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To God be the Glory, Amen!

Tom Pennington • Romans 16:25-27

  • 2021-05-30 AM
  • Romans
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Well, today is a huge milestone for me and for our entire church. Let me begin by just giving you some historical context. We began studying Paul's letter to the Romans on March 30, 2014. Since then, there have been three US presidents, and as far as our church is concerned, in 2014 we were still meeting in what is now the chapel, and I believe we were meeting in three services. We hadn't even broken ground on this new worship center. But, let me give you a little more context of the life of the church. Since we started Romans, 239 babies have been born to members of our church. We've added 743 members. Just out of curiosity in fact, let me ask you, "If you have started attending countryside since we began Romans, raise your hand?" Alright, now we're going to see who the old-timers are. If you were here when I started Romans in 2014, let me see your hands?" Yes, pretty amazing!

As far as our study in the book of Romans goes, with today's sermon, they tell me that I will have preached 190 sermons in my exposition of this letter. I have read an entire shelf of Romans commentaries, some 12,000 pages plus in preparation for these messages, and I have written about 2,000 pages of sermon notes, essentially a 2,000 page book. It fills up an entire file drawer in my office. So, this morning is a milestone; we complete our seven-year journey through this wonderful letter, and I have to say to you, it's a little bittersweet because we say farewell to what has become an old friend.

Let me remind you again of the larger picture of this book. The theme of the book of Romans is "The Gospel of God;" and at the center of God's gospel is the truth of justification by faith alone, that we are declared right before God, not based on our own works or efforts or goodness, but solely based on the work of Jesus Christ in His perfect life and in His substitutionary death and His resurrection.

Now, here's how the book outlines. Paul introduces this letter in the first 17 verses of chapter 1, and then begins the heart of it about the gospel. He begins with "The Gospel Explained," justification by faith alone in chapter 1, verse 18, through the end of chapter 4, where he deals with both our need for the gospel and the solution of the gospel. He defines it, he defends it, he explains it.

In chapters 5 through 8, we have "The Gospel Experienced." He deals with the effects of justification. He begins that section by saying, "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God," and he goes on to outline the rest of the effects of that great work of God.

In chapters 9 through 11, we have "The Gospel Defended, Election, Israel, and God's Promises." This is important because, as soon as Paul finishes chapter 8 and talking about how wonderful the gospel is and how no one has God's love set upon them will ever be separated from that love, it immediately raises the question, "Well, what happened to the Jews then?" Why have so few of God's people believed in their Messiah and accepted the gospel? And Paul's answer to that is divine election. It was never God's purpose to save every single Jewish person, every single descendent of Abraham. And then he goes on to say at the same time, God is not finished with Israel, all Israel will be saved in the day that Christ returns, those who are alive at that time. And so, he defends the gospel.

In chapter 12, verse 1, and running through the middle of chapter 15, we discovered "The Gospel Applied." There we saw the transforming power of the gospel of grace, how once having been justified, God doesn't leave us alone. He works in our lives to change us and we live different lives as a result of the gospel.

And then comes the conclusions in the middle of chapter 15, through the end of chapter 16. So far, we've examined in this conclusion, "Paul's Reasons for Writing," in the second half of chapter 15; and then "His Personal Greetings to Friends," in chapter 16, verses 1 to 24. This morning, we come to the last part of the conclusion which I've simply entitled, "All Glory to God," all glory to God. This is the theme of chapter 16, verses 25 to 27.

Now, before we look at it, let me first of all step back and tell you that in the manuscripts that we have of the book of Romans, this doxology occurs in several different places in the different manuscripts. In a few of them, it's missing entirely. In a few others of them, it's at the end of chapter 14, or the end of chapter 15. That's, by the way, how most scholars believe that verse 24 of chapter 16 was added. You remember, I noted for you last week, if you looked in your copy of God's Word, you see chapter 16, verse 24, is in brackets with a note that says, "This verse doesn't appear in most manuscripts." How did it get there? Well, if the final doxology in verses 25 to 27, was placed elsewhere in some cases, or was missing in a few cases, then verse 23 of chapter 16 certainly seems anti-climactic and "Quartus, our brother," seems like an odd place to end the letter and it is. And so a well-intentioned copyist assumed that Paul's normal final greeting and benediction had somehow inadvertently been deleted, and he added that normal greeting as verse 24 and what was in his manuscript, the last verse of the letter. So, you can see how that confusion resulted. But most of the manuscripts we have of Romans place this doxology exactly where it is in our translation as the end of chapter 16, and the end of Paul's letter to the Romans.

