Our underlying problems with God, for Christians and non-Christians, have little to do with our inability to believe, and everything to do with what we want. Our desires, passions and wishes drive our will and intellect.
Soli Deo Gloria
“For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:36).
Scripture alone, Grace alone, Faith alone, in Christ alone, are each vitally important for us to properly understand the grounds, scope and means of our salvation. But why? Why does God save by grace alone? Why is it through faith alone? Why is it in Christ alone? And why ought we trust Scripture alone? The answer to “why” is found in the last of these 5 solas: For God’s glory alone!
The word “glory” in Hebrew is “khabod” and means heavy. It conveys the idea that God, in a world of featherweight idols, is a super-heavyweight. He is the most substantial, most lasting, and most permanent reality there is. We use the modern term “weighty” to help us.
The reformers knew the human condition well, that we tend to live on a plane of ice, coldly skipping along the surface of our individually constructed realities, ignorantly unaware the ground beneath is weak and impermanent. God’s glory is the splendor, beauty, majesty, and permanence that breaks through the ice of our self-referential life and replaces it with an other-oriented awe for the supreme worth of God. And it is this glory that God promotes and protects for the good of the world and the joy of His people.
The overwhelming testimony of scripture is that God does everything for His glory. We may not fully understand all we’d like regarding evil and suffering. And we may strain to grasp God’s purposes at times. But one thing we can know, is that God is supremely motivated by, and does everything for, His own glory. Like each sola, this is the beautiful God-centeredness of God.
We are sometimes shocked at these biblical truths because we cannot imagine a greater reference point than ourselves, a weightier opinion than our own, and a glory worth protecting more than the image we see in the mirror. But God’s glory is a healing glory. It’s what we’re built for. We’re not designed to run on the fuel of our own self-esteem. And if we try, our glory-hunger will never be satisfied. We are made to make much of Him, and when we do, we find true and lasting joy. John Piper puts it well:
“We are all starved for the glory of God, not self. No one goes to the Grand Canyon to increase self-esteem. Why do we go? Because there is greater healing for the soul in beholding splendor than there is in beholding self. Indeed, what could be more ludicrous in a vast and glorious universe like this than a human being, on the speck called earth, standing in front of a mirror trying to find significance in his own self-image?”
Still unconvinced? Am I being too preachy and overstating my case? Let’s look:
- Isaiah 43:7 tells us that God created us for His glory.
- Isaiah 49:3 says that God chose Israel for His glory.
- Romans 9:17 tells us God defeated Pharaoh and his army for His glory.
- John 5:44 instructs us not to seek glory from something other than Him.
- John 7:18 tells us Jesus sought God’s glory in everything He did.
- John 12:27-28 tells us Jesus endured suffering for God’s glory.
- John 17:1 shows us Jesus praying for God to glorify Him so he may glorify the Father.
- John 17:24 Jesus’ prays for us to see His glory.
- John 16:14 tells us the Holy Spirit will glorify Jesus.
- Romans 15:17 instructs us to welcome one another as we’ve been welcomed, for God’s glory.
- Acts 12:23 tells us that Herod was struck dead because he did not give glory to God.
- 1 Corinthians 10:31 teaches us everything we do ought be done for God’s glory.
- Habakkuk 2:14 tells us that God’s plan is the fill the earth with the knowledge of His glory.
- 2 Thessalonians 1:9-10 tell us Jesus’ is coming again for the glory of God.
- 1 Peter 4:11 teaches us to serve for the purpose of glorifying God.
God is the only one worth giving glory to and by calling us to give Him glory, God is proving His unshakeable commitment to our joy. If it’s true that we will only find our full satisfaction in Him, what kind of God would He be if He sent us elsewhere for it? Wouldn’t He be cruel if He knowingly told us to find in something or someone what only He could give? It isn’t that God needs our glory to be happy so He commands it; it’s that we will never be happy until we give it. And as we find ourselves satisfied in Him, He is glorified by us.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks: What is the chief end of man? The answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever. If everything the five solas teach us is true, and I believe they are, the only proper response to such a good, gracious, great, and glorious God is to repeat the refrain from Romans 11:36: “To him be glory forever. Amen.”
Starting this Sunday, we will spend five weeks considering the five solas of the Reformation, and how they shape our understanding of who God is and His plan for redemption.