Category Archives: Five Sola’s

Soli Deo Gloria

Dear hijas,

Dr J.I. Packer, a British-born Canadian Christian theologian, considered one of the most influential evangelicals in North America, and author of the book ‘Knowing God’, which I read back in the late 70’s or early 80’s  had this to say about the five sola’s:

Justification by faith, by grace, by Christ, through Scripture, to the glory of God was to the Protestant Reformers a single topic, just like an fugue with multiple voices is a single piece. Salvation, said the Reformers, is by faith (man’s total trust) only, without our being obliged to work for it; it is by grace (God’s free favor) only, without our having to earn or deserve it first; it is by Christ the God-man only, without there being need or room for any other mediatoral agent, whether priest, saint, or virgin; it is by Scripture only, without regard to such unbiblical and unfounded extras as the doctrines of purgatory and of pilgrimages, the relic-cult and papal indulgences as devices for shortening one’s stay there; and praise for salvation is due to God only, without any credit for his acceptance of us being taken to ourselves. (http://www.the-highway.com/Justification_Packer.html)

So as we come to this last sola, soli Deo gloria, (to the glory of God alone) what do we as Protestants mean? We’re speaking about the sovereignty of God over every aspect of the believer’s life; that all of life is to be lived under the Lordship of Christ. Every activity of the Christian is to be sanctified unto the glory of God. There are no separate areas of ‘work’ and ‘church’ where doing and being are not to be directed to the glory of God.  Everything that is done is for God’s glory to the exclusion of humankind’s self-glorification and pride. As Christians we are to be motivated and inspired by God’s glory and not our own. Our ‘work’, whether carpenter, nurse, teaching assistant, sales, taxi cab driver, you name it, is sacred and holy just as much is the minister, missionary, youth ministry, seminarian, or Sunday school teacher. There is no division of ‘sacred’ and ‘secular’; all was seen as sacred unto the Lord (1 Cor. 10:31, Rom 11:36).

The Westminster Larger Catechism in it’s very first question:

Q. What is the chief and highest end of man?

A. Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy Him forever.

Let me close with this quote from Rev. Chuck De Groat, which sums up our look into the five sola’s of the Reformation:

GLORY TO GOD ALONE. The battle cry of the Reformation. In many ways, every other doctrine and every other slogan falls under this majestic truth. It embodies the many books, the many personalities, and the many changes that came from one of the darkest, and brightest, moments of history.

Yes, it was dark. The church had become infested with man-centered theology, economic corruption, abuse and scandal. Want forgiveness? Donate some money. Want answers? Don’t ask God, ask your local priest. Want peace in your life? You’ll never have it – life is a constant chess match with a wrathful and judgmental God. Many were frustrated.

And then there was light. His name was Martin Luther, a monk, a priest, and a university professor disenchanted with the corruption within the church. His response was ninety-five theses, or “statements of concern,” about the unbiblical practices within the Roman Catholic Church. For instance, thesis number 7: “The pope himself cannot remit guilt, but only declare and confirm that it has been remitted by God.” Luther was concerned with the increasing power of the pope and the priesthood. Thesis 28 expands on this: “It is certainly possible that when the money clinks in the bottom of the chest avarice and greed increase; but when the church offers intercession, all depends in the will of God.” Luther was concerned about the increasing corruption of greed. Thesis 37 declares: “Any true Christian whatsoever, living or dead, participates in all the benefits of Christ and the Church; and this participation is granted to him by God without letters of indulgence.” Luther’s point. It is God that saves, and not man. Salvation cannot be sold, nor can it be earned by purchasing indulgences (letters declaring a person forgiven for contributing money). It is a gift of God alone, by faith alone (sola fide), all to the glory of God (soli Deo gloria).

But Luther was, by no means, the only light of the Reformation. He embodied the feeling of many that the Roman Catholic Church had strayed far from the original message of Scripture. Luther and the other Reformers called for change within the Church. Their point and purpose was not to split, to break away, or to start a new movement. It was always to reform what already existed in the Roman Catholic Church.

But it soon became clear that the Church would not cooperate. Not all within the hierarchy of the Church opposed reformation, but the ones that really counted did. Putting God’s word back in to the hands of the laymen, committing to justification by grace alone (sola gratia), and affirming the centrality of God’s glory would take away from the very thing they were attempting to achieve, the Church’s glory: big buildings, beautiful cathedrals, the kinds of places we like to visit on tours of Europe today. The Church had fallen victim to the age-old sins of pride, greed, empire building, and human glory – all things that would rob God of the Glory he deserved and desired, and rob man of the opportunity to trust fully in God’s goodness and grace. (http://old.thirdmill.org/newfiles/chu_degroat/CH.Degroat.SDG.html)

Vaya con Dios mis hijas,

Dear ol’ Dad