So, let's read it together; you follow along Romans 16, verse 25:

Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.

Paul's final doxology, here in the book of Romans, reviews all of the central themes of the gospel that have been presented in the book of Romans, and then assigns as a result, all glory to God for His eternal plan of salvation in Jesus Christ. So, in these last 3 verses, Paul reminds us really of several foundational truths about the gospel, really returning to key themes that he introduced in the first few verses of his letter. So, he sort of comes back around and picks up those same themes that he introduced in the first chapter and reviews them here. It's a wonderful way for him to finish this letter. So, let's look at these foundational truths about the gospel that are unfolded in this great doxology.

The first truth that we need to see here is that "The Gospel is God's Power," the gospel is God's power. As is typical with doxologies, Paul doesn't begin by naming God, but by describing something that's true about God. Verse 25 says, "Now to Him who is able." The Greek verb means 'to have the necessary power to accomplish something.' The point is this, God's sovereign power is displayed in how He uses the gospel in individual lives. Paul began this letter by referring to God's power, specifically His power to save. Go back to Romans, chapter 1; Romans, chapter 1, verses 16 and 17, Paul introduces the theme of the letter here and he writes:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, (Now, watch this.) for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it (That is in the gospel.) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; (In other words, it's all of faith.) as it is written, "BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH."

Notice here, Paul says, not the gospel is about God's power, but "The gospel is God's power." It is the means that He uses to save sinners. God's word, specifically the gospel, is the instrument that God uses to bring life to a spiritually dead heart. James, chapter 1, verse 18 says, "… (God) brought us forth (God gave us life.) by the word of truth." You understand that when the simple biblical gospel is preached, it's not just words; the power of God is at work.

Listen, brothers and sisters, don't be afraid, don't be ashamed to share the gospel with your family member, with your neighbor, or with your coworker because as you share that simple gospel message, the power of God will be at work. That power will be at work in one of two ways according to 2 Corinthians, chapter 2, verse 16. It will either bring death for those who reject it, or it will bring life for those who accept it. But God's power is at work always through the message of the gospel. His power is at work in the gospel to save.

But back in chapter 16, we learn that the gospel is also "God's Power to Strengthen." Notice what he says in verse 25, "Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel." The word 'establish' means to cause to be inwardly firm, to be inwardly stable, or we could say, to strengthen you. In the book of Acts, this Greek word is almost a technical term for strengthening new churches and believers. Luke uses this when Paul revisits the churches that are newly planted in order to strengthen them; this is the word he uses. Paul, in other places in his letter, uses this verb of God making Christians strong. And it's interesting, he specifically speaks of making Christians strong against error, of making them strong against temptation, and of making them strong against persecution. You see, God has the sovereign ability and power to strengthen you so that you continue believing and so that you continue growing spiritually strong.

How does God do that? Notice, Paul says, "…according to my gospel." God strengthens us, He establishes us in our faith by means of the gospel. God's power through the gospel is what He uses to save, but God's power through the gospel is what he also uses to keep and to sanctify and to glorify. That's why Paul wrote the book of Romans, a book about the gospel, to those who were already believers, and that's why our seven-year journey through this book has changed me, and I think it's changed many of you as well, because that's God's power. The gospel is God's power to save, but it's also God's power to strengthen, to establish our souls, to keep us moving forward in believing, in obeying, and in growing.

A second truth that we find here in Romans 16 in this magnificent doxology is, "The Gospel is God's Gospel," the gospel is God's gospel. Notice how he puts it in verse 25, "Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel." Now, as soon as I read that, you might have a tendency to think that Paul is somehow saying he has his own special version of the gospel. Nothing could be farther from the truth. By "my gospel." Paul meant the gospel that had been revealed to him, that had been given to him.

