Robert Jeffress - Paul's Praise Chorus - Part 2
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. Some people have come to believe that the Creator of the universe is so vast and so powerful that it's silly to believe we could actually engage in a relationship with him, yet according to the Bible, we can indeed know God. Today we're turning to Romans 11 to discover four praise worthy facts about God that establish our relationship with him. My message is titled, "Paul's Praise Chorus", on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
Here's my point for you this morning. If God is able to solve massive problems like our justification and Israel salvation, don't you think he's capable of solving the relatively small problem you're facing today? I mean, if God's wisdom is sufficient to solve those humongous worldwide problems, don't you believe God can solve the problem you're facing at work? Or in your family or with your finances? God's wisdom, it is absolutely undeniable. And notice the progression here. God's knowledge is unsurpassed. His wisdom is undeniable. Thirdly, his judgments are unknowable. His judgments are unknowable. Again, back to verse 33, "How unsearchable". That's another word for unknowable, "Are his judgments, how unfathomable his ways".
Now the word judgments refers to the decrees or the decisions of God. Write that down. God's judgments are his decrees or decisions that make up his plan. Judgments, will and purpose. Let me explain that for you. God has made a number of decisions, and here's how they started. Let's talk about salvation. God, knowing of our sinful state and having the wisdom to design a plan to bring about our salvation has made certain decrees, decisions, our judgements to institute his plan. He's made numerous judgements. For example, he made the judgment that Caesar Augustus would issue an order that all the world should be taxed. He made that decision, that decree to get Mary and Joseph exactly where they needed to be for the birth of Christ. He's made all of these various judgements, decisions, decrees that are all part of, secondly, his will, which is another word for his plan.
Now notice the word will is singular. Plan is singular. God does not have many wills, he has one will. God doesn't have many plans, he has one plan. God's will or God's plan is his secret plan blueprint that governs everything that happens in the universe. There are a lot of people today who think God has multiple plans or wills. For example, you've heard people say, well, now there is the perfect will of God. That's what God wishes would happen, and then he has his permissive will, which is what actually ends up happening. Have you heard that before? There's a Hebrew word that describes that idea, baloney. God does not have 2, 3, 4 wills. He doesn't have a perfect will and a permissive will. He doesn't have plan A, plan B, plan C, plan D. He has one will, one plan that governs everything, and God's plan was big enough to encompass the fall of Lucifer from heaven. It was sufficient to include the rebellion of Adam and Eve and the murder and torture of God's own son, Jesus Christ on a cross. God's plan encompasses all of those things.
Now, Ephesians 1:11, by the way, says God works all things after the council of his will, singular. One plan that governs everything. Now God's will or plan for the most part is secret. We don't know what the plan is, but we do know this, the plan, the will is working together ultimately for God's purpose. And what is that purpose? What Paul tells us in Romans 11:36. "For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever". Amen. God's plan is working together for one purpose, and that is to bring glory to himself. Now we are so egocentric. We have a hard time with that. We think all God's plans revolve around us. For example, why did God create this world? We say, well, so we could enjoy it. Well, there's an element of truth in that, but the ultimate truth is in Psalm 19:1, it says the heavens declare the glory of God. God created this world to give glory to himself.
We say, "well, why did God send Jesus to die on the cross for our sins"? We say, "so that we could be reconciled to God". And there's a measure of truth in that, but Ephesians 2:7 says, "The ultimate purpose was that God might in ages come show the surpassing riches of his glory". People ask me many times, why did God create Lucifer if he knew Lucifer was going to rebel and lead a rebellion against him? Why did God create Adam and Eve if he knew they were going to sin in the garden? Why does God allow evil in the world? We call that theodicy. Explanation of evil in the world. We all know that God didn't create evil, but why does he allow it? You know what the answer is? Ultimately, God allowed sin so that God could rescue mankind from sin and show his mercy. God allowed sin in the world to demonstrate to the unseen world, the angels above, the demons below, all creation of the universe, what a good, gracious and loving God he is.
