January 7 – Romans 11:33-36


Main Focus: God, particularly in how he reveals himself through the work of redemption, is worthy of our worship.

A Lived Amen is the title of both this little two-week sermon series and our 2024 year-long theme. As we’ll see over these first two weeks of the year, Romans 11:33-12:2 presents a comprehensive methodology for living the Christian life, and it’s this methodology that we will spend all year unpacking: when we truly see the Triune God’s all-surpassing greatness and grace in Christ, we are moved to an all-encompassing response: presenting ourselves as a “living sacrifice.” This full-orbed response, adoring God and learning how to give our human lives to him, is what we mean by A Lived Amen.

We’ll kick off the series by turning to Paul’s doxology in Romans 11:33-36. There, Paul sums up his previous eleven chapters on the mystery of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus, and he does so with a doxology, a little hymn of praise to God. Like Paul, when we truly see God’s all-surpassing greatness, by which we come to understand him as the source, sustainer, and goal of all things (“from him and through him and to him”), and simultaneously perceive the mercy we’ve received in Christ (12:1), we are moved to worship: “To him be glory forever. Amen.” This is the foundation for our series and year-long theme: the all-surpassing worth of the Triune God.

In this you’ll see a tie back to our 2023 theme, All of God for All of Us, which observed the connection between the unified diversity of the Trinity and the unified diversity of God’s multi-ethnic people. You’ll notice the bones of 2023 and 2024 are remarkably similar: our worship of God leads to a comprehensive and costly response to him, for our good and his glory.

It’s worth pointing out that 11:33-36 doesn’t just praise the character of God, but the character of God as displayed through salvation. By this point in the book, Paul has spent chapters 1-11 discussing the remarkable work of justification through Jesus, and concludes by putting it into wider perspective as an all-encompassing plan for the cosmos: “for from him and through him and to him are all things” (11:36; cf. Eph 1:10). Certainly, God in his character alone is worthy of our worship, but in just a couple verses Paul will appeal not to God’s character alone but to his “mercies” (12:1), because this is the lens through which we perceive and receive the goodness of God: being welcomed in by his grace through Jesus.

In discussion, we’ll reflect on this comprehensive claim, that God is worthy of glory forever and all things exist for this purpose. In this reflection, our goal is not to just come away feeling sorry and resolving to “do more.” If God convicts anyone of a sluggish or hard heart (which we all experience from time to time) praise the Lord! However, the goal here is not to focus on ourselves but on God, to take our attention off our unworthiness and have our minds filled with the worthiness of God (see the last question), and to see what it could mean for our lives to move into alignment with the purpose of the cosmos—“all things were created through him and for him.” Col 1:16.

Lastly, a quick word on the word Amen. Our English amen is transliterated from the Hebrew word ᾽āmēn, which is most essentially an affirmation or assent; “indeed” or “that’s right” are good approximations. Said at the end of a prayer, it has the effect of concluding, “let it be so!” Amen can seem like a religious filler word, but it possesses unassuming richness. Whether we realize it or not, when we say “amen” it underscores our limitations; what was just asked will only be so if God lets it.

But the Bible adds even more meaning to the word by giving it to Jesus as a title, The Amen (Rev 3:14), the one in whom all God’s promises find their Yes and through whom we utter our own Amen to God (2 Cor 1:20) as we are brought more and more into conformity with his image. In this one word we find a microcosm of our whole series: through The Amen we learn what to say Amen to with our lives.

Discussion questions

– Could someone read Romans 11:33-36 for us?

– What stood out to you from the passage?

– What do you think Paul means by “for from him and through him and to him are all things”?

– According to the passage, what makes God worthy of worship?

– What do you think it would look like for your life to grow more and more in alignment with that view of God?

– How might a greater focus on the worthiness of God help you to worship him more freely?