Romans 16:25-27 - Glory to the One Who Saves and Strengthens (Rev. Erik Veerman)
Next week, we’ll be jumping into the book of Zechariah. The Old Testament prophet. I think you will really be blessed by that upcoming study.
But this morning, we’ve come to the last 3 verses of the book of Romans. This will conclude our brief consideration of Romans 16. And it’s a great conclusion. It’s a doxology – meaning it’s a praise to God. Giving glory to God. That’s what a doxology is.
BTW, I was able to get a sermon outline done in time for the printing. You can see it on the back of the bulletin.
You’ll find these verses on page 1130.
Reading of Romans 16:25-27
“What on Earth am I Here For?” That’s the subtitle of Pastor Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life. Since its release many years ago, it has sold over 35 million copies. That’s a lot. In the book he deals with the question of purpose. Our purpose in life. “What on Earth am I Here For?” Warren begins his book with this phrase, “It’s not about you.” And he goes on in the whole first chapter to direct our attention to God. That our purpose begins with God. I think Warren absolutely begins where we need to begin – with God. A little bit later, we’ll come back to something that’s missing in his book. But we do need to start with God, with his Glory, we’re created for his purpose. As the psalmist declares, “not to us, O Lord, but to your name give glory.”
And as we come to this doxology at the end of the book of Romans, this is where we are directed. To God. To him. It’s all for his glory forevermore.
If you take a quick look at these verses, you’ll see that they begin and end by directing us to God. The beginning of verse 25, “now to him.” That is, to God. and verse 27. “To the only wise God be glory forevermore.” Do you see how that focuses our attention on God and his glory? And what Paul includes in-between are some of the reasons we direct our attention to God.
To be sure, it’s not that you should avoid giving attention to your life, or your burdens, or your faith. No, rather, in them, in those things, you should turn to God. For God is the one who strengthens you in them. That’s the summary of these verses. Give glory to God who is the one who strengthens you.
Now, before we see how these verses all work toward that focus, let me highlight something that will help connect these verses to the rest of the book.
This doxology is not the only doxology in Romans. The end of chapter 11 is another great doxology. It was our call to worship this morning. “For from him, and through him and to him are all things, to him be the glory forever. Amen.” Lots of parallels there.
But why are there two doxologies? The reason is, the book of Romans is divided into two distinct parts.
•The first 11 chapters focus on how God has worked out his amazing salvation. That includes explaining… God’s judgment and his law, helping us to understand our sinful condition. It highlights the promises of God through Abraham. It works out the amazing accomplishment of salvation on the cross, and how Christ fulfilled God’s moral law, and the great hope we have as a result. It also reveals God’s sovereignty in it all, and how God uses us to participate in declaring that hope of Jesus to the world. That’s the summary of the first 11 chapters. Some people would categorize it as… tedious theological matters. But I think of it more as those amazing Gospel truths. God has revealed to us, through the apostle Paul, how it all fits together. The need for salvation and how salvation has been accomplished and applied to us. You see, the first 11 chapters are about the depth and riches found in what God has done for you… for me, if you believe by faith in Christ. And that’s why there’s a doxology at the end of chapter 11. For what he has done. And that doxology points to God, testifying to his amazing ways and judgments for his glory.
•Then chapters 12 to 16 are very different. It’s about the application of faith in Christ. What the faith in Christ given to us should provoke in us. To say it in another way, the last 5 chapters are about our response to the Gospel, seeking to live in a manner worthy of our calling as Christians. It includes practical and tangible things. We briefly touched upon some of them last week: the love and care for and ministry with one another in the church. In verse 26, there’s that phrase again. “obedience of faith.” Which, as a reminder, is used right at the beginning of the letter to Romans and here it is again at the end. The idea that faith comes with obedience. The obedience of faith. The obedience that results from true faith. Not the other way around. And that’s what these last chapters of Romans highlight – obedience.
•So, the first part of Romans - chapters 1-11 what is the Gospel, what is faith in Christ… and then this second part of Romans - chapters 12-16 - how should we live out the Gospel, our obedience to the Gospel. And after each part, Doxology – praise to God!
So as we look at this last doxology, it makes sense, doesn’t it, that it begins, “now to him who is able to strengthen you.” Strengthen you meaning in your faith and obedience. That word “strengthen” at its root means “to be established.” Some translations even use that word “establish.” It’s a spiritual strengthening of your faith. And really, that strengthening flows right from these last few chapters. In fact, it flows right from the whole book. Really, these final verses are a summary of Romans.
Ok, look down again at these three verses. Notice there are 3 uses of the phrase “according to.” They answer the question, how does God strengthen or establish us? And the answer, “he strengthens us according to…” And each of these “according to’s” points back to God – it points back to Jesus… either directly or indirectly.
