To God Be the Glory – Romans 11:36

So, Father, we ask now that this study be Your study because this text is Your Word. And I pray that Your Spirit would guide and direct us into the true understanding and application of this passage. So, God, we ask now for Your assistance in Christ’s name. Amen.


Alright, if you take your Bible, turn with me to Romans 11:36. And last time together, we began looking at the first half of this verse. Today, we are going to look at the second half of this verse, and we had a lot of questions last time, Kent, that were unanswered and we couldn’t get to. If you want to resend any questions, we will do our best as time allows. I have got a full plate here on what to teach so I just want to dive right into this so we will have time at the end. Also, following this, we will be doing Steadfast Hope, and there will be about a five-minute intermission and you will need to go to to pick up on Steadfast Hope. But here we go: Romans 11 verse 36. Buckle your pew belt. This is going to be a great study. So, beginning at the start of verse 36, “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.”


Everything in the book of Romans has been building and building and building to this mountain peak, “To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” I mentioned last time we noted the first half of the verse which we called a “God-centered theology.” The second half of the verse is a God-centered doxology, and it is the theology of the first half of this verse that produces the doxology in the second half of this verse, and so it is the truth that is creating this response. “From Him,” God is the source of all things, “through Him,” He is the means of all things, “to Him,” He is the aim and the purpose of all things in creation, in history, and in salvation.


So, having said that now, let us begin to look at the second half of this verse, “To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” Only if you have the theology in the first half of this verse can you give the doxology in the second half of this verse. And please note how Paul responds, “To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” I mean, Paul is red hot with blazing, passionate love for God because of what he has just taught in the first half of this verse, which is just a brief summary of Romans 1 through 11. There is no apathy in Paul. He is not one of the frozen chosen. There is only enthusiasm and zeal and excitement in Paul’s heart as a result of the totality of Romans 1 through 11. He can only respond, “To God be the glory forever. Amen.”


Now, if all things are not from God and through God and to God, then you cannot give all glory to God. If it is only partly from God and partly from man, if it is only partly through God and partly through man, then it will be only partly to God but partly to man, and there will be a diminished glory given to God. So, that is why our doctrine is so fundamentally important, because the higher our theology the higher our praise and our worship will be.


So, as we look at the second half of verse 36, “To Him be the glory forever. Amen,” I want us to break this out by asking five questions: Who? What? Why? When? How? Those great adverbial questions: Who? What? Why? When? How? I think this will be very easy for you to follow. So, let us dig into this. First is “Who?” Who is to be glorified? “To Him be the glory.” It is to God and God alone, and specifically here it is to God the Father. That distinction was made early on in the book of Romans. And if you turn back to Romans 1 verse 1, Paul introduces, “Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God.” God there is distinguished from Christ Jesus within the same verse. God is the same God as in verse 2 who, “promised beforehand through His prophets,” distinguished in verse 3 from “His Son, who was born of a descendent of David according to the flesh.” “God” at the end of verse 1 is God the Father.


Just to further drive home this point, if you would look in verse 7, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father,” and distinguished, “and the Lord Jesus Christ.” The same distinction is in the next verse, verse 8, “I thank my God through Jesus Christ.” God is distinguished from Jesus Christ. In verse 8, God is God the Father; Jesus Christ is God the Son. Look at verse 9, the next verse, “For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son.” So, in verse 9, “God” is God the Father, “Son” is God the Son.


What I am wanting you to see is that as Paul uses “God,” it is specifically for God the Father. We see it, for example, again in verses 16 and 17, “I am not ashamed of the gospel. It is the power of God for salvation,” that is God the Father. Verse 17, “For in it the righteousness of God,” that is God the Father, “is revealed from heaven.” Verse 18, “the wrath of God.” So, I think the point is made that in Romans 11:36 when he says, “To Him be the glory,” the reference is really to God the Father who is the Author and the Architect of the gospel, who is the One who sent God the Son and who has sent God the Spirit.


But let me just drive this nail down a little bit deeper into the board. In Romans 5, beginning in verse 1, I want you to see again the distinction between God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Here, they are not the same person. God is God the Father. Jesus Christ is God the Son. So, in verse 1, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God,” that is God the Father, “through our Lord Jesus Christ,” that is God the Son. Look in verse 8, if you will, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” God is God the Father. Christ Jesus or Christ is God the Son. It is really an echo of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” God the Father “so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son.”


Look at Romans 5 verse 9, “Much more then, having been justified by His blood,” that is the blood of God the Son, “we shall be saved from the wrath of God,” that is the wrath of God the Father. Look at verse 10, “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son.” We are reconciled to God the Father by the death of God the Son. So, that is why in verse 11 we exult or give praise to God the Father, and not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, we are giving glory to God the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ.


