Romans

Romans 16:25-27 – Doxology

DOXOLOGY

Romans 16v25-27 [cf.1v1-7]

 

INTRODUCTION

ILLUS.: past week – many people at a lost for word to express their sadness, grief, anger,  over the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.

 

There are many things in life that we find difficult to describe – times when we are broken-hearted or times when we are overjoyed. On occasions when we experience the magnificence of God creation – the snow capped Swiss Alps, the great plains of Africa, the picturesque landscape of Britain or the wild and ruggered coasts of Alaska.

OR on a grander scale than that – when we get a glimpse of God’s great salvation – and as wonderful as our view is, it is but a glimpse – just a few pieces of a grand jig-saw – but even the small glimpses we have of God and his salvation cause us to be at a loss for words to express their grandeur!

Many times the NT writers try to find words to express their praise to God – in these few verses [16v25-17] – we have Paul trying to encapsulate the magnificence of God’s plan in Christ for the nations of the earth and for God’s own glory.

 

The themes Paul touches on in the conclusion of his letter are the same things that he introduced at the beginning – indeed these are the themes of the letter:     1) The power of God to save and keep his people; 2) the gospel of God as revealed in the person of Jesus Christ; 3) the evangelisation of the nations of the world; 4) praising God for his great wisdom.

 

1. GOD’S POWER.

Romans 16:25

25 Now to him who is able to establish you ……………..

 

Romans 1:11-12

11 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some    spiritual gift   to make you strong [establish

 

you] —    12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged    by each other’s faith. (NIV)

 

Paul emphasizes two things about the power of God in this letter – one is the power of God to save – the other is the power of God to establish/strengthen.

In Romans 1:16  Paul says 16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. (NIV)

 

The Romans would have understood great power and strength – the might of the Roman Empire – the great armies conquering city and nations, Here was another power, not a destructive power, not an oppressive power BUT a saving, liberating power — it rescues from the guilt of sin, from bondage to sin, from the punishment of sin and bring righteousness and freedom and everlasting joy!

 

The word for power is dunamos – dynamite – we tend to use dynamite as a destructive power – but the gospel is positive dynamite – the gospel is the full force of God’s power for good.

We see the great power that mankind can create [ nuclear weapons] and also great power for good — Satan, too, has great power – always destructive .. BUT only God has the power to give life. Human science cannot create life and Satan cannot create life — only God. NOT only physical life but spiritual life….

 

How did Paul know this power? And how are we to know this power? Ultimately because we have experienced the saving power of God in the gospel. Forgiven our sins — made us his children — put his Spirit in us — in short by the power that raised Christ from the dead he has given us new life. Only God has the power to impart life — esp. Spiritual life!!

 

This power of God displayed in the gospel is not only there to save but also to establish.

16:25 ….to him who is able  [has the power ] to establish you ……………..

1:11-12  11 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong [establish you] — 12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. (NIV)

Paul concern was not only that they are saved BUT also strong in the Lord.

There are far too many Christians trying to live on past salvation experience – the question is, “How is your spiritual life today?” The only evidence that a person was saved in the past is if s/he is exhibiting spiritual life today.

This was Paul’s concern for the churches – that they be nurtured and strengthened –

Acts 14:21-22    21 They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, 22 strengthening [establishing] the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith….

Acts 15:41 41 He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening [establishing] the churches. (NIV)

Acts 18:23  23 After spending some time in Antioch, Paul set out from there and travelled from place to place throughout the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening [establishing] all the disciples.

 

As Christians we need to be strong – to be well grounded in the faith — to know what we believe — to have a close relationship with Jesus — to know the continual presence and filling of the Holy Spirit —

SO THAT – we may be sure of what we believe in the face of erroneous teaching               – be holy in the face of temptation

– be courageous in the face of opposition and persecution

 

Paul puts these two ideas of God’s power together in his letter to the Colossians ..

Colossians 2:6-7  6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord,  [the power to save] …  continue to live in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith  [the power to establish]  …as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (NIV)

 

 

2. GOD’S GOSPEL.

 

Romans 1:1-4   1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God — 2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God, by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 16:25-26          25 ….. to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, 26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God………..

