In the work of redemption, all the credit, all of the honor, all of the glory belongs to God and to God alone. The Scriptures tell us salvation is of the Lord, and God is glorified in His plan of redemption.
That's what the Reformers had in mind when they advanced this notion of the soul of the day of Gloria, that we can take no credit whatsoever for our salvation. God declares that He will share His glory with no other, yet if we get the gospel wrong, we may be guilty of doing just that. Hi, I'm Nathan W. Bingham, and thank you for joining us today for Renewing Your Mind. We come to the final message this week in R.C. Sproul's series, God Alone, where he's taking us back to the 16th century and helping us see why today that it's so vital that we get the gospel right. And when it comes to salvation, we'll see that it's God alone.
Here's Dr. Sproul. Today we come to the last of the five solas that we are studying in this series, and this one is Soli Deo Gloria. In one sense, this is the overarching sola that captures the whole spirit of the Protestant Reformation, because this one means to God alone is the glory. Now, when I was a boy, I had to study the Westminster Catechism in order to join the church that my parents belonged to, and we had to memorize the shorter catechism. And the very first question of that catechism was this question, what is man's chief end? Now, of course, the word end here does not mean destination, but what is man's chief purpose for what end or to what end were we created in the first place? And the answer to that first catechism question is this, man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.
And, of course, when I was a child, I couldn't quite put those two together. It didn't seem to me to be a joyful thing to try to glorify God. But that is the purpose of human existence, and I like that catechism question because I think it in a very simple and succinct manner sums up the entire purpose of human existence, that we exist to glorify God. And we are to do that in all that we do or say in this world.
Paul, when he wrote to the Corinthians, told them that whether they eat or whether they drink whatever they do, they were to do all to the glory of God. And I'd like to take a moment or two to explore with you the meaning of glory or to glorify. The English word glory comes from the Latin gloria, which we see in the phrase solideo gloria, and it also reflects the Greek word dokse, from which we get the term doxology.
We sing the doxology in church. And from the Hebrew term kavod, or sometimes rendered kabod. You remember the story of the death of Eli and his sons when Eli's daughter-in-law gave birth on the day that her father-in-law died, her husband died, her brother-in-law died, and the day in which the ark of the covenant had been captured by the Philistines. And so the child that was born was named Ichabod, which meant the glory has departed from Israel because the throne of God, the sacred ark of the covenant, was the supreme symbol in Israel of the glory of God. So when it was captured, when it was removed, the lament was made, Ichabod, the glory has departed. Now if we look at the Semitic roots of that word kavod or kabod, we see that it means basically weightiness or heaviness. So the way it's used in its metaphorical sense or spiritual sense for God is that the glory of God refers to His importance, His dignity, His significance, where He is the most substantial being of all because He's the being who has the power of being within Himself.
He is not a creature where His essence or being is derived from anything else. Now we use that language the same way in English. If we hear something that we think is profound, we might say, whoo, that was heavy. Or if somebody treats us in a frivolous way, we may say, they took us lightly. That is, they regarded us as not having any weight, as not having any substance, but rather being lightweights, as it were. Well, the supreme heavyweight of all reality is God Himself. And when the Bible speaks about His glory, it speaks about His dignity, His importance, His significance. And when we are called to glorify Him, that means we are to treat Him with ultimate weight and ultimate importance. So when we say sola deo gloria, that means to God and to God alone receives the ultimate ascription of honor. There are two songs that are commonly sung in the church that relate to this. One is the doxology.
And how does the doxology proceed? Remember that doxology means to give glory to God. And we say, praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him, all creatures here below. Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. That is, all of creation is to ascribe praise or honor or worship to God. And so we say, that's the doxology, the ascribing of honor to God. And another ancient song that is sung in the Christian church is the gloria patra, which goes back to the early church where the gloria patra goes simply like this, glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be world without end.
Amen. Now the purpose of that song in antiquity was to ascribe a divine attribute to all three persons of the Godhead, that divine glory belongs to the Father, and divine glory belongs to the Son, and divine glory belongs to the Holy Ghost, and the glory that the Godhead has is eternal and immutable. It was in the beginning.