Turn over to Galatians, chapter 1; Galatians, chapter 1, verse 11, he says:

I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, (by other men), but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

Paul says, "This is the gospel that came to me from Jesus Christ, that came to me from God; it's God's gospel." That's why Paul begins his letter to the Romans in chapter 1, verse 1, by saying, "(I am) an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God." It's God's gospel, it's God's good news. The gospel isn't a human invention; it's not human philosophy; it's not even the result of careful human investigation. It's from God; the gospel is God's good news of salvation to lost men.

Do you understand that the gospel is God's announcement to be believed? In Luke, chapter 2, you remember on the night of the birth of Christ, Luke, chapter 2, verses 10 and 11, the angel said to the shepherds:

I bring you good news (I bring you an announcement of the gospel.) …for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."

The gospel is God's good news to be believed; it's an announcement.

But it's also an invitation to be accepted. Do you understand that God isn't just saying, "Here's the gospel, here's the good news through the Scripture?" He's also saying, "It's an invitation to you." In 2 Corinthians, chapter 5, you know, you have that magnificent presentation of the gospel in verse 21 where it says, "(God) made (Christ) who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Hm." Just before that in 2 Corinthians 5:20, this is what we read, Paul says, "…we are ambassadors for Christ, (Listen to this.) as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." Paul says, "Not only is the gospel an announcement that God makes that you need to believe, but it is an invitation from God for you to accept." I love that language, "as though God were making an appeal, an invitation through us, we beg you, be reconciled to God."

Listen, if you're here this morning and you've never repented and believed in Jesus Christ, you need to understand that this entire message God intends to be not only an announcement to you of the good news that you can know your Creator, that your sins can be forgiven, that you can be right with Him, but He intends to extend you an invitation through this message. This is God making an appeal to you through me, "We beg you, be reconciled to God (Be reconciled to your Creator.).

But the gospel is also God's command to be obeyed, it's a command to be obeyed. Yes, it's an announcement, you need to believe. Yes, it's an invitation, but it's more than that; it's also a command you must obey. In 1 Peter, chapter 4, verse 17, Peter says that judgment is coming against those, listen to this, "who do not obey the gospel of God."

You say, "How do I obey the gospel?" You do what the gospel says; the gospel says, "Repent and believe." It's a command! Understand this, not only is there an invitation going out this morning to you from God, but there's a command going out from your Creator this morning. He's saying, "Now is the time, repent of your rebellion, turn to me, be saved, believe in the Son I've sent."

So, the gospel is God's announcement of the possibility of peace with Him with whom we've been at war. The gospel is God's invitation to be reconciled with Him, our Creator from whom we've been completely estranged. And, the gospel is God's command to end our rebellion, to accept His terms of surrender so that we can receive a full and complete pardon. But understand, this didn't come from any man, this didn't come from Paul, this didn't come from the apostles; this is God's gospel.

Thirdly, "The Gospel is about God's Son, Jesus Christ," the gospel is about God's Son, Jesus Christ. Look again at verse 25, "Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ." That's just another way to describe the gospel. The primary theme of the gospel preached is Jesus Christ. The good news is about God's Son and what His Son has done. Jesus is the good news, who He is, what He accomplished.

Turn back to Romans, chapter 1. This is how Paul began his letter to the Romans. As soon as he mentions in verse 1, that he's been set apart for God's gospel, the one that was promised in verse 2, in the Old Testament, he begins to say this gospel centers in God's Son. Notice what he writes in verse 3, "concerning His Son, who was born of a descendent of David according to the flesh." Now, right away we see the pre-existence of Jesus Christ, we see His human nature, He was born according to the flesh. Verse 4, "who was declared the Son of God," here we see His divine nature, and "(He) was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead." So, here we meet His life, His death, His resurrection, "…according to the Spirit of holiness." And then we get His identity, verse 4, "…Jesus… (of Nazareth, Messiah, our 'kurios,') our Lord, (our master)." In just those two verses, Paul alludes to the pre-existence and divine nature of Jesus, His birth and incarnation, His life, death and resurrection, and His future reign, all of them in those two verses, why?