 

What is the gospel? Gospel means good news. BUT what constitutes the good news?  He says it is a mystery — Paul doesn’t spell out here what this mystery is but he does elsewhere.

 

Colossians 2:2 2 My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, CHRIST, (NIV)

Colossians 1:27 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is CHRIST in you, the hope of glory. (NIV)

Ephesians 1:9-10 9 And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfilment — to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even CHRIST. (NIV)

 

This gospel which was a mystery to the people of the OT – it was hidden from them – it is no longer hidden – God has opened up this mystery so that it is no longer secret – he has revealed it in the person of Christ.

In order to know God’s good news – to know the gospel – we must know Christ!!

 

3. GOD’S COMMISSION.

 

Romans 1:5 5 Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith..

Romans 16:26 26 [The gospel] …..now revealed and made known ……………. so that all nations might believe and obey him — (NIV)

 

God’s power and God’s Gospel need to be made known to ALL NATIONS / PEOPLE therefore God commissions his people.

 

1) Prophetic writings — In the past this good news was made known through the  “prophetic writings” which can only refer to the OT. If this was so how was it a mystery? Did the OT people not see or understand this mystery? NO! It was only after the life, death and resurrection of Jesus that the people began, with the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, to see that the promises and prophecies of the OT referred to Jesus the Messiah.

Remember after the resurrection, when Jesus appears to his disciples in …

Luke 24:44        44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” (NIV)

 

As the apostles understood that the Messiah was Jesus of Nazareth, the OT opened up to them is a new way and they began to declare this GOOD NEWS /the gospel to everyone – first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles.

 

2) The command to evangelize the World – .. by the command of the eternal God  – We tend to focus on the commission to evangelize the world as coming from Jesus – and of course that is true – [Matt.28] – And in the introduction to his letter Paul says that he received “grace and apostleship to call people” to the gospel from Jesus Himself. BUT behind the risen Christ stood the eternal God whose purpose it has always been to reconcile to himself people from all nations – both Jews and Gentiles.

 

If we fail to understand and to act upon this truth of scripture we neglect the heart of the Christian faith. When I become a Christian I can’t pick and choose which bits of the gospel I will believe and which I won’t!  It is not a smorgasbord!! I accept Christ and all that he is and all the he stands for and all the he is aiming to accomplish in the world. If I fail to have a concern for other people and their eternal well-being. I am not only doing them a disservice but I am disobeying and dishonouring Christ to whom I claim to belong.

Paul tell the Corinthians … 2 Corinthians 5:20 20 We are .. Christ’s ambassadors, ….

Jesus told the disciples in Acts 1:8 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses ……….

The point is that if you are a Christian – you are an ambassador for Christ — you are a witness. The question is … What kind of an ambassador or witness are you?

 

Our commissioning orders to take this good news to the world come from none other than the Eternal God.

 

3) The obedience of faith – [1v5; 16v26] an identical phrase in both — What does this Phrase mean? It is quite clear from the NT the we come to Christ by faith alone – a major theme of Romans. Paul makes it quite clear that we can’t gain salvation by obeying the OT Law — nor by good works  — ONLY BY FAITH!!

BUT Paul here is talking about The obedience of faith not the obedience of Law. True faith has as an essential element obedience /or submission to Jesus Christ as Lord… It can’t be true faith without an acknowledgement of Christ as LORD.

On the other hand, while obedience is not a good work to merit salvation, BUT if it is true faith it will issue in a life of obedience to the one it claims as Lord.

If we claim to have come to faith in Christ, then our lives must by our obedience to him that that faith is genuine.

To be practical 1 John 3:17 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? (NIV)

1 John 4:20 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. (NIV)

 

Coming back to the nations – to those who don’t know Christ – can we ignore them and say that evangelism is not important – while at the same time claiming that we are followers of Christ — the same Christ who gave his life for the salvation of the world??!!

 

The eternal God who called us to himself now commands us to “Call all nations to believe and obey him”

 

4) ALL Nations – There is no limit as to who is to be told about Christ.

