This morning we are going to consider in our message the theme of thanking God. Since this is a thanksgiving weekend and our thoughts are turned toward Him, I thought that it would be appropriate for us to continue the theme of thanksgiving and look at the whole matter of doxology. I had Clayton lead us in the doxology a little earlier just to kind of set in our minds what a doxology really is. And this all sort of started this week as I was meditating in the Scripture for my own edification on themes around thanksgiving and just seeking to know the mind of the Lord regarding being thankful. And as I continued to look through the Scriptures, it struck me that this whole matter of praise and thanks to God is so much the priority for us who are believers that it ought to be addressed more fully on this Lord’s Day when we associate with Thanksgiving Day. So this morning I want to do that, just to share with you the reality of doxology, the significance of doxology, and the place that it should have in our own lives.
The word doxology is a familiar word to Christians. We are familiar with it but we may not understand it fully. So let me just give a brief definition for doxology. It is really nothing more than a praise saying. It comes from two Greek words: Doxa which means glory and logos which means to say or a word or a saying. It is a saying about God’s glory. That is to say it is praise or it is offering God thanks. It is saying thanks by means of praising God. A doxology is a praise saying. As I said, the word is generally familiar to Christians, if the experience is not as familiar as it ought to be. And I want to do something about that, I trust, in the power of the Holy Spirit this morning.
Now doxologies appear throughout all the Scripture. And we’re not intending to cover them exhaustively. That would be an absolute impossibility. But I do want to give you a sense of the significance of doxology by maybe a few general illustrations and then looking into some very particular things in the New Testament. Take for example the Psalms. We read Psalm 150 this morning. Psalm 150 is the concluding doxology for the Psalter of all 150 chapters. And in fact, if you have at all studied the Psalms, you came across the reality that there’s not really one book of Psalms, but there are five – five books within the Psalms. And if you look through the Psalms, you will see in the margin or at the heading of certain chapters the notation that this is book one, book two, book three, book four, and book five. Book one ends in Psalm 41. Book two ends in Psalm 72. Book three ends in Psalm 89. Book four ends in Psalm 106, and then book five ends with Psalm 150.
Now what is interesting about that is that the conclusion of each of the five books is a doxology. And in fact, the conclusion of the whole Psalter is not only a doxology in Psalm 150 but several other doxologies in the prior Psalms. So it sort of a crescendoing book. It starts out book one ends with a doxology, book two a doxology, book three a doxology, book four a doxology, and then book five, doxology upon doxology upon doxology. Thus, we can conclude that the song book of the redeemed was appropriately punctuated by responses of thanks to God, praise to God, and glory to God that would be classified as doxological.
Now in every case, you must understand that the doxology comes in response to God’s glorious work on man’s behalf. And that is to say they are in response to, in reaction to salvation, God’s saving work on behalf of his people. Doxologies then are not associated with mundane things. They are really not associated with transitory and passing things. We tend to trivialize the idea of doxology. For example, you go to the mall on a busy Saturday and you find a parking place relatively near the store and you blurt out, “Well, praise the Lord.” Now that is a mundane doxology and tends to trivialize, to some degree, the significance of what the doxology means. I appreciate the fact that you’re grateful for the parking place, but it’s a rather mundane approach to doxology.
When you look for doxology in Scripture, it is associated with God’s saving blessings. For example, the first doxology that we come across in the New Testament record would be in Luke chapter 2 at the birth of Christ. That’s the first place we would expect to find one with the first even of the New Testament. And sure enough, there is a doxology that is given by the angels and the birth of the Savior. Then there is a doxology given by Mary at the anticipation of the birth of the Savior. The doxologies that surround the birth of Christ introduce us really to New Testament doxology. Later on in the account of the life of Jesus Christ, when He comes into the city in Luke 19, the people offer a doxology of praise to God for the arrival of the Messiah. When Jesus was teaching His apostles how to pray, He concluded the prayer with a doxology.
The New Testament then from there flows with doxologies. We find them in a number of the epistles and always in the most appropriate places. But doxology is always associated with the matter of salvation, most often directly with the discussion of salvation, and when it isn’t directly associated with the discussion of salvation, it is indirectly associated. But most all doxologies connect with salvation. In other words, praise for God associated with His saving purpose having unfolded in behalf of undeserving sinners. And they never deal with anything that is trivial. They never deal with anything that is mundane. They deal with that which is marvelous and that which is transcendent and that which is redemptive. They have to do with thanking God for His salvation or some associated benefit. They are then the words of grateful praise offered from unworthy sinners who have been redeemed.
