Soli Deo Gloria

November 24, 2019 ()

Bible Text: Romans 11:33-36 |

Series:

Soli Deo Gloria | Romans 11:33-36
Brian Hedges | November 24, 2019

When I was growing up, I grew up in a pastor’s home, and we often had guest preachers that would come and stay with us for a few days, often when they were preaching a series of services in our church. There was one man in particular who used to visit us pretty often, he stayed with us a number of times. His name was Sonny Pyles. He was this old, kind of country Texas preacher, and he was a really interesting preacher. He was one of the best homileticians I think I heard when I was growing up. He’s fresh in my mind because he just passed away a few weeks ago.

But I used to just enjoy the conversation with this man across the breakfast table. He was one of the most brilliant people I ever met, could talk about anything. He was very interesting, he was witty, he was funny. As I’ve matured in my theology over the years I’ve realized there are a number of things that I would disagree with him about, and I’m sure he would have disagreed with me about.

But he really had a knack for illustrations. One of the illustrations—he was famous for this sermon in west Texas in the circles I grew up in—he preached a whole sermon that was called “Half Hinges.” The whole thing was built out of this illustration. He said in his barn he had this box that was full of useless half hinges. Half a hinge isn’t much use at all. You know, a hinge is what a door turns on or a cabinet or whatever, but you have to have both pieces of the hinge for it to work.

So he opened with this, and then he just went through texts of the Bible where people had taken half of a verse, without the other half, had taken the verse out of context, and he said these are half hinges.

One of the examples he used was John 6:37, “All that the Father gives me—” He used the King James: “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me, and him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.” He said lots of people will use the second half of that verse as they’re inviting people to Christ, but neglect the first half of the verse and the doctrine of election.

Well, as I said, there were a lot of things about Sonny Pyles that I would disagree with, or about his teaching, that I would disagree with today, but the illustration stuck, and it’s occurred to me that there are also thematic or theological half hinges. There are truths that the Bible teaches, but they are counterbalanced by truths, and if you only take one truth, if you only take one thread, only one theme, without the counterbalancing theme, you end up in some kind of extreme, in some kind of error.

We’ve seen some of those in the book of Romans. We’ve been looking at Romans 9-11, and this morning as we come to the close of this series (we’re at the very end of the series), we’re going to be looking at the doxology in Romans 11:33-36. But really, rather than exactly an exposition, what I kind of want to do is just a meditation on these verses and on some of the themes that I think we see in Romans 9-11.

I want to give you five pairs of words, five pairs of counterbalancing themes, things that go together. Another way to put this would be to use Jesus’ words when he’s speaking about marriage. He said, “What God has put together let no man put asunder.” Well, that’s true, of course, in marriage, but it’s also true with truth. There are truths that God has put together that we should not divide.

I want to look at five sets, five pairs of those truths, as we look at this ending to Romans 9-11. Let me begin by just reading this passage, verses 33-36, and I’ll refer to this a number of times through the course of the message, but I also just want to gather together some of the themes we’ve been looking at together over these last eight weeks.

Here’s the passage. Paul says, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?’ ‘Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?’ For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”

This is surely one of the greatest doxologies in all of Scripture. There’s something like a dozen and a half of these doxologies just in the New Testament. They all follow a similar pattern. This one is one of the greatest. It’s one of those mountain peaks in Scripture that just takes us to the summit of revealed truth and brings us to adoration of our God.

1. Theology and Doxology

It really leads us to this first pair of words that I want us to see, two things that must go together, and those two things are theology and doxology.

Now, I said a little bit about this last week, so I don’t need to spend a lot of time talking about this, but I do just want to emphasize the point again that theology—that is, doctrine—should serve and should inspire our worship. It should always lead us to worship.

You know, Martyn Lloyd-Jones was the doctor, great 20th-century evangelical preacher in Great Britain, and he left a lot of books behind, he left something like 14 volumes just on the book of Romans. In one of his sermons on this doxology, Lloyd-Jones said there were a couple of errors for us to avoid.

One error is to think that there’s no need for analysis when we come to a passage like this, that it’s really just emotion. In other words, do away with analysis, don’t try to dissect the words. The illustration that some people would use would be this: it’s like trying to dissect a rose. You dissect a rose, you tear the petals off, and you ruin it.

