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Romans and the Reformation 6: Soli Deo Gloria “The Glory of God Alone”

Romans and the Reformation Day 6 – Soli Deo Gloria “The Glory of God Alone”

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-‬2) ‬‬‬‬

Imagine for a moment that you are stranded in what seems like the middle of nowhere. Starving and nearly dying of thirst, you hear the rumble of a train arriving. When it stops beside you, you meet the conductor, who welcomes you inside and lifts you up the steps. Once inside, you are greeted with a feast of all the food and water you could ever need. As the train zooms along, you wonder where you are heading and take a look out the window.

Now, imagine that train is Christ Himself. The Holy Spirit is the conductor. Grace is the endless fuel that powers the train. Faith is the moment your hand grabs the conductor’s hand and you come aboard. Scriptural truth is the wonderful feast you see when you enter. And finally, the destination you are travelling toward is the full revelation of the glory of God.

As we close this study, we get to explore the ultimate purpose for which the grand plan of salvation was initiated—the glory of God. For the past few days, we’ve contemplated some of the “How?” questions about the way the gospel is applied to our souls in the moment of salvation, and we have also looked at some “What?” questions regarding the work of Christ and the pattern of life we should display as we follow Him. Today, we consider the “Why?” question. Why have we been saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, as revealed in Scripture alone? As we see this drama of redemption unfold, what is its ultimate end? Put simply, what is the point?

I have spent the last few months thinking about how to create clear academic and developmental goals for my son as we enter the school year, and I have noticed that the question I am really asking is this, “What is the point?” Studying the text of Romans, I have been repeatedly reminded that my ultimate goal for our family needs to be to bring glory to God. Even the most basic daily decisions are impacted by our understanding that glorifying God is our primary purpose.

Before digging into this topic, we should provide a crucial definition. What exactly is the glory of God? It can be challenging for us to define as we don’t often use the word glory in our everyday speech. GotQuestions.org provides an extremely thorough definition from which I will borrow here (the full answer is also well worth your time to read):

“The glory of God is the beauty of His spirit. It is not an aesthetic beauty or a material beauty, but it is the beauty that emanates from His character, from all that He is…. This glory can crown man or fill the earth. It is seen within man and in the earth, but it is not of them; it is of God. The glory of man is the beauty of man’s spirit, which is fallible and eventually passes away, and is therefore humiliating…. But the glory of God, which is manifested in all His attributes together, never passes away. It is eternal…. Since God is the one from whom glory comes, He will not let stand the assertion that glory comes from man or from the idols of man or from nature…. This jealousy for His own glory is what Paul is talking about in Romans 1:21-25 when he speaks of the ways people worship the creature rather than the Creator. In other words, they looked at the object through which God’s glory was coming, and, instead of giving God the credit for it, they worshipped that animal or tree or man as if the beauty it possessed originated from within itself…. This is the mistake many people continue to make: trusting in earthly things, earthly relationships, their own powers or talents or beauty, or the goodness they see in others. But when these things fade and fail as they will inevitably do (being only temporary carriers of the greater glory), these people despair. What we all need to realize is that God’s glory is constant, and as we journey through life we will see it manifest here and there, in this person or that forest, or in a story of love or heroism, fiction or non-fiction, or our own personal lives. But it all goes back to God in the end” (What is the glory of God? – GotQuestions.org). 

In light of this explanation of glory, we must realize that God is primarily for God. We love to quote Romans 8:31, which asks, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” While it is vitally important for us to remember that God is on the side of believers, we also need to remember that God’s purposes go far beyond being for our success or happiness. What He wants most of all is His own glory; He wants the universe to see the beauty of His spirit, how wonderful and perfect He is in every way. As His children, we have the privilege of showing the world who our God is by the way we live our lives in holiness and honour.

Yes, when we are saved from our sins, we are saved to the glory of God alone. But as we live out that salvation before Christ returns, we are also to live to the glory of God. Displaying God’s goodness and character to the world is meant to be our everyday reality. If we learn, we should learn for God’s ultimate glory. If we teach, we should teach for His glory. If we work outside the home or inside the home, if we create art or crunch numbers, if we are graduating from school or retiring from a long career, if we lead teams of many people or parent a few cranky toddlers—every moment, we are to do these things to the glory of God.

Throughout the letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul tells the story of a righteous God who requires righteousness from people (Romans 1:18-2:11). When they inevitably fail to live up to His perfectly righteous standard, He sends His own Son to live up to it for them and then die as their perfect sacrifice (Romans 3:21-26). He then rewards those who put their faith in Christ by giving them Christ’s righteous standing and empowering them through the Holy Spirit to serve Him by living righteously (Romans 5:1-5; 6:9-14). In all this, God is shown to be the glorious God He truly is: just, holy, wise, compassionate, merciful, and loving. In requiring righteousness from us (which we inevitably fail to attain), God reaches out in amazing grace and allows His own divine character to be shown more clearly. Conversely, in our human inability to reach the perfection of God, we see our weakness and learn to depend on Him fully—while the rest of the world is watching. 

Our lives in Christ are entirely about God’s glory. Nothing we do should be to show off our own greatness or bow down to the supposed greatness of another equally inadequate human being. We need to remember that if the gospel is for God’s glory and our salvation is for God’s glory, then every breath we take before He takes us home is also for God’s glory. May we show the world how wonderful and glorious He is!

“To God Be the Glory” 

To God be the glory– great things He hath done!
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
Who yielded His life, an atonement for sin,
And opened the life-gate that all may go in.

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father through Jesus, the Son,
And give Him the glory– great things He hath done!

O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood!
To ev’ry believer, the promise of God;
The vilest offender who truly believes,
That moment from Jesus a pardon receives. 

Great things He hath taught us, great things He hath done,
And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son;
But purer and higher and greater will be
Our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see.

–Fanny Crosby (1820-1915)

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