Doxology should characterize every believer’s life. It should be an ongoing matter of life for us. It is the very gift of salvation that God has given us in Christ that is the source of our praise and will be forever and ever and ever as we occupy eternity in the presence of God. We will endlessly and consistently throughout all eternity praise God and glorify His name. We will be offering Him a doxology with every celestial breath. With every heavenly movement, with every passage of a reality in eternity will be a newly elicited doxology. And maybe to fill in a little bit of a gap for you in your thinking, as you think about heaven – if you’re a typical Christian – you think about heaven and its eternality as being forever the same. And maybe it would help to let you know that heaven is forever but it is forever different. Every reality of heaven – we can’t talk about it in terms of time – but every reality, every experience, whatever it means to live celestially, whatever it means to pulse eternally and to breathe eternally, every moment – whatever an eternal moment is – every reality in heaven will be brand new to the degree that it will elicit from us an exploding doxology of praise. And that goes on forever and ever and ever with every moment of eternity being filled with something new worthy of praise. That will be how we will exist in eternity, and that certainly is how we should exist in time – filled with praise.
Early in the seventeenth century George Herbert wrote, “Thou that hast given so much to me, give one thing more, a grateful heart. Not thankful when it pleases me, as if thy blessings had some spare days, but such a heart who’s pulse may be thy praise.” And that’s it. A heart that beats and with every beat there is a response of praise. And the supreme point and the pinnacle of our praise is thanks for salvation. We can thank the Lord for earthly things but in connection with the fact that they are ours because of salvation, because of the unfolding of God’s purpose on our behalf.
Doxologies in the New Testament are associated with salvation. And as you find people contemplating the realities of salvation they burst into praise. A doxology is like blowing the cork off when the pressure builds up. The pressure is the pressure of joy and the pressure of thankfulness, the pressure of gratitude, the pressure of being overwhelmed by blessing finally blows the top off, and out comes the bursting of a doxology. Doxologies tend not to be calculated. They need often not to be exegeted, because that in many ways is to miss the point. They are bursts of praise and joy. And they come in response to contemplation about salvation.
God obviously wants to be praised. One of the things God has done, you remember in His redemptive history, in the Old Testament He gave the Passover. Why? To remind His people of their great deliverance, in the reminding of which produces praise. Why do you think the Lord has given us His table? To remember the cross. So that in remembering the cross, every time we take the bread and the cup, it elicits from us an outburst of doxology, an outburst of praise. New Testament writers periodically do this. They’re talking about salvation and they just burst out with praise, particularly the apostle Paul, but he’s not alone in that, doxologies of praise to God and Christ when contemplating the glories of salvation.
Now as I was studying through the New Testament and studying the theme of thanksgiving, it struck me that these doxologies were so powerful and so wonderful that I wanted to share them with you. Let’s look then at several New Testament texts this morning that are doxologies. And may God use these to increase our own gratitude.
Galatians chapter 1 – Galatians chapter 1, and it doesn’t take Paul long to pop the cork in this case. He doesn’t get very far in to Galatians before he explodes in an outburst of praise – a brief one, but nonetheless, a doxology. Let’s just look at his greeting starting in verses 3 and 4, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins in order that He might deliver us out of this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.” Stop at that point. As Paul begins to write to the Galatians, He immediately affirms grace and peace, the two great benefits of salvation, and then he talks about the Lord Jesus Christ who gave Himself for our sins. And in that simple statement, “who gave Himself for our sins,” he encompasses massive redemptive truth. There you have the incarnation. As God comes to earth in the form of the Lord Jesus Christ, you have His incarnation implied. You have His humiliation, He gave Himself. Literally offering Himself as a sacrifice. You have there substitutionary atonement; He gave Himself for our sins. You have there implied the judgment of the justice of God, which demanded a penalty for our sins. And the implication is that He gave Himself for our sins means that our sins are therefore dealt with, so you have the reality of forgiveness.
Here then is a statement that encompasses the incarnation, the self–emptying of God as He becomes man, offering Himself as a substitute for us. You have the substitutionary death of Christ as an atonement for sin to satisfy the judgment and justice of God and the consequent forgiveness of sin applied to the sinner. It’s a massive statement. It’s the greatest reality of salvation – the forgiveness of sin. If anybody asks you, “What is the distinguishing mark of Christian doctrine, Christian theology? What is the heart and soul of the gospel?” It is the forgiveness of sins. That is it. That our sins can be and are, by faith in Jesus Christ, forgiven, and we therefore enter into a relationship with God that has no guilt and no culpability. And that’s why we are allowed to fellowship with Him and to enter into His eternal heaven. Our sins are forgiven.
