Let’s pray together.

Our Father in heaven, would you please help us honor your name as we exult in the reality that from you and through you and to you are all things. Amen.

Romans 11:36 says,

“For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”

That’s my favorite passage in the Bible. I asked one of my dear friends to prepare it artistically for me so that I could print it off on big canvas and put it above the fireplace in our home. And what you see on the screen is what he prepared for me. That’s above the fireplace in our home. Love it. Love it.

This passage teaches that God is supreme. To say that God is supreme is to say that he is better than, superior to everyone and everything else. He is unique. There is no one like our God. And this truth just permeates Scripture. Let me remind you of some passages that say this in other ways.

Moses said,

“There is no one like . . . our God” (Exodus 8:10). The Lord said to Moses, “There is none like me in all the earth” (Exodus 9:14). Moses said, “There is none like God . . . who rides through the heavens to your help, through the skies in his majesty” (Deut. 33:26).

King David prayed,

“You are great, O LORD God. For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you” (2 Samuel 7:22).

God declared through Isaiah,

“I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me” (Isaiah 46:9).

Jeremiah prays,

“There is none like you, O LORD; you are great, and your name is great in might. Who would not fear you, O King of the nations? For this is your due; for among all the wise ones of the nations and in all their kingdoms there is none like you” (Jeremiah 10:6-7).

There is none like the triune God — the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. God is supreme. He is unique. The universe is everything that is not God and God’s supreme over that. God is supreme over the universe. The title of this sermon is the same as its main point (three words): God is supreme. And our text is Romans 11:36,

“From him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”

Before we exult in those two statements there from Romans 11:36, I want to briefly step back and look at the immediate literary context, Romans 11:33-36. Pastor Ryan just read it. Let’s read it one more time. And what you’re seeing on the screen here is a phrase diagram, which I will explain after I read it. So, let me read it first.

“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid? [And then here’s our passage] For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”

I think this is poetry, that Paul designed this beautifully. And it has three main stanzas. The first stanza is what is in our Bibles appears as verse 33, and it has three exclamations. So “Oh, the depth”, “how unsearchable”, “how inscrutable”, those are three exclamations about God being deep. His riches and wisdom and knowledge are deep. His judgments are unsearchable, his ways are inscrutable.

And the next stanza is verses 34 and 35. Verse 34 begins with the word “for.” So, this stanza has three rhetorical questions in it that support the first three exclamations. A rhetorical question has the force of a statement. So, when Paul asks, “Who has known the mind of the Lord?” That’s like saying, no one has known the mind of the Lord fully. And when he says, “Who has been his counselor?” It’s like saying no one has been his counselor. “Who has given to God that he should be repaid?” No one has done that. He’s making statements by asking these rhetorical questions. And I think this is brilliant.

Notice the color coding — red, blue, green, green, blue, red. I think the questions match up with the first exclamation. So the first question is “Who has known the mind of the Lord?” I think that lines up with “Oh, the depth of the…knowledge of God.” And the second question, “Who has been his counselor, lines up with “Oh, the depth of the . . . wisdom of God.” And then the third question, “Who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” lines up with “Oh, the depth of the riches of God.” It’s just beautiful, brilliant. And I want to say a lot more about this, but I want to focus on verse 36, so we’re going to keep plowing ahead.

All right, now the first word of verse 36 is “for.” So, that shows us that our passage is supporting what comes before it. We’ve got three exclamations, three rhetorical questions, and then three prepositional phrases (from him, through him, to him). The phrases support the questions, which support the exclamations, and all of that leads to a conclusion. And that’s the last two lines: “To him be glory forever. Amen.” That’s where we’re moving.

So, as we look at verse 36 now, we’ll look at it in four parts. So the first three are the three phrases: 1. “From him are all things.” 2. “Through him are all things.” 3. “To him are all things.” And then, 4. “To him be glory forever. Amen.” So, that’s our outline for this morning.

