The Five Solas—Soli Deo Gloria
This morning is the last Sunday in our emphasis on the 'five solas' of the Reformation. When Martin Luther nailed his 95 bullet-points of protest to the doors of the church in Wittenberg, Germany, he sparked a Reformation that recovered the central truths of the Gospel. In our own day—an era where each of us has our own bible in our own language; an era where we worship in a denominational tradition that has zealously preached that men are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, according to the Scriptures alone, it's hard for us to imagine that this was not always the case. For a thousand years the preaching of that Gospel had all but been lost by the church—especially by the Church of Mediaeval Europe. In it's place developed a false gospel, a manmade religion, full of unbiblical, mystical practices, invented doctrines, and superstitions. Purgatory made people fear and obey. Indulgences made them give.
As is always the case when false doctrine flourishes, so does ungodly behavior. The Church of Mediaeval Europe had become a cesspool of sin. Men, greedy for power, wealth, and pleasure, bought and bribed their way into high church office. The common man could neither read the Word of God for himself, nor was he even allowed to sing the praises of God—only the clergy could do so.
In God's good providence, as the Church reached the pinnacle of its corruption, God raised up a group of godly men in different places. All of them had the same burning passion and desire to see God's Word in the hands of the people in a language they could both read and understand. Men like John Wycliffe, John Huss, William Tyndale, and Martin Luther set about this task.
Once the Bible was in the hands of the common people, they read from the Apostle Paul himself that if you added any works to grace, it would no longer be grace. They read that God's grace came through Christ alone—who is our sole mediator—and not through church administered sacraments, religious rituals or church authority. Not only did they read that salvation could not be earned because it was by grace, which came only through Christ, they also learned from the Scriptures that the only way a person could appropriate Christ and His saving merit was by faith and faith alone.
There is one last great Sola that comes out of the Reformation: That all things must be done to the glory of God alone. Because salvation is of God and has been accomplished by God, it is for God's glory that we must glorify him always. We must live our entire lives before the face of God, under the authority of God and for the glory of God alone. In 1 Corinthians 6:20, the Apostle Paul says we are to "glorify God in our bodies". Later, in 1 Corinthians 10:31, he says, "Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."
I. A GOD OF GLORY
- “I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols.” (Isaiah 42:8, NIV84)
- Sola Deo Gloria—to the glory of God alone—is the motivation that ought to guide every part of the believer’s life
- God is worthy of our honor, and our praise, and our worship, and our reverence, and our veneration, and our awe, and our adoration because he is a glorious God as revealed in His attributes, and His actions
- "Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven," (Psalm 148:13, ESV)
- "to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen." (Romans 16:27, ESV)
- "to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen." (Jude 25, ESV)
- "Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed." (Revelation 15:4, ESV)
- God is clear about this: I will not give my glory to another
- the Reformers taught that life must not be divided between the sacred and the secular
- all of life must be lived under the Lordship of Christ
- every activity of the Christian is to be sanctified unto the glory of God
A. GOD WILL BE GLORIFIED BY ALL MEN
- "By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear." (Isaiah 45:23, NIV84)
- it is so certain that men—all men—will bow their knee before a Sovereign God that the Lord has sworn by Himself that it will happen
- God says, By myself I have sworn ...
- literally the phrase in Hebrew is As I live and it is an oath
- who else can God swear by since there is no one greater than He?
- God is about to utter a truth that cannot be revoked—it will absolutely come to pass
- God says " ... my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked ... "
- again the original Hebrew actually says, there has gone out from the mouth of righteousness a word, and it will not return
- the mouth of righteousness is God's mouth—it is a voice that speaks only right-ness
- the emphasis is on God's revelation
- God's word is efficacious
- efficacious means having the power to produce a desired effect
- ILLUS. We see the efficaciousness of God's word in the Creation Account—God merely spoke and things that were not came to be. We also see the efficaciousness of God's spoken word in the Living Word—the incarnation of Jesus. He became flesh and dwelt among us and in his life he accomplished exactly what God planned to accomplish—the redemption of sinners.
- God declares that Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear
- all men will sooner or later be in complete submission to the Lord God of Israel
- the day will come when all men shall give glory to the Father
- some will do so in joy
- many will do so under compulsion
- but all men shall give glory to the Godhead
- "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." (Psalm 46:10, NIV84)
- "After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: "Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!" (Revelation 7:9–12, NIV84)
II. THE GOD OF GLORY REVEALS HIS GLORY IN HIS SOVEREIGNTY
- " ... for I am God and there is no other." v. 22
- you will never experience the full blessings of God until you recognize that Jehovah is God and you ain't!
