Today I’m continuing a short 5-part series on the five solas of the Reformation. This post would normally be posted on Tuesday, but since tomorrow happens to be the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, I will be writing a completely different article on that subject tomorrow.
The five solas are specific Latin slogans that emerged from the Reformation era as a means of identifying specific doctrinal positions that stand in contrast to the beliefs and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. The slogans are:
- Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone)
- Sola Gratia (Grace Alone)
- Sola Fide (Faith Alone)
- Solus Christus (Christ Alone)
- Soli Deo Gloria (To God Alone Be Glory)
Today’s focus is on the fifth sola—Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone). If the five solas are built upon the firm foundation of sola Scriptura—it’s appropriate that we come to understand that the work of God in saving sinners is all for the glory of God alone. When Johann Tetzel and others would say, “When a coin in the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs.” This was to ascribe glory to man’s alms or the Roman Catholic Church’s authority to make the transaction. This is nothing but a blasphemous doctrine.
Why Soli Deo Gloria?
The work of salvation is a work of God alone. Sure, man responds to God in the process, but not until the work of God has already been accomplished and put into motion. Man is dead in trespasses and sin and cannot work his way to God, will his way to God, worship his way to God, or pay his way to God (Eph. 2:1-5). Salvation in many evangelical circles has been reduced down to a three step process whereby people make a decision to follow Jesus by asking Jesus to come into their heart.
All throughout the Bible, we see that salvation is something far different than a human decision. Salvation, as Jonah said, “belongs to the LORD” (Jonah 2:9). John the apostle, in his Gospel put emphasis on the fact that sinners are born of God (John 1:12-13). He makes it clear that we are not born again by the will of man, the will of the flesh, by blood relationships, or any other common belief. We are saved when we are born of God. John returns to that same thought as he writes to a group of churches in his epistle known as 1 John. He writes, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7).
Robert Robinson penned these famous words in 1758:
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
As the Bible places great emphasis upon the fact that God saves sinners and that the work of salvation is a work of God in divine mercy saving a people who not only don’t deserve to be saved, but are completely unable to save themselves—it only makes sense that salvation is for the glory of God alone. That’s why the Reformers pointed back to God—not the pope, priests, saints, or any other religious hierarchy. Salvation of fallen sinful man is to the praise of God alone.
The next time you hear people giving a congratulations to sinners who have just been rescued by the sovereign grace and mercy of God—remember that the sinner didn’t do anything to deserve or earn salvation. Instead of praising the new Christian—we should praise God.
Last of all, let it be known that for us to praise God and for God to desire the praise and glory is not in the slightest degree sinful. We should never equate the football player who struts into the end zone with arrogant chest pounding displays of human effort with God who desires the praise of His people. When people desire to be praised it’s an ugly thing, but when God desires to be praised it’s a wonderful thing. God’s jealousy is not birthed out of arrogance and sin. Instead, it flows out of the purity of God’s holiness (Ex. 20:3-5).
Revelation 4:11 — Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.