The Five Solas - Soli Deo Gloria
1 Corinthians 2:2
Not many people today know that at the end of almost all his musical scores, Johann Sebastian Bach wrote three letters: SDG, soli Deo gloria. Bach was acknowledging that, though he was himself the human instrument for this magnificent music he produced, there was One to whom alone the glory belonged, God alone (soli Deo gloria). Bach wanted everyone to know that the praise for this magnificent music of which he was the human instrument, that the praise and the glory alone belonged to God. Bach’s longing that people should know to whom the glory belongs is not, however, the default of the human heart. The default of the human heart is that we want acknowledged, we want recognition, we want praise… look at me, look at me, see what I can do. But Bach wanted everyone to know that to Him, to God alone, belonged the glory.
We come this week to the final sola of the Reformation. We have scanned the horizon of the previous four: sola scriptura, sola gratia, sola fide, and solus Christus. But now we turn our attention to the heart of the solas: soli Deo gloria. In his book, “God’s Glory Alone: the majestic heart of the Christian faith and life,” David VanDrunen writes,
“By holding forth soli Deo gloria as the lifeblood of the solas, we remind ourselves that the biblical religion recaptured by the Reformation is not ultimately about ourselves, but about God. Our focus so easily becomes self-centered, even when we ask the same important questions that occupied the Reformers: Where can I find God’s authoritative revelation? How can I escape the wrath of God? What must I do to be saved? The other four solas provide necessary and life-changing answers to such questions, but soli Deo gloria puts them in proper perspective: the highest purpose of God’s plan of salvation in Christ, made known in Scripture, is not our own beatitude, wonderful as that is. The highest purpose is God’s own glory. God glorifies himself through the abundant blessings he bestows upon us.”
Yet most of us are like the little boy who has a very limited perspective of the work his father does. In his most helpful book, “Pray with Your Eyes Open,” Richard Pratt points out the similarity between this little fellow’s perspective of his earthly father and many Christians’ perspective of their heavenly Father.
"The story is told of a man who walked around his new neighborhood to get acquainted with the people on his block. When he came to the third house on the street, he noticed a little boy, four or five years old, playing in the yard. ‘What’s your name, son?’ he asked. ‘My name is Billy,’ the boy replied. As the conversation continued the man asked, ‘Billy, what does your daddy do?’ Billy stood up, scratched his head, and said, ‘My daddy shaves his face every morning!’ The new neighbor could not keep from bursting out with laughter. Billy’s answer was true enough, but he obviously had a limited perspective on his father’s life and work. [Of course, this story comes from a time when it was considered safe to speak with the children of one’s neighbor.]"
During our Reformation series, we have been praising God for the great biblical truths that were recovered during the Protestant Reformation: Scripture Alone, Faith Alone, Grace Alone, and Christ Alone, all to the Glory of God Alone. What these doctrines share in common is that they all find their meaning in Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
These doctrines, which find their meaning in the cross of Christ, are a matter of spiritual life and death. What we need to know is exactly the same thing that Paul resolved to know, and what the Reformers wanted to know, and that is Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I hope you can join us this Reformation Sunday as we come to understand the apostle Paul’s resolution “to know nothing… except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2), in light of soli Deo gloria.
I am eagerly anticipating our time together this Sunday as we welcome some guests, give thanks to the Lord for supplying a building, and dedicate it for the glory of God alone. Invite some friends to come along with you this week.
For His Glory Alone,