Let’s look at the first statement. “From him are all things.” God is the source of all things. God is the supreme Creator. God is the source of all things. He is the supreme Creator. Listen to some other Scripture passages that teach that God is the source of all things:

“There is one God, the Father, from whom are all things” (1 Corinthians 8:6a).

There it is. 1 Corinthians 11:12c says,

“All things are from God.”

God is the source of all things. Paul says of Christ,

“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things were created through him” (Colossians 1:16).

He’s the source of all things. Hebrews 1:2,

“God has spoken to us by his Son . . . through whom also he created the world.”

God is the supreme Creator. He made everything. And this is a fundamental truth throughout Scripture. When I say fundamental, it means you can’t make sense of the other truths without this one being true. God is the creator. The very first line of the Bible, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). God is the Creator.

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1).

“Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm” (Psalm 33:8-9).

God said to Isaiah,

“I am the Lord, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself” (Isaiah 44:24).

Jeremiah says,

“It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens” (Jeremiah 10:12).

God is the supreme Creator. He’s the source of all things. He made it all.

When I get to teach systematic theology at Bethlehem College and Seminary, when I teach on creation, I will often show a video (about 23 minutes long) called “Created Cosmos.” And basically, it’s a video about outer space and how big it is and how things relate to each other in sizes.

I love the end of the video. After going to the limits of what we know at this point, of how big the universe is, it kind of turns around and faces Earth, and at a factor of like 10 every four seconds it zooms back in. And you’re going through galaxy, after galaxy, after galaxy, and there’s that one, and there’s that one. And then finally, you get to the Milky Way Galaxy and all these billions of stars. And then finally, you reach the solar system, our solar system. And then finally, you see a faint star ahead. That’s our Sun. And then finally, oh there’s Earth! And then zoom into Earth and you get to the end of it and you think, “We are so small. This universe is so big. And God made this universe.”

And then I’d like to show the students this passage from Isaiah 40:12,

“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, and enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?”

Notice that second phrase, “who has marked off the heavens with a span.” So, we just thought about how big the heavens are and then God has marked out the heavens with a span.

What’s the span? It’s your outstretched thumb to your outstretched little finger. That’s a span. And God has marked off the heavens with how many spans? With a span. Amazing! We should feel small because we are. And God measures the heavens with the span. And he created not just the heavens, he created everything that is not God.

Remember that phrase “visible and invisible?” That includes angels that we can’t see at times. God created Minnesota’s beautiful North Shore. I live in Minnesota. I don’t mind living here at this time of year. It’s kind of nice. It’s in the negatives there right now, and yesterday I was sweating in shorts and a T-shirt. That was great. But Minnesota has a place called the North Shore, where our family goes every year. It’s amazing. I love it. God created that.

He created firm purple grapes that burst in your mouth when you bite into them. One of my favorite foods.

God created human beings as male and female, such that they are interdependent and we can’t live without each other.

God created the human body. Just think of the eye, the intricate detail of the eye. Or the thumb, or the ear, or your foot, or your immune system. We’ve thought more about that in the last few years than normal. Or think about this ingenious combination of bone and blood and muscles and fat and hair. God made that.

God created ants and elephants. God created goldfish and whales. God created ponds and oceans and tropical islands and the North Pole. God created the Nile River and the flatlands in Kansas and the Dakotas. God created the Grand Canyon and the Rocky Mountains and Sunset Cliffs in San Diego, California.

God created every natural resource, including water, air, coal, oil, natural gas, phosphorus, copper, iron, soil, salt, timber. God created chicken, beef, broccoli, rice, tuna, potatoes. We’re getting close to lunch.

God created humans with the ability to create with what he’s created. God created the materials for a truck, for a smartphone, and for a climate-controlled building, and for a king-sized mattress, and for plumbing that eliminates sewage and brings us clean water. God created the ingredients for sourdough bread and for chips and guacamole and for brownies and ice cream.