So Paul is ruminating in his mind, is going over in his mind, the tremendous truth of forgiveness, the forgiveness of sins by the sacrifice of Christ. And then he follows that up, “In order that He might deliver us out of this present evil age according to the will of our God and Father.” That he might rescue is the word. It’s a very strong word. It implies a looming danger that is very near. It implies severe trouble right on the horizon, and we are rescued from it. And what is that trouble? It is the satanic damning system of sin that is woven by the enemy into the fabric of the world’s thinking and the world’s behavior. And we are rescued out of this present evil age. This age that is basically built on lust and deception, this age of damning ideals and damning conduct, we have been rescued from it. We are not going to go plunging into the pit of hell forever. We have been delivered out of that. And that deliverance came about because we will not be punished eternally for our sins, because we have been forgiven.
So Paul contemplates the forgiveness of sins and the consequent rescue out of this present evil age that is an eternal rescue and as well as a temporal one. For we are, right now, delivered from this present evil age, and we are placed into the spiritual realm where Christ rules and is our sovereign King. He’s talking here about salvation; salvation as the forgiveness of sins; salvation as rescue from this present evil age now and forever. And when he contemplates that, what is his response? Verse 5, he turns away from the Galatians and he turns towards the heavens, “To whom be the glory forevermore. Amen.” To God our Father, be the glory forevermore. Amen. He can’t contain himself. He’s just four verses into this and he’s already lost in wonder, love, and praise.
This is spontaneous combustion in the life of a grateful believer, one who is looking at the great reality that he is delivered from his sins. He is forgiven for his sins. He will not perish with the passing world. He is no longer caught up in the lusts and the deceptions of the passing world. He has been rescued, and he will be taken to the world of eternal glory where no one and no thing ever perishes, that imperishable heaven. He’s already a member of the imperishable kingdom. His sins have been dealt with. And just the simple contemplation of the forgiveness of sins elicits doxology.
A second passage, the end of the book of Romans, Romans chapter 16. Again we find ourselves looking at the apostle Paul. This time, unlike in Galatians where he was only four verses from the beginning, we find him at the end – 16 chapters. And in the end, verse 25 and 26, he makes a marvelous summary statement, “Now to Him who is able to establish you” – and that’s the key word, to establish you, and here’s how – “according to my gospel and the preaching concerning Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept for long ages past, but now is manifested, and according to the Scriptures of the prophets and according to the commandment of the eternal God which has been made know to all the nations, leading to the obedience of faith.” Now stop at that point. What is he talking about? You say, he’s talking about a lot of things. Yes he is, but he’s really only talking about one thing. There are just a lot of modifying phrases. The one thing he’s talking about is to establish you. “Now to Him who is able to establish you.” I am directing this to God who is able to establish you.
What do you mean, establish? It’s from the Greek verb stērizo. It means to be mentally settled on truth or to be settled on a course of action or to be settled on a direction. It means to be anchored, fixed, confirmed, immoveable, unshakeable. It means to be very different than the world. A world full of people who are confused, hopelessly chaotic, unstable, unsettled, insecure, ignorant, no place to stand, no defense against the devil with his temptation, no defense against God with His judgment, shiftless, haphazard, shakable, purposeless with nothing to cling to, nowhere to stand and no place for safety. That’s the world. That’s how unregenerate people are, no place to stand, no rock, no security.
But for believers, we are established. We are fixed. We stand firm, settled, confirmed, confident, unshakeable, immoveable, and solid. Why? How has this happened? Well, look at what he says. He established you. How? According to my gospel – to the gospel – and the preaching concerning Jesus Christ. Both of those are revelation. Both of those come from God. Those are the words of God, the gospel. The preaching concerning Jesus Christ, revelation. And then he says, “according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past but now is manifested.” That’s Paul’s long way of describing the New Testament. The New Testament is the mystery now revealed which has been secret for long ages past and now manifests. You have been established then by the gospel that I preach, preaching concerning Jesus Christ, and the New Testament.
