Soli Deo Gloria - The Banner Over Us

Romans 11:33-36

Soli Deo Gloria—The Banner Over Us

This morning, take your Bible and turn with me to Romans 11. Romans 11:33-36. There is also a copy of the text, along with the sermon outline provided for you in your worship guide.

Today is our final week in the series we have been doing on the Solas of the Reformation. We have been making our way through the Five Solas. If you missed the first four you can go back and listen to them online. 

But this is the final week, and this last sola is Soli Deo Gloria. It is listed last intentionally—not because it goes from most important to least important, but it is a fitting conclusion. It is the capstone and the summation of the other four.

If you were to sum up all that was recovered in the protestant reformation, the supremacy of God was the end result of the recovery of Scripture, the restoration of Christ to His proper place, and the key doctrines of salvation including justification by faith alone, and salvation by grace alone.

Well if you are anything like me, your worship of God waxes and wanes. You love God, you want to worship Him rightly, but you can be inconsistent. 

If we are honest, sometimes our worship of God falls far below what we read about in Scripture. Sure, we believe God deserves worship. We know it is something that we ought to partake in. But in our neglect, He isn’t all that central and ultimately worthy of our attention or adoration.

Perhaps you are full of joy in God today, or maybe your heart is cold and distant. Whatever the case, by ambition in our next minutes together is to reestablish God’s rightful place of highest praise in each of our hearts. To realign our perspectives with a fresh vision of the glory of God.

Before you start a small gasoline engine you must prime the motor by squeezing that little bubble that starts the flow of gasoline into the chamber so you can start the engine. Well that’s what we are going to do together this morning.

The apostle Paul is exalting our great God. And studying his reflection is stimulating and invigorating in our own worship of God as we eavesdrop on his praise. Paul has just been recounting God’s salvation plan, which we will look at in more detail later. But on the heels of this reflection he says, beginning in v.33:

Romans 11:33–36—33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! 34 For Who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? 35 Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? 36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

This is spontaneous praise that comes rushing to the surface of Paul’s expression as he reflects on God’s grandeur. Most specifically, as it pertains to God’s plan of salvation, but it goes beyond that to His work as Creator as well.

Trying to capture this spontaneity in stating that:

Paul Bursts into Three Expressions of Praise to Our God

  1. God’s Holiness is Unfathomable (33) His Perfections & Purposes
  2. God’s Existence is Unrivaled (34-35)
  3. God’s Glory is Ultimate (36)

That sounds arbitrary or overly emotive. But it isn’t. Note the first word: Oh

Omega, the last letter in the Greek alphabet. Why is it here? It’s exclamatory. You would shout “O” in Hebrew, “O” in Greek, and “O” in English. Surprise. Shock. Exclamation.

When Paul wrote the new testament, his original manuscripts did have upper case and lower-case letter. Everything was already capitalized. Furthermore, there was no punctuation. We have some school-aged children that wish they grew up learning Koine Greek rather than Engilsh.

So today we get all of the wonderful joys of people emphasizing things by writing in all capitals, or using quadruple exclamation points. As a side note, please don’t use multiple exclamation points—the point of an exclamation point is that you are emphasizing something… one will do.

But instead of capitalizing or using exclamation points, an author uses Oh for making an exclamation. So, Oh is exclamatory. 

And, it often precedes an intense warning or correction:

  • Paul uses it when he warns Timothy to guard the Gospel deposit (1 Timothy 6:20) O Timothy.
  • He uses the expression when he frankly rebukes the churches in Galatia (Galatians 3:1) saying O you foolish Galatians.
  • Our Lord used it on the Emmaus Road (Luke 24:25), when He said, O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken.

And so here is spontaneous praise. There are other indicators, such as the fact that this is a verb less phrase that indicates, as one grammarian put it: “this is the equivalent of an “emotional outburst” by Paul.” 

Now, generally speaking, emotional outbursts are to be avoided. But this outburst is not stemming from a lack of self-control, but rather is a sanctified outburst. 

It is sanctified, because it is deeply rooted, not in emotion, but in theology. It’s as if as Paul contemplates God’s grandeur, he can’t help himself. Praise is both natural and expected of something that’s praiseworthy.