God created every good gift that you enjoy. He’s the Creator of every special grace you enjoy (like forgiven sins) and he’s the Creator of every common grace you enjoy (like breathing clean air and drinking clean water). He made it all. God is the supreme Creator.

That’s why I love to watch good documentaries about nature. A good nature documentary is a worship video. And no matter what you’re studying — it could be butterflies or bananas or deserts or an animal, a part of creation — whatever it is, you think, “Wow, God designed that!” God’s amazing. He’s intelligent, he’s creative. He’s wise, infinitely.

And because God made us, he owns us. We’re accountable to him. That’s reality. God created you. Therefore, he owns you and you owe him. This just follows from God being the creator of everything. So, friend, if you’re not gladly worshipping, following, God the Creator, just know that you will stand before God someday and be accountable to him.

But there’s good news. Jesus, the Son of God, lived and died and rose again for sinners. And God will save you if you turn from your sins and trust Jesus. That’s good news for us from our Creator.

“From him are all things.” God is the source of all things. He is the supreme Creator. That’s number 1.

Number 2, God is the means of all things. “Through him are all things.” God is the means of all things. He is the supreme King. Means of all things, he’s the supreme King.

Listen to some other Scripture passages that teach that God is the means of all things: Paul says of Christ,

“And he is before all things, and in him, all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17).

“There is one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:6).

The Son “upholds the universe by the word of his power [by his powerful word]” (Hebrews 1:13.

The author of Hebrews describes the Son “by whom all things exist” (Hebrews 2:10b).

To say that God is the means of all things is to say he is the supreme Sustainer. Or to say it another way, you could say that he is the supreme King. He rules all things. And that theme is all over Scripture, that God is the supreme King.

“Let the heavens be glad, let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, ‘The Lord reigns!’” (1 Chronicles 16:31).

“God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne” (Psalm 47:8).

“The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad!” (Psalm 97:1).

“The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!” (Psalm 99:1).

“Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” (Psalm 115:3).

We just sang that. “The Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will” (Daniel 4:25).

God is the supreme King and his sovereignty is not merely general. It is specific. It is meticulous. It’s absolute. God supremely rules even over the evil that humans freely choose to commit. God’s sovereignty and our responsibility are compatible. Let me show you some examples.

Joseph explained to his brothers,

“You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20).

The Lord proclaims in Isaiah,

“I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the Lord, who does all these things” (Isaiah 45:7).

Amos proclaimed,

“Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it?” (Amos 3:6).

And these next two from Acts are amazing. Acts 2:23, Peter preached on Pentecost,

“This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, [there’s God’s sovereignty.] you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.”

There’s human responsibility — compatible. Acts 4:27-28, the early church prayed in Jerusalem,

“Truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, [there’s human responsibility and what are they there to do?] along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.”

There’s God’s sovereignty.

The all-good God is supremely sovereign over all things. God is supremely sovereign over every single respiratory droplet and airborne particle that transmits COVID-19.

God is supremely sovereign over the Milky Way galaxy and every other galaxy, every star and moon, every square inch of outer space.

God is supremely sovereign over every water droplet, every snowflake, every fire ember, every gust of wind.

R.C. Sproul is a theologian who’s with the Lord now. He used to say this,

“There is no maverick molecule if God is sovereign.”

Love that! There’s no maverick molecule.

We’re often guilty of speaking in a way the Bible doesn’t when we say, “It’s raining” or “It’s snowing.” You probably wouldn’t say that. We say that in Minnesota. It’s snowing. Well, in the Bible, what’s the normal way the Bible speaks about snow and rain? It’s not an “It is snowing.” It’s, God sends the snow. God sends the rain. God causes it to rain. That’s how the Bible normally speaks. God is in charge. He’s supremely sovereign over the weather.

God is supremely sovereign over natural evil, including sickness, cancer, disability, physical injuries, animal suffering, floods, avalanches, tornadoes, tsunamis, fatal accidents, fatal diseases, famines. We just sang a line from the Isaac Watts hymn, “I Sing the Mighty Power of God.” It says, “When clouds arise and tempest blow by order from your throne.” Do you believe that?