There are commentators who would say this is essentially poetry. Paul’s not giving us doctrine here, he’s just giving us poetry, it’s kind of a summit, this emotional mountain peak, this mountain top in Paul’s writings. Lloyd-Jones says no, that’s a mistake, to do away with analysis altogether; that’s a mistake.

But on the other hand is the opposite mistake, which is to only do analysis and never get to emotion; to only do theology and never get to doxology, never get to worship.

I just want us to grasp the point that we need both, don’t we? We need doctrine and devotion. To use the language of Jonathan Edwards, we need light and heat. We need the mind informed and we need the heart engaged. We need both theology and doxology, teaching and worship.

I just want us to grasp this, because it really is right at the heart of our vision as a church. This is one of our core values. We say it this way, the core value of worship: “Seeing and savoring Jesus every week in Scripture, prayer, and at the table.” Well, it’s seeing and savoring. Seeing, there’s the mind component; but savoring, there’s the affections.

My hope for us as a church is that we will never grow tired of going deep in the word, that we will go deep in doctrine, that we will care about truth, that we will care about theology; but at the same time that our hearts would be raised to the very pinnacle of experience in worshipping God. It’s one reason why I think it is a good idea—not just a good idea, but a strategic decision that the elders made a year-and-a-half ago—that we would move towards a full-time worship pastor, worship leader, because we need that kind of leadership that will help us move deeper and deeper into the experience of worship, but we want that, of course, to be joined closely with truth and with the word. Worship in spirit and in truth; theology and doxology.

You see it in Paul. You see that this doxology comes at the end of maybe the three most difficult chapters of theology that Paul ever wrote, but it leads him to worship. It leads him to exclaim, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!”

If we’ve understood Paul’s doctrine correctly, it should lead us to worship. If we ever find ourselves thinking about theology in such a way that our hearts are untouched and there’s no impulse to bow the knee, there’s no impulse to exclaim with Paul, “Oh, the depths,” to recognize the limits of our knowledge and the grandeur of our God—if that doesn’t happen, then there’s a short circuit between our mind and our hearts. There’s something missing. We need these two things together, theology and doxology, seeing and savoring Jesus. That’s the first pair of words, the first two things I want us to keep together.

2. Mystery and Revelation

Here’s the second: mystery and revelation.

How many of you like a good mystery? It was kind of interesting to me; a couple years ago I was reading a new biography on J.I. Packer. J.I. Packer was another great theologian. Something I didn’t know about Packer is that one of his pastimes was reading mystery novels. He read almost all of them. He had read Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes and Father Brown and Lord Peter Whimsy, the Dorothy Sayers—I mean, all of the famous mystery novels, detective novels, J.I. Packer had read.

He actually had a theological explanation for why he thought these were good stories. He said they were among the most moral fiction of our time because they clearly distinguish between good and evil and they assert a principle of justice in the world. He even called them “Christian fairy tales.” That might sound like a stretch, but listen to what Packer said.

He said that these stories, detective stories, have “Savior heroes and plots that end in what Tolkien called ‘eucatastrophe,’ whereby things come right after seeming to go irrevocably wrong.” He said, “The detectives are champions of the needy, bringers of merited judgment and merciful salvation.” He said, “The gospel of Christ is the archetype of such stories.”

Now, the next time you read an Agatha Christie novel, maybe you won’t read it the same way! You recognize that there’s a moral fabric to some of these stories.

Well, we all like a good mystery, and did you know that the gospel and the word is often described in terms of a mystery in Scripture? You even have it in Romans 11. We read this verse last week, verses 25 and 26. Paul says, “Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers. A partial hardening has come upon Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way all Israel will be saved.”

This is the conclusion of his whole argument and concern in Romans 9-11, that there are Jewish people who have rejected the Messiah, they are unbelievers, and Paul has tried to explain what’s going on here, showing that God is just, that God is righteous, that God’s promise has not failed because his purpose according to election stands, because the Jewish people themselves who don’t believe are culpable and accountable for that unbelief; and because God is working out his sovereign plan, and his sovereign plan is to use the rejection of Israel for bringing in the fullness of the Gentiles, in order to provoke Israel, to bring them back to Christ.