And verse 26, “By literally the writings of the prophets” – what’s that? The Old Testament – “according to the commandment of the eternal God.” God commanded that His word go forth and it did. It went through the prophets and became the Old Testament. It went through the apostles and those with them and became the New Testament. It comes through the gospel through the preaching of Christ, but it is all the revelation of God. It has been made know to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith. Obedience of faith means salvation. You have been established because you have heard the truth which led you to salvation. That’s the point. So what is he thankful for? Saving truth – saving truth. And in verse 27 he bursts out in thanks, “To the only wise God through Jesus Christ be the glory forever. Amen.” He is astounded at the wisdom of God which could develop such an incredible salvation and revelation of the truth. Here is doxology.
Doxology is the only appropriate response to saving truth. Truth that settles, fixes, confirms, established us in the middle of a shifting, purposeless, wavering, shakable humanity. He had grace to understand the truth, grace to believe the truth so that he had become established. God’s power had worked in his life to make him settle on the truth and stand on the truth and be immoveable and confident and secure, to find stability. And the reaction? Doxology. He bursts into praise in a world of people trying to find something to stand on, something to hold to, something to cling to, something fixed and firm and immoveable, he found it by God’s mercy. “To the only wise God through Jesus Christ be the glory forever. Amen.” Let it be – let it be. Forgiveness by which we escape the present perishing world of wickedness. Truth by which we stand firm and solid and have fixed courses in the direction that God has ordained. Truth by which we stand in the midst of shifting sands of lies and deception. This is cause for doxology.
Look at 1 Timothy chapter 1 and here again we find saving truth that motivates praise and thanks. In 1 Timothy chapter 1, Paul of course is writing to his young son in the faith. But as with all doxologies, when he breaks into praise, he turns from his reader to God. But let’s see what elicited the doxology. Back in verse 13 Paul identifies himself as a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a violent aggressor. With that in mind, go down to verse 15, “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance” – by the way, that little expression signifies a statement well–known in the church that had become an axiom, maybe in part of a creed, possibly part of a hymn. And that statement that they all knew is – “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” That must have been a very commonly stated axiom of Christians which summarizes the gospel. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” When you’ve said that, you’ve summarized the gospel. And if you start to work on that phrase, you could delineate all the component parts of saving truth.
So that probably became an axiom that Christians frequently said, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” And now Paul takes some liberty to add to that – it’s inspired liberty – “among whom” – that is sinners – “I am foremost of all. And yet for this reason I found mercy, in order that in me as the foremost sinner, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.” What is he focusing on here? The last two words: eternal life – eternal life. Sinners deserve eternal death, judgment, damnation, hell, torment, punishment, weeping, wailing, gnashing of teeth. Eternal fire should have come to sinners, instead, eternal life. Terrible, vile, godless, wicked sinners like Paul could receive grace and eternal life by God’s mercy.
And God did that to sinners, and the worse the sinner the more glorious the mercy. He did it to demonstrate, verse 16 says, His perfect patience. He wanted to show the worst sinner that He was not beyond mercy. He wanted to demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him, because if He hadn’t picked the worst, somebody would have said, “Well, I’m too bad to be saved.” So Paul says, “He picked me. I was a blasphemer, a persecutor. I killed Christians. I was the worst, a violent aggressor, and He saved me to demonstrate that nobody is beyond being saved as an example of God’s patience.” There is no point in a person’s life in terms of sheer iniquity where they are unredeemable. A person becomes unredeemable not because of their iniquity itself, but because they continue to reject God’s gospel.
So God shows His mercy in the most extreme situation so that others might know that He saves sinners who are the worst. Eternal life Paul says – eternal life. That’s a quality of life not a length of life. It’s a kind of life that just happens to last forever. But so does everything else in eternity. It’s life. The emphasis is not on the eternal; it’s on the life. Hell is eternal. There’s no benefit in something being eternal in and of itself. But there is eternal life instead of death. Eternal life is life filled with joy, peace, love, power. That’s what Paul was thrilled with.
God was willing to save the worst to endure patiently the insults from the most insulting sinner, the blasphemies from the most blasphemous sinner, the hostilities from the most hostile sinner, the persecutions of the most persecuting sinner, and all the sin of the most sinning sinners, to endure it all and to show the mercy to display His gracious patience. The worse the sinner, the more glorious the mercy. The more glorious the mercy, the more glory the giver receives. And so as Paul just contemplates his own personal testimony that he has received mercy and eternal life, his reaction is doxology. Verse 17 – he can’t contain it – “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” He’s overwhelmed again with God who made this plan, who brought it to pass and who applied it to his own life. To the God that is not only wise but, “Eternal, immortal, invisible, and the only God, be the honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”
For eternal life, for truth that saves, for forgiveness that delivers and rescues us there is doxology. And whenever we contemplate the forgiveness of sin and the rescue from this present evil age; whenever we contemplate the tremendous truth of the Old Testament, the New Testament, the gospel, the preaching concerning Christ, the commandments of God that have come through Revelation that led us to the knowledge of the truth both for our justification and our sanctification; whenever we think about or whenever we contemplate the reality of eternal life to undeserving, unworthy sinners who receive mercy, it should elicit from us overwhelming thanksgiving.