Because the gospel is about God's Son; it's concerning His Son. To be a genuine Christian, you have to repent and believe in the true Biblical gospel, the gospel Paul preached, and that has at its center, God and His Son. In other words, you must believe, in order to be a Christian, you must believe in the one true God of Scripture, the God who revealed Himself as Yahweh, and who eternally exists in three coequal yet distinct persons, whom Jesus His son taught us to refer to as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

You see, the identity and the nature of God is part of the gospel. The nature of Jesus is also part of the true gospel. You must believe in the Son of God, but He's the One who always existed as God with the divine nature, but who without any change to His divine nature, added a full and complete human nature, body and soul. You must believe that that God-man, fully God, fully man entered our world and lived among us as a human being; He lived a perfect life of obedience to the Father, never committing a single sin, He was without sin; and He then died for our sins according to the Scriptures, fully satisfying the justice of God against the sins of all who would believe in Him.

Paul adds in 1 Corinthians 15, "Not only did He die according to the Scriptures, but He was buried;" He was buried. That means He truly died; it wasn't an apparition, it wasn't some pretense, it wasn't a coma. He died, and on the third day, Jesus was raised, forever validating His claims to be Messiah and the Son of God.

Resurrection, you must believe that He is Jesus of Nazareth, a person of history who came to forgive His people from their sins, came to save us by His sacrifice. You must believe that He is the promised Messiah of the Old Testament Scriptures. Understand this, you must believe these to be historical facts, but that's not enough. As we learned in Romans, chapter 10, verses 9 and 10, you must believe in Jesus, not in that historical sense, you must believe in Jesus in the sense that you are willing to relinquish all personal sovereignty. Let me say that again. You must believe in Jesus in the sense that you are willing to relinquish all personal sovereignty and bow before Him, acknowledging Him from that day and forever to be your teacher and your Lord. That's what faith is. It has to be centered in the eternal Son of God made man because the gospel is about God's Son.

There's a fourth foundational truth about the gospel in this doxology, and that is, "The Gospel is God's Eternal Plan," the gospel is God's eternal plan. Verse 25, "…according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past." Paul simply here adds another description of the gospel; it's not only preaching about Jesus Christ, it's also the revelation of God's mystery. Now in Scripture, a mystery is not something you watch on Mystery Theater. A mystery is something that can't be known apart from revelation, but that God has now revealed. In biblical terms, that's a mystery; it can't be known unless God reveals it, He has revealed it.

So, what is this mystery? Well, there's a lot of discussion about that, but I think it really comes down to two parts; this mystery consists of two parts. First of all, Jesus Christ. Colossians 2:2 says, "…God's mystery…is, Christ Himself;" God's mystery is Christ Himself. The second part of that is the gospel that Jesus brought. Back in chapter 1, verse 17, of Romans, we read this, "(In the gospel) …the righteousness of God (the gift of God's righteousness, the way to be right with God as a gift by His grace) is revealed." And so, that's the mystery. The mystery is Jesus Christ and the good news, the gospel, that He brought and secured.

Now, notice Paul describes this mystery in the gospel as, there in verse 25, "…the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past." Long ages past means before Scripture ever revealed it. In eternity past, the gospel was hidden in the divine mind. This is what Paul says in 2 Timothy, chapter 1, verse 9, "(God) has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, (Listen to this.) but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity." So, this was already in the mind of God; this was not Plan B. The gospel is not the second option because something else fell through. This has always been God's eternal plan of redemption. He created this plan; we call the gospel, from all eternity. The gospel is God's eternal plan.

A fifth truth that we learn here in this doxology is, "The Gospel is God's Revelation," the gospel is God's revelation. Verse 25 says, "…according to the revelation of the mystery." God has now revealed the mystery of the gospel, Jesus Christ and the good news of righteousness as a gift. How? First of all, through the incarnation. Verse 26 says, "but now. . ." Paul loves that expression; he means at this time in salvation history, but now this mystery is manifested. The tense of the Greek verb 'manifested' implies an event, and most commentators would say this event is the incarnation. In other words, God revealed the gospel in its fullness through the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. It's revealed in the incarnation.