Somehow, in God’s mysterious plan, that is part of what God has planned, is to bring ethnic Israelites back into fellowship with God, back into the family of God, to bring them to faith in Jesus Christ. Paul says this is a mystery.

Now, many times in Scripture when this word mystery is used it carries the idea of something that once was hidden but now has been revealed. It’s not so much a secret as it is the open secret. It’s something that once was hidden, it once was veiled to the people of God, but now in the new covenant, in the New Testament, through the ministry of the apostles, the secret is out, the mystery has been made known, something has been revealed. That’s the case here in this passage.

It leads Paul once again to this exclamation, and he is ascribing glory to God because of what God has revealed, but here’s what I want you to notice; that in the same breath he acknowledges that there’s still mystery. He uses the language of God’s ways being inscrutable. Look at verses 33 and 34. He says, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?’”

The theologian John Murray said that Paul’s exclamation is “not the reaction of painful bewilderment, but the response of adoring amazement, redolent of joy and praise.” He said, “When our faith and understanding peer to the horizons of revelation, it is then our hearts and minds are overwhelmed with the incomprehensible mystery of God’s works and ways.” There’s revelation, there are things God has revealed, and yet there is still mystery.

Once again, I think there are two errors to avoid here. There is the error of ignoring what God has revealed. I want to tell you, there are a lot of people that, when it comes to doctrines like election and predestination, the first place they want to go is mystery. They just say, “We can’t understand this, we’re not meant to understand this, we shouldn’t be talking about this. These are things that God hasn’t really made clear to us.”

That can be a mistake. It can be a mistake, because God has actually said a lot about these things in the Bible, and we need to uncover the revelation that God has given. We need to study it, we need to try to understand everything that God has revealed. So it’s a mistake to ignore the revelation. This whole Bible has been given to us, and we should plow up to every corner, every fence, every border in this field of divine revelation. It’s all for us. This is for the people of God, including these difficult doctrines.

So that’s a mistake. It’s a mistake to ignore what God has revealed. Listen to what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:7-10. He says, “But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.’” Get this: “These things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.” God has revealed things that once were hidden, and we need to try to understand those things.

But the other error is to arrogantly assume that even when we’ve understood everything that God has revealed in Scripture, that we then fully understand God, because we don’t. Even when we fully understand—and none of us, of course, do understand everything in the Bible, but even if we could, even if we understood every nuance to Paul’s argument in Romans 9-11, we would still have to say with Paul, “How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways.” There’s still mystery.

You remember what the poet hymn-writer William Cowper said? “Deep in unfathomable mines of never-failing skill / He treasures up his bright designs and works his sovereign will.” There’s a mystery. We need to understand as much as we can, as much as God has revealed, and yet we keep these two things together. It’s arrogance to say we fully understand God, and yet it is neglect for us to just ignore so much of what God has actually revealed for us in Scripture.

I think the balance is given to us in Deuteronomy 29:29. It says, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” Mystery and revelation. Let’s keep those together.

3. Election and Evangelism

Here’s the third pair of words: election and evangelism. Once again, we’ve talked a lot about this in the past several weeks. Romans 9 is the quintessential chapter in the Bible on the doctrine of election. It’s not the only chapter in the Bible; it’s also in Ephesians 1, it’s also in John 6, it’s also in John 10. It’s in a lot of other places, but the quintessential chapter in the Bible on election is Romans 9.

Yet is there a chapter in the Bible that is more focused on evangelism than Romans 10? In fact, John Stott in his commentary looks at all of Romans 9-11 and wrote a little section called “A Manifesto of Evangelism.” I almost just preached that as a sermon, because John gives eight points about evangelism that I think are so good. He talks about the need for evangelism, the scope, the incentive, the nature, the logic, the result, the hope, and the goal of evangelism. It’s all in about four pages in Stott’s commentary; well worth reading.