Let’s look at Ephesians chapter 1 – Ephesians chapter 1. And here the apostle Paul goes into a list of things that the Lord has given. Starting in verse 4, “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world.” He talks about us being elect before ever being born, “That we should be holy and blameless before Him.” So much is there. He talks about election. He talks about sanctification, making us holy and blameless. He talks about glorification, bringing us before Him. Then he says He loved us. He loved us before we ever lived and He predestined us to be adopted as sons, to be put right into the very family, not as aliens and strangers but as sons. And then he expresses the kind intention of His will. He wanted to be kind to us. Our whole eternity will be an outpouring of kindness. Ephesians 2 goes into that in verse 7, that in the ages to come, He’s going to show His grace and His kindness toward us. So you see election; you see justification, sanctification, love, predestination, adoption; you see God’s kind intention.
Then in verse 7 – well verse 6, you see us in Christ. Verse 7, in the beloved. Verse 7, we have redemption; we have forgiveness; we have the riches of His grace lavished on us, verse 8. We are given wisdom and insight to know the mystery of His will. All of this keeps adding and adding until you finally come to verse 11, “We have obtained an inheritance.” It comes out of us being predestined. Then in verse 13, that inheritance is sealed by the Holy Spirit who is the pledge of that inheritance. This is what Paul’s talking about here: our eternal inheritance. Peter says that it’s an inheritance undefiled and fading not away laid up in glory for us. We’re not just going to have eternal life, but in eternal life we’re going to inherit.
In Romans 8 Paul says we’re going to be heirs of God and joint heirs of Jesus Christ. We’re going to inherit the universe. We’re going to inherit everything that Christ inherits. Our future is astonishing. It starts in the past. He chose us. He chose us in order that He might make us holy and blameless when we stand before Him. In love, He predestined us. To what? To become His children, to receive redemption in order that we might receive a – a gift. And what is that gift? An eternal inheritance. And He gave us a pledge of that inheritance. He put the Holy Spirit in us to guarantee that inheritance in the day when He redeems us fully and takes us to glory.
Listen, you say, I look at this. I don’t see a doxology at the end. No. No, the doxology’s at the beginning. Go back to verse three. You want to know what must have happened to Paul? He couldn’t wait until the end. There’s too much here. And as he began to contemplate what he was going to write, because he had to think about it before he put it down. He wasn’t writing as some kind of machine. In the contemplation of all that led to this inheritance, he couldn’t even wait for the doxology at the end, so he put it at the beginning. Verse 3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” That’s our inheritance. Our inheritance is every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies. Everything. All spiritual blessing possible is ours. Spiritual. We’re not talking about earthly. We’re talking about spiritual, heavenly blessing. Everything that God includes with salvation – everything. For all eternity. And it was in his mind as he mused over these things before he put his pen to the parchment. And he couldn’t even wait for the doxology, so he just gave it first. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Bless Him; thank Him; praise Him; glorify His name for what He’s given us: forgiveness and rescue from this evil age, truth that saves and sanctifies and settles and fixes us firmly. Oh what glorious things He’s given us. And then eternal life, and in that eternal life all spiritual blessing in the heavenlies. And there’s no other response than doxology.
Philippians chapter 4 finds us in a situation with the apostle Paul in which another doxology occurs – Philippians chapter 4. Paul was a prisoner when he wrote Philippians and he had needs, needs that were met by loving friends in the church of Philippi. And in verse 10 of chapter 4 of Philippians, he thanks them for reviving their concern for him. He thanks them for sending a gift. Verse 14, “You’ve done well to share with me in my affliction.” Verse 16, “You sent a gift.” Verse 17 refers to the gift again. The Philippians had met his needs. They had given to him things that he had needed, perhaps monetary, perhaps clothing, perhaps a supply of food, whatever. In verse 18 then we pick it up, “I have received everything in full. I have an abundance.” They had given so much he had more than he needed. “I amply supplied.” So in three different ways he said, “I have more than I need.” “I received everything in full ... I have an abundance ... I am amply supplied.” Epaphroditus brought it; it was a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. Not only did it encourage Paul, it pleased God because it was sacrificial love.
