With the Pope’s coming to America this last week, I decided that I would write a short five part series on the Five Solas of the Reformation. These five points are stated below:
- Sola Gratia – By Grace Alone
- Sola Fide – By Faith Alone
- Solus Christus – In Christ Alone
- Sola Scriptura – By Scripture Alone
- Soli Deo Gloria – To the Glory of God Alone
This final post is on Soli Deo Gloria, or To the Glory of God Alone. This, in my opinion, is by far the most important. This question sums up both positions: Does God get all of the glory, or do we get some as well? Rome still teaches that the glory goes to the Papacy, the church, and God. It makes sense in their system however. In a synergistic system where we participate in our salvation, God cannot get all of the glory. However, in a monergistic system where salvation is all of grace, then only God can receive the glory for what he has done. We will look at three main passages concerning this subject of who the glory of God goes to:
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for you are with me; Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and loving-kindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
— Psalm 23 (NASB)
This passage is amazing because it has everything to do with you but yet has nothing to do with you at all. It is all about the relationship between the Shepherd and his sheep. Why does the Shepherd protect his sheep? It gives us the answer: “for his name’s sake.” God did not save you for you. He saved you for him. This is the whole purpose of him comforting us and protecting us and securing us. It is to preserve his glory.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to himself, according to the kind intention of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, which he freely bestowed on us in the beloved.
— Ephesians 1:3-6 (NASB)
Again, this passage has a very similar message. God did not predestine you for salvation because of you or because he saw something glorious in you. God chose to save you for his praise and his glory. John Piper, a Christian Hedonist, who actually coined the phrase “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied with him,” mentioned in a sermon this very truth: “God makes more of you when he makes much of you for his sake than if he only made much of you for your sake.” This is amazing because when God is glorified, we get him.
I am the Lord, that is My name; I will not give my glory to another, nor my praise to graven images.
— Isaiah 42:8 (NASB)
If there was one verse that proved that salvation is all to God’s glory, it would be this. God is a jealous God and he will not share his glory with another. He gets all the glory. It’s all his. This is why he saves alone, because he gets all the glory when salvation is all of him, which is why Jonah said that “salvation is of the Lord.”
The Westminster Catechism has this famous question: “What is the chief end of man?” And the answer is this: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” We were created to glorify God and him alone. Jonathan Edwards understood this more than anyone else. A puritan in the 16th century, Jonathan Edwards took Calvinism to its beautiful conclusion, that because our salvation is all of God and we take no credit for it, we then get to spend every day from now until eternity being satisfied in him:
“God is the highest good of the reasonable creature. The enjoyment of him is our proper; and is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Better than fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of any, or all earthly friends. These are but shadows; but the enjoyment of God is the substance. These are but scattered beams; but God is the sun. These are but streams; but God is the fountain. These are but drops, but God is the ocean.”
We could learn a lot from Edwards. Everything that God does, especially our salvation is to the praise of his glory. God will not give his glory to another, and that is why he saves alone. It is all for his glory. And with these great truths of the reformation, I end with this hymn about God’s glory:
To God be the glory, great things He has done;
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
Who yielded His life an atonement for sin,
And opened the life gate that all may go in.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father through, through Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory, great things He has done.