I’ll tell you just two things that he said about the need and the hope, and it brings these two things together. He said, “Evangelism is necessary because until people hear and receive the gospel they are lost.” Romans 10 teaches us that. How shall they call on him of whom they have not heard? How shall they hear without a preacher? How shall someone preach unless they are sent? Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

We need to preach, we need to share, we need to witness, we need to do evangelism. You and I have a solemn responsibility, brothers and sisters, to share the gospel of Christ. Nothing that Paul says anywhere else, or nothing that the Bible teaches anywhere else, contradicts that. That is our basic responsibility as Christians. We have a responsibility to bear witness to Jesus Christ and to share the gospel, to spread the good news.

Yet, as Stott says, our hope for evangelism, our hope that evangelism will have success, is if it rests and only if it rests in the election of God. The reason we know that our sharing the good news, our preaching, our sending missionaries will not be in vain is because God in his sovereign grace chooses and saves lost sinners.

Again, there’s no contradiction between the two. There’s a tension, there’s mystery, we don’t fully understand it, but the two things belong together. So often I think what has happened is you have one theological camp that all they want to do is talk about election and predestination, and you have another theological camp that all they want to do is talk about free will and evangelism and human responsibility. You get this polarization in the church between those in this camp and those in this camp. If we would just read our Bibles we should be able to bring these two things together and say, “Yes, the Bible teaches this, and yes, the Bible teaches this.”

We may not be able to fully explain and harmonize everything, but I believe that God’s word is consistent and these two things belong together.

I want to give you an example of how I think just acknowledging these two streams of teaching in Scripture can help us unify together, even when the way we parse these things out maybe is a little bit different.

There were two preachers, theologians, in late 18th, early 19th century Britain (late 18th century for Wesley), John Wesley and Charles Simeon. Charles Simeon was an evangelical Anglican, and he was a Calvinist. He was an expository preacher. You can still get Simeon’s sermons that were kind of formed into a commentary. He was very influential during his day. John Wesley, of course, was effectively the one who began the Methodist church. He was also Anglican, so Methodism grew out of Anglicism, and Wesley was Arminian in his theology, or at least a kind of Arminianism.

There’s a story (this is a true story) that’s a report of a conversation that Charles Simeon and John Wesley had with one another. So get this, a Calvinist talking to an Arminian. I want you to listen to how the conversation went down, because I think this is a wonderful model for the way we should think about our disagreements.

This is Charles Simeon speaking to Wesley. He says, “Sir, I understand that you are called an Arminian, and I have been sometimes called a Calvinist, and therefore I suppose that we are to draw daggers. But before I consent to begin the combat, with your permission I will ask you a few questions. Pray, sir, do you feel yourself a depraved creature, so depraved that you would never have thought of turning to God if God had not first put it into your heart?”

This is what Wesley said. “Yes, I do indeed.”

Simeon: “And do you utterly despair of recommending yourself to God by anything you can do, and look for salvation solely through the blood and righteousness of Christ?”

“Yes, solely through Christ,” Wesley says.

“But sir, supposing you were at first saved by Christ, are you not somehow or other to save yourself afterwards by your own works?”

Wesley says, “No, I must be saved by Christ from first to last.”

Simeon: “Allowing, then, that you were first turned by the grace of God, are you not in some way or other to keep yourself by your own power?”

“No,” Wesley says.

“What then? Are you to be upheld every hour and every moment by God, as much as an infant in its mother’s arms?”

“Yes, altogether,” said Wesley.

“And is all your hope in the grace and mercy of God to preserve you unto his heavenly kingdom?”

“Yes, I have no hope but him,” Wesley said.

This is what Simeon then said in response. “Then, sir, with your leave I will put up my dagger again, for this is all my Calvinism. This is my election, my justification by faith, my final perseverance. It is, in substance, all that I hold, and as I hold it, and therefore, if you please, instead of searching out terms and phrases to be a ground of contention between us, we will cordially unite in those things wherein we agree.”

I think that’s a beautiful example of pursuing unity in what we can agree upon. That’s not to say there are no differences. There are. There are differences when we get into fine points of theology, and even within our church there are some differences in how we would explain and understand these things. Nevertheless, we have unity in the gospel. We even have unity in affirming the grace of God in our salvation. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

I think when we keep these things together, the doctrine of God’s sovereign grace and the doctrine of human responsibility, election and evangelism, we give equal emphasis to them. As much as Scripture emphasizes, we emphasize. If we can do that, we should be able to walk hand-in-hand together.

