Summary: A sermon on Romans 16:25-27 used on Sunday before Thanksgiving (Material adapted from John Piper at: http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/god-strengthens-us-by-the-gospel)
A new preacher came to minister with an aging congregation. He told them that he was thinking about serving them prune juice in place of grape juice for communion. When they asked him why he said, “Well, if the Holy Spirit won’t move you, maybe the prune juice will.” As I thought about this sermon, if the gospel of Jesus Christ (how God’s Son left his home on high and came for sinful mankind to die) doesn’t move you to be thankful, I don’t know what will.
Been working our way through the book of Romans off and on over past several years. Coming to the end this holiday (Thanksgiving and Christmas) season with last 3 verses. Going through it bit by bit
This is what we call a doxology. Word doxology comes from two words in the Greek, one means glory and the other means word. So a doxology is a word that gives glory to God.
Usually doxologies in the NT occur at climactic and final moments of preaching or writing.
Paul just doesn’t say, “Give God the glory.” Instead, he inserts phrase after phrase about God, and about the gospel that he has been writing about for 16 chapters. At the end he comes back to giving God the glory. So put the beginning and the ending together: Now to him... to the only wise God be glory for ever through Jesus Christ! Amen.
This isn’t only place Paul used doxology. Romans 11:36” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory for ever! Amen. And several other letters of Paul
Paul isn’t the only one who loved doxologies. “To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:11, NIV. “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father--to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.” Revelation 1:5, 6, NIV. “To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy-- to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and for evermore! Amen.” Jude 1:24, 25, NIV.
As we can see many doxologies are very dense with truth about God and the gospel. Paul just didn’t want to end this wonderful and deep letter with, “See ya later.”
Today we are focusing on this phrase from the English Standard Version and some others: “Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel”
Everything Paul says in vs. 25-26 is an unpacking of the gospel which strengthens Christians. This gospel which strengthens is “the proclamation (preaching) of Jesus Christ”. Jesus Christ is the gospel. This gospel is “according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past.” This mystery is that the Gentiles are full fledged citizens with the Jews by faith in Jesus. “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 3:6, NIV. This good news has been “now revealed and made known”, even though it was hidden in past ages, through the OT “prophetic writings”. Paul uses these writings to reveal the mystery to “all nations”. And all of this good news for the nations is by “the command of the eternal God” and aims at belief and obedience. As Paul said at the beginning of Romans in chapter 1 vs. 5: we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. However, I’m getting ahead of myself.
All of this is an unpacking of the gospel in vs. 25 which God uses to strengthen believers so that they will persevere in the obedience of faith and draw all attention to the glory of God.
So the focus today is on this amazing fact: At the end of this book, as Paul puts the words of his final doxology on his lips, what he chooses to attribute to God is that God is able to strengthen people with his gospel. When he ends by calling all attention to the glory of God, he does so in a way that makes that glory shine more brightly in God’s strengthening us, his people who believe the gospel.
“To God be the glory, great things He hath done, So loved He the world that He gave us His Son, Who yielded His life an atonement for sin, And opened the life-gate that all may go in”