Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and our Savior who is coming again even as His disciples saw Him go!
No theology without doxology! Perhaps you have heard this statement before. What does it mean? Theology is the study of God. Doxology is the praise of God, the exultation of God, the splendor of God. We sing a doxology each Lord’s Day morning in the worship service that gives praise to the triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Theology is of very little use to us if it does not have as its end and its purpose doxology. That is to say, theology that does not center on the praise, glory, and splendor of God does not help us at all.
Many people today are disenchanted with doctrine and theology because they have seen it presented in a way to win a debate or to demonstrate someone’s knowledge. But proper theology and doctrine that has as its goal the praise and glory of God is essential to the Christian life, for without the true knowledge of God no man can be saved. For how can we have faith in One we do not know?
We see this in the theology of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christ did not faint on the cross and revive later; He was not moved and hidden by the disciples. It was not a different person three days later walking on the road to Emmaus, but it was the God-man Jesus Christ who died on the cross and rose from the dead on the third day. This doctrine should be used to fight against those that would deceive God’s people, and it is used properly in bringing glory and praise to God who raised Jesus from the dead. The doctrine of the resurrection should be used to give glory and praise to God who promises to raise us from the dead even as Christ rose. The doctrine of the Resurrection should give glory and praise to God who has all power to raise us from the dead and who loved us so much He promised to do so. This is why we sing of the Resurrection because it is a great doctrine and it brings glory to God.
Why is the theology of the end times so important? Is it so that we can win arguments with our dispensationalist friends? Or is it so that we might be comforted by the truth that Christ who went up into the clouds of His own power is coming again even as He went? Is Christ’s teaching on the end times so that we will dismiss it and say it does not matter, or rather that we might praise God who will reunite soul and body in the last day and reign over us in perfection and glory in the new heavens and the new earth forever? There is no useful theology without doxology.
The same is true of prayer. Over the last year we have had a series of letters on the Lord’s Prayer teaching us from Scripture how to pray properly using the Lord’s prayer as Jesus designed it when He gave it to His church. By God’s grace we have seen throughout that the focus has always been on the person and work of Christ, on the glory of God the Father, and on the fellowship that we have with the Holy Spirit. So there is certainly a doxology that runs through each of the petitions. But this doxology is most clearly seen in the conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer which is, “for Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, amen.”
God is teaching us here at the end of the Lord’s Prayer that our prayer should have as its end, its purpose, and its goal the glory and praise of God. This conclusion is teaching us to take our encouragement in prayer from God only because it is God only who has the kingdom and all power and all glory forever and ever.
In Daniel’s vision in Daniel 7:13-14, Daniel sees the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, coming with the clouds of heaven. He comes before the Ancient of Days who gives Him an everlasting dominion that will never pass away and a kingdom that will never be destroyed. Brothers and sisters, this is the God to whom we pray, and so our prayers to Him must be to the end that His name would be honored and praised; that His name might be exalted; and that His name might be given much glory. So as we close our prayer we do so not with a request but with a doxology, with the praise of God. It is not a request for God’s praise, but rather a declaration of His praise; For He has the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever and ever.
Some would suggest that our prayer should only be made up of petitions and that it should not have theology in it. Yet in the testimony of Scripture we see the Lord’s Prayer taught by Christ and the prayers of God’s people to Him rich in theology and rich in doxology. We see the elders in Revelation casting down their crowns before Him and confessing that God alone is worthy of all glory, honor, and praise. We see the seraphim confessing “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory.” Prayer, brothers and sisters, rightly exults and honors the name of Christ, for we are speaking to Christ. He calls us to make our requests and petitions known before Him. And He is the one who is all powerful, who has all authority in heaven and earth and brings all things to pass, so we must confess these things about Him with regularity. The Israelites did this in the Old Testament as they recounted His deeds in prayer with the refrain, “for His mercy endureth forever.”
God has given us means to testify that what we have prayed is heard and will be carried out in a manner that glorifies God. This testimony is very simple, in fact, it is just one word. The word is “Amen.” It is very common these days to hear prayers that do not end with this word. If this is our practice let us be encouraged to change our practice to ending our prayers with this word, Amen. What does it mean? The word simply means, “So be it”. That is to say, we are confessing with this word that what we have prayed we are fully confident that God is all powerful to accomplish, that what we have prayed is in the hands of the Almighty God and we rest assured He will do according to His will. So the Shorter Catechism teaches that in testimony of our desires and in testimony of our assurance that God will hear us, we say amen!
Brothers and sisters, may this series of letters increase our faith and help us to pray, and in our prayers to ascribe kingdom, power, and glory to our holy God, who came nearly 2000 years ago to live a perfect life on our behalf; who died on a tree on Calvary; who shed His blood to satisfy the wrath of God for our sins; who covered us with His own righteousness; who did not stay under the power of death but on the third day rose from the dead; who ascended to heaven; and who is coming again with great glory, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God. Let us pray with all confidence to this great God for He is our God, forever and ever, and He surely hears us, amen!
Ben Stahl, Elder