It is now and it ever shall be. And so this was a song of worship and honor and praise given to the Godhead. This is on the side, one of the great tragedies of the modern revolution in worship, particularly in our country, is that a whole generation of people have been cut off from some of the greatest music of the history of the church, the hymnody that has been enjoyed not just by my generation but by the generation before me, the generation before that, the generation before that, all the way back to the beginning of church history.
There is a communion of saints that has enjoyed a unity of devotion and of worship and the inscription of honor to God throughout Christian history that is being completely missed by the current generation, and that I think is too bad. But in any case, we read in the Scripture that God says, I will share My glory with no man. Again, glory is given to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, but that glory is not to be given to any creature whatsoever. However, that may seem a little bit problematic if we turn our attention to what Paul writes to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 15. In 1 Corinthians 15 and verse 39, Paul writes as follows, all flesh is not the same flesh.
There's one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies, but the glory of the celestial is one. The glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, another glory of the stars, for one star differs from another in glory. So here, the Apostle Paul uses this term glory to describe various aspects or elements of the created order. Now, if that's true that there is a glory to the sun, glory to the stars, glory to us, glory to animals, how can it be said that God will share His glory with no man? Well, even though God assigns a certain glory to the created world, the created world is called to reflect the glory of God, and God plants the stamp of His glory upon His creation. Nevertheless, at no point does He share His deity with the created order.
That is, it's not that God says, I won't give any glory to anything but myself, but He's saying I won't share my glory with man. That is, I will not see myself on equal footing with my creatures whom I give my image, to whom I impart dignity, and so on. I used to work in Pittsburgh in the labor management field of crisis relationships and gave seminars along with a man by the name of Wayne Alderson who developed a program for labor management called The Value of the Person. And in these seminars, I was always asked to lecture on the question of human dignity. And I would ask every person in these seminars, how many of you wanted to be treated with dignity?
And everybody. They would differ on politics, they would differ on sports, they would differ on religion, but the one thing they all agreed on was that they all wanted to be treated with dignity. And I said, okay, well what is it? And they found it very difficult to define what dignity was, but they all knew what it was when they lost it. And I said, here's the thing, we want to believe that we have dignity, that we have importance, weightiness, significance. But let me suggest to you that the dignity that you have is real, but it's not intrinsic.
It's not inherent. There's nothing inherently dignified about dirt, and that's what we've been made from. The reason we have dignity is because God has assigned dignity to us. And in other words, the reason why you count is because God says you count. And the reason why I'm called to treat you with dignity is because God commands me to treat you with dignity, because He has assigned importance and weightiness and significance to every person who bears His image. Now if you want to deny the existence of God and still claim you have dignity, you're on a fool's errand. Because if you believe that you came up out of the slime and emerged fortuitously from the dust and then you are destined to annihilation, you can hardly celebrate your dignity between these two points.
If you come out of insignificance and you go to insignificance, you are insignificant. That's the thing that modern man refuses to face. But in any case, our glory, our dignity, our importance, our significance is rooted and grounded in the only one who has inherent and intrinsic dignity, the God of eternal glory. Now again I say that His glory is not shared, but it is reflected in us. That's what it means to be in the image of God, that we are called to mirror the glory of God.
There are two very important episodes in the Scripture where this glory concept is vivid. We think back to the Old Testament experience of Moses when he went to the mountain and he spoke as it were face to face with God, even though he wasn't able to see the face of God. You remember he said to God on that occasion, show me your face and I'll be satisfied. Now Moses had seen the glory of the Lord in the pillar of cloud, in the burning bush, in the miraculous works that God had done to rescue His people from bondage, but he still wasn't satisfied.
He wanted the big one. Let me see your face. And you remember that when God was asked that question, He responded to Moses and said, Moses, here's what I'll do. I'll carve out a little niche here in the rock and place you in the cleft of the rock, and then I will let my backward parts pass by, and you can behold the backward parts of Yahweh, but my face shall not be seen because nobody can see my face and live. And so you know what happened, that God passed by and Moses had a momentary glimpse of the backward parts of the glory of God. And when he came back down from that mountain, his face was shining in a powerful radiance. Now where did that radiance come from?