I mean if right now in the middle of my sermon we put up some photos of kittens and puppies in little elf costumes, I guarantee that we would hear an audible, “awwww” echo throughout the room. 

Why? Because it’s cute. And when people see cute things we coo. It’s natural and I would dare say even expected.

How much greater then, does the contemplation of our majestic God result in audible expression? Our Trinitarian God compels not only our hearts, but our mouths, and when we see Him rightly, we are moved to praise. 

That’s what Paul is experiencing here. Out of the overflow of the mouth the heart speaks (Matthew 12:34) when Jesus says it He is highlighting the negative, but it cuts both ways. And here it is a song of praise that is beginning in the heart and bubbling out through mouth.

Totally different than contrived praise. I had a praise leader that while we were singing in church he used to do a big cheesy smile and point at it in effort to get people to look happy while singing to God. Smiling isn’t the only way to express praise as if that was the issue. But praise isn’t something you talk yourself into.

Genuine praise flows out of the heart. And genuine praise by definition includes a joyful expression. Praising God is content-driven, resulting in emotions, not emotion-driven. Paul as he sat writing this letter amidst writer’s cramp and everything else going on his life is experiencing powerful, intense emotions.

Well I trust that I have your attention now, and you are ready to discover along with me, what exactly it is that has Paul praising God so vigorously. And so, we come to Paul’s first expression of praise to our God.

Paul Bursts into Three Expressions of Praise to Our God

  1. God’s Holiness is Unfathomable (33)
  2. God’s Existence is Unrivaled (34-35)
  3. God’s Glory is Ultimate (36)                        

(33) Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! 

Paul’s praise here is not focused on those parts of God which He does understand, but rather those parts of God that He doesn’t understand. Paul’s praise here is not focused on those parts of God which He does understand, but rather those parts of God that He doesn’t understand. 

Here is the beginning. God’s holiness compels worship. Remember holiness isn’t righteousness or perfectness. Holiness is God’s “otherness” the fact that He is set apart from His creatures as distinct. 

Average and ordinary things aren’t worth getting all excited about. You don’t tell all your friends about how exciting it was that you had Cheerios for breakfast. Or do a touchdown dance when you park the car without hitting the cars next to you.

The depths are not average and ordinary though. The depths is that which is far-reaching, and beyond us. The point is it pushes past the outer boundaries. Fathomless. 

But the grammatical weight here isn’t on the head noun, depths. No, here the modifiers are the important words. It’s a rhetorical device that indicates the riches and the wisdom and the knowledge. In other words it isn’t that God is deep, but rather that His riches are so rich, and His wisdom is of such a different kind and category and are so wise, and His knowledge so far exceeds anything you could even imagine.

Three fathomless perfections of God, displayed supremely in His salvation plan.

For the sake of clarity, just a brief note on how to understand riches. Some of your Bibles translate this verse as depth of riches, which modifies wisdom and knowledge with that concept. The NASB and KJV do this. 

The ESV on the other hand takes riches as being parallel to wisdom and knowledge. It reads: the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! The reason for the discrepancy is that the grammar could technically go either way. 

In Paul’s actual expression all three are given in parallel. Most likely the reason to take riches as related to depth is because in the NT whenever we read about the riches of God it is in conjunction with something else. It is never just riches (Romans 9:23 the riches of his glory; Ephesians 1:7—the riches of His grace). Secondly, wisdom and knowledge are two peas in a pod. They go together like peanut butter and jelly and so riches becomes the odd one out.

Both concepts are true. I believe Paul’s emphasis here in the context favors the way the ESV renders this. And when Paul speaks of riches, He has on his mind the riches of His glory and grace.

In effect, this is what has just taken place. Paul has spent the last 1,500 words from 9:1 to 11:32 recounting God’s redemptive plan to pluck out vessels for honor from humanity and rescue them from the vessels for destruction. He has reflected on how Israel rejected God, but God has not forgotten Israel and is even now preserving a remnant, and will one day restore His people to Himself.

And as he is writing, it is in heart to move into the application of these truths, which will begin in 12:1. But before he gets there, Paul exclaims: O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!

This whole thing is beyond me. All of these relate to salvation.