And as he thinks about how the Philippians had come to meet his need, he realized the source of everything that everyone has. And in verse 19 he says this, “And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches and glory in Christ Jesus.” He says, look, I know you’ve been generous like the Corinthians. I know you’ve been sacrificial. I just want you also to know that you can’t out give God. One of the things that you’re going to learn about God is that He will never have His children in need. He will meet your every need. “My God shall supply all your needs.” That is a statement of absolute confidence. And there is no condition there. He’s not saying if you do this, if you do that, if you make sure you follow this and follow – he says, “You are His children. He will supply all your needs.” It’s another way of saying, Romans 8:28, all things, no matter what they are, even your failures will work together for – what? – for good. Because God has a kind intention toward you, Ephesians 1. His will is to make you like His Son and to bring you to glory. And He will make everything come out to meet your needs, whatever it is that you need. Not necessarily your wants, not necessarily your chosen lifestyle but your needs. To make up for any sacrifice you ever make, God will meet every need. What an immense truth. What a comprehensive promise.
`David said, “I’ve never seen God’s people baking bread.” If you’re the child of God, God promises to meet your needs. It was a tough world in those days, not like today. And Paul never wavered in his confidence that God takes care of His own children, that He leads His own sheep to green pastures and still waters and makes sure their needs are met. Some of those needs are met through trial and struggle and pain and suffering, but God is always giving you what is most needful for your spiritual well–being. Is that not true? Always. Always.
And what is his response to that kind of confidence and that kind of kind intention on God’s part and that kind of hope for well–being? Verse 20 he bursts forth, “Now to the God and Father be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” And he’s right back again to God who authored it, who is the source of it, and who makes it come to pass. Spontaneous thanksgiving erupts when you contemplate the truth that our God supplies all our needs. And you say, maybe he’ll run out of stuff. No. “According to his riches in glory.” And he does it because we are involved, personally in Christ Jesus. When you think about the benefits of salvation. When you think about all that God has provided for us: forgiveness which rescues us from this perishing evil age, saving truth which leads us to deliverance and salvation, eternal life and all spiritual blessings possible throughout all eternity and in the spiritual realm, and additionally, salvation brings to us all we need in this life to become what God wants us to be, the only possible reaction is doxology.
Second Timothy chapter 4 – 2 Timothy chapter 4, this is a sad time really, from a human viewpoint, in Paul’s life. This is the last letter he wrote and it’s the last chapter. He’s about to die. His is a bloody death. History says his head was chopped off. A horrible thing, but death would be sweet relief and usher him into the presence of Christ. The things that were happening to him prior to his death were really painful. He was feeling the defection of certain people around him. He was even concerned with Timothy’s faithfulness. That’s why in chapter 1 he reminds him not to have a spirit of fear, not to be intimidated; reminds him not to abandon the faith, reminds him to be faithful to his giftedness and his ministry, because Timothy was wavering. Verse 10, he says, “Demas, having loved this present world, deserted me ... Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.” The only person left here is Luke. Please, “Pick up Mark and bring Him with you.” Tychicus, verse 12, has gone to Ephesus. He’s cold in verse 13; he wants his coat. Alexander the coppersmith, verse 14, is harming him greatly. These are tough times.
He’s alone; he’s cold; he’s got one friend Luke, a dear friend. He’s feeling the encroaching death. Verse 16 he says, “At my first defense no one supported me.” Boy is that sad. He had to stand up and defend himself in the court of his persecutors and there wasn’t anybody there to come and give testimony to his character or give testimony on his behalf. Everybody fled; they were all afraid; they all spilt. “They all deserted me,” he said. And then with compassion and grace he says, “May it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, in order that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was delivered out of the lion’s mouth.” You know what he did? Nobody was there with him. He was all alone. But the Lord was there. And you know what he did? He preached the gospel to all those pagans. “The Lord stood with me and strengthened me, in order that through me the preaching would be fully accomplished and all those Gentiles would hear.” He stood at this trial, when he was being tried as being a religious rebel, and preached his gospel. What boldness. And the Lord delivered him out of the lion’s mouth.