I want to take us to one more text in Romans. Come to the end of the book of Romans. And this is just a point that needs to be made. Who is to be glorified? God the Father. Look at Romans 16 beginning in verse 25. This is how the book of Romans concludes. “Now to Him.” Who is the “Him?” Well, let us keep reading, “who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ.” So, “Him” is distinguished from Jesus Christ, “according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God.” That is God the Father, “has been made known to all the nations, leading to the obedience of faith.” Now verse 27, “to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ.” “God” is God the Father, “through Jesus Christ,” that is God the Son.” Please note, “be the glory forever. Amen.” Sounds like Romans 11:36, does it not? So, Romans 16:25 to 27 becomes an interpreter of Romans 11:36. “To Him be the glory.” Who is the “Him”? I think it is pretty obvious. It is God the Father.


Now, we give glory to God the Son and we give glory to God the Holy Spirit. So, this is not precluding worship being given to the Son and to the Spirit, but in this text in Romans 11:36, I just want us to be crystal clear in our understanding that it is God the Father who is sending the Son, and He and the Son sending the Spirit. It is the Father who is the Author of the gospel and the eternal decree. So, let us not lose sight of giving praise to God the Father as we are also giving praise to God the Son and God the Spirit. I have said before and I want to say it again that I believe the forgotten Person of the Trinity is, strangely enough, God the Father. In these days in which everything is Christocentric and we are all for being Christ-centered, but I want to be like Jonathan Edwards, I want to be Trinitarian. I don’t want to lose sight of God the Father and God the Spirit while I am focused on God the Son. So, who is to be glorified in this text? It is God the Father. In your worship and praise, may you give worship and praise to God the Father as you also praise the Son and the Spirit.


Now, second: “What?” What is the glory due God? Come back to our text in Romans 11:36, “To Him be the glory.” Do you see that word, “glory”? It is the Greek word doxa from which we derive the English word “doxology.” It is a twofold. I can hear R.C. Sproul in my ear right now, not literally, but by memory telling me, “Steve, theologians have to make careful distinctions.” So, here I want to make a distinction between the two ways “glory” is used in the Bible. One is God’s intrinsic glory; the second is His ascribed glory.


So first, His intrinsic glory. That is, “glory” is used as the sum and the substance of all that God is. It is the composite of all of the attributes of God: His holiness, His sovereignty, His righteousness, His love, His grace, His mercy, His truth, etc. All of that is the intrinsic glory of God. You cannot give intrinsic glory to God. God is who God is. He is the God who was, who is, who shall be forever. “From everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” God is never increasing in His intrinsic glory, He is never decreasing in His intrinsic glory. He is immutable throughout all the ages in His intrinsic glory. So, we cannot give intrinsic glory to God. God is who God is.


So, this leads us to the second use of “glory” in the Bible, and that is “ascribed glory,” and that is how it is used here. Ascribed glory is the glory that we give to God, and in that sense ascribed glory is the praise and the worship that we give to God. That’s how it is used here, “To Him be the glory.” Ascribed glory belongs to God the Father. He is a jealous God and will not share His glory with another. Ascribed glory is how it is used. Let me give you three quick cross-references: Ephesians 3:21, “To Him be the glory. 1 Timothy 1:17, “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” Sounds much like Romans 11:36. That glory in 1 Timothy 1:17, Kent, is the glory that we are to ascribe to God the Father.


And let me tell you how this works. The more you perceive and understand God’s intrinsic glory, the more you will ascribe glory to God. In other words, the more you grow in the knowledge of God’s intrinsic glory, who He is, the more ascribed glory you will give to Him. That is why the preacher who exposits the Word of God is in reality the primary worship leader in any church. The music leader is just that. He is the music leader and hopefully what is being sung will be sound doctrine and theology, but he is only a secondary worship leader. The primary worship leader is the man who opens this book and gives a fuller knowledge of who God is. So, that is why understanding the intrinsic glory of God is so important.


Let me give you one more cross-reference though, just to round this out, in Revelation 4 and verse 11. This is crystal clear. I hope it is becoming clearer to you. Revelation 4:11. The scene around the throne and the redeemed saints and the angelic hosts are saying this to the Lord, God the Father, “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power.” This glory is the ascribed glory that we are to give to God. Here it is synonymous with giving honor to God. The word “power” here is a part of His intrinsic glory. They are not giving power to God; they are recognizing the power that He has, and in so doing that causes their heart to be ignited with greater worship to give glory and honor to God. Well, I hope you are able to track with all of that.


The difference between intrinsic glory and ascribed glory, let me just very quickly give you just a couple more cross-references on intrinsic glory. I think this will be very clear in Ephesians 1 and verse 6, it says, “To the praise of the glory of His grace.” There, glory is His intrinsic glory. Praise is ascribed glory. Very clear. The same in Ephesians 1 verse 12, “To the praise of His glory.” There, praise represents ascribed glory, and in that text “glory” represents intrinsic glory. The same is in Ephesians 1 verse 14, “To the praise of His glory.” We give praise as we behold His intrinsic glory. Okay, enough of that. Let me ask you, do you give ascribed glory to God? It is one thing for you to have this down in your head. Is it in your heart? And do you rise up and bless the name of the Lord?