  • Riches: 11:2 the abundance of God’s kindness. Ephesians 3:8 the unfathomable riches of Christ. It is bestowed lavishly.
  • Wisdom: the plan of salvation as He designed it. God could have created us without a plan for salvation—consider the angels. He could have created creatures that were robots who didn’t exercise the will to choose to worship or to rebel. But in his wisdom giving creatures the ability to choose, having them choose false ways, then redeeming some of them is wise. It maximizes his glory.
  • Knowledge: God knows everything possible and everything impossible. He knows what He created, didn’t create, and could have created. Here knowledge probably relates to God’s foreknowledge (related to 8:29, and 11:2)? God’s knowledge of us, not our knowledge of Him. It refers to his ordination of all things.

God has significant wisdom and knowledge in all things, but here the primary context is that of His saving plan… Jews and Gentiles in chapters 9-11.

Paul is not thinking abstractly here but concretely of God’s wisdom and activity with regard to Jews and Gentiles. In his wisdom and knowledge, He has planned history so that his judgments and ways would be effected in the lives of both Jews and Gentiles. He has imprisoned all in disobedience in order to lavish his mercy upon all.

The next phrases further express the same thought:

How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!

These words are overlapping in meaning. Two parts saying the same thing. Unsearchable and unfathomable are synonyms, as are judgments and ways. Judgments and ways here refer to God’s salvation planning. 

A lot of times we hear judgments and we think legal verdict. But this is better understood as:

[God’s] executive designs about the direction of salvation history.

How God decides to direct the course of history. Some are in and some are out. The way God formulated His plan… the whole nine yards from beginning to end are his ways.

Unsearchable means impossible to get your mind around. Human imagination can’t capture or explain how and why God does what He does, beyond His judgments are unsearchable.

And unfathomable means untraceable or trackable. It would be like footprints that a hunter cannot follow. You are on the trail for a little bit, and then whatever you were tracking went across the river. You lost it.

Paul is quoting Job here. What does Job have to do with this? Job illustrates the folly of you and I trying to understand and explain all of God’s ways—particularly as it relates to his salvation plan.

You and I don’t even know the fullness of God’s plan with Job. But we understand more than Job did—the whole interaction with Satan and the vindication of Job, and the sanctifying effect this trial had on Job’s life. 

But you had a group of people putting their heads together with all their collective wisdom to scrutinize and understand and explain God’s ways: Job, his wife, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. How many of them came to fully understand on their own? Crickets.

Paul doesn’t mean you can’t understand how to be saved. Paul doesn’t mean you can’t understand those things that God has written about. But at some point, we have to admit that it is too much for us.

The finite attempting to comprehend the infinite is like a worm trying to comprehend a human.

The connection to Isaiah 40 is interesting in this regard. In Isaiah 40 the context is God promising to deliver Israel from Babylon. I’m going to deliver a little, relatively weak nation, out of the hands of a strong and powerful one. It seemed astounding. 

First God orchestrates their captivity, and then He orchestrates their release. He gets glory in their punishment, which was the promised consequence of breaking the covenant they had made. Then He gets glory in their redemption, by bringing them out of captivity. Sound familiar?

And now in Romans 9-11 God leaves Israel for Gentiles, and yet before the end of this era, God will be in a widespread manner, saving ethnic Jews into the church. No one could expect that plan before it happened.

Paul bursts out with a marvelous doxology, in which he rejoices that God’s temporarily setting Israel aside glorifies His incomprehensibility. The full wonder of God’s gracious omnipotence is wholly beyond human understanding. It staggers even the most mature Christian mind, including the mind of the apostle himself.

This is incredible. We can understand the basics of Creation, Fall, Redemption, but the whys and the why nots. Who’s in and who’s out.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so my ways are not your ways, neither are your ways my ways… God is not a man that He should change His mind…

Paul Bursts into Three Expressions of Praise to Our God

  1. God’s Holiness is Unfathomable (33)
  2. God’s Existence is Unrivaled (34-35)
  3. God’s Glory is Ultimate (36)

We are guilt of a great reversal and begin to think that God exists for us rather than us existing for Him. And so Paul is going to flip this on its head by asking three rhetorical questions. You know what a rhetorical question is. It’s a question that you ask that isn’t really a question at all.