And then he says this confidently, “The Lord will deliver me from every evil deed.” That’s his confidence. Why? Because he belongs to the Lord. He belongs to the Lord, and the Lord takes care of His children. The Lord protects His own. The Lord looks after His own. He says the Lord delivered me then and the Lord will deliver me from every evil deed whether it’s the plotting of the Jews or whether it’s the hatred of the Gentiles or whether it’s the demonic invasion from hell itself by Satan and his minions. Whatever level, be is human or supernatural, the Lord will deliver me from every evil deed. Now that is security. That is assurance. He says, my earthly friends, they can’t be trusted to be faithful in times of distress, but my God is faithful. My friends desert me; my Lord stands with me. Everyone, man or demon, who tries to destroy me fails. And even when they kill me, the Lord will deliver me from that evil deed by ushering me into glory. And He will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom. That is security my friend. That is security. He says, I have in having Christ forgiveness; I have in having Christ eternal truth; I have in having Christ eternal life; I have in having Christ all spiritual blessings possible. Not only that, I have everything in this life being supplied, every need being met, everything working out to good. And beyond that, there is the securing of God that will carry me all the way into heaven. Security. That is incredible. That is his hope; he holds to it. Nothing shall separate us from the love of Christ: not life, not death, not angels, not principalities, not powers, not things to come, not things present, nothing shall separate us. He has a protecting, securing Savior. What is his response to this? Verse 18, here he is alone, what is his response, second half of the verse, “To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”
Doxology. Doxology. It doesn’t matter what aspect of salvation he thinks about. If he thinks about forgiveness – doxology. If he thinks about being rescued from this evil age – doxology. If he thinks about truth that saves – praise. If he thinks about eternal life, spiritual blessings; if he thinks about the supply of every need in this life; if he thinks about security and the fact that the Lord is going to preserve him right on into glory, the response is always the same – doxology. And the glory is God’s. And the glory is God’s forever and ever. Amen. You know what he’s doing? He’s rehearsing what he’s doing forever – praising God.
Jude, the little epistle right before the book of Revelation, has another marvelous doxology. As we move through this wonderful progress of salvation, this is what Jude says in verse 24, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling” – He’s going to hold on to you. You’re not going to fall on the way to heaven. He’s going to get you safely to His kingdom and deliver you safely from every evil deed. “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling” – and here’s the really great truth – “and to make you stand in the presence of His glory” – stop right there for a minute. Wow. You say, you mean once I’m a Christian I’m not going to fall? No, you’re going to be delivered out of every evil deed, and you’re going to have every spiritual need met. So that’s going to secure you. You’re going to go all the way to the heavenly kingdom and He’s going to bring you to that place without stumbling, and He’s going to make you stand in the presence of the glory of God.
You say, uh oh. I’m going to have to stand in the presence of the glory of God? That’s right. Well, you say, I remember somebody who did that. His name was Isaiah and he panicked and said I’m disintegrating and cursed himself and waited to be destroyed for his sin. And he had confessed that he was a man with a dirty mouth and so forth. What’s going to happen to me when I stand in the presence of the eternal God in the fullness of His glory? I’ll tell you what. He’s going to make you stand in the presence of His glory – what’s the next word? – blameless. People say to me and they’ve said it to me even after all the years of teaching, “When I finally get to heaven, am I going to face the record of my sins?” The answer is no. When you get there, you’re going to be what? Blameless. Blameless. There will be no guilt, no culpability, because Christ has already borne the payment for your sin. Is that not true? All of the worthless part of your life will disappear and you’ll receive your eternal reward as one who is blameless. You will be blameless. And that’s why you will have great joy instead of shame. You hear people say, well, I may stand there and I’ll be shamed and – nope. You’ll stand there blameless with great joy.
Paul thinks about his own life and all the sin in his life and all the failures in his own life and he looks forward to that day. “Henceforth, there’s laid out for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord will give to all those who love His appearing.” And here Jude says the same thing. He looks at that future day contemplating the sin in his own life and says the Lord’s going to keep us from stumbling. Someday He’s going to present us before His glory and we won’t be guilty; we’ll be blameless – perfect, righteous, as righteous as Christ is righteous, utterly without sin. And he won’t let you fall in getting you there. This is salvation: forgiveness, rescue, truth, eternal life, all spiritual blessings throughout eternity, every need met, security getting you there. And when He gets you there you’re going to be absolutely blameless, and you’re going to be filled with joy that could only be called great joy that lasts forever and ever.
