ALL is out of God and through Him and for Him
(Rom.11:36). This is the summation of all that Paul has been saying in Romans 9, 10 and
11. But not only that, this is the summation of one of the most basic themes of Romans,
first introduced in chapters 1-8 and then related to our service and walk in chapters
12-16. Once we grasp the evangel, we realize that it is all of God and is under His
control and is for His glory, and only with that understanding can we begin to live that
life which is well pleasing to Him.
Concerning Romans 11:36, Brother A. E. Knoch wrote, "This is the
most comprehensive statement which can be uttered. God is the source of all, the channel
of all, and the object of all. The universe sprang out of Him, it has its course in
Him, and He will be its ultimate. This settles all speculation as to the origin of all
things. Creation is out of God, not out of nothing. This explains universal history. God
is the One back of all the movements of mankind. This reveals the goal of all things. God
is so guiding all His creatures that, eventually, He will become their All. To Him,
indeed, be glory for the eons!"(CONCORDANT COMMENTARY, p.242.)
Many believers have seen the words "the all" as solely
referring to creation, or even more restricted, to Israel only, or Israel and the nations.
It would be better if we could see that while creation is certainly included in
"the all," much more is involved; the context has considered Israel and the
nations, but the real attention has been given to God's operations regarding these
peoples. Now in the hymn of praise given in Romans 11:33-36, the glories of God in His
wisdom and actions are emphasized. Consequently, we must see "the all" as
encompassing both things and actions, with special attention given to actions, that is, to
the events and experiences of the eons. Not only all that exists, but also all that occurs
is out of God, and through Him and for Him.
ROMANS 9, 10 AND 11
All of Israel's history, the present experiences and their future are
ultimately out of, through and for God. But Paul has not treated this matter in a detached
and academic way in Romans 9-11; rather he has shown himself as involved in it all, and we
are caught up in it as well. Not that the apostle confuses our callings or the
distinctions between the Circumcision evangel and that of the Uncircumcision (Gal.2:7),
but God is One (Rom.3:30), and His operations with Israel and with the nations have many
important parallels with His operations on our behalf. We are learning about God in these
chapters, and in ways that are not less significant than the lessons of chapters 1-8.
Hence, when we read of Israel's blindness or of their eventual
salvation, we are learning about God's ways. God has locked them up in stubbornness, and
this supports the fact that all is out of God. We also see here that this stubbornness is
temporary and is a means to a good end, and this helps us understand the nature of our own
failings and frustrations. For Israel the good end is the experience and appreciation of
God's mercy, and this strengthens us in assurance and joy concerning the certain triumph
of God's love over all present distress (as Paul pointed out in Romans 8).
All that happens to Israel is out of God, "that the purpose of God
may be remaining as a choice, not out of acts, but [out] of Him Who is calling ..."
(Rom.9:11). This makes evident to us that all the occurrences of our lives are also out of
God. "Consequently, then, it is not of him who is willing, nor of him who is racing,
but of God, the Merciful" (9:16).
Similarly, all the events in Israel's history are channeled through
God's plannings and operations. Their experiences in Egypt under Pharaoh (see Romans
9:17,18) and during the days of Elijah (see Romans 11:2-5) were not accidents. Nor does
Paul mention these things as though they have no relationship to our own experiences.
"Perceive, then, the kindness and severity of God" (11:22). Note the importance
even of divine severity, and then see that it is not an end in itself, neither is it
Everything that occurs in Israel's and the nations' experience is for
God. This finally is the great lesson of Romans 9, 10 and 11. All Israel's calloused pride
and all their afflictions, all the nations' indifference as well as their benefits from
the conciliation, have their end in the glory of God. This, in turn, means that all the
peoples of the earth will surely be blessed. It all is summed up in the startling words of
Romans 11:32, "For God locks up all together in stubbornness, that He should be
merciful to all."
As we have observed, this conclusion to Romans 9-11 also has an
essential relationship to the earlier chapters of the epistle. Romans 11:36 states a basic
theme that has undergirded the presentation of the evangel in the first eight chapters:
that God is in control, and, by means of the death and resurrection of Christ, He has
determined a glorious goal for His creation. In God's grace, we have been given a very
important part in the working out of this purpose, but this part would be impossible were
it not for the fact that all is out of God, and through Him and for Him.
At the very beginning of Romans we are told that the evangel focuses on
"God's power" and "God's righteousness" (1:16,17). We first see what
God is able to do and what, in fact, He is actually doing, as well as the way in which He
is doing it. That we are being justified is a corollary matter to the primary fact that
God is the righteous justifier. That we shall be saved is settled by the truth that
Christ's blood was shed on our behalf. All our blessings are granted on the basis of God's
activity. "Surely, He Who spares not His own Son, but gives Him up for us all, how
shall He not together with Him, also, be graciously granting us all?" (Rom.8:32).
Even the subject of God's indignation, expounded in detail in Romans
1:18-3:20 is to be viewed eventually in light of Romans 11:32-36. This too is out of God
and through His operations, and this also will ultimately lead to His glory.
On this matter, however, some have strangely concluded that the
sentence of Romans 2:9 will last forever and will be "for God" in the sense of
eternally manifesting "divine justice" to the universe. God's righteousness
(that is, His justice, for the words are the same in Greek) is manifested only through the
death of the cross. His judgments are just, but this cannot be seen or exhibited apart
from the work of the cross, and in no way could everlasting torment serve to manifest
divine righteousness, nor could it contribute in any manner whatsoever to His glory.
How fitting, therefore, are the words at the end of Romans 8, which
conclude the presentation of the evangel. Nothing can separate us from God's love; even
future displays of God's indignation cannot stop the operation of His love or keep Him
from His goal as described in 8:21 as "the glorious freedom of the sons of God."
Probably, had it been up to us, we would have hastened on to the
practical matters brought up in Romans 12 soon after considering Romans 8. As far as
understanding the specific features of our calling is concerned, it perhaps would not have
been a great loss, but as far as spiritual growth and preparation for "divine
service" is concerned, we need the lessons of Romans 9-11.
It is so easy to get wrapped up in ourselves, especially when we
consider all the blessings directly and specifically related to us, as presented in Romans
3:21-8:39. The corrective to this is not so much a consideration of Israel's calling or
matters relating to the nations, as it is a focusing on God and what He is doing with
respect to others. Romans 9, 10 and 11 is an ideal portion of Scripture for learning the
lesson of the deity of God, the central and vital place He holds in the universe and in
the events of time.
Having seen that all is indeed out of God, through and for Him, we are
prepared for the entreaties of Romans 12-16 in a truly effective way. Ideal service is
impossible where there is human pride and selfish ambition. jealousy and anger cannot be
present in the faithful walk. In addition, if we are fearful about our standing and are
distracted by the anxieties of the eon, we will not be able to endure with unfeigned love
and the joy of expectation (cf Rom.12:9-13).
ALL IS FOR GOD
Our expectation is "the glory of God" (Rom.5:2). In truth,
there is no expectation for anyone apart from the glory of God. All that is created and
all that happens, ultimately will be for His glory. Christ's emptying of Himself even to
the death of the cross, His exaltation and the bowing of every knee and acclaiming of
every tongue that Jesus Christ is Lord, is all "for the glory of God the Father"
This is not fatalism, for the only fatalism is that which conceives
that some portion of God's creation will never be saved from their lack of the glory of
God (Rom.3:23), or that some experience of the eons will remain meaningless and vanity
forever. All is for God! This is good news that invigorates us, lifts up our spirits and
strengthens us in joy and peace for useful lives and service. And so we say again,
"To God be the glory for the eons! Amen!"