So that’s how this doxology unfolds. Glory to God who strengthens you in these three Gospel ways, which gives glory to Glory.
You’ll see 3 points in the outline. They directly relate to each of these “according tos.”
1. Glory to the One who strengthens you in the Gospel (16:25a)
2. Glory to the One who strengthens you through the revelation of the Gospel (16:25b, 26a)
3. Glory to the One who strengthens you unto Gospel obedience (16:26b)
Pretty straight forward. So let’s look at these one at a time.
1. Glory to the One who strengthens you in the Gospel
The first point. Glory to the One who strengthens you in the Gospel. The first half of verse 25. “Now to him who is able to strengthen you” and then the first according to: “according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ”
So the first part of our spiritual strengthening comes from the Gospel. It’s the very thing that establishes us. The important question, though, is “what is the Gospel?” Well, let’s answer that question by going back to the beginning of the letter. In fact, the themes in each of these “according to’s” directly references chapter 1. It’s there Paul gives us a definition of the Gospel. He wrote back in chapter 1, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” That power of God for salvation come from Jesus’ ministry as God, as man. His death and his resurrection, which atone for sin. And necessary part of that is believing in it by faith.
Paul uses that phrase “my gospel” (we’re back in chapter 16, verse 25) not as if there is more than one Gospel. No, rather he uses that phrase “my gospel” because he embraced the Gospel. He loved the Gospel. He was conveying the Gospel to them. This is a heartfelt embrace of God’s Gospel, which was at work in him, too. And Paul clarifies that because he then ties it to the preaching of Jesus Christ. His Gospel is the ministry of Jesus Christ.
I want you to think about your own life – your own testimony. I’m speaking to the Christians here. It could be that you came to believe as an adult through someone sharing God’s grace in Christ with you. It could be that you grew up in a Christian home and believed at a young age, or it could be that you grew up in a Christian home, but it wasn’t until you were older that you embraced the Gospel. Whichever it was, it became God’s good news in your life. That’s what that word gospel means, “good news.”
And this Gospel “good news” is the source of strength for you. Whatever you face, you can draw from the solid rock of the Gospel, that God has given to you in your life. Your transformed life. You are firmly established in it. And that Gospel foundation cannot be moved. Jesus said this, speaking of his sheep, his people: “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” So, you see, that Gospel of Christ that you have is the primary means through which God strengthens you, through which he firmly establishes you.
And it’s not your doing. No, it’s God’s work in you. This is why the Gospel is part of this Doxology. Through it, in your life, God is glorified. Glory to him, who strengthens you in the Gospel of Jesus.
2. Glory to the One who strengthens you through the revelation of the Gospel (16:25b, 26a)
That brings us to point 2, Glory to the One who strengthens you through the revelation of the Gospel. This is about the second “according to.” That’s at the end of verse 25 and the beginning of verse 26. It’s a little longer one. It says, “according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations.”
God strengthens us through his Word. Through the revelation of Christ, as revealed in his Word.
That word “revealed” also takes us back to Romans chapter 1. Right after explaining that the Gospel is the power of God for salvation to both Jews and Greeks. To all people. It says, “For in it,” meaning in the Gospel, “the righteousness of God is revealed.” The Gospel made clear the mystery that was being unfolded by the promises and prophecies.
There used to be a reality tv show about surprise home renovations. The idea was to renovate someone’s house while they were away… and without them knowing. Usually, the renovation was for someone with a need, like a veteran in a wheel chair, or a large foster care family.
And these people didn’t know what was going on, but they knew something was up. Someone would pay for them to go on vacation for a couple of weeks. And while on vacation people were constantly checking in with them.
Meanwhile, their home would be totally renovated. Lots of planning had to go into it because all the contractors and subcontractors were all coordinated. And as soon as the owner left for vacation, the work began in earnest. In a short amount of time, their home was totally transformed. When they came back, a big bus was parked in front of their house so they couldn’t see it. There were lots of people there, and cameras. And then the bus would move for the big reveal. Of course, there were tears of joy. And much thankfulness. The mystery had been revealed. It had all been planned out, and then worked out, and then revealed.
Before the creation of the world, God planned out salvation. Before he created all things! And then through his creation and in his providence even over the fall and sin, God began his work of redemption. That involved establishing a relationship with a family, and a people, the Jewish people, and a nation, the Israelites, it involved prophecies, it included glimpses of salvation and redemption. But God’s grand plan was in many ways a mystery. It was veiled, even though behind the scenes it was being worked out.