God also revealed the gospel through the Old Testament Scripture. Verse 26 says, "…and by the Scriptures of the prophets." Paul has already said this before back in chapter 1, verse 2, he says, "(God) promised (the gospel) beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures." In chapter 3, verse 21, he says, "(The gospel was) witnessed by the Law and the Prophets."

So, what's he talking about here? In the first century, that expression in verse 26, "…the Scriptures of the prophets," referred to exactly the same content we call our Old Testament. Of course, they called it the Scriptures or the Hebrew Scriptures, but it's exactly the same content we call the Old Testament. So, in the Old Testament, God promised that the events on which the gospel is based, that they were coming. Messiah was coming, He would secure redemption.

In fact, even the New Testament word 'gospel' finds its background in several texts in the Septuagint in which it's used. For example, in Isaiah 61:1, this is about the Messiah and His ministry. He's speaking, this is our Lord speaking in Isaiah 61:1:

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,

Because the LORD has anointed me

To bring good news (to bring the gospel) to the afflicted;

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

To proclaim liberty to (the spiritual) captives

And freedom to the spiritual prisoners.

This was part of the ministry of Christ; this was the heart of the ministry of Christ. Many of the Old Testament passages describe the coming of Messiah and what He would accomplish. All the way back in Genesis, chapter 3, verse 15, in the garden of Eden, on the day of the first sin, the eternal Son of God promises Adam and Eve and all the rest of mankind that a unique human being would come, born of a woman who would crush the head of the serpent, the seed of the woman crushing the head of the serpent. And that continues to unfold through the Old Testament. You come to Genesis, chapter 12, in the Abrahamic Covenant, there, we're promised that in the offspring of Abraham, there will come one in whom all the nations of the world will be blessed. Paul, in Galatians 3 says, "God was preaching the gospel to Abraham when he said that."

And of course, you come to the high point of that revelation in the Old Testament, Isaiah 53. And there, we're told how he would crush the head of the serpent; He would do so by taking the sins of His people upon Himself, by bearing their iniquities, by taking their guilt and then suffering as a guilt offering in their place, dying to pay the penalty that their sins demanded from the justice of God.

And remember what Christ our Lord said about the Old Testament? Turn over to Luke, chapter 24; Luke, chapter 24, to the disciples on the Emmaus Road, in verse 25, he says:

O foolish men and slow of heart to believe…all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the (Messiah) to suffer these things and to enter into His glory? Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.

Later, down in verse 44, he meets with The Eleven again, and He said to them:

…These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms (That's the threefold description of the entire Old Testament.) must be fulfilled. Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, "Thus it is written, that the (Messiah) would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem."

God revealed the gospel through the incarnation and through the Old Testament Scripture.

But he also revealed it, thirdly, through the apostles and the New Testament Scripture. Go back to chapter 16; Romans 16, and look at verse 26. Paul adds, "…according to the commandment of the eternal God, (this mystery) has been made known." You see, the gospel message about Jesus Christ was revealed in the Old Testament, but it wasn't fully understood. Even Peter mentions this in 1 Peter, 1, (Right?) where he says, you know, "Those who wrote down the Old Testament wondered who this was and when He was going to come," and they were unsure about some of the details about what they were writing.

But then, Paul says here that the eternal God, that is the one who always had this plan, He commanded that this mystery that was known only to Him in eternity, the mystery he began to reveal in the Old Testament now be fully and completely made known through the ministry of Christ and His apostles. And that's exactly what happened. Notice the wording, "(The gospel) has been made known."

You see this even demonstrated in the book of Romans, right? Paul quotes a number of Old Testament passages to prove the gospel; some of those passages, as we saw, were crystal clear; others of them were not entirely clear until Christ came. But, through the teaching of Christ and the teaching of His apostles, the Holy Spirit filled out our understanding of the Old Testament and its meaning.