You are making a point and using a question to express it. In fact, if someone responds we usually get annoyed. These are questions such as:

A few examples of these include questions such as:

  • Can fish swim?
  • Can birds fly?

Or perhaps even closer to the rhetoric driving a humbling point home:

  • You didn't possibly think I would say yes to that did you?
  • Do you want to be a big failure for the rest of your life?

It serves a rhetorical purpose. Not to gain insight, but to give it out. And so, Paul asks…

(34) For Who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor?  35 Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again?

The answer to each one of these questions, of course, is no one. The point isn’t to get the answer right. The point is that the question causes you to slow down and ponder it for a moment. The three questions put us humans where we belong.

The three questions remind us that: we can’t comprehend the ultimate purposes of God, we cannot the ways of God, and as His creatures, God owes us nothing.

(34) For Who has known the mind of the Lord,

Who understands or foresees the purpose of God. We say this when we know someone well. Hey, before you said that, I could read your mind. What do we mean? We knew what you were going to do before you did it because we are acquainted with your ways.

Who has anticipated God’s next move and what was in His mind? At best, we have a dim reflection of what He has given to us in His word. But certainly nothing beyond that. It’s vain speculation.

or who became His counselor?  

The absurdity of the creature attempting to give God some help in counseling and correcting Him. Force of the language is who has counseled God? Anyone here had God try to find an opening on your calendar to squeeze in a 90-minute counseling session? Maybe He just needed some quick advice. Laughable when you put it like that.

There isn’t a day that goes by in which you and I aren’t operating off of counsel we have received. Everything from how to prepare a meal to driving a car, to carrying on a conversation, you learned from someone else. 

God can’t relate to us on this one. He has never learned or improved.

Paul is quoting Isaiah 40:13—CONTEXT OF ISAIAH?

Isaiah 40:13—Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, Or as His counselor has informed Him?

The third question…

(35) Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again?

Here strikes the deepest never in the hearts of people who don’t embrace the sovereignty of God. When you first read the text it almost reads as if it is like when David prays that he doesn’t want to give something to God that doesn’t cost him something.

In other words, who has given to God first as if it was his to begin with. A better way of understanding this though is who is indebted to whom. The prevailing thought of the day is that God owes mankind. Humanism reasons that human flourishing is the highest good.

For that to be the case, for God to do anything less than what is best for each creature is wrong. Paul has just said that isn’t the case. That God doesn’t owe anyone anything. Even sending Christ, although an expression of His divine love and mercy and compassion, wasn’t because He was in desperation about what He would do having lost something so valuable as you and me.

Paul is alluding to Job—context…

Job 35:7—If you are righteous, what do you give to Him, Or what does He receive from your hand?

Job 41:11—Who has given to Me that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is Mine.

Shatters the idea that God somehow owes us anything. If you want to get technical in fact, about who is indebted to whom it is us to God. 

As the songwriter penned: “From life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny.”

1 Chronicles 29:14—But who am I and who are my people that we should be able to offer as generously as this? For all things come from You, and from Your hand we have given You.

God’s purpose stands without feedback or judgment from the likes of you or me.

God accomplished his plan … to save some Jews and Gentiles is wise and just. He is debtor to no one’s wisdom, strength, or goodness, and he has accomplished his purposes by his own initiative.

This might sound crass to you, but God doesn’t say thank you. Because He’s the originator. We thank Him… that’s the order. This is a divine putting us in our rightful place.

As Paul asks these questions, it makes clear that to attempt to explain and understand the fullness of God’s purposes, or to sit in judgment over how He executes His salvation plan, or whom He saves, or believing that He owes you or anyone else something is like playing the Monday morning quarterback.

You think that God’s sovereign election is hard for you to stomach. Paul has just written about how his heart breaks to see his fellow countryman sit so near salvation and be cut off so that the Gentiles might be grafted into the branch.

That’s the guy at the office who is an expert in what the all-star quarterback of his favorite team should have done. Meanwhile this coworker couldn’t throw a football across the parking lot, or sprint down the football field once, but he can tell you what play should have been called and how it should have been executed. 