That's what Ephesians 2:7 it says. "God's ultimate reason for saving us was that he might point out his surpassing riches of his grace". God's ultimate purpose is to bring glory. So do you see how this is working? God out of his wisdom and his knowledge has formulated a plan, a will, but that plan was formulated before the foundation of the world. It was set into effect, but there's one final thing Paul praises God for, and that is the ways of God, which are untraceable. Now this is just great here. Look at this in verse 33. "Oh, the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God how unsearchable are his judgements and how unfathomable his ways".
Now the ways of God, write this down, refers to the workings of God. The workings of God in time and space. Let me illustrate it for you again. God out of his wisdom and knowledge developed a plan for the salvation of the world, and that plan involved Jesus, the Lamb of God coming to earth and giving himself as a sacrifice for our sins. The Bible says that plan to send Christ was instituted before the foundation of the world. That was the decree, the decision of God that was a part of his plan. However, that plan had to be worked out in time and space. And so it involved the number of things that had to happen. For example, one of the decisions that was a part of that plan as I mentioned was for Caesar Augustus in Rome to issue a decree that all the world should be taxed.
Now think about it. You're Mary and Joseph. You're engaged to be married. Mary's pregnant, and you get a letter in the mail from the IRS saying, it's tax time. Get on a donkey and travel 90 miles through your hometown to pay your taxes. What do you think the reaction of Mary and Joseph was when they got that notice from the Jewish IRS? The Roman IRS? I mean, I'm sure they thought, oh God, why would you allow this? You know what we're going through right now. Why would you make us do such a thing? They didn't realize that was the workings of God, the ways of God to bring about his ultimate purpose. And notice what it says here about the ways of God. The ways of God are unfathomable. A good word for that is untraceable. In fact, the reason I said untraceable is not only is it a better translation, it is easier to say. The ways of God are untraceable.
Now that original word, unfathomable is a word that refers to the hunting of an animal. The footprints that an animal leaves that are absolutely untraceable. You're out looking for an animal, you see footprints but you can't tell where they're leading. That's what the Bible says about the ways of God. God's outworking in our daily life, you really don't know for sure where it's going. It's untraceable. I mean, think for example, Mary and Joseph, they didn't know what God was up to when they were told they needed to go and be taxed, or think about another way of God, an outworking of God's plan. It occurred on a Friday afternoon on a patch of ground outside of Jerusalem 33 ad. On that Friday afternoon, Jesus was crucified. The disciples were wondering, what's going on here? We don't understand this. Why would our leader be crucified? Even though Jesus had told them that it had never sunk in.
From that point, they thought this is meaningless. God has forsaken us. They didn't understand where God's footprints were leading. This is a great scripture verse about the ways of God. Psalm 77:19. "Thy way was in the sea and thy paths in the mighty waters, and thy footprints may not be known". Next time you're in a swimming pool, walk around and see how many footprints you leave in the swimming pool. In water you don't leave any footprints. And the Psalmist is saying, that's the way it is with God. For the most part, God doesn't leave footprints, and if he does, you absolutely have no idea where they're headed.
For example, think about Joseph. God said to Joseph, Joseph, I'm going to make you the ruler over your brothers. But then one day Joseph is sold into slavery by his brothers. And then he ends up imprisoned, falsely accused of rape, and then he's forgotten in prison. I mean, Joseph wondered, God, have you forgotten about me? He couldn't trace where the footprints of God were leading, little did he know that all of those circumstances were working together to put him in Egypt so that he could save the entire Jewish people. Or think about Moses. To him, God's footprints were untraceable. Moses would turn to be the leader of his people. And then he allowed his anger to get the best of him. He killed that Egyptian soldier, and then he was banished to the desert for 40 years. For all Moses knew was going to be the rest of his life.
