Soli Deo Gloria

Today we finish what we started four weeks ago – the Five Solas.  Except for next week, we will add a Sixth Sola.  Because that’s just the way we roll here at the Revolution.

These 5 Solas are Biblical principles that were re-affirmed for the church in the historical period known as the Reformation, about 500 years ago.  That time is called the Reformation because Christian leaders were focused on reforming the church and society so that people were called back to build their lives on Scriptural truth. 

And that’s our theme as we’ve begun this new year – to re-form and shape our lives so that we are living according to God’s Word.

Here are the Five Solas – the five Latin phrases that express the emphases of Reformation teaching:


Sola Scriptura        –          Scripture Alone

God’s Word is your supreme and divine authority for truth.  You let God rule in your life through the instruction and the teaching and the guidance of His Word.

Sola Fide                –          Faith Alone

You are saved / justified through faith alone in Jesus Christ, not by your works or heritage.  And just as you come into God’s family by faith, so you live as a follower of Christ and take on the characteristics of God and His family by faith.

Sola Gratia             –          Grace Alone

You are saved by the grace of God alone.  God does not bring you into His family because of your merit, but because He loves and values you.  Because God pours His grace into your life and spirit, you can be gracious to others.  God’s grace is always part of the answer to every person, problem and pain.

Solus Christus       –          Christ Alone

You are saved from your sin through the work of Jesus Christ alone.  No other person or program can bring forgiveness of sin and adoption into the family of God. Jesus is worthy to be trusted as Savior and followed as Lord.

Soli Deo Gloria       –          Glory to God Alone

You are saved and you live for the glory of God alone.  God’s glory is His holiness on display.  God is infinitely great, beautiful and good, and you experience blessing when His glory is expressed in and through your life.

Let me tell you why this Fifth Sola was so important during the Reformation Period. 

We had mentioned previously that the Catholic Church at that time had begun to sell indulgences to finance the remodel of St. Peter’s Basilica, which is the largest church building in the Vatican Complex in Rome. 

Indulgences were basically reductions in the amount of time that one who died would spend in Purgatory being purged of their sins before ascending into heaven.  Of course, the concepts of Purgatory and indulgences are not Biblical at all.

But the church needed to raise money to support the project.  And the leaders wanted to have a really fine place for worship.  The great artist Michelangelo was commissioned to help design and provide artwork for the project. 

And today, this is what you would find at St. Peter’s Basilica.  It’s more than 700 feet long and about 500 feet wide.  The total area is equal to over 6 football fields.  It stands 150 feet tall.  60,00 people can fit into the building at one time.   

Inside there are over 10,000 two-dimensional images made of tile.  Tapestries line the walls.  And there are hundreds of statues, most of them more than 10 feet tall.  The paintings, tiles, tapestries and statues depict Biblical themes and persons. 

And maybe that’s okay.  But what isn’t good is how prominently these images are placed in the areas of worship and how people respond to these figures. 

It has always been common practice for those who go to St. Peter’s Basilica to kneel before the artifacts and offer up prayers to the apostles, ancient saints, and even angels. 

At the most prominent spot in the center of the church, there is a statue of St. Peter.  His feet have been rubbed smooth over the years by the all the people who have touched and kissed those feet before kneeling to pray. 

The dedication area of the church and its dome reads this way:

“In honor of the prince of the apostles; Paul V. Borghese, Pope in the year 1612.”

“To the glory of St. Peter, Pope Sixtus V in the year 1590.”

So what’s wrong with that?  We know God had King Solomon build a magnificent temple in His honor at Jerusalem about 950 B.C.

Here are the words that Solomon spoke to God in front of all the people on that day:

“The Lord has said that He would dwell in a dark cloud.  I have indeed built a magnificent temple for You, a place for You to dwell forever . . .

But will God really dwell on earth?  The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain You.  How much less this temple I have built!  Yet give attention to Your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy, O Lord my God.  Hear the cry and the prayer that Your servant is praying in Your presence this day.  May Your eyes be open towards this temple night and day, this place of which You said, ‘My Name shall be there.’” – I Kings 4:12-13, 27-29

So what’s the difference?  Is it really any big deal?

The leaders of the Reformation thought so.  They believed that the leaders of the church at that time had more interest in the glory of man (and their own glory) than they did God’s.

In the German church at Wittenburg, when Martin Luther left town to advance the work of the Reformation across Germany, the priest left in charge was named Andreas Karlstadt. 

And to express his frustration with what he saw being taught and prioritized at the highest levels of the church in Rome, he had all the artifacts, pictures and statues removed from his local church.  Then the local worshipers either cut them into pieces or burned them.

Karlstadt’s defense to those who opposed his action was this: 

“The church exists to bring glory to God, not to the saints and the popes.” – Andreas Karlstadt

I think we can all agree with that.

Here is what God Himself has declared:

1“God spoke all these words:  2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

3 “You shall have no other gods before Me.

