Soli Deo Gloria (For God’s Glory Alone)
“How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” (John 5:44).
The Pharisees liked to pat each other on the back because of their lofty and respected position within the country of Israel, looked to by many as the source of truth when it came to interpret the Law of Moses. They fought against the teaching of Jesus constantly, because he threatened their pomp and circumstance with his fulfilled prophecy and contradictory teaching on various matters that touched on the Law. “Who does this guy think he is?” they whispered amongst themselves. Jesus loved them just like he loved all, but he grew tired of their lack of humility. He was the way, but they refused to see it. And so, Jesus says the words above from John 5:44 to them. He also said, “You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life” (John 5:39-40).
The same could be said at the Reformation, and even today. Many of the “religious” take on airs, thinking they are special, that no one knows the Bible like they do. So, their interpretation is “the” interpretation, and they look down their noses at the lowly who follow. They wear their smocks and clerical collars, they seek to be “progressive” and to be in-step with the times, making Christianity no more than a version of a Beatles song (All You Need is Love). Where is the humble spirit of someone who is dependent on God and his Word, making it alive and practical for those who seek the Lord?
The Apostle Paul wrote, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). The half-brother of Jesus would add, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts…humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you” (James 4:8-10). To the Corinthians, who were pretty messed up, Paul will say, God has “shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). They had made the gospel about themselves, not about Christ.
It’s not just the clergy who make this mistake. Every-day Christians who put faith in the “health and wealth” gospel, wanting the Christian life to be about being blessed with a lack of problems, with good health and financial prosperity, have misunderstood the life of a Christ-follower. It’s as we humble ourselves, exalt God, even when things don’t go well, even when persecuted, that God will exalt us in the next life, in heaven. Jesus told us as much (Matt. 16:24; John 15:20, Heb. 11, etc.). Meanwhile, it is our job to glorify God, who provides all good and perfect gifts (James 1:17). To be faithful even to death (however death may come, Rev. 2:10). It can be done in every day sort of ways, such as being hospitable in Christ’s name (Rom. 15:7), taking care of your body in Christ’s name (I Cor. 6:20), giving thanks to God for food and sustenance (I Thess. 5:18), sharing Christ with others (I Thess. 2:8).
“Whoever serves, serve by the strength God provides, in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (I Peter 4:11).
Cross Point: The life of a Christ-follower is the life of someone who gives glory to God. Whatever good we have in this sinful life, comes from him, as does our salvation and the blessings of eternity in heaven.