Paul's point is this, the New Testament gospel is not something that man created. Let that settle into your brain for moment; this is not a human creation. This simple message of God's Son become man, to die for sin, to be raised on the third day, that's not something anybody created on this planet; it was revealed to you by God! How? Through the incarnation, through the Old Testament Scripture, and through the New Testament Scripture. It comes to you from God. The gospel is God's power, the gospel is God's gospel, the gospel is about God's Son, the gospel is God's eternal plan, the gospel is God's revelation.

A sixth truth here is that the gospel is, "God's Universal Message," the gospel is God's universal message. Verse 26, he says, "…(It) has been made known (Notice this.) to all the nations." Paul says the same thing in chapter 1, verse 5, that it's been made known to all the Gentiles; he uses exactly the same word in Greek. The Septuagint uses the Greek word here translated as nations, it's 'ethne,' by the way. It uses it for the Hebrew word 'goyim;" maybe you've heard that word. It refers to all peoples and nations that don't believe in the true God of Israel.

So, this word, sometimes translated Gentiles, here translated nations, means in this kind of context, the peoples of the unbelieving nations of the world, or pagans, as we might say, idolaters, those who worship other gods. God intended His gospel to be proclaimed to all the nations of the world.

Don't miss this, this is a call to world missions, this is a call to personal evangelism. God has commanded that the gospel be made known to all peoples in all places. The gospel is God's universal message. Do you understand there is no other message; there's no other gospel? Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life (Underline these words.) no one comes to the Father but by me." There is no other way! There's not like a third path or a second path or a hundredth path to God. There's only one path. Acts 4:12, "…there is no other name (given) under heaven (whereby) we must be saved." It's the name of Christ alone. That's why we have to go, that's why we have to tell, that's why your neighbor needs to hear from you the gospel! Why? Because it's the only way, it's God's universal message, there's no other message. That good person that is your family member, listen, they need this message because there is no other way! This is God's universal message, the gospel.

There's a seventh truth here in our text, and that is, "The Gospel is God's Command," the gospel is God's command. Verse 26 ends by saying that this gospel has been made known to all the nations, "…leading to obedience of faith." Here we learn God's purpose in making known the mystery of the gospel; it was so that people from all the nations might come to obey the gospel by believing it. Paul uses this same expression in chapter 1, verse 5, he says, "…we…received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith."

Folks, it's not enough to hear the gospel; it's not enough to know the facts of the gospel; it's not enough to understand the facts of the gospel; it's not enough to agree that the facts of the gospel are true. If that's where you are this morning, if you say, "Yup, I believe all that's true." Then you're no better than the demons; because according to James, the demons believe all the truths about God and the gospel and tremble. No, the gospel demands that you respond, and what response does the gospel demand of you? It's right there in our text, "…the obedience of faith." In the gospel, God commands you to repent and believe; that's the response that you must obey.

Mark, chapter 1, this was the message of our Lord, Mark, chapter 1, verses 14 and 15, "...Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God." So, here it is; this is Jesus's own words here, the gospel of God saying, "The time is fulfilled, the Kingdom of God is at hand." In other words, you can get into God's kingdom, you can enter the spiritual kingdom where you belong to God your Creator, you experience the forgiveness of sins, you can be a part of that. How? He says, "…repent and believe the gospel." Those are imperatives, those are commands, "…repent, (turn from your sin) and believe in the gospel."

In Acts, chapter 17, verse 30, Paul says, "…God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent." This is the command that is the gospel. So, by "…the obedience of faith" here, Paul was referring to the initial act of believing in Christ and the ongoing life of faith, that is ongoing faith of a believer throughout life, continuing to trust in Christ and Christ alone. But he was also referring to the pattern of obedience that genuine faith always produces. You see, knowing the facts, believing the facts to be true and putting all of your confidence and hope of heaven in what Christ has done, that's true faith. But wherever there is true saving faith, then there will also be a pattern of obedience. That's why Jesus said in Matthew 28, "I want you to go and make disciples of all the nations."

