ROMANS 11:33-36: “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments and untraceable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? And who has ever given to God, that he should be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.” CSB
OBSERVATION: What do I do when I cannot figure something out? When life throws me a curve, and it seems to contradict everything I previously thought, how do I respond? When I read God’s Word and I reach a verse that I cannot understand, what is my reaction?
All of these questions are relevant when I study Romans 9 – 11. Each time I read these chapters I have more questions than answers. I have read the commentaries many times as I have grappled with these verses. I feel I have a sense of what Paul is saying, yet I still have questions. And to be honest, I think Paul did too! Beware when anyone hands you a definition of life that is so neat and tidy that everything fits into a pre-made cubby hole.
I will never forget an experience I had as a young believer. I was on fire for the Lord. It is was the height of the Jesus Movement. I was ready to witness to the entire world and lead them to Christ. I shared the Lord with anyone that would listen. At work I witnessed to a Mormon coworker. He really acted interested and invited me to his house. I grabbed my Bible and was ready to win the entire household to Christ.
When I got there I was greeted by two older men with badges. Each badge said “Elder”, and then their name. They were extremely nice and polite, invited me to sit down, and then began to explain to me how I only had a partial Gospel. By the time I was done I walked out the door with my Bible in one hand and the Book of Mormon in the other hand. As I drove home I was never more confused or unsettled as I was in that moment.
We had a front porch at our home. It was nighttime and I went and sat on the front porch. I cried out to the Lord – “What is the truth?” And then I felt the overwhelming presence of the Holy Spirit in my heart. I knew that the Bible was true, and I knew that the Book of Mormon was false, but I did not know why. Yet, a wonderful peace came over my life. And shortly thereafter I would discover this truth.
- “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. I have not written to you because you don’t know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar, if not the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This one is the antichrist: the one who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; he who confesses the Son has the Father as well.” 1 John 2:20-23 CSB
Jesus said that the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit was given to lead and guide us into all truth. And the opposite is true also. The Holy Spirit will also protect us from error and deception. The verses in I John 2 do not mean that we have no need of studying. Rather, they highlight the role fo the Spirit in our life. He is the Spirit of Truth! We don’t go to school to receive the Holy Spirit. He indwells our hearts when we receive Jesus Christ. And, He empowers our life when we are baptized in the Spirit by Jesus Christ!
So how does this apply to understanding Romans 9-11? There is a tension in understanding the doctrines of election and free will. Paul felt that tension. He reminds us that God is the potter and we are the clay. And when He has finished his entire treatise he writes verses 33-36 in Romans 11.
- “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments and untraceable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? And who has ever given to God, that he should be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.”
When we come to places when we do not fully understand, when trying to fully explain the tension between two truths is humanly impossible, we too must come to the place when we submit our lives to the Spirit of Truth and trust in His sovereignty and wisdom! We will not fully understand all things in this life. However, we can know the One who does! And, we can place our lives securely under His grace and mercy.
Lord, Your ways are not my ways. I see in part, I know in part, but there is a day coming when I will stand before You face to face. I will then be fully known and Your ways will be revealed. Until that time, help me to continue to grapple with the Scriptures and trust in Your sovereignty, mercy, and grace. May I, along with the Apostle Paul, lift my hands and say,
- “To Him be the glory forever. Amen.”
In Jesus Name!