Dr. Ray E. Heiple, Jr.
Ascribing to God the Glory Due to His Name
Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. 1 Chronicles 29:11ESV
This morning we continue to study Westminster Larger Catechism Question 196, which asks, “What doth the conclusion of the Lord’s prayer teach us?” The second part of the answer states: “The conclusion of the Lord’s prayer (which is, For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen,) teaches us… with our prayers to join praises, ascribing to God alone eternal sovereignty, omnipotency, and glorious excellency.
Praise is an essential part of prayer. Man alone of all the creatures has been given the mind and the voice to praise God. When we praise God we declare Him to be great in all that He is and all that He does. We admire Him, compliment and commend Him, we celebrate and rejoice in who God is and what He has done. Praising God is synonymous with glorifying Him, since when we praise God we are ascribing greatness and significance (weightiness) to Him. Moreover, sincere praise should have the effect of our emulating God in His person and works, for how can we celebrate who He is and what He has done and then turn around and do the opposite in our own lives? Therefore, all who genuinely praise the Lord will, to that degree, desire to be like Him in their own characters and in their thoughts, words, and actions. Heartfelt praise to God will then cause us to hate our sins and resist temptation more. As we grow in praising God and delighting in His goodness, we will grow in seeing the evil and ugliness of sin, helping us to turn from it and to that glorious righteousness which we are praising.
The Catechism suggests three attributes of God for which we are to praise Him. First, is His eternal sovereignty. God’s sovereignty refers to His dominion, and control over all things. King Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged God’s sovereignty when he said, “All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’” (Dan. 4:35). When People say “God is in control” they are referring to His sovereignty. God’s sovereignty assures us that nothing can happen that is not in some sense in God’s plan. Even when God allows someone to do some great evil thing, that too has been ordained by Him in His plan for all things. Finally we notice that God’s sovereignty is eternal. There was and there never will be a time when one rogue molecule can for even one second break out of the sovereign control of God. The truth of God’s eternal sovereignty should give us perfect joy and confidence for the future and we should praise Him for it in everything.
Second we praise God for His omnipotency. Omnipotence means all-powerful. God has all power in the sense that all the power any creature has is entirely from God. Earthquakes and Tsunamis are frightening in their power, but they are only a very small display of God’s power. Likewise, all that mankind has ever done or will ever do is by way of God having given men all of their wisdom and abilities and the resources which we use to harness and produce power. We praise those human beings who achieve the most in their fields, regarding scientific, academic, or athletic power, how much more ought we to praise the one who gives and sustains the power of every human innovator or champion? Moreover, we know that God by His power causes all that He has ordained in His sovereign plan to work for the good of those who believe in Jesus (Rom. 8:28).
Finally we praise God for His glorious excellency. Here we acknowledge that all that God has done or will do in His sovereign plan and by His mighty power is good. All that God does is morally and ethically perfect, upright, and altogether righteous. There is not even the slightest hint of evil in God. There is and will never be the briefest hesitation to do what is fully good and perfectly upright. In sum: God has planned all things; God is powerful enough to fully accomplish His plan; God by His gracious goodness is on our side. These three absolute truths should cause us to praise God more and more, from the heart and all of our being, forever and ever, Amen!