So, what happens when you become a disciple? "Teaching them to observe (to obey) all that I have commanded them." This is what a disciple does. Obedience is to your spiritual life, think about this for a moment, obedience is to your spiritual life what a pulse is to your physical life. Your pulse doesn't cause life. You put your fingers on your wrist there and you feel a pulse; that pulse isn't causing your life. Instead, it is a vital sign that shows you you have life. If you put your fingers there on your wrist and you don't feel a pulse, that's a bad sign, this is not good. The same thing is true when it comes to obedience. Your obedience to Jesus Christ doesn't cause your spiritual life, but it is the chief vital sign that you have spiritual life. If you put your proverbial fingers on your spiritual pulse, and you say, "I believe in Jesus, I follow Jesus, I trusted in Him years ago," but there is not a pattern of obedience in your life, you don't have a pulse; you're a flat liner, you're not alive, you're spiritually dead. This is the response. The gospel is a command.

In this great final doxology, we're reminded of an eighth and final truth about the gospel and this is where Paul has really been building. "The Gospel is God's Glory," the gospel is God's glory. In verse 27, Paul returns to his doxology. He says, "…to the only wise God." In verse 25, he referred to God as, "… (The one) who is able to (strengthen) you;" now he refers to him "(As) the only wise God."

Now, that should take your mind back to the last doxology back in chapter 11. Go to chapter 11, verse 33, as Paul finishes the defense of the gospel, as he finishes explaining all the gospel before he gets to its application, he writes this in Romans 11:33:

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! FOR WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR?

He says, "God is amazingly wise," when you consider the plan that is the plan of salvation, when you consider redemption.

Go back to chapter 16, he says, "to the only wise God…be the glory forever." May God alone receive all the exultation and all the praise and all the worship because of His wisdom in the creation and power of this great plan. But, don't miss the key phrase in verse 27, "to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever." How is God most glorified? God receives the most glory through His Son, Jesus Christ, through the person and work of His Son.

But don't miss what Paul is saying; the ultimate goal of your salvation is not your salvation. Yes, God loved you; He set His eternal love upon you; He sent His Son in order to die for you, to purchase your forgiveness, so that you could know Him, be adopted by Him, be with Him forever. Yes, you are part of and a significant part of the reason for the plan of salvation, but you are not the ultimate reason. The ultimate goal that God had was His own glory. In Ephesians, chapter 1, as Paul unpacks the plan of redemption there. Three times he says, "To the praise of His glory, to the praise of His glory, to the praise of His glory." That's why God saved you. Ultimately, it was to put His own character on display, His grace. This is the theme of everything, this is the theme of the Scripture. Many times, I've told you what the Bible is about, it's this, "God is redeeming a people by His Son, for His Son, (What?) to His own glory." That's the goal of everything.

So what's the only appropriate response to our seven-year journey through the book of Romans? It's the same response that Paul had when he finished writing it, "to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen."

Notice Paul finishes this magnificent letter with a Hebrew word transliterated into Greek, "to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen!" 'Amen,' is a simple word affirming that we agree.

Let me ask you this morning, "Is that your response to the gospel we've learned in this magnificent letter? Is it "Amen"? In chapter 3, verse 10, we read, "THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE." What is our response to that? It's, you tell me, it's, "Amen!" "Amen!" Chapter 3, verse 23, "…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," and our response is, "Amen!" Chapter 3, verses 24 and 25, "(We are) justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus," and we say, "Amen!" Chapter 4, verse 5, "…to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness," and we say, "Amen!" Chapter 5, verse 1, "…having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ," and our response has to be, "Amen!" Chapter 6, verse 23, "…the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord," and our hearts say, "Amen!" Chapter 8, verse 1, "Therefore there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus," and that requires a hearty, "Amen!" Chapter 8, verses 38 and 39:

I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

"Amen!" And then, "to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever."

And all God's people said, "Amen!"

Let's pray together. Father, that is the cry of our hearts. How can we ever begin to thank you for this magnificent letter, for all that we've learned, for all of the great truths that have changed our thinking, that have corrected our error, that has set us on the path of righteousness, for the gospel itself? Lord, we give you thanks for your great wisdom, "to you the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen."

And, Father, I pray that you would use the gospel, that your power would be at work even today as a result of this message that you would save through the gospel, some who are here this morning, and that you would strengthen and establish us all who have already believed in Him, according to your gospel, we pray it in Jesus's name. Amen.

Romans