Soli Deo Gloria
“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” – Romans 11:33-36
Scholars divide the book of Romans into two sections. In Chapters 1-11, the Apostle Paul articulates man’s sin problem along with God’s redemptive plan for man. In Chapters 12-16, he explains the results of salvation and describes the transformed life of the believer. Sandwiched between these two themes is a beautiful doxology in which Paul expresses the greatness of God. At the end of chapter 11, he closes His thoughts on God by exclaiming, “To God be the glory forever.” The glory of God is a continual theme throughout Paul’s writings, possibly because of his deep understanding of how far removed man really is from God’s glory (Romans 3:23).
The theme of God’s glory is found within the Latin slogan, “Soli Deo Gloria.” It means “glory to God alone.” Similar to the other four Solas, it was a rallying cry of the Reformers during the Protestant Reformation. It was their desire that God receive the utmost glory in all things. One might say that Soli Deo Gloria is the summation of the other Solas. For instance, God is most glorified when we fully embrace Sola Scriptura, believing Scripture to be the inspired, infallible God-breathed Word of God. God is most glorified when we fully embrace Sola Fide, resting in the promise that salvation is not based upon works, but rather by faith alone. God is most glorified when we fully embrace Sola Gratia, and stand firm on the truth that we are saved by God’s grace and nothing else. And God is most glorified when we fully embrace Solus Christus, believing Christ to be the only mediator between God and man, and the only way a person can be saved. If Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, and Solus Christus are spokes of a wheel, then Soli Deo Gloria is the axle. They all come together and meet within this one overarching theme of “Glory to God Alone.”
Martin Luther had become increasingly concerned that God was not receiving the glory He deserved. By adding to the doctrine of salvation, the Roman Catholic Church had taken partial credit for saving people; credit that belonged to God. And with the church teaching salvation was contingent upon works, even a person could even take partial credit for being saved. But none of the glory can be given to any church or individual. All of the glory belongs to God, and God has no plans in sharing His glory. In Isaiah 48:11, He says, “My glory I will not give to another.” God made this clear when He gave the Ten Commandments to His people. Exodus 20:3-5 says, “You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God.” It is here we see that one of God’s attributes is a righteous jealousy. The fact that God will not share His glory does not mean that He is a glory hoarder or egotistical. And it certainly does not mean that He is in need of attention. It is simply means that there is no one like God and He alone does wondrous things (Psalm 72:18). He has no rivals, equals, or companions (1 Chronicles 17:20). This is why He deserves all the glory.
“Soli Deo Gloria” should be the believer’s life theme. Paul stressed this when he told the church at Corinth to do every activity for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Let us commit in our hearts to strive to give God glory in all we do and say.
– Pastor Eric