Friday, May 26, 2006

The Solas of the Reformation - Soli Deo Gloria

Glory to God Alone!
To God belongs all the glory for our salvation.

Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto your name give glory, for your mercy, and for your truth's sake. (Psalm 115:1)

The whole of our lives are to be lived for his glory,

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
(1 Corinthians 10:31)

In Medieval Catholicism only Popes, priests, cardinals, monks and nuns, living a specifically religious life were thought to be honouring God. The Reformation smashed such spiritual elitism. The Reformers emphasised the importance of ordinary life. They prized marriage and child rearing over and against the celibacy of the Catholic clergy. People were taught to glorify God in the home, in the fields, in their trades and professions. The lowliest tasks were dignified and sanctified by godly living.

And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. (Colossians 3:17)

The arts were liberated from the patronage of the Church and artists painted not just saints and Bible-pictures, but people, landscapes, flowers, birds and crowds at work and play. The glories of creation and ordinary life were worth celebrating. We would not have the paintings of Rembrandt, Turner and Constable apart from the Reformation.

Music was simplified so that whole congregations, not just trained choirs could sing God’s praises. Bach was a child of the Reformation. Mendelssohn, in the 19th Century celebrated the Reformation with his great “Reformation Symphony”.

Science was encouraged. Calvin taught that God has written two books, the book of Nature and the book of the Word. Both are worth studying. The Catholic Church, mainly because its view of the universe owed more to Aristotle than the Bible, notoriously stifled scientific research.

Let all be done for the glory of God! Our self-obsessed culture and need obsessed Churches need to hear this authentic Reformation emphasis more than ever. Jonathan Edwards calls us to make the glory of God our chief joy and delight,
God is glorified within Himself these two ways: 1. By Himself in His own perfect idea [of Himself], or in His Son, who is the brightness of His glory. 2. By enjoying and delighting in Himself, by flowing forth in infinite...delight towards Himself, or in His Holy Spirit.
So God glorifies Himself toward the creatures also in two ways: 1. By appearing to...their understanding. 2. In communicating Himself to their hearts, and in their rejoicing and delighting in, and enjoying, the manifestations which He makes of Himself...God is glorified not only by His glory's being seen, but by its being rejoiced in. When those who see it delight in in, God is more glorified than if they only see it. His glory is then received by the whole soul, both by the understanding and the heart. God made the world that He might communicate and the creature receive, His glory; and that it might [be] received both by the mind and heart. He that testifies his idea of God's glory [doesn't] glorify God so much as he that testifies also his approbation of it and delight in it. (Miscellanies no. 448, from A God Entranced Vision of All Things - The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards, ed. John Piper & Justin Taylor, p. 26, 2004, Crossway.)

Our chief end is to enjoy God and glorify him forever! If we grasp that, we will be truly biblical Protestants.
O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who has known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who has first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. (Romans 11:33-36)
This is part 5 of a series on the "sloas" that arose from a couple of posts on Biblical Protestantism (see below)

Jonathan Edwards on the enjoyment of God here

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