It didn't come from within Moses. It was a reflection on his face from a brief encounter with the refulgent glory of Almighty God. You jump fast forward to the New Testament, and you see the singular experience that the apostles had, at least three of them, Peter, James, and John, on the Mount of Transfiguration. When suddenly in their midst Christ was transformed or transfigured, a metamorphosis took place. His clothes became dazzling white, and this bright light, brighter than the noonday sun emanated from Christ to such a degree that Peter, James, and John fell to their face in fear and trembling.
Now where did the light of the transfiguration come from? This was not the refracted, reflected glory of God, but rather the light in the transfiguration came from within. In other words, the deity of Christ burst out in this display of glory. Remember his birth, when his birth was announced to the peasant shepherds in the fields outside of Bethlehem. When the angel came, we are told the glory of God shone around.
This is this blinding light, the shekhon china of God that calls attention to His majesty. And so when Moses reflected the glory of God, he was doing what we're called to do in creation. And when the author of Hebrews describes Christ, he said He was the express image of His person and the brightness of His glory. And when John wrote his gospel, when he talks about the incarnation of the Word of God becoming flesh and dwelling among us, he said, and we beheld His glory, clearly was referring to the Mount of Transfiguration where the glory of God was made visible to His people.
Now usually when the phrase Solideia Gloria is used historically, it has a dual reference. The first reference has to do with our salvation. That is to say that in the work of redemption, all the credit, all of the honor, all of the glory belongs to God and to God alone. The Scriptures tell us salvation is of the Lord, and God is glorified in His plan of redemption. It is God who initiates salvation. And when we talk about the different steps of salvation that are wrought in this plan, the very first step that takes place is regeneration where God working through the immediate power of the Holy Spirit enters into the human soul supernaturally, divinely changes the disposition of your soul, quickens you from spiritual death, raises you from spiritual death, changes the disposition of your heart where formerly you were estranged from God, you didn't want God in your thinking, now all of a sudden you have a desire for the things of God and before where you were not interested in Christ, now you embrace Christ, you come to Christ and you receive Him in your heart. But you do that only after God initiates through His grace. That's part of sola gratia that we talked about. But sola gratia, if sola gratia is true and sola fide is true, then sola de a gloria must also be true because the glory for your salvation belongs to God.
What does Paul say? Let him who boasts, boasts of the Lord. But so often views of salvation are such that even the beginning of our salvation is seen not as a monergistic work that God brings to pass in our soul but as a joint venture between God and man where in the final analysis the ultimate decisive input to our salvation rests with us. And this we call a anthropocentric view of salvation or a man-centered view where man gets at least some of the glory which glory belongs to God and to God alone. That's what the Reformers had in mind when they advanced this notion of sola de a gloria that we can take no credit whatsoever for our salvation. All of the honor, all of the praise, all of the glory goes to God and only to God. Now, when we think of the Protestant Reformation, we have a tendency to think that the whole concern was over the doctrine of justification or how we are saved.
But that's not accurate. There was also a profound concern for the way in which God is to be worshiped in the church. And particularly in the Reformed wing of the Reformation, that was of central importance because God and God alone is to be glorified in our worship. Amen. What a wonderful way to end the week with R.C. Sproul reminding us of the glory of the Gospel and that all praise and glory goes to God alone. As you've heard me say already this week, there are more messages in this series than we've listened to this week.
It's actually 10 messages in its entirety. And we'd like to make it available to you for your donation of any amount. You can give your gift today by visiting renewingyourmind.org or by calling us at 800 435 4343.
In addition to the DVD package that we'll send you, you'll have digital access both to the audio and video as well as to the study guide. So give your gift today at renewingyourmind.org. Have you ever been imprisoned? Many of us haven't, but sometimes as we go through the trials of life, it can almost feel like we're imprisoned. Well, next week, we'll be sharing a new series with you from Ligonier Teaching Fellow Dr. Derek Thomas. He'll be sharing lessons that we can learn from various biblical figures throughout the Bible. So join us on Monday here on Renewing Your Mind. Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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