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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Romans 16:27 – Praising the wise God

It is possible to worship God in a general way or in a specific manner. Here Paul is specific, and we can see that his specific expression of praise is very suitable for the context in which he has explained aspects of the gospel. We would not be surprised if Paul had linked the love of God to the gospel, and he does so elsewhere. But here he links the gospel to the wisdom of God. How does the gospel show the wisdom of God? Here are a couple of suggestions.
First, the gospel shows that God is wiser than the devil who had imagined that through his wrong wisdom he had managed to ensure that God would never receive glory from his creatures. Moreover, the gospel shows that God is wiser than all the originators of alternative religions who had devised ways by which they imagined God could be found – they never found God through those ways, but millions have found him through the gospel of grace.
Second, the gospel is the means through which God will eventually have eternal glory. Glory here is a reference to praise, and when we think about the numbers who will gather in eternity to praise God we should be staggered by the success rate. All who the Father planned to be there will be there. Not one will be missing. As we think about the praise that will be offered, we can say with confidence that it will be grateful praise offered by those thankful to God for his grace. We can also say that it will be increasing praise in the sense that the redeemed will praise with a developing understanding throughout eternity as they discover the many blessings that God has in store for his people. Moreover, the praise that will be offered endlessly will be marked by love that is always at its strongest. The praise will be enthusiastic and warm, sung by those in harmony with one another and with God himself.
Third, Paul mentions the centrality of Jesus Christ in the eternal praise of God the Father. Obviously he will bring glory to the Father in the period before the second coming as well as afterwards. Yet I think Paul’s emphasis is that Jesus will remain forever the mediator between God and man after the second coming; then he will be forever the spokesman for God as he instructs us in what God has in store for his people throughout that endless future; he will be forever the ruler over all of the new creation; and he will be forever the priest who leads the praise of the Father by the assembled throng throughout eternity. He promised he would do this in Psalm 22:22, which says that he will declare God’s name to his brothers in the gathering of his people.
As we think of the role of Jesus in the future, we should admire the endless capability that Jesus will have, and it is important to notice this because, as Paul says earlier, it is through Jesus that we receive strength for the here and now. So if he will never lose his strength in the future, we can be confident that we will receive it now. And we can also remind ourselves of the celebratory nature of his role as he and his people share in the fruits of his victory forever.

Paul closes his letter with ‘Amen’, which is how we all should respond to what Paul has taught us in this letter. We say ‘amen’ to the God of all grace and his amazing purposes described in chapters 1–12, and we show that we mean it by becoming the living sacrifices described in chapters 13–16.

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