Contend Earnestly: Soli Deo Gloria: Part I

Friday, May 01, 2009

Soli Deo Gloria: Part I

As we end our study in the Five Solas, I want you to understand that my intent was not to be completely thorough in our discussions, but just to get to the tips of the discussion so that you can further study with a good foundation of truth. For Example:

Sola Scriptura: We didn’t even hit on the canon, transcripts or much of the testimony of Scripture of itself. Nor did we even hint of the fight over translations or the apocrypha. Much study is still needed to glean all there is on this subject alone.

Solus Christus: We focused primarily on Christ being our mediator and the head of the church, much is still found in the embodiment of who Christ is, was and is to come that is thoroughly defended in the Holy Writ.

Sola Gratia: We focused much on who we are in receiving God’s grace, how God bestows this grace, but much is still needed to glean on the ongoing provision of God’s grace in our sanctification and in our daily lives of communing with God.

Sola Fide: We focused primarily on two texts: Romans 3,4 and James 2. We did not spend much time looking at other historical narratives in the Old Testament that also apply to this doctrine. We didn’t spend much time focusing on other texts such as Titus 3:5 and Eph 2:8,9 to also defend this doctrine. Neither did we show how the adding to Sola Fide really tramples under foot the blood of our Paschal Lamb.

I wanted to give you a good foundation to start your search of these great subjects as you encounter your faith with God through His holy Word. I did not want to be exhaustive as you would have to bear with me many years of posts on these subjects. The point is that your study will now hopefully be more in depth because of the foundation that we have laid here in our study of the Solas of the Reformation.

With this post, just as the others, we will not be exhaustive in our assessment of the last Sola: Soli Deo Gloria. But this Sola is the natural outflow of the first four. It is the natural inclination of the soul, if the soul of the man be knit to his Redeemer.

Soli Deo Gloria can be defined as such:

Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31). Understanding that our lives are always a sacrifice of service to our Lord never to separate worship from life. Soli Deo Gloria points us back to understand that we have received everything from our Jehovah Jireh and therefore have no rights to boast or glorify in anything besides God and His cross (1 Cor 4:7; Galatians 6:14; 1 Cor 1:31). He must increase and we must decrease (John 3:30)

As you can see I stole most of this definition from Scripture, and what a way to end our study in the Solas, to steal from Scripture.

We are going to study this topic by touching on the historical impact, but more so, in recognition of the modern impact.

Historically we are going to study the impact this Sola had on the home, economy and government (I understand that the fifth sola had other great impacts, but I am not going to be exhaustive here). But again, we are just going to quickly hit these and move on. The bulk of our time will be spent on the impact of us today as we walk with our God. On this front we will look at:

Natural outflow of the Five Solas: 1 Cor 4:7
Applying the Fifth Sola: Lev 1-7 vs Isaiah 53 vs Romans 8:1 vs 1 Cor 10:31

In other words for the application; sin must be atoned for, Christ was the eternal atonement, we, who are in Christ have no condemnation, do all to the glory of God.

Historical Impact of Soli Deo Gloria

When taking a look at the historical impact of the fifth sola, understand first the impact it had on the home. Not only did the reformation want to show all the glory to God in the church but also it couldn’t help but burst out of the seems of the church and impact all of the life of the newly founded reformed movement. It impacted the home, economy and also the government. The home was affected because before the reformation the glory found for God in the home was actually to not have a home. It was found in a monastic society or so called pious lifestyle that included living a life of marriage to the church and not a woman or man.

The people were called, if they wanted to live life to the fullest for God, a life devoted to the church so that they lived a life of celibacy and virginity for the Lord. Marriage was celebrated but was looked at as lower in rank compared to the monastic ideals. Martin Luther broke this right away when a group of women from a local convent arrived (1523) at Wittenberg, 9 in all, and Luther found them all husbands. But what really got the pot stirred is when Luther couldn't find a husband for a woman named Katherine von Bora, even though he tried twice, so Luther married her himself. This is when the protestant world knew that the view was being seriously lived for. Of course out of this belief flowed the correct view of bearing children (Psalm 127) and even the correct view of sex within the marriage vows (Song of Solomon). Much teaching out of Songs of Solomon was taught at this time to show the correct view of sex in marriage.

Next was the correct view of the economic gain of all men. Before it was seen as the highest calling was within the church of being a priest or monk, but now the correct view was handed down that God has called all men to a life of service to God no matter the vocation. After all Paul was a tent maker in vocation (Acts 18) but apostle as his life giving ministry.

Thirdly was the view of the political arena. I am not going to go into too much depth of this but if you read a small but great book called John Calvin: His Life and Influence, you will see that we owe everything to the separation of church and state and democracy to John Calvin. Much of the information gleaned on the start of our country came from the writings and beliefs that flowed from Geneva.

Natural Outflow of the Solas

For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?
1 Cor 4:7

Now, there is no man that has anything of excellency from himself; therefore the man that extols himself is a fool and an idiot. The true foundation of Christian modesty is this — not to be self-complacent, as knowing that we are empty and void of everything good — that, if God has implanted in us anything that is good, we are so much the more debtors to his grace; and in fine, that, as Cyprian says, we must glory in nothing, because there is nothing that is our own.
John Calvin

1 Corinthians 15:10 continues on this thought:

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.

This is the natural outflow of our studies. The main point that I wanted to make in our studies of the Five Solas is that you have done nothing to receive what God has given you. 2 Peter 1:3 says that God has given us everything pertaining to life and godliness. In Sola Scriptura we found that for eternity God’s word has been established and given to us, Solus Christus that God gave us the Christ to die in our stead, to take away our iniquities, Sola Gratia that God’s grace is given to whom He chooses on the basis of His will, not because of anything that we did or would do, but solely on His choice of us, Sola Fide that he even gave us our faith that saves us from our sins. What is the natural outcome of all this? You have been given everything so that you cannot boast in yourself but must give all the glory to God.

If you boast you are like the rich kid at school who says that he is rich, when in reality his parents are rich and he was just born into the family. This is who we are if we boast in ourselves in any way. We are like the foolish rich kid, boasting in what we had nothing to do with.

Our Father, though, tells us how He did just as the parents gave to this rich kid, God did the same for us:

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight
Eph 1:7,8

Are we really going to boast in any way that we did this for ourselves? In Him we have redemption through His blood the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. We are just the vessels that receive the blessings, nothing more. This is why when Paul boasted, he boasted that he was the chief of sinners, because this was his contribution to his salvation, just as our contribution is: we contribute sin. Just look to Eph 1:7,8 the only times we are mentioned is because of our transgressions (our contribution to salvation) and that God lavished His grace on us (we are mere vessels). Where is the glory for us? So, if you say it was that you “just believed” or that God “looked down the portal of time and saw your faith” or that “God saw something in you that was lovable”, you are giving glory to yourself that only belongs to God.

So, the right understanding of the Five Solas, that God has given you everything and that you have done nothing in yourself should have the natural outflow of complete humility and all boasting and glory will be given to the Lord who is the great Jehovah Jireh. In my mind, even if you believe that all you had to do was weigh the evidence and believe, or all you had to do was not resist God, like the Arminians believe with prevenient grace, that is going to take away from God’s glory and place it on you. That is a terrible sin.


Kent said...

Have you seen the new Calvin materials from Logos Bible Software posted at I thought you might be interested.

David said...

Hey Kent,

What I saw from the link, its Crossway which is planning to republish some of Calvin's commentaries. The problem is, they will be abridged. I cant see why one would want to buy an abridged Calvin commentary. Calvin's commentaries are classic texts, pithy, direct, moving. Abridging them is a terrible idea.


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