- He is supremely sovereign over all the created order
- He is supremely sovereign over you life
- the average member of our society no longer has a reverence or holy fear of an awesome God
- ILLUS. When we were home this last week, I noticed a large billboard along Hwy. 30 in Fenton. It was a white background with large black letters that said, “God is ______________.” I thought it was interesting. God is “anything you want Him to be.” Most want Him to stop being God, so that they can start!
- for many, God ranks right up there with Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Ferry
- creatures of sentimentality who pass out blessings when we are "good" and who leniently wink at the "indiscretions" of our life as if they were insignificant
- others see God as a cosmic Charlie Brown
- wishy-washy to the core
- inept and never willing to carry through with what he says
- never meaning what He says and never doing what he plans
- like the un-believers of the first century, they scoff
- "knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4They will say, "Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation." 5For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God," (2 Peter 3:3-5, ESV)
- this is what Israel thought and God condemned them for it
- "These things you have done, and I have been silent; you thought that I was one like yourself. But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you." (Psalm 50:21, ESV)
- ILLUS. A.W. Pink, in his book The Attributes of God, writes, "The 'god' of this ... century no more resembles the Supreme Sovereign of Holy Scripture than does the dim flickering of a candle the glory of the midday sun. The 'god' who is now talked about in the average pulpit, spoken of in the ordinary Sunday School, mentioned in much of the religious literature of the day, and preached in most of the so-called Bible Conferences is the figment of human imagination, an invention of maudlin sentimentality."
- "In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory." (Isaiah 6:1–3, NIV84)
- no where is God's supremacy and sovereignty more clearly understood than in the infinite distance that separates God in His Holiness and man in his sinfulness
- "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty." (Isaiah 6:5, NIV84)
- ILLUS. The Gospel Hymn—At Calvary—tells us, "Oh, the love that drew salvation's plan! Oh, the grace that bro't it down to man! Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span At Calvary."
- He is supremely sovereign over the universe
- He is supremely sovereign over the affairs of nations
- He is supremely sovereign over the lives and will of men
- "Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all." (1 Chronicles 29:11-12, ESV)
III. THE GOD OF GLORY REVEALS HIS GLORY IN HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS
- "They will say of me, ‘In the LORD alone are righteousness and strength.' " All who have raged against him will come to him and be put to shame." (Isaiah 45:24, NIV84)
- there is none other like our God
- He is perfect in all of His ways
- the Apostle John said it this way . ..
- "This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." (1 John 1:5, ESV)
- the bible says that we are to praise God for who He is
- that means that we must know who He is, and the only way to know who He is to dig into the Scriptures and discover the attributes that are the core of God's personality
- A. W. Tozer lists 18 attributes that describe God's character (and no, I'm not going to get into all of them)
- I will say, that of all of God's attributes, His righteousness is one of His supreme character traits
- God is completely pure, undefiled and unsullied by even the shadow of sin
- this is why God hates sin
- sin is contrary to His righteousness and denies Him His glory "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," (Romans 3:23, ESV)
- all of Israel's religious rituals were a reminder that God is holy
- ceremonial washings ...
- the divisions of the tabernacle ...
- the divisions of the people into ordinary Israelites, Levites, Priests and High Priests who were permitted different degrees of approach to God under strictly defined conditions ...
- the Holiness Codes in Leviticus ...
- the insistence upon sacrifice as a necessary medium of approaching God ...
- all of these things reminded the Hebrews that God is unapproachably holy
IV. THE GOD OF GLORY REVEALS HIS GLORY IN HIS SALVATION
- v. 22 "Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth ... "
- the Scriptures teach us of man's total inability to turn to God
- we are dead in trespasses and sin
- "And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind." (Ephesians 2:1-3, ESV)
- \"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, Seven when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9not a result of works, so that no one may boast."/ (Ephesians 2:4-9, ESV)
- God's rich mercy and His great love and the immeasurable riches of his grace where all applied through the prescription of Jesus' substitutionary atonement on the Cross
- Christ went to the alter of sacrifice that our sins might be purged
- "For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed." (1 Peter 2:21-24, ESV)
- "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire." (2 Peter 1:3-4, ESV)
V. THE WORSHIP OF THE GOD OF GLORY
- "Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God." (Hebrews 13:15-16, ESV)
- ILLUS. In his monumental work entitled The Messiah, George Handle opens his Oratorio with the line: "And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." First the Tenors sing, "And the glory, the glory of the Lord," to which the sopranos, altos and bases all echo and eventually reach a crescendo reminding us that "... the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it."