This leads us to “Why?” Why should we give glory to God? And that is found in the first half of this verse which we looked at last time, “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.” When you understand that truth, you then give glory to God. It is not created by mood music or elevator music at church. That can add some octane to the tank, and it does, but it is not what ignites it and is driving it. It is the truth, “You shall worship God in Spirit and in truth.” It is the truth of sound doctrine that ignites our heart in worship for God. Another way also to look while we are on this, “From Him, through Him, and to Him,” another way to look at those three prepositional phrases, “From Him” is from eternity past, “Through Him” is within time, and “To Him” is into eternity future. And that is really another way of looking at, “Those whom He foreknew, He predestined; whom He predestined, He called; whom He called, He justified; whom He justified, He glorified.” That is from Him, through Him and to Him. Romans 8:29 and 30, which is another way of saying, “Salvation is of the Lord.”


But let us keep walking through this because, Kent, we are going to have time to do questions. The next adverb is “When?” When should we give glory to God? That is number four. When should we give glory to God? Number four, it will appear. There it is on the screen. The word “forever.” “To Him be the glory forever.” That is when you should be giving praise to God, forever. Don’t ever stop giving praise to God. Forever, in good times and in bad times, in days of prosperity but also in days of adversity, when you are on the mountaintop but also when you are in the valley. Forever.


The word “forever” is actually three words in the original Greek language, which is literally translated “to the ages” or “into the ages,” and the idea is throughout all eternity future, that there will never come an end to the praise that we will give to God. It will take all eternity future for us to be able to give adequate praise to God. We will never come to the end of our understanding of the greatness of God. Therefore, there will never come an end to our giving praise and worship to God. So, right now is just a warm up for forever. Let us praise God now knowing that we will be praising Him throughout all eternity.


Let me give you some cross-references, and I am just going to run through these rather quickly. Romans 16:27, “To the only wise God be the glory forever.” Galatians 1:3, “God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forevermore.” Ephesians 3:21, “To Him be the glory to all generations forever and ever.” Philippians 4:20, “Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever.” 2 Timothy 4:18, “To Him be the glory forever and ever.” Hebrews 13:21, “Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever.” 1 Peter 5:11, “To Him be dominion forever and ever.” 2 Peter 3:18, “To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity.” And Jude 25, “To the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority before all time and now and forever.”


This is a repeating theme throughout the New Testament that we are to give glory to God forever. That is why John Newton, when he wrote Amazing Grace, he wrote, “When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we have no less days to give God praise than when we’d first begun.” Forever and ever and ever, we will give praise to our God.


Well, the final adverb is “How?” How should we respond? It is the last word of verse 36, “Amen.” Or if you are a Presbyterian, “Ah-men.” “Amen,” which means, “Surely, it is true,” which means “Yes, it is so,” which means “Let it be so.” It is our affirmation of sound doctrine and all that has been said. It means, “Yes, yes, one thousand times, yes,” to put it in the vernacular, loosely translated.


Paul is saying “Amen” to everything that he has written in Romans 1:1 to Romans 11:36a. Everything in the book of Romans that has led up to this, Paul is now punctuating this with a strong, fervent, passionate, “Amen.” And I hope in your heart right now there is vibrating and revibrating a strong “Amen” in your soul. I hope in your church people say, “Amen.” I hope you don’t worship in a mausoleum. I hope you worship in a place where the people of God say, “Amen.” The Bible says, “Amen.” The Apostle Paul says, “Amen.” And it is another way of saying, “Truly, truly, I say unto you.”


So, I want to ask you, can you say “Amen” to everything that has led up? Can you say “Amen” to that the whole human race is under the wrath of God? Can you say “Amen” that there is justification by faith alone, in Christ alone? Can you say “Amen” that we have died with Christ, we have been buried with Christ, we have been raised with Christ, and the Spirit of God now indwells all who have been justified, and everyone who has been justified is now being sanctified? Can you say “Amen” to that? There are no justified saints who are not being sanctified. Can you say “Amen” to glorification and the eternal security of the believer? Can you say “Amen” to God’s sovereign election, that “Jacob I loved and Esau I have hated”? Can you say “Amen” that “it does not depend upon the man who wills or upon the man who runs, but upon God who has mercy”? Can you say “Amen” that God is the potter and has made from one lump of clay some vessels for destruction and other vessels for glory? Can you say “Amen” to that?


If you cannot say “Amen” to condemnation, justification, sanctification, glorification, election, and predestination, then you need to hold your tongue because you cannot say “Amen” at the end of Romans 11:36. This “Amen” is predicated upon every single doctrine that the Apostle Paul has taught in the first eleven chapters of the book of Romans. Can you say “Amen” that all Israel will yet be saved at the end of this age, that God will not forsake His ancient people? Amen. Amen. Amen.


So, Kent, this brings us to the end of Romans 11:36, and the next time we meet, which will be next week, we will cross the river into Romans 12 and begin the practical section of the book of Romans. But I just want everyone who is listening to this to know the Apostle Paul is excited for this truth he has just taught. I am excited. I want you to be excited. The Holy Spirit wants to ignite your heart and your soul. The Lord Jesus Christ is surely giving His “Amen” and God the Father. Let us join in with the Apostle Paul in giving our “Amen.”