There are all kinds of theological arguments about election and God’s foreknowledge, about who God chooses etc. BUT when it comes to the practical level of how we as God’s people are to relate to the unbelieving world those arguments should be sidelined.  It is not for us to know the future in terms of who will or will not be saved. It is the responsibility of the church of God to be God’s heralds and to call the world to believe and to obey.

 

ILLUS. I remember Roy Clements saying how when a London City missioner came to his door to share the gospel – he as a young man questioned why he should believe in Christ to which the response came “Because God commands it!”

Quoting from Acts 17 where Paul is in Athens and he says to his hearers … Acts 17:30 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. (NIV)

 

God will condemn those who refuse to bow before him acknowledgeing their sinfulness and their need of a saviour – Christ!

 

God has left his church on earth with the express purpose of calling the nations to obey him. God will judge the nations if they refuse to obey – nations are made up of individuals. AND he will judge his people – us – if we fail to obey his command in calling others to obey Him. That is a very sobering thought!!

 

As Hudson Taylor, that great pioneer missionary to China, said “The great commission is not an option to be considered but a command to be obeyed!”

[Herbert Carson ] – “ The gospel is not like the Crown Jewels, locked in our ecclesiastical strong room. It is to be spread locally, and to the ends of the earth.”

 

It seems to me that many Christians are waiting around in the hope that somehow God will ‘zap’ them and carry them along in a kind of super-spiritual state to witness to friends and neighbours, with no effort on their part.

 

We don’t need to wait for a vision, or dream, or audible voice or a special experience – The instructions to be involved in the task of being a witness to the gospel are abundantly clear AND it is something the whole Church is called to and it is not the peculiar hobby of a few fanatics!

 

It is not always easy, nor always pleasant nor even is it always successful BUT if we claim that Jesus is our LORD then we have no other Choice but to obey him.

 

This should not simply be blind obedience BUT it should be the greatest joy and privilege that the Eternal God would give to us the immense honour of being his co-workers in calling All Nations to believe and obey him!!

 

4. GOD’S WISDOM.

 

Paul concludes his letter in praise of God’s wisdom.

Romans 16:27 27 to the only wise God be glory for ever through Jesus Christ! Amen. (NIV)

 

God’s wisdom is Christ himself

Colossians 2:3 3 in whom {CHRIST}  are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (NIV)

 

The pinnacle of God’s wisdom in Christ is seen in the cross – absolute foolishness to man’s way of thinking – BUT in that Calvary event is the salvation of the world.

 

1 Corinthians 1:20-24

20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (NIV)

 

When we see the power and wisdom of God displayed in salvation through Christ is it any wonder that Paul in 11v33f breaks out in praise to God

Romans 11:33

33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!

How unsearchable his judgments,

and his paths beyond tracing out! (NIV)

 

These three verse at the end of this letter encapsulate in a doxology the major theme to the wonderful letter to the Romans.

 

[ summarizes by John Stott]

The power of God to save and to establish; the gospel and the mystery once hidden and now revealed, which are Christ crucified and risen; The Christ-centred witness of OT scripture; The commission of God to make the good news universally known; the summons to all nations to respond with the obedience of faith; And the saving wisdom of God, to whom all glory is due forever.”

 

Romans 16:25-27

25 Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, 26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him — 27 to the only wise God be glory for ever through Jesus Christ! Amen. (NIV)

 

 

 

DOXOLOGY – “Praise to His Glory”

Romans 16:25-27

 

1. GOD’S POWER

     ² to save

     ² to strengthen

 

2. GOD’S GOSPEL

     ² once hidden in the Old Testament

     ² now revealed in Christ

 

3. GOD’S COMMISSION

     ² the prophetic writings

     ² the command to evangelize

     ² the obedience of faith

     ² to all nations

 

4. GOD’S WISDOM

     ² revealed in salvation

     ² revered in glory

 

 

 

 

Romans 16:25-27

     25 Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, 26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him — 27 to the only wise God be glory for ever through Jesus Christ! Amen. (NIV)

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