There is a pattern in the New Testament Epistles of Paul. He begins by explaining doctrine and then exhorts us to duty, reminding 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 un-devotional theology and un-theological devotion. 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 of doctrine and duty. After teaching the doctrine of justification by faith alone and before exhorting his readers to live as sacrifices for God, Paul writes a 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? But Paul was not in haste to make faith practical. First, Paul pauses to dance to the truth of the gospel. 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 here 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 to 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 ...
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