is a mouthful. What he recognized was that God had a plan He was working out. It involved the Israelites, the Gentiles and His own Son, Jesus. Though God’s plan seemingly goes about reaching a lost world in a strange way, it all makes perfect sense to God. In fact, the plan is perfect. Like children that often are bewildered at their parents because of how they discipline and raise them, we too look to God in bewilderment. But like Paul says, “Who has known the mind of the Lord?”
If you’re like me, you might be wondering what’s going on with the Jews? How come they’re not able to recognize Jesus Christ as their Messiah? (I say this in general terms.) Why is it that Gentiles are coming to faith rather than God’s chosen people in the Old Testament? Paul explains this, of course, and I write about this in Contradictions. But ultimately, it comes down to this: “For from him and through him and for him are all things.” This was God’s way.
What is our response? Could it be like Paul’s? Can we stop and just fix our eyes on Jesus in wonderment of His loving kindness, that He would save you and me? Maybe you’re one of those still in disbelief. The only thing I would say is look to Jesus. Examine His birth, life, death, and resurrection. Take a look at the cross. Ask yourself, “Why did Jesus have to die such a horrific death?” (It is because of you and me, because of our sin.) And after you examine all the evidence, ask yourself, “What other God would die in your place so that you may live?”
Then with all of us together, worship. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.