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Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Forgotten Sola

I've written on the "Five Solas" before. I've outlined them. We know that Scripture alone is our authority in matters of faith and practice. We know that we are saved by grace alone (rather than any sort of merit) through faith alone (apart from works) in Christ alone (rather than any other means or savior). Got it. Good stuff. We're good to go.

It is my suspicion, however, that, being human, we are very quick to forget that "last" one: "Soli Deo Gloria". To God alone is the glory. Instead, it appears that we have a large list of people, places, and things that deserve glory.

In Psalm 83, Asaph calls on God to "not keep silence." Instead, Asaph wanted God to address His enemies. And, as you can imagine, Asaph wasn't asking that nice things happen. "Let them perish in disgrace," he says, "that they may know that You alone, whose name is the LORD, are the Most High over all the earth" (Psa 83:17-18). (Interesting, if you think about it. Why does God allow evil? Why is there eternal punishment? Apparently this is one of the effective ways of letting people know that God is the Most High. But I digress.) Asaph has his finger on our problem. Too often we do not recognize that God alone is the Most High. We think He ought to be looking out for us. We think He ought to be giving us credit where credit is due. We think He ought to be paying supreme attention to us. The Bible in general and the Psalms in particular disagree.
Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, Who alone does wondrous things (Psa 72:18).

Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to Your name give glory, for the sake of Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness! (Psa 115:1).

Let them praise the name of the LORD, for His name alone is exalted; His majesty is above earth and heaven (Psa 148:13).
God, as it turns out, agrees.
For My own sake, for My own sake, I do it, for how should My name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another (Isa 48:11).
I know. We Christians aim to give glory to God. Hey, we even have a day set aside for it. Well, we used to. And I know that we Christians certainly affirm Soli Deo Gloria -- to God alone be the glory. But if you're honest, I suspect that, like me, you sometimes have a hard time with that. You are looking for the credit. You are hoping for the glory. You're expecting that your plans, opinions, or viewpoints ought to hold more weight with God. Want a clue? When you find yourself thinking, "How could God allow something like that to happen?", you're thinking in terms of the wrong glory. How do I know? "For My own sake, for My own sake, I do it." God said so. Instead of complaining, I ought to be saying, "Soli Deo Gloria."


Jeremy D. Troxler said...


Interestingly enough, in this new year our family devotions are organized by going through the Westminster Short Catechism. The very first question is: What is the chief end of man? Answer - Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

It is foundational isn't it. God gets all glory because He alone is worth of all glory. Our purpose, our chief end, is to glorify Him. Therefore, all we say, do, think, all things should be for the purpose of glorifying God. The application - to think in terms of anything other than glorifying God is to violate the very purpose of our existence. We all have much in our lives that we need to put right.


Stan said...

I am confident that if we ever get this straight in our heads -- "to God Alone Glory" -- it would straighten out a whole lot of theology, ontology, and orthopraxy. It seems to me that our primary stumbling block in thinking through the things of God is that we start with us, not Him.