God is supremely sovereign over every nation, including the United States of America and Canada and Mexico and North Korea and Russia and Australia. God is supremely sovereign over every human ruler including Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping.

God is supremely sovereign over good angels and evil angels, the demons, including Satan himself.

God is supremely sovereign over the scheming of your enemies and dishonest politicians and thieves.

God is supremely sovereign over evil systems of thought that view relationships primarily through the lens of power. That is, that those with more power are inherently oppressors and those with less power are inherently oppressed.

God a supremely sovereign over false accusations that damage your reputation.

God is supremely sovereign over choosing to save you. We call it election.

God is supremely sovereign over causing you to be born again — regeneration.

God is supremely sovereign over giving you the gift of repentance and faith — conversion.

God is supremely sovereign over declaring you to be righteous through Christ — justification.

And God is supremely sovereign over making you a member of his family — adoption.

God is supremely sovereign over transforming you into the image of Christ — progressive sanctification.

And God is supremely sovereign over enabling you to continue to depend on him and to mature in Christ — perseverance.

Through him are all things, all things. God is the means of all things. He’s the supreme King. That’s number two.

Third, “To him are all things”: God is the end of all things. God is the supreme goal. God is the end of all things. He is the supreme goal. Listen to some other scripture passages that teach that God is the end of all things:

“There is one God, the Father . . . for whom we exist” (1 Corinthians 8:6a).

We exist for God. That’s why you exist. He’s the end; he’s the goal. Paul says of Christ,

“All things were created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16b).

All things were created for him. The author of Hebrews describes the Son:

“For whom and by whom all things exist” (Hebrews 2:10b).

For whom all things exist. All things exist for him. God is the end, the goal, of all things.

But tragically, most people don’t live like that’s true, do they? Here’s a table from a book called “Ethics as Worship.” I’ve adapted the table. It asks two questions: What or who is the ultimate goal or purpose that drives how you live? And the second question is: Who or what has ultimate moral status? Who or what do you functionally worship?

And they suggest four basic answers: 1. Caring for yourself: personal happiness, pleasure, satisfaction. So, you’re functionally worshiping yourself. 2. Caring for humans — whether a subset (like your family) or humanity. So, you’re functionally worshiping humans. 3. Caring for all living things and their environment. You would functionally be worshiping them. 4. Glorifying God by enjoying him. You’d be functionally worshiping God.

My point in sharing this with you is to underscore that everybody worships. The question is who or what are you worshiping? God commands us,

“Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Worship God.

God didn’t design you, contrary to our entertainment media which has this message just constantly, God didn’t design you to follow your heart and find yourself and be your selfish self. God made you for something so much bigger.

The point of everything, the point of everything is not you and it’s not your family and it’s not animals or the environment. It’s not nothing. The point of everything is God. God is the supreme goal, and God made you for himself. God made us for God. God is the purpose, the end, the goal. That’s why everything that is not God exists. Everything that is not God exists to point to God, to highlight God, to magnify God, to make much of God, to exalt God. That’s the reason. It’s all about God.

“To him are all things.”

This is probably the most famous Q & A in all catechisms:

“Q. What is the chief end of man? A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”

Let us pause a moment at that answer and think about those two phrases “to glorify God” and “to enjoy him forever.”

How do they relate? Are those phrases two separate, distinct, parallel activities? Would it be like me saying, “This afternoon I would like to work out and to get some rest.” Those are two distinct activities. Or is it more like saying this, “This afternoon I’d like to work out by lifting weights” or “I’d like to get some rest by taking a nap.” In those cases, the second line tells you how you do the first one. Is that what’s going on here? I think so.

That’s why John Piper has clarified,

“Man’s chief end is to glorify God by enjoying him forever.”

It’s not like glorifying God is one thing and enjoying him is a second distinct, parallel activity. How can you enjoy God without glorifying him? And if you put them like this, “Oh, glorify God by enjoying him…” It clicks in place.

