Does Protestant Truth Still Matter? (3) Soli Deo Gloria

On Reformation Day 2023 we returned to a series of posts we started in 2021 but never finished – the text of ‘Why Protestant Truth Still Matters: A Biblical Perspective’ by Garry Williams. This is the third post in the series. (The first post is here; the second is here.)

The printed version of the full publication can be obtained from the Protestant Truth Society.

The piece is structured like this:

1. Introducing the Five Solas

2. The Solas Stated:
            Sola Scriptura
            Solus Christus 
            Sola Gratia and Sola Fide
            Soli Deo Gloria

3. Roman Catholicism before Vatican II:

4. Contemporary Roman Catholicism:
            In with the New
            Out with the Old?
            More of Mary
            Understanding Contemporary Roman Catholicism 

5. Protestant Truth Still Matters 

Soli Deo Gloria

What is the creation for? Does it have a purpose, or is it a meaningless collection of physical material? And if it does have a purpose, does it all have the same purpose? The Protestant answer is that the whole creation, from the furthest star down to the tiniest particle within us, is for the glory of God. The world is not about us, it is about the glory of God in Christ. The glory of God is God’s primary goal in creating the world, and in redeeming it. God delights in saving his people for their good, but he does so for his own praise and glory. If you and I live for our own glory we are rightly denounced as egomaniacs, but that is because it is wrong for us to seek our own glory