That guy needs to be quiet. You are out of your league and you have no business speaking the way you are speaking right now. You see this and you say, “you know what? I’m going to let God be God, and I’m going to just be quiet on this one.” And yet that is enough—my soul finds rest in God alone.

It is not wrong to struggle with these truths. They are hard. But to say, “God, I’m struggling, help me to understand, and help by doubt and fears, and I trust you, but I’m having a hard time with this” is categorically different than sitting in judgment and putting God on trial for a plan that you don’t like and assessing it as not being in keeping with His character.

When God seems unjust, humility flips the chairs and puts self in the hot seat. Humility recognizes that God is not the one on trial. You can’t assess His wisdom or counsel Him. His purposes must be vindicated. And so, you say, “may I be wrong, and let God be found true!”

Well God is incomprehensible to us—His Holiness is Unfathomable, and God is self-existent—His existence is unrivaled. And that brings us finally to the culmination of it all…

Paul Bursts into Three Expressions of Praise to Our God

  1. God’s Holiness is Unfathomable (33)
  2. God’s Existence is Unrivaled (34-35)
  3. God’s Glory is Ultimate (36)

(36) For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

Herein lies the explanation for why you can’t counsel God, and why you can’t give to Him in any way that would leave Him indebted to you. It’s all about Him from beginning to end. There is absolutely nothing intrinsic that you could give to God that didn’t first come from Him.

When studying this passage, I couldn’t escape the thought that “if I were to sum up the entire Bible in one verse I think this would be it.”

Genesis 1—in the beginning God, Revelation 22—I am the beginning and the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.

Cover to cover of the Bible, and eternity to eternity is all about Him. Look at these familiar words with me:

  • from Him [ἐξ]—source, originator, Creator of all. He imagined it and then invented it. He borrowed no power or wisdom in the process. This earth, the mountains and valleys, the seasons, the oceans and the moon and the stars and the galaxy, honey bees, and mango trees, and you and me.
  • through Him [διʼ]—instrumental means, sustainer…
  • to Him [εἰς]—directed, meeting final conclusion, goal
  • all things—nothing that is excluded here… good things? τα παντα
  • to Him be the glory forever—the ultimate end of all things… not some glory, not part of the glory, but the glory.

As Tom Schreiner states:

The purpose for which the world was created is God’s purpose. It is fitting, therefore, that the text ends with an acclamation of God’s glory. The one from whom and through whom and to whom are all things deserves all the glory. 

The salvation of Jews and Gentiles is glorious. But it isn’t ultimate. It penultimate. That means it sits underneath that which is ultimate, namely the glory of God. All of history is to point to this one great reality.

One of the essential components of worldview is meaning and purpose. Why do we exist? For humanist this life is it. There is nothing beyond this life, so make the most of it. This viewpoint was summed up by the late Christopher Hitchens when he famously said concerning death and the afterlife:

It will happen to all of that at some point you'll be tapped on the shoulder and told, not just that the party is over, but slightly worse: the party's going on but you have to leave.

Friends if you follow an atheistic worldview to its end, if you believe that we are carbon and animals progressing in life as survival of the fittest then you cannot have any basis for morality or meaning.

Racism can’t be bad—it’s just survival of the fittest and we band together in self-interest and the people in power win. Poverty can’t be bad—it’s natural selection. Even horrific crimes such as abuse and murder and rape—can’t be morally wrong. We don’t prosecute polar bears for eating their offspring, or lions for chasing down gazelle and violating their rights. 

Thankfully, atheists aren’t consistent on this point, but if you were to remove God from existence then you are left without a basis for moral distinctions and without a basis for meaning and purpose.

It becomes everyone get as much as you want for yourself before you leave.

The supremacy of God over all things is reality that the sinful man attempts to deny. Romans 1 says sinners actively suppress this truth. Why? Because it infringes upon personal independence, it provides divine accountability, it limits freedoms and morality.

If time: “The Makings of a Miserable Millennial.”  

I am here to proclaim to you, that the knowledge of the supremacy of God does the exact opposite. You want to cripple people? Tell that how special and unique and important they are. Feed them the lie that their personal happiness and doing what they love and what they are passionate about is the most important thing. Tell the them that there is not God to restrict them. You know what you get? Emptiness. Discontentment. 