Piper calls this “Christian hedonism.”

“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.”

We most glorify God when he most satisfies us. So, there’s not a conflict between our responsibility to glorify God and our desire to be happy. We all want to be happy. God made us that way. We’re wired to be happy. We want to be happy. That’s not in conflict with our responsibility to glorify God. Our joy will be most full when we are thinking and acting and feeling in a way that makes much of God.

God is not merely the supreme Creator and the supreme Sustainer, the supreme King, he’s also the supreme goal, you could say the supreme treasure, the supreme pleasure. God is supremely satisfying. This is beautiful. When you live in accord with this reality, God gets the glory and we get the joy, and that’s how he designed it.

This reality is all over the Bible. Let me show you a few examples from Psalms: “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).

“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Psalm 34:8a).

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).

“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Psalm 42:1-2a).

“Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, [Do you think of God that way? God, my exceeding joy?] and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God” (Psalm 43:4).

“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you; as in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1).

Don’t be deceived that you will ever be satisfied, ultimately, by anything other than God. Sex, money, power — none of that will ultimately satisfy you. Only God will ultimately satisfy you. God made you for God. And we can still enjoy God’s gifts as long as we enjoy them as gracious gifts from God. We can treasure God by enjoying his gifts.

Now, God made us for ourselves, and that’s why this advertisement for trail mix makes sense. This is a trail mix bar. You probably can’t read that. So, what you’re seeing here is a climber triumphantly celebrating at the peak of this mountain, taking in this grand vista. And the advertisement at the top says, “You’ve never felt more alive. You’ve never felt more insignificant.” So buy this trail mix bar.

Forget the bar. Think about the advertisement line, the message. They’re appealing to something, generally saying, you guys like to feel small as you take in something big. Don’t we all love something like that? We like to take in something grand and feel small. Why? Because God made us for God. He designed us to like that. He designed us to click into our proper place when we acknowledge we are small and he is infinitely big. This is God’s design. “To him are all things.” God is the end, the goal, of all things.

So, we’ve considered three glorious realities: “from him are all things, through him are all things, and to him are all things.” The question next is: What follows from that? If God is the source and the means and the end of all things, therefore, what?

Would it make sense for me to say God is the source and means and end of all things, therefore praise me. Look at how big I am. Look at how great I am. Does that follow logically? It’d be like this . . . Have any of you ever traveled to the Grand Canyon and walked up to the rim? I see a few hands. OK, it’s amazing. So, you walk up and when you first see the vastness, it takes your breath away. Can you imagine how crazy it would be to come up to the rim and go, “Praise me! Look at how big I am, everyone!”

Nobody does that. What people do is they walk up and they go, “Wow!” They take it in and then they complete their joy by turning to their friend and saying, “Look at that!” That’s what everybody does, because that’s how God designed us. And that’s how we’re supposed to interact with God. Look at that and then tell your neighbor. That’s how God designed us.

So the logic is, from God are all things, through God are all things, to God are all things. Therefore, to him be glory forever. God deserves glory forever. And if you look at the text in Romans, it doesn’t have the word “therefore”. But I think Paul’s logic implies that that’s what he intends. From him are all things, through him are all things, to him are all things. Therefore, God deserves glory forever.

Listen to some Scripture passages that teach that God does what he does for his glory:

God says to Moses,

“I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD . . . And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen” (Exodus 14:4,8).

The psalmist later recounts,

“Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, did not consider your wondrous works; they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love, but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea. Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make known his mighty power” (Psalm 106:7-8).

God, in Isaiah describes his people as those

“whom I created for my glory, [the people] whom I formed for myself” (Isaiah 43:7).

For what purpose?

“That they might declare my praise” (Isaiah 43:21).

The Lord says in Ezekiel,

“I acted for the sake of my name” (Ezekiel 20:14).

God does what he does for his own glory. And glory is what he deserves. Our passage says, “From him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” And this theme is all over scripture. Here are a few examples.