4. Mercy and Justice

So let’s keep these things together, theology and doxology, mystery and revelation, election and evangelism, and then number four, mercy and justice.

In verse 22 of this chapter Paul said, “Note then the kindness and severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness.”

Really, these whole three chapters have a thread of mercy that runs through, really mercy and judgment. Paul is justifying God in his justice, in his righteousness, in Romans 9. He is showing that God is a God who has mercy on whom he will have mercy. There are vessels of mercy that are prepared for glory, upon whom God chooses to show, to display the riches of his mercy; and there are also vessels of wrath prepared for destruction.

When Paul gets to verse 33 and says, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!” the word “riches” should recall our minds to the other time he used that word “riches” in this passage, riches of mercy, or in Romans 10:12 he says, “There is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord is Lord over all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.” Or in chapter 11:12, “Now if their trespass [that is, Israel’s trespass] means riches for the world and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean?”

Then there’s an emphasis on mercy as well. In fact, almost the conclusion in Romans 11, verses 30 and 32, just before the doxology, this is what he says. “For just as you [Gentiles] were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient, in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.”

So you see there, there’s this emphasis on the mercy of God, yet also the justice of God, the judgment of God. Paul says, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!”

Then look at verse 35: “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” He’s quoting there from the book of Job, and essentially what he’s saying is that God’s mercy and God’s grace is free because God’s not obligated to do anything for us. Who has given a gift to him, that he might be repaid? We don’t give anything to God where God has to pay us back. That’s why it’s mercy, that’s why it’s grace by which we are saved.

Again, there’s mystery here. How do these two things come together, the mercy of God and the justice of God? Perhaps the place we see it most of all is in the cross, in the cross of Jesus Christ, because there we see God showing mercy to the world, and yet at the same time God is displaying his justice against our sin as Jesus is judged in our place (Romans 3:25-26).

John Owen the Puritan, reflecting on these truths, said these words. “In God there is at the same time, in the same divine actions, a glorious resplendency of justice and mercy. Of justice in punishing, of mercy in pardoning. In the cross, divine holiness and vindicating justice were made manifest, and through his triumph grace and mercy are exerted to the utmost. This is that glory which ravishes the hearts and satisfies the souls of those who believe. In due apprehensions of this let my soul live; in faith set on this let me die; and let my present admiration of this glory make way for the eternal enjoyment of it in its beauty and fullness.”

The justice and the mercy of God. We bring these two things together, we keep them together. Again, let’s not fall into the error (this is the dominant error in our culture) that emphasizes the love of God to the neglect of the holiness of God, the mercy of God to the neglect of the justice of God, to the point where the cross doesn’t even seem necessary to people because God is love, and that’s all that people believe about God. God is love. God loves everyone, God will forgive everyone, everyone will be saved; everybody’s okay, because God is a God of love. There’s no justice, there’s no judgment, there’s no wrath, there’s no righteousness. There’s no sin, there’s no cross, there’s no atonement, because they’ve neglected so much of the Bible.

Well, we can’t do that. We have to say everything that the Bible says about God. He is a God of justice and a God of mercy, and when we see those two things together, you know what happens? The mercy of God becomes all the more precious because we see what it cost. It cost the atoning work, the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ.

Owen says this is what he wants to contemplate all the way up until death, and then eternally in joy.

5. God’s Glory and Our Joy

That leads to the last pair of words I want to give you, two things I want us to keep together, and that’s God’s glory and our joy.

This passage is a doxology. It is, as I’ve already said, the summit, the peak of worship, and it ends with these wonderful words (verse 36), “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever! Amen.”

One of the great solas of the Reformation is soli Deo gloria, to God alone be the glory. Why do we say that? We say that because of the kinds of things Paul says here, that all things are from God. He is the Creator, the author, the originator, the sovereign planner, the architect in human history, and all things are through him. He is the governor, he is the provident ruler, he is the one who is overseeing all things, so that I think we can say without any exaggeration that nothing happens on planet earth that does not happen without either God’s direct causation or God’s permission. Nothing is outside of God’s ultimate, sovereign control.

