Mystery and Doxology
This post was contributed by worship leader Mike Hale.
One of my favorite doxologies is Romans 11:33-36. Those verses are also the lyrics to All Things by Joel Hendrickson, Steve Mills and Jeff Crumb (1992 Little Peach Music). For years our praise band Higher Ground has often used this powerful song to place a rousing exclamation mark at the end of worship services. (Pictured below - our guitarist Craig provides the stirring acoustic intro on All Things.)
This doxology (from the Greek doxa – glory) captures the awe and wonder that thankful believers express when confronted with the “deep riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God” revealed in Christ. It also captures some of the mystery that is in the message.
It touches upon several key elements in Christ-centered (Trinitarian) worship and theology – that all things begin and end with God – and that even though his thoughts and ways are completely beyond our ways of knowing, all things (everything in heaven and earth) are accomplished through him and to his glory. And although God does not owe anyone anything – he is freely and graciously doing all these things in Christ. The Word became flesh! And even now we participate in his life!
(As our friend John McKenna is fond of saying of the Son of God and Son of Man, “in his freedom he has chosen to be WITH us and FOR us, and in our being given fellowship, union and communion with the Creator / Redeemer, we get to grasp more than we can say!”)
So God’s love revealed in Jesus will always be a story of both creation and redemption — about New Creation. But Holy Scripture says this story of grace is a mystery hidden in creation, and calls it “the mystery of Christ.”
Robert Farrar Capon writes, “the phrase ‘mystery of Christ’ appears only in the Epistles to the Ephesians and to the Colossians; but the notion of the work of God in the world as a ‘mystery’ – as a reconciling gift hidden throughout creation….can be found in Jesus’ parable of the Yeast Hidden in the Dough (Matt. 13:33), the parable of the Treasure Hidden in a Field (Matt. 13:44)….and also in Romans and 1 Corinthians.”
“This Mystery….is a cosmic dispensation has been present at all times and in all places but ‘kept secret for ages and generations’ (Rom. 16:25) ….(but) that has been hidden ‘from the foundation of the world’ (Eph. 1:4) until it could be finally revealed in Jesus.” (p. 25, The Mystery of Christ….& Why We Don’t Get It)
Capon also walks us through Eph. 1:3-19, showing the all-encompassing plan of God for gathering up all things (including us) in heaven and earth in Christ. We see that in God’s own wisdom he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world, and in Christ destined us for adoption to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will that he set forth in Christ, and has marked us with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit.
And having obtained this inheritance according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things (he accomplishes all this – we don’t) according to his counsel and will, we can fully trust and set our hope on Christ and can live to the praise of his glory! But this involves faith and trust, because God has chosen an unfathomable way in which to bring bring this about.
That’s the same mystery the Apostle Paul describes in Romans that is a hidden fact of the universe – that Jesus, the Incarnate Word of God is our life and the whole world’s life! That though none are righteous, we die and rise with Christ. Salvation is for Jew and Gentile. A merciful God loves us, and we die and rise with Christ. The Spirit of Christ dwells in us and we dwell in Christ.
Note that in this Rom. 11:33-36 doxology, Paul is inspired to see the words of Isa. 40:13-14 and Job 35:7; 41:11 in new ways.
So in faith and trust in the completeness of Christ, we humbly glorify God with these inspired words from Paul's letter to the Romans….
Oh how deep are the riches
Of the wisdom and knowledge of God
How unsearchable are his judgments
No one can fathom his ways
Who has known the mind of the Lord
Or offered him any counsel?
Who has given to God that he should repay?
From him and through him and to him
To God be all glory and praise
From him and through him and to him
Are all things; are all things.