In Praise of God
July 26, 2020
John Wesley Powell was a government explorer who led a boat expedition through the Grand Canyon in 1869. He wrote a description of his impressions of that trip entitled, “The Most Sublime Spectacle on Earth” in his book, Canyons of the Colorado (1895):
The Grand Canyon of the Colorado is a canyon composed of many canyons. It is a composite of thousands, of tens of thousands, of gorges, in like manner, each wall of the canyon is a composite structure, a wall composed of many walls, but never a repetition. Every one of these almost innumerable gorges is a world of beauty in itself. In the Grand Canyon there are thousands of gorges like that below Niagara Falls, and there are a thousand Yosemites. Yet all these canyons unite to form one grand canyon, the most sublime spectacle on the earth. Pluck up Mt. Washington by the roots to the level of the sea and drop it headfirst into the Grand Canyon, and the dam will not force its waters over the walls. Pluck up the Blue Ridge and hurl it into the Grand Canyon, and it will not fill it.
Powell’s task was almost impossible: how do you describe the indescribable? How do you put words to things that are transcendent?
That is even more the task of the apostle Paul as he sums up the work of God in salvation. What kind of exclamation point can you put on the salvation of sinners — Jews and Gentiles alike? How can you explain the mercy of that salvation and the perplexity of Jews and Gentiles united together?
As Paul concludes his discussion of God’s sovereignty in salvation (Rom. 9-11) and as he is about to begin applying all the doctrinal truths he has explained (Rom. 1-11), he explodes in a benediction of praise. After he has taught and before he applies his teaching, he will worship:
Let the revelation of God’s salvation lead you to praise God.
What we know of salvation should lead us to humble satisfaction in and worship of God. Theology and worship are partners; rich theology leads to deep worship. This “song” of praise is one that is sung in four parts:
- An Exclamation of Praise (v. 33)
- Two Questions for Praise (vv. 34-35)
- An Affirmation of Praise (v. 36a)
- An Ascription of Praise (v. 36b)
Download the rest of this sermon on Romans 11:33-36.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website by tomorrow.