- the glory of God must be proclaimed in our worship and exalted in our lives
- "Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name." (Hebrews 13:15, ESV)
- how are we to worship God?
A. FIRST, WORSHIP OUGHT TO BE CONTINUAL
- the author of Hebrews writes, "Let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God"
- this stands in sharp contrast to the prescribed ritual of animal sacrifices that were offered at set times in Israel's congregational life
- under the Old Covenant, only at specific time of the calendar, could the worshiper could approach God through his sacrifices
- but when the way to God was opened through the death of Christ, then every setting and every moment becomes an opportunity of worship
- believers need to think outside the box in terms of when we worship, turning even mundane settings into times of worship
B. SECOND, WORSHIP SHOULD CONSIST IN PRAISE
- the Apostle Paul writes, "Let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name"
- offering sacrifices in the temple was a visible, demonstrative act of worship toward God
- offering up sacrifices of praise to God is no less demonstrative!
- “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.” (Romans 12:1, NIV84)
- praise and worship must be vocal exercise
- worship is a time when the believer looses the moorings of his inhibitions and lifts his voice in honor and adoration unto the Lord
- ILLUS. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, in 1888, preached a wonderful sermon on the worship of the saints. He said in part: "The priesthood of believers requires them to praise God with their lips. Should we not sing a great deal more than we do? Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs should abound in our homes. It is our duty to sing as much as possible; we should praise as much as we pray. "I have no voice!" saith one. Cultivate it till you have. "But mine is a cracked voice!" Ah, well! It may be cracked to human ears, and yet be melodious unto God. To him the music lies in the heart, not in the sound. Praise the Lord with song and psalm. Some few godly men whom I have known have gone about the fields and along the roads humming sacred songs continually. These are the troubadours and minstrels of our King. Happy profession! May more of us become such birds of Paradise!"
C. THIRD, WORSHIP CONTAINS CONFESSION TO THE LORD
- the Apostle Paul refers to "... the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name."
- while thanksgiving is certainly part of our worship, a more literal translation of that phrase reads, 'that is, fruit of lips confessing to His name'
- what's the big deal?
- confession is instrumental in the believer's worship
- confession means, to say the same thing as or to agree with
- it's what we mean when we say amen
- Christians are to regularly confess to His name
- Paul asserts that we are regularly to agree with and assert that Jesus Christ is all sufficient for us in all things
- true, heart-felt worship that is done through the Spirit, in the name of Christ as genuine sacrifice unto God
D. FORTH, WORSHIP IS EXEMPLIFIED IN THE BELIEVER'S CONSTANT GOOD WORKS
- "Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God." (Hebrews 13:16, ESV)
- true worship has an uncanny way of leading to true good works
- both are part of the priestly sacrifices characteristic of the redeemed of the Lord
- the Apostle reminds us good works are sacrifices that please Him as well as our worship
- "If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works." (James 2:15-18, ESV)
- ILLUS. The composer Johann Sebastian Bach was a man who took Hebrews 13:16 serious. He considered his life's calling was writing music to the glory of God. Bach believed, along with the Reformers, that the performance of any God-pleasing vocation was glorifying to God. Fueled by his Lutheran faith, Bach devoted his life to creating music for refreshment, proclamation, and praise—primarily for the church. Born 150 years after Luther, Bach was a true son of the Reformation, devoted to Christ, and a firm believer in the Sola of the Reformation. Soli Deo Gloria was the most significant one of the five to him. He wrote over 10,000 pages of music in his career as a church musician. At the beginning of most are the initials “J.J.” for Jesu juva (“Jesus, help me”), and at the bottom of every one of them appear the letters S.D.G.— Sola Deo Gloria—"To God Alone Be The Glory!"
"Whatever you do...do it all for God's glory!" I Corinthians 10:31. What are you going to do tomorrow? Will you do it to the glory of God? If whatever you plan to do, can't be done for the glory of God, will you abandon it?