And what is Jude’s response? Verse 25, it’s a doxology, “To the only God our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” I’m telling you folks, doxology is not only right, it is not only appropriate, it is spiritually healthy. This world is filled with people who claim to be Christians who spend all their time mumbling and moaning about all the stuff in their life that they don’t like instead of losing themselves in this kind of attitude – doxology. Quit trying to fix every little wrinkle in your life. This is life; it has wrinkles. Look beyond it and be a Christian whose every pulse elicits doxology.
Lastly, Romans 11, and I chose this one last because as we move through the sequence of these things we come now to one that summarizes everything. And it’s really perhaps the most sweeping doxology of the New Testament. Romans 11, Paul has just concluded, of course, the greatest treatise on salvation ever written, Romans 1 through 11. He’s gone through the whole story of salvation right to the very conclusion, even taken it into the future, the future salvation of Israel yet to come in chapters 10 and 11 – 9, 10, and 11. He comes to the very end of everything in verse 32, “God has shut up the whole human race in disobedience” – that is to say they’re all sinners and they’re all stuck in their sin – “in order that He might show mercy to all.” There it is. The sinfulness of man and the mercy of God. And he sums up God’s whole salvation plan as a world full of sinners offered mercy in Jesus. That’s the sum of everything he said.
He started out in the first part of Romans talking about sin and then he got into salvation and all of its benefits, and here he sums it up. The whole world is sinful but God is merciful. That’s it. And when he’s done with verse 32, he’s done with his whole treatise. And what is his response? “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God.” Undiminished resources, he says. Oh the riches. For God to be able to do this saving work, oh what riches he has. “How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways.” Not only is He characterized by undiminished resources and riches, but inscrutable plans. This whole thing is of a genius that can’t be fathomed. You can’t even search out His judgments and fathom His ways.
And then verse 34, “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Who has become His counselor?” What’s he talking about? Independent action. Nobody gave him advice; nobody gave Him counsel; nobody worked on His project with Him; nobody edited what He wrote; nobody had anything to do with anything. God acted out of undiminished resources in inscrutable ways in independent action. Nobody had anything to do with it except Him. Then in verse 35, “Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to Him?” What does that mean? There is nobody that God is indebted to. God didn’t work this saving plan to pay off the debt He owed somebody for something they did. This plan came out of undiminished riches, inscrutable plans, independent action, and undeserved grace. Nobody made God a debtor. Nobody made God obligated to him. God did the freely by grace, independent of any counsel, out absolutely inscrutable plans, and with absolutely unlimited resources. This salvation is staggering.
And what is his response? Verse 36 – doxology. And he just sweeps it all up. “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” That’s the outburst. I always think of the little boy who saw a donkey and said to his father, “He must be a wonderful Christian. He has such a long face.” How in the world can believers comprehend all of this and not be just ready to just explode with praise? The sum of God’s generosity expressed in that great section there in Romans 11 to which he replies, “To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” We ought to be going around shouting glory all the time.
I suppose we should be practicing, rehearsing for our heavenly performance, because when we get to heaven, friends, this is what we’re going to be doing. We’re going to be singing, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing. And to Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” That’s Revelation chapter 5. That’s what we do in eternity. Thanksgiving in this life is rehearsal of our eternal praise. The hymn writer has helped us, “And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Savior’s blood? Died He for me, who caused His pain? For me, who Him to death pursued? Amazing love, how can it be that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?” But he did.
Father, we thank You. We thank You, we thank You. We offer our doxology. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise God all creatures here below. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Oh Father, how we thank You for all that is in our salvation. May a doxology always be in our hearts, always in our minds and even on our lips? Not a trivial one. May we not trivialize our praise. May we dignify it. May it rise from deep within as we constantly think about salvation. Every breath we take, every pulse beat of our heart, may it sound to us and signal to us that we have eternal life. And though one day the breath will stop and the lungs grow still and the heart no longer beat, we will go on praising You forever and ever. For we have forgiveness. We’ve been rescued. We know the truth and we stand on it, immoveable and part of an unshakeable kingdom. We have received eternal life. A life filled with joy and peace and goodness and hope.
Father, we have received all spiritual blessings throughout all eternity and every good thing in this life, every need met. Father, we have security, for we shall be delivered from every evil deed and brought to Your kingdom. And in the day when we stand in Your presence face-to-face we will stand there blameless with great joy and no shame because You have redeemed us by Your immeasurable resources, through Your inscrutable ways, through Your independent action, and by Your undeserved grace. And so we say to You, glory and honor and praise forever and ever. Amen.
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