This year is the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. In honor of this anniversary I am dedicating five blogs from myself to summarizing the five central theological tenets of the Reformation. This is the fifth of those five. (Here are links to the first, second, third and fourth posts.)
America’s most famous theologian Jonathan Edwards once wrote, “All that is ever spoken of in the Scripture as an ultimate end of God’s works is included in that one phrase, the glory of God.” With that one statement Edwards summarized the crux of Reformation theology.
When you consider the Five Solas, these central doctrines of the Protestant Reformation, you see the first point to the final one, the summa of all creation. By turning to Scripture alone for our authority we acknowledge that God’s ways are not only not our own, they’re better. Be confessing that salvation comes through faith alone in God’s covenant we admit that we cannot do it on our own. Admitting that God’s grace alone makes salvation possible gives Him all the credit. Finally, seeing the Son of God’s finished work on the cross provides the atonement we desperately need frees us from trying to redeem ourselves.
As Luther read in Romans 1:17, the righteousness that fallen humans need comes from God. Likewise, salvation by faith alone prevents man from glorying in his own abilities. In all of its parts, the Protestant understanding of salvation turns man’s attention back to God and gives Him the glory for all things.
Given that Scripture alone is our sole authority for matters and faith and practice, consider these biblical ideas that support the Reformational principle of soli Deo gloria.
God is glorified in the creation of His people: “I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ And to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring My sons from afar and My daughters from the ends of the earth, Everyone who is called by My name, And whom I have created for My glory, Whom I have formed, even whom I have made” (Isaiah 43:6-7).
God is glorified in salvation of His people: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
God is glorified in the lives of His people: “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
God is glorified in the preservation of His people: “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen” (2 Timothy 4:18).
God does what He does in the way that He does so that He will receive all the glory: “NOT to us, O LORD, not to us, But to Your name give glory Because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth” (Psalm 115:1).
Remember, Our thoughts and our doctrines reveal what we think about God. As we mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation let us not lose sight of those core ideas that drove the Reformers’ agenda and motivated their sacrifices. In the end, our theology, like theirs, must reflect the centrality of God and His glory. As Paul says in Romans 11:36, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”