And then Christ came. And he fulfilled the promises. Through his life and death and resurrection, God revealed the mystery. God had worked it all out. All the pieces fit together. And salvation had never just been for Israel. No Israel was blessed to be the means through which God would bring salvation to the nations. And now as we look back, we can see how “the mystery, which was kept secret,” as it says, is fulfilled in Christ. The plan had always been that salvation would come to all nations.
The mystery had been revealed, and now it was being “made known” to the nation. Do you see that progression in the second “according to”? from hidden, to revealed, to now being “made known.” The Gospel is being proclaimed to the nations.
And think about Paul’s audience. The church in Rome. A couple of weeks ago we considered the make-up of that church. Quite a cross-section of nationalities. Yes, there were some Jews, but most of the church were Romans or Greeks or other nationalities from all over. They were the nations. God had revealed his Gospel to them.
And it all points back to God’s glory in how he has worked it all out. Glory to the One who strengthens you through the revelation of the Gospel.
3. Glory to the One who strengthens you unto Gospel obedience (16:26b)
And that brings us to the third point: Glory to the One who strengthens you unto Gospel obedience. This is in reference to the last “according to.” It says, “according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith.”
We’ve already talked about that phrase “obedience of faith,” which if you’ll remember, connects back to Romans 1 and summarizes the book as a whole. This last “according to” really highlights where that strength for obedience comes from. Notice it says it happens by the “command of the eternal God.” It’s God! He is the one who works in us to build us up in righteousness. In other words, God’s will for you, is that you be conformed to the image of Christ.
Part of why you were saved is so that you may live a godly life. A life pleasing to God. Consider these 2 verses in the Bible:
•1 Peter 2:24 – It says: “[Jesus] himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.” Do you hear that connection between the Gospel and your obedience?
•Or Ephesians 2:10 – It says: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works” Part of your purpose is good works in Christ Jesus.
You see, obedience and faith are connected. Obedience doesn’t lead to faith. No, the obedience is “of faith,” as it says. Obedience comes with true faith. Just to be clear, that doesn’t mean you are sinless. No, rather, when you sin, you desire to come to God in repentance and new obedience.
And again, just like the other “according to’s”, this circles us back to God’s glory. He’s the “eternal God,” as it says. It’s his “command,” as it says. He’s the one who brings about “the obedience of faith,” as it says. All this points to his glory through his work in us.
When we reflect Christ’s righteousness, when we are pursuing God and his commands, when we are seeking to walk in newness of life according to our faith, then we are glorifying God.
Let me try to bring all this together.
God is glorified through the Gospel work of Christ in you. The first “according to” points to that foundational Gospel transformation in your life. The second “according to” points to the amazing revelation of the Gospel to all nations, of which we are part. This was God’s plan from the beginning, which he has revealed in his Word. And the third “according to” points to the Gospel work in you for your obedience, your sanctification, we sometimes say.
So if you are believe in Christ, the answer to the question “what on earth am I here for?” is this: God created you for his glory, and he is glorified by his Gospel work in you, strengthening you. And this is where I want to go back to pastor Rick Warren’s book. While yes, I agree with where he started, that it’s not about you or me, it’s about God. Our purpose is grounded in God. However, what’s not anywhere in his book is the Gospel. It’s not there. Yet the Gospel is the primary way, through which God is glorified in us. Our purpose driven life, as Christians, is a Gospel driven life.
You can see that Gospel emphasis in that last verse, verse 27. “to the only wise God be glory forevermore” and then it says “through Jesus Christ.” God is glorified through Jesus. Through his ministry, through the salvation we have in him, through the work of Christ in you.
Let me put it this way. God is more glorified because of the Gospel than if the Gospel never happened. Let me say that again, God is more glorified because of the Gospel than if the Gospel never happened.
God’s plan of salvation, which he worked out before he created all things, was so that he would get more glory. And here the amazing thing for us. It’s not to the detriment of his people. No rather, we are the beneficiaries of his Glory. Because his Gospel work in us is transforming us and building us up, which does the amazing thing of glorifying him even more.
And for the Christian here, the result of seeing and understanding this is we want to give God more glory. To praise him, and worship him, and honor him.
And if you’re here and you are not a Christian. There is wonder and glory to see and know. This Gospel is for you. Christ came for you, died for you, and he’s calling you to faith in him and obedience in him, which will then give him glory as he strengthens you in the Gospel.
This letter appropriately closes with one word. The word “Amen.” It means “truly, let it be so!” We close our prayers with “amen” because we are saying “let these prayers be so.” I often end my sermons with the word “Amen” as a question. Meaning should these truths and applications be so? And many of you respond “Amen” meaning “let it be so.”
So, may God be glorified by strengthening us through his Gospel work in us. Amen?