The book of Romans ends by saying,

“To the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen” (Romans 16:27).

Galatians begins speaking of God,

“To whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen” (Galatians 1:5).

End of the Ephesians 3, Paul says of God the Father,

“To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:21).

End of Philippians,

“To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen” (Philippians 4:20).

Beginning of 1 Timothy,

“To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen” (1 Timothy 1:17).

End of 2 Timothy Paul says of the Lord,

“To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen” (2 Timothy 4:18).

Peter says of Jesus Christ,

“To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4:11).

Jude ends his letter:

“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen” (Jude 24-25).

John says in Revelation,

“To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (Revelation 1:5b-6).

The twenty-four elders proclaim:

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created” (Revelation 4:11).

“Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen” (Revelation 7:12).

I could keep going for a while, but I’ll just stop there and ask you, do you see a pattern here? Who deserves glory? God does. For how long? Forever and ever, amen. This is a pattern throughout Scripture. It’s so important.

Our problem is that we’re glory thieves. We steal glory that belongs to God. We’re thieves. And to make it worse, we don’t even think of our sin as as big a deal as it really is. So, I’d like to define sin for you by quoting John Piper. And I love this definition. It just helps you realize how big a deal sin really is.

“Sinning is any feeling or thought or speech or action that comes from a heart that does not treasure God over all other things. And the bottom of sin, the root of all sinning, is such a heart — a heart that prefers anything above God, a heart that does not treasure God over all other persons and all other things. . . What is sin? Sin is: The glory of God not honored. The holiness of God not reverenced. The greatness of God not admired. The power of God not praised. The truth of God not sought. The wisdom of God not esteemed. The beauty of God not treasured. The goodness of God not savored. The faithfulness of God not trusted. The promises of God not believed. The commandments of God not obeyed. The justice of God not respected. The wrath of God not feared. The grace of God not cherished. The presence of God not prized. The person of God not loved.

“Why is it [Piper asks] why is it that people can become emotionally and morally indignant over poverty and exploitation and prejudice and abortion and the infractions of religious liberty and the manifold injustices of man against man, and yet feel little, or no, remorse or indignation or outrage that God is disregarded, disbelieved, disobeyed, dishonored, and thus belittled, by millions and millions of people in our world? And the answer is: sin. And that is the ultimate outrage of the universe.”

All humans are sinners. Everyone in this room is a sinner. And as sinners, we seek glory for ourselves. We put ourselves in the place of God. We trust our own senses, our own experience, our own reasoning. We think we know better than God does. And thus, we disregard God, we disobey God, we disbelieve God, we belittle God. We want the glory. We are glory thieves and that offends the white-hot holiness of the supremely glorious God.

So, get your eyes off yourself and gaze at God. That’s where we need to be looking.

King Nebuchadnezzar asks a question in the book of Daniel that illustrates this really well, negatively. Daniel 4:30, he asks,

“Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?”

Look at what he’s asking. He’s basically stating (this is a rhetorical question), he is stating that Babylon is something I have built. It’s from me. Babylon is by my mighty power. It’s through me. And Babylon is for the glory of my majesty. It’s to me. He’s saying Babylon is from me and through me and to me.

What folly for us to say that about anything. From God and through God and to God are all things.

“Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory” (Psalm 115:1a).

That’s how we opened our service today. That meshes right with Romans 11:36,

“To him be glory forever. Amen.”

So, to summarize the message of Romans 11:36 in three words, God is supreme. From him are all things. God is the source of all things. He’s the supreme Creator. Through him are all things. God is the means of all things. God is the supreme King. To him are all things. God is the end of all things. He is the supreme goal. Therefore, to him be glory forever. God deserves glory forever. Amen.

Let’s pray.

Thank you, God, that you are supreme. We savor your supremacy in all things. You are the source, the means, and the end of all things. You are the supreme Creator, the supreme King, and the supreme Goal. Therefore, you deserve glory forever. Amen.

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