March 8. Romans 11:33-36. The Inscrutable Ways of God and Finding Answers in the Cross.

Romans 11:33-36. Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”

36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Much of Romans 9-11 (and the whole letter really) leaves us scratching our heads. God’s plan to save the world through Christ is beautiful and simple, and yet unsearchable and inscrutable. Paul has detailed how God has been at work in redemptive history through the Jews and the Gentiles. Hardening, softening, electing, grafting, proclaiming, mercy and judgment. Paul anticipates that some might call God unfair simply because they don’t always understand everything that he is doing.

It is true that we can’t always understand WHAT God is doing. But can we trust WHY God is doing it?

God does everything for his glory – To him be glory forever.

God is a Trinity. As a community, God will always do what brings glory to God. The Father will glorify the Son. The Son will glorify the Father. The Spirit will glorify the Father and Son. The Father and Son will glorify the Spirit. Always. There is no division. There is no competition. There is only the unrivaled beauty of his shared glory.

If we can trust that God does everything for his glory, then we can also trust that everything God does will ultimately be for the good? How? Because God’s glory IS his goodness.

Exodus 33:18-19. Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” 19 And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.

God will only do or allow what will ultimately be best. Whatever brings him the most glory, and us the most good (Romans 8:28-29).

Right now I am questioning everything I am writing. Do I really believe this? Is God really glorious? Is he really good?

Last night we found out that one of our dearest friends passed away suddenly. He was young, brilliant, genuine, caring, and passionate for Christ and his kingdom. He was a PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania studying archaeology. He truly was dedicated to using his research and influence in academia to reach people for Christ. His potential for the Kingdom seemed endless. How could his passing ever be turned into good?

Right now my heart is demanding an explanation from God. This deserve scrutiny. This deserves searching. But when I sat down to look at this blog today this is where God, and the book of Romans, has brought me – How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

Maybe it’s the macro level of God’s plan of salvation, Jews and Gentiles, hardening, and softening of hearts, election and predestination, that has you scratching your head.

Or maybe it’s the micro level of the untimely death of one of your best friends. How on earth does this glorify you God? How do any of the terrible things that we endure here on earth?

But these are God’s judgments. These are his ways. He is God.

But shouldn’t God have to give any account for this? For all his decisions? Especially the ones that leave us reeling down here?

On the one hand the answer must be “no, he doesn’t.” He’s God. And from him and through him and to him are all things. God doesn’t have to give an account for what he does with what is his. He’s the source of everything. He’s the purpose of everything. Everything and everyone exists for him (not for me). It’s almost farcical to think that I can demand a reckoning from God.

But on the other hand maybe God has already given an account for all his decisions. Isn’t that what the cross is? The judging of God? God in the dock (C.S.Lewis)? God on trial? God’s plans scrutinized? His choices examined?

In the cross, humanity’s demand for a response has been met. God’s defense is the cross. Only death produces resurrection glory. Only suffering produces faith. Grace is not the absence of pain and sorrow, it is God carrying our pain and sorrow on his cross right next to ours.

Our life in Christ has made the unsearchable judgments of God searchable, and the inscrutable ways of God knowable. Maybe not fully in this life. But “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” We will gain the full glory of God and the full knowledge of his plan. We will understand his judgments and be at peace with all his ways. When we see the crucified Jesus in the glory of his presence it will make everything from this life, even death, gain.

Maurice, enjoy your gain my friend.

How he lived.

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