I’m not arguing from pragmatism that because that worldview is destructive it is false. But I put it forth to you as an illustration of the sheer folly of denying the biblical worldview.

If you want to know the greatest liberty and joy in this life it is not receiving all of the pleasure and blessing and entitlement that you can in this life, but rather in knowing the God who is worthy of all praise and honor and glory and power forever.

All things are from Him and through Him and to Him. And that gives this life meaning and color and purpose. 

In the 1800’s, a revival occurred in Geneva, Switzerland—a familiar city to the protestant reformation 200 years earlier. This revival took place under the ministry of a man by the name of Robert Haldane. Haldane was a captain with the British East India Company, and quite wealthy.

Yet God saved the man as an adult, and he began to devote himself to the furtherance of the Gospel. He arrived in Geneva in 1815 and was reading his Bible one day in the park when he got into a discussion with a group of theological students. None of whom understood the Gospel.

So, Haldane began bi-weekly bible studies with the men. When the first met, these men were entrenched in wrong views of God, man, and Christ. And yet as they studied Romans, the men were not only all converted, but they went on to be powerfully used by God throughout Europe for the sake of the Gospel. 

Haldane wrote a letter to the pastor of a Swiss Reformed Church, to let him know what had happened to these young men, and how it had happened. Allow me to read a portion of the letter, directly. Listen to the transformation:

There was nothing brought under the consideration of the students of divinity who attended me at Geneva which appeared to contribute so effectually to overthrow their false system of religion, founded on philosophy and vain deceit, as the sublime view of the majesty of God presented in the four concluding verses of this part of the epistle: Of him, and through him, and to him, are all things. Here God is described as his own last end in everything that he does.

Judging of God as such an one as themselves, they were at first startled at the idea that he must love himself supremely, infinitely more than the whole universe, and consequently must prefer his own glory to everything besides. But when they were reminded that God in reality is infinitely more amiable and more valuable than the whole creation and that consequently, if he views things as they really are, he must regard himself as infinitely worthy of being more valued and loved, they saw that this truth was incontrovertible.

What’s the point? Revival came to Geneva, 200 years after the Reformation, as the supremacy of God was recovered in the hearts and minds of God’s people. 

When we study God’s sovereignty and supremacy over all things it is to fill us with wonder and awe and inspire devotion and worship. And this is the truth that brings true and lasting joy and meaning and purpose to life. 

You were created to live with God. You exist for God. 

Conclusion

You want to make use of this life? Live for the glory of God! You want fullness of joy—it doesn’t come from anything under the sun. You won’t find ultimate satisfaction in relationships, in reputation, or in riches.

As the Psalmist exclaimed:

My soul finds rest in God alone and delight yourself in the Lord. And through the prophets 

Jeremiah 2:13—For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water.

And Let him who boasts, boast

Jeremiah 9:24— but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things," declares the LORD. 

My friends, this is where John Piper nails it. God’s glory and your joy are not opposed to one another. Rather, in knowing God, in loving God, and doing life with Him and for Him, you will find the greatest joy possible in this life. 

He is the fountain of living water. He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. The first and the last. For all things are from Him, and through Him and to Him… to Him be the glory forever.

And when you embrace that program, then you are fulfilling your God-intended purpose for breathing. First in your creation, and second in your redemption.

Living for the glory of God helps in trials because you find rest knowing that God’s maximum glory is being exalted, and that’s what you truly want most.

The apostle Paul was captivated by the glory of God—suffering, people speaking poorly of Him, ill-treatment, being poured out as a drink offering unto death. And you know what empowered that ministry?

A Spirit-enabled love for Christ that viewed the glory of God as supremely valuable in comparison to all other things.

In your battle with sin and the idols that you return to as familiar friends. Part of your problem is that you don’t have this view of the glory of God. When we see God in His splendor it melts away and saps the allure of any competitor.

Finally, this brings the highest joy and meaning to every calling and vocation. That you believe through and through that whatever your hand finds to do, do it for God’s glory in that it is pleasing worship.

Praise be to God! For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things! To Him be the glory, forever! Amen.