Soli Deo Gloria ("Glory to God Alone")
ALL GLORY TO THE ONE TRUE GOD
During the month of October, our special focus has been on contemplating the Solas of the Reformation. These were wonderful themes that with the passing of time were memorialized as theological points of emphases during the Protestant Reformation. If you imagine a building, you might think of Sola Scriptura as the foundation of that building. Without the foundation of Sola Scriptura, that building crumbles. Then, taking this illustration further, there are 3 pillars that stand firmly upon this foundation, Solus Christus (Christ Alone), Sola Gratia (Grace Alone), and Sola Fide (Faith Alone). These 3 pillars were grounded upon the Holy Scriptures.
But without one final, overarching, all-encompassing great pinnacle or roof, Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone), it would all be incomplete. All of these Solas and, in fact, all of life, all that we do and will do, is to be done for the supreme purpose of bringing glory to God. 1 Cor. 10:31, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do ALL [emphasis mine] to the glory of God.” In our present context, we tend to wrongly differentiate between the “secular” and the “sacred.” But to our brethren during the Reformation, everything we have and do, church life, family life, our vocation, education, and possessions, everything, belongs to God and is to be used for God’s glory.
How might we define the glory of God? John Piper defines God’s glory as “the going public of His holiness.” God’s glory is the sum of His holy attributes. Often times in the Bible God’s presence is felt and manifested in radiant, blinding Light. His glory is manifested by fire, thunder, lightning, and shaking. In response, people are awestruck, unable to look upon Him. God is “inherently” glorious, that is, His glory is the sum of His attributes, of everything that He is! We add or subtract nothing from His inherent glory.
But there is also “ascribed glory.” His creation and creatures were created for the purpose of bringing Him glory. According to Romans 1, man’s failure to give God the glory due His Name by acknowledging His existence and giving Him thanks, is the reason for His judgment upon the world. “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Rom 1:21). In light of man’s rejection of God, 3 times man is said to be “given over” in the subsequent verses (Rom 1: 24, 26, 28). We may ask the question, “what’s wrong with America?” The answer is a simple one: God has given America over to her rejection of Him, as revealed on the pages of His Holy Word. We who were created to be His special image bearers have failed miserably, and have rejected the One true God who gives life and meaning to all things.
But above all, the Reformers pointed to the theme of Soli Deo Gloria as it related to our salvation from our sins and God’s coming judgment. Salvation from beginning to end is a work of God. Man is totally depraved, spiritually dead, and unable to save himself (Eph 2:1-3). Consequently, man needs something, better yet Someone, outside of himself to awaken him to the beauty of the Lord Jesus Christ. Who does this, but God alone?! God the Father calls, God the Son redeems, and God the Spirit applies the work of salvation to the heart of the Christian. Thus, Who receives the glory in the work of salvation? God Alone! “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. (Rom 11:36). Soli Deo Gloria!