Last week we observed Sola Scriptura, and how the way the Lord reveals who He is and His will for mankind, which is not found in our ideas, thoughts, or feelings. The only place where we can be sure of who God is, and His will for mankind, is in His written, eternal word.
Now we come to the last “sola” of the reformation. Although the case was made that Solus Christus is the “sola” by which all other solas stand or fall, Soli Deo Gloria is what all of the other “solas” of the Reformation point to. Soli Deo Gloria, when translated into English from Latin, means “glory to God alone.”
Soli Deo Gloria, instructs that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob receives all of the credit and accolades for the redemptive work He has accomplished for man in history. Theopedia underscores this in their explanation of Soli Deo Gloria, when they comment,
Glory to God alone, also known as Soli Deo gloria, is one of the Five Solas of the Reformatiom meaning all the glory is due to God alone, since he did all the work — not only in the atonement of Christ, but even granting the faith which unites us to Christ and brings us into the salvation provided by his atonement.
To add to this definition, I am convinced that this definition of Soli Deo Gloria is insufficient, because it does not just include the salvation won for men by Christ due to His atoning work, but involves the entire course of human history. In addition, Soli Deo Gloria is intimately tied to all of the other “solas”: It is by the will of God that one receives grace from God, therefore God is glorified (Sola Gratia). Faith is a gift that one receives from God, and since it is a work of God to give one faith, God is indeed glorified (Sola Fide). The work of Christ on the cross for mankind shows His immeasurable love towards mankind. Consequently since God approved and anointed Christ, and was pleased with Him, to trust Christ is to glorify God, because Christ was sent by Him (Solus Christus). Finally since God moved through His creation to reveal Himself, and His will for mankind, in Sacred Scripture, God is also glorified for this awesome work (Sola Scriptura).
But how is the doctrine of Soli Deo Gloria the antidote to a meaningless life? The Sacred Scriptures gives us the answer to this question:
- When one teaches Scripture rightly, God is glorified: To be instructed in sound doctrine glorifies God. This is highlighted in Psalm 86:8-12:
8 There is no one like You among the gods, O Lord, Nor are there any works like Yours.9 All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, And they shall glorify Your name. 10 For You are great and do wondrous deeds; You alone are God. 11 Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name. 12 I will give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, And will glorify Your name forever (NASB, emphasis mine).
Notice how the glory of God is tied to being thankful, and to the “fear”(i.e., honor) of the Lord, and this begins by being “taught” in the ways of the Lord. This is why sound doctrine is extremely important. If we believe a false doctrine about God, essentially, this will minimize or complete impede the glory of God. Being taught rightly instructs the believer to honor (or “fear”) Him rightly, and thus will result in God being glorified properly.
- When one avoids sexual immorality, God is glorified: Paul, addressing the Corinthians gives this command:
15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! 16 Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “The two shall become one flesh.” 17 But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. 18 Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God , and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. (1 Cor. 6:13-20 NASB).
Paul tells the saints in Corinth they should not lie down with prostitutes because they are one in spirit with Jesus Christ. Instead they are given the command to flee this behavior. Paul then tells them one that commits this sin, commits it against himself. Paul ends with reminding them they had been purchased with a price: The blood of Christ, shed for them. Because they had been forgiven of all of their sin (including sexual immorality) they should glorify God in their body by avoiding such conduct. Paul gives them right instruction, so that through their proper conduct, they may be able to glorify God in their proper function.
- When saints provides for the needs of God’s people, God is glorified: This is seen where Paul praises the saints of Corinth when he writes,
12 For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints , but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God. 13 Because of the proof given by this ministry, they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all…(2 Cor. 9:12-13)
The churches of Corinth gave to the churches of Macedonians, and supplied for their needs (v.2). He goes on to write that God will provide for their churches needs because they performed the good work caring for the saints (vs. 3-11). Paul them explains their serving the saints, resulted in praise and thanksgiving to God. As a result of their gift, the Macedonians will glorify God for their contribution, which is centered around their confession of the good news of Christ. Once more the glory of God is focused on one of the “solas” (Solus Christus) and how the gospel of Christ was pivotal in their caring for the needs of the saints.
- When saints suffer, and are persecuted, God is glorified: Peter, gives the Christian this encouragement when he, inspired by the Holy Spirit, writes,
15 Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; 16 but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name. (1 Peter 4:15-16 NASB)
Peter tells us when a Christian undergoes adversity, he is not to be ashamed of this, but the Christian is to give God glory because they have been found worthy to suffer for the sake of suffering for the name of Christ.
- When saints do all things, God is glorified: Paul again gives us the reality of this truth when he writes
31Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Cor. 10:31 NASB)
In the context of this passage Paul is discussing the Corinthians saints conduct of eating meat sacrificed to idols. Paul explains that the conduct of the believer should be done for the benefit and service to the neighbor (vs.32-33). The point is when a believer in Christ, serves their neighbor, in whatever they do, the intent (or motive) is to glorify God. Again the reason a Christian does this is because they have been saved from the wrath of God, to glorify God with their deeds.
The glory of God is the objective for human history and creation. For one to ignore or reject this truth, is to ignore the very purpose for which mankind was created. It is the reason why the Christian studies, repents daily, prays, witnesses to their neighbors, raises their children in the ways of the Lord, labors, suffers, eats, drinks, writes, etc. The Christian understands that all of their acts are tied directly to giving God glory in their lives.
I end this blog with a quote from the Westminster Shorter Catechism, which touches at the very heart of this “sola”:
Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
Until Next Time…
Soli Deo Gloria!