I imagine by year 20, Moses began to think, God, have you forgotten about me? Are you through with me? Little did Moses know that God was using those 40 years of training to prepare him for his greatest task of all, to lead the people out of Egypt. Moses could not see the footprints of God. Now, Isaiah 55:8 God said, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and neither are your ways, my ways". And that's why we make a tremendous mistake when we try to draw conclusions about God from just single events in our life. We forget that the ways of God, the outworking of God cannot be traced. By the way, that's why it's such a mistake to make these big pronouncements and say, well, I think this is what God is doing. I think this is where our nation is headed. We don't know how this is all going to work out. We don't know what God is up to. We need to be quiet. If God hasn't spoken, we don't need to speak. What we can know is God is in control.
Remember the story of Job, we talked about him a few moments ago Job started questioning why God was allowing these things to happen in his life. And then he had these three friends who came and made these pronouncements, well, Job, this is what God is doing in your life, and for the most part, they were wrong. Job was wrong, his friends were wrong. You know why they couldn't understand what God was up to? They didn't have chapter 1 of Job like we do. They didn't realize that the whole story of Job's travail began not on earth, but in heaven in a spiritual contest between God and Satan. That was the explanation for everything that had happened in Job's life, Job died without ever knowing that. In the same way, we make a mistake when we try to draw a conclusion about what God is doing in our life from individual incidents. We don't know where those footprints are leading.
Some years ago, Amy and I were at Ridgecrest Encampment in North Carolina, and I was preaching there for a week. And one evening after the service, they would have this little ice cream fellowship and we were there, and this woman approached us, and very godly woman and she told us her story. She talked about her adult son who had committed suicide many years earlier around Christmas time. And she talked about the pain, not just of the suicide, but having to listen to Christians who had tried to explain to her what God was up to and why he allowed her son to kill himself. She said, I actually had one woman who said to me, well, look on the bright side, at least there's one less Christmas gift you have to buy every year.
As idiotic as that is, it's no more idiotic than some of the explanations we try to come up with to explain the untraceable workings of God. The fact is we don't know where individual events are leading, but we can know. When we can't trace God's ways, we can still know that he's working to accomplish his purpose. Many years ago, I say many years ago, it was real about five years ago, I guess, we had in our worship service is a visitor, Elisabeth Elliott, the great Christian author, former missionary. It was such an honor to get to meet her. I had read her books like many of you have. She has a remarkable story if you know anything about her story at all. When she was a young woman, a single woman, she went to Ecuador to minister to the Colorado Indians.
And while she was there, she and the other missionaries had enlisted the help of a young native named Macario to help them in witnessing. After just a few days of working with him, Macario was brutally murdered. No explanation, no reason. Elisabeth and her friends kept working to translate the Bible into this native language. They worked on these vocabulary cards. They had thousands of them they had written out by hand on index cards. One day while they were away, the cards were stolen. Nowhere to be found. One year's worth of work down the drain. No explanation. Many of you know Elisabeth ended up marrying Jim Elliott, another missionary and they gave their lives to witness to the Auca Indians. 27 months after they were married, Jim Elliott and four other missionaries were speared to death by the same Indians they were witnessing to. Her story doesn't end there. She ended up marrying another man, who contracted cancer, died a horrible, painful death.
Somebody once asked Elisabeth Elliott about the workings of God, the ways of God in her life, and she gave this very honest, Frank answer. She said, "The experiences of my life are not such that I could infer from them that God is good, gracious and merciful. To have one husband murdered and another one disintegrate body, soul, and spirit through cancer is not what you would call proof of the love of God. In fact, there are many times when it looks like just the opposite, but my belief in the love of God is not by inference or instinct, it's by faith. To apprehend God's sovereignty working and that love is, we must say it, the last and highest victory of the faith that overcomes the world".
Perhaps you're one of those who at one point had a great dream in your life, but that dream has been shattered by a broken marriage, a stalled career, a moral failure on your own part. Maybe you're tempted to think that God's no longer working in your life. Don't make that judgment too soon. Paul reminds us that God is still working even when his ways are untraceable. "Oh, the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God, how unsearchable are his judgements, how unfathomable his ways".