4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God.” – Exodus 20:1-3

And then these words God speaks from the Old Testament book of Isaiah:

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory.” – spoken by the seraphs above God’s throne in Isaiah’s vision of heaven, recorded in Isaiah 6:3

“I am the LORD; that is My name!  I will not give My glory to another or My praise to idols.” – Isaiah 42:8

This is Soli Deo Gloria – Glory to God Alone!

Now let’s make sure we understand what we mean by declaring that all things exist for God’s glory, and He alone is worthy of that glory.

Let’s bring back that summary statement that we began with:

Soli Deo Gloria       –          Glory to God Alone

You are saved and you live for the glory of God alone.  God’s glory is His holiness on display.  God is infinitely great, beautiful and good, and you experience blessing when His glory is expressed in and through your life.

What is holiness?  It is the quality of God that expresses He is God, transcendent over all and unlike any other.  Holiness is the perfection and purity of every virtuous quality.  God is perfectly good, perfectly righteous, perfectly loving, perfectly powerful, perfectly wise, perfectly pure.

 Let’s look at the expression of God’s uniqueness, His holiness, from the Westminster Confession of Faith, which was compiled at the end of the Reformation Period:

I. There is but one only,1 living, and true God,2 who is infinite in being and perfection,3 a most pure spirit,4 invisible,5 without body, parts,6 or passions;7 immutable,8 immense,9 eternal,10  incomprehensible,11 almighty,12 most wise,13 most holy,14 most free,15 most absolute;16 working all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will,17 for His own glory;18 most loving,19 gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin;20 the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him;21 and withal, most just, and terrible in His judgments,22 hating all sin,23 and who will by no means clear the guilty.24

II. God has all life,25 glory,26 goodness,27 blessedness,28 in and of Himself; and is alone in and unto Himself all-sufficient, not standing in need of any creatures which He has made,29 nor deriving any glory from them,30 but only manifesting His own glory in, by, unto, and upon them.

He is the alone fountain of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom are all things;31 and has most sovereign dominion over them, to do by them, for them, or upon them whatsoever Himself pleases.32 In His sight all things are open and manifest,33 His knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent upon the creature,34 so as nothing is to Him contingent, or uncertain.35 He is most holy in all His counsels, in all His works, and in all His commands.36

To Him is due from angels and men, and every other creature, whatsoever worship, service, or obedience He is pleased to require of them.37 – Westminster Confession of 1646, Chapter II

This is an awesome expression of who God is, and what makes it so fitting is that it expresses the truth of who God has declared Himself to be in His Word.  That’s what all those numbers reference, the Scripture passages upon which these statements are based, and I have printed this statement with the Scripture references for those of you who want to look at and examine and reflect upon this more diligently in your own time.

God declares and reveals Himself as Holy, worthy of all Glory.  And Glory is the expression and the recognition of God for who He is. 

Now, we want to grasp this.  We want to know God for who He is. 

We want to respond to God according to who He is – holy and great and sovereign and transcendent and beautiful – and in recognition of who we are – His creatures, created in His image, but lowly and sinful, yet loved and valued by God.

Soli Deo Gloria – God is worthy of glory and praise and worship.  Not you and I.

Now, if we stopped there, we would miss something very important, something very wonderful.

Let’s put our summary statement for Soli Deo Gloria back up one more time:

Soli Deo Gloria       –          Glory to God Alone

You are saved and you live for the glory of God alone.  God’s glory is His holiness on display.  God is infinitely great, beautiful and good, and you experience blessing when His glory is expressed in and through your life.

This is why it is so critical for you to not only understand this principle, but to live it out. 

Your happiness depends on it.  Your fulfillment is found here.  Your peace and satisfaction and purpose are bound up in the expression of God’s glory.

Here are some of the ways this is expressed in God’s Word:

        “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” – Psalm 37:4

        “Blessed and happy are the people whose God is the Lord.” – Psalm 144:15

        “I am come that you might have life, and that you might have it abundantly.” – Jesus’ words in John 10:10

Over and over again, God tells us that knowing Him and receiving His love and worshiping Him and honoring Him, all those things that are the experience of understanding and declaring who God is – all that brings you joy and happiness and delight and blessing.

God’s glory and your blessing necessarily are linked. 

You will not experience what you desire in this life or in eternity, if God is not glorified in your life.  But when God is glorified in and through you, then you will experience the richness of God’s blessing.   

Here are a couple of statements that pull this together:

        God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in Him.  You are most satisfied in God when He is most glorified in you.

        So I would say to you, live out Soli Deo Gloria. 

When you enjoy God’s good gifts in this world – a job, a family, a house, a meal - let your enjoyment, your happiness, your gratitude be directed toward God. 

And when you serve Him, exalt Him, praise Him in worship or in giving or in works of charity, humility and helpfulness, do so with abound joy and delight over who God is and all He has done for you and everything He has promised to you for all eternity.

Here is God’s direction for your happiness:

“Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” – I Corinthians 10:31

And this will be your blessing.