And all things are to him. He is the great end. He is the great goal. Jonathan Edwards wrote that great book The End for Which God Created the World, where he just argued with text after text after text that God’s singular aim, his single goal in creation, in history, in judgment, in salvation, in all things, is to glorify himself; to save us for the sake of his glory, to save us for the praise of his own name, the glory of God.

And yet, it is in experiencing the glory of God, it’s seeing the glory of God that actually leads to our deepest joy and satisfaction. Now, you know who I’m getting this from. John Piper is the one who has kind of recovered Jonathan Edwards for our generation, and when I first read Piper in 1998, it just rocked my world. It just turned me upside-down. I started seeing things I’d never seen in the Bible before.

This was maybe the most important sentence from his book Desiring God, at least for me. He said, “God’s quest to be glorified and our quest to be satisfied reach their goal in this one experience: our delight in God, which overflows in praise. For God, praise is the sweet echo of his own excellence in the hearts of his people. For us, praise is the summit of satisfaction that comes from living in fellowship with God. . .God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in him.”

The glory of God and our joy; they come together. That’s why we need theology, that’s why we need all this doctrine, because it leads us to worship and it fuels our joy. You might ask, “Where’s the joy in the text? I see the glory (from him, to him, through him are all things. To God be the glory forever, Amen). Where’s the joy?”

The joy is in the first word of the doxology and the last word. What’s the first word? “Oh”! What’s the last word? “Amen.” Those aren’t throwaway words, folks. When Paul says, “Oh,” he is exclaiming something from his heart. There are great writers who have talked about this, how we’ve lost the “oh” in our worship. We’ve lost the awe, we’ve lost the sense of wonder, the majesty. But Paul gets this. He says, “Oh, the depths…” He’s overcome as he looks at God’s mysterious ways and God’s plan. “Oh, the depths…”

And then he ends by saying, “Amen.” It’s not a throwaway word. It means yes. Have you ever come home and given your kids good news, and one of them goes, “Yes!”? Right? That’s what Paul’s doing when he says, “Amen.” He’s saying, “Yes!” He’s saying, “So be it. Let it be so. Yes, amen. This is true, I affirm this with all of my heart.”

When we see that God is this majestic God, this sovereign God, this God of grace and of mercy and of justice and of righteousness, we see all that God has revealed, and yet we stand in awe of the mystery that remains, what else can we say but, “Oh, the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God”? To God alone be the glory. Yes and amen.

Brothers and sisters, my hope for us as we come to an end of this series is that it will humble our hearts, that we will see, that we will have seen and will continue to see more of God than we have, understand more of the truth of God than we have, but especially that we will fall on our faces in worship and in praise and in adoration of this great God. Let’s pray together.

Father, there is so much that you have revealed to us in Scripture, and we bow in wonder and in adoration at the God that you are, at the reality of your grace and the wonder of your plan. Yet there’s so much that we still don’t understand, there’s so much mystery that remains, so we, again, just bow our heads humbly before you, and we acknowledge that your ways are inscrutable, your judgments are unsearchable, but you are God and we are not, and therefore we worship you and we praise you.

Lord, my prayer this morning is that we would hold these truths deeply in our hearts, that we would be ravished by the grace and the mercy of God, that our souls would be deeply delighted in the truths that we’ve learned together. I pray that you would continue to stretch us, both in our minds as we try to grapple with truth from Scripture, but also stretched in our hearts and in our experiences as we really try to live up to these truths and worship appropriately in light of these truths.

Lord, your grace calls forth a response of deep and tremendous gratitude, your mercy beckons our worship. So Lord, lead us to that place where we will not just coldly consider these things with our minds, but we will deeply feel with our hearts.

As we come to the Lord’s table this morning, I pray that we would draw near to you and that you would draw near to us. May this be a time of real fellowship and communion with you. As we take these elements, may we not just take them physically, but may we also feed on Christ, the bread of life, to the satisfaction and the nourishment of our souls. So draw near to us, Lord, in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.