The study of theology must never become an end in itself. The goal of sound doctrine is never to produce people who have full heads but empty hearts and barren lives. The purpose of Reformed theology is never to produce the “frozen chosen.” Instead, the knowledge of God and His truth is intended to lead us to know and worship Him. The teaching of Scripture is given to ignite our hearts with devotion for God and to propel us to live for Him. In short, robust theology must produce vibrant doxology.
We study theology not to be educated for the sake of appearances. Theology is merely a means to the highest end. We study the truth about God to know Him better and to mature us. Theology renews our minds. It ignites our hearts. It elevates our worship. It directs our prayers. It humbles our souls. It enlightens our path. It energizes our walk. It sanctifies our lives. It strengthens our faith. It deepens our passion. It sharpens our ministries. It fortifies our witness. Theology does all this—and much more. Every aspect of this life pursuit brings glory to God.
We are to glorify God in everything we do. Paul writes, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). This charge to honor God includes even the study of theology. The Apostle warns, “Knowledge makes arrogant” (8:1, NASB) if it does not lead to loving God and others. We must study “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3) ultimately for “the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” (2 Peter 1:2). This truth, in turn, will prompt us to give Him the glory due His name.
One important verse makes this truth especially clear. Paul writes: “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Rom. 11:36). This confession concludes Paul’s most profound teaching on God’s salvation of perishing sinners. Paul has expounded the great doctrines of condemnation, justification, sanctification, glorification, and election, and then he bursts forth in this fervent praise to God. Let us carefully consider this doxology and emulate the Apostle’s response of giving glory to God.
This verse begins with three prepositional phrases—“from him and through him and to him”—followed by three all-inclusive words, “are all things” (Rom. 11:36). Here is the most comprehensive sentence ever penned. This is a complete Christian worldview. This is a virtual systematic theology in itself. Here is the story line of the whole Bible in a few words. This is the history of the world in a nutshell. Nothing lies outside the parameters of this triad of phrases. “All things” includes everything in three major areas: creation, history, and salvation.
First, the Apostle writes that all things are “from him.” This points back to eternity past, when God designed His master plan for whatever would come to pass. God is the Author of His eternal purpose (“from him”), which includes everything that will occur. Before the foundation of the world, God designed the blueprint for all creation, including the detailed specifications of the earth (Job 38–39). Further, He drafted His eternal decree that included everything that would take place within time (Isa. 46:8–9). Long ago, God chose His elect (Rom. 8:29; Eph. 1:4; 2 Thess. 2:13). He then entrusted them to His Son to secure their salvation (John 6:37). All this pre-planning of creation, history, and salvation is “from him.”