The last of our cult-proofing mottoes is the famous “Soli Deo Gloria” – To God alone, be the glory. This particular one is probably best known because J. S. Bach used the initials for it – SDG – as part of his signing the manuscripts of his cantatas and other works. Following Bach’s example, George Frideric Handel was known to do the same. By it, these men meant to dedicate their works to the glory of God. But its theological import during the Reformation was a bit different.
Soli Deo Gloria as part of the the roster of Reformation slogans carried this meaning above all: The salvation revealed in the Scripture alone, which is ours by grace alone through faith alone because of the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ alone – is a salvation which owes all of its glory to God alone. It was His plan; issues from His love, mercy and grace; is paid for by Him and is wrought in our souls by Him: ALONE. TO GOD BE THE GLORY – all of it. To Him alone.
Sadly, in our day, the idea of God being worthy of all the glory all Creation can muster has taken on a dark hue. Some think because God has done all things for His own glory – that somehow He is on some sort of cosmic ego-trip, wandering through the cosmos and going to every creature saying: “worship me!” Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, God is the most humble of all beings, though He IS the most glorious as the most perfect, wonderful and deserving of our awe, wonder and glory. Especially in His work of saving His enemies by the Cross.
To give God ALL the glory, simply means – to make sure God is recognized and appreciated for who and what He is. Nothing more. This in fact results in the greatest good of His creatures – like you and me. Since He is the source of all good, all love, all mercy and grace and loving kindness and holiness – we can have no greater good than to be exposed to Him. He Himself IS the greatest good. And when we “give” Him glory – all we are doing is making Him known.
But then, in our context here – we need to remember that because salvation is God’s idea, at God’s expense, and through His sovereign agency alone – it is most fitting that all the glory for it be His alone. And none of it belongs to the undeserving creature saved, or the secondary means by which it is accomplished, or any organization, Church, Council, person or anyone or anything else. The Apostle Paul summed it up perfectly when he said: “But by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:10 ESV).
That is the bottom line beloved. Keep Him in His rightful place, and never let anyone or anything else take that place – and all will be well. He is Lord of all.
“For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” Romans 11:36 (ESV)