Summary: "God Knows What He’s Doing" is a sermon based on the doxology of Paul recorded in Romans 11:33-36. It declares that God is worthy to be praised, because God knows what he’s doing, even when we do not.

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Romans 11:33-36

There is a pattern in the New Testament Epistles of Paul. He begins by explaining doctrine and then exhorts to duty. This pattern reminds us that doctrine and duty go together in the Christian life. Christianity is not religious activism disconnected from biblical doctrine, nor is it intellectual assent disconnected from personal devotion. Christianity marries belief to behavior. To be a disciple of Christ is to think and act biblically. We must be on guard against undevotional theology and untheological devotion. So Paul wisely begins his letters by laying a doctrinal foundation. Then he builds on it a call to live out the life of the teachings of our faith. So it is with the book of Romans.

Romans 11:33-36 is a bridge between these two major sections. After teaching the doctrine of justification by faith alone and before exhorting his readers to live as sacrifices for God, Paul writes this doxology in praise to God.

This doxology rebukes our overemphasis on practical Christianity. For many, the most important question about faith is, does it work? We view Christianity in pragmatic terms. But Paul was not hasty to make faith practical. Before he shows us how to walk in the truth of the gospel, Paul pauses to dance to it. In so doing, he teaches us that sound doctrine begins and ends with doxology. R. KENT HUGHES said it well: “Our study of God and his ways among us should turn our hearts to music.” This is what happens to Paul. In Romans 1-11, he climbs as high as he can to the summit of truth. Yet he is still a long way from the peak. Unable to climb any higher, Paul prostrates himself in worship the incomprehensibility of God. He rejoices in the fact that God knows what he’s doing, even when we don’t.

WILLIAM CAREY had to overcome many obstacles to take the gospel to India. He finally found himself aboard the Oxford, bound for Asia. Before the ship lifted anchor, Carey was deposited back on land by the ship’s captain, who received an anonymous letter against Carey. In response, Carey wrote to his friend Andrew Fuller: “All I can say in this affair is that, however mysterious the leadings of Providence are, I have no doubt but they are superintended by an infinitely wise God.”

This is a God-centered perspective of life and ministry. There are times when the leadings of providence are mysterious. It is when life does not make sense. It is when you are forced to live with unanswered questions. It is when you do not know what God is doing in your life. But God is worthy to be praised because God knows what he is doing, even when we don’t! How should you respond to the marvelous truth that God knows what he is doing?


Verse 36 says, “Oh, the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” This verse is filled with theologically loaded words. But the most important word is the first: “Oh.” It is a sigh or groan or cry of an enraptured heart. In Romans 1-11, Paul gives the clearest explanation of the gospel anywhere. A.T. ROBERTSON writes, “Paul’s argument concerning God’s elective grace and goodness has carried him to the heights, and now he pauses on the edge of the precipice as he contemplates God’s wisdom and knowledge, fully conscious of his inability to sound the bottom with the plummet of human reason and words.” Paul mind is now empty. But his heart is full. And with a sense of wonder, he celebrates the God who is too deep and too high to be figured out.


Verse 33a says, “Oh, the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!” The governing thought of this statement is that God is deep. The truth of God is shallow enough for a child to drink from it without the fear of drowning. Yet it is so deep that scholars can dive in and never reach the bottom. The deeper you go in the ocean the darker the water becomes. And there is pressure-filled depth where no human can survive. This breaking point is where God resides. “Oh, the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God.”

GOD’S RICHES ARE DEEP. What does it mean to be rich? It is to be independent, self-sufficient, and without need. By this standard, no one is truly rich. The wealthiest persons are dependent on others in countless ways. Ultimately, only God is rich. Some of the richest men in the world have agreed to give half their wealth to charity. That’s impressive, until you consider that all of God’s riches are spent for the benefit of others. Romans 2:4 says, “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” Romans 9:22-24 says, “What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy?” Romans 10:12-13 says, “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” There is no need to live in sin, guilt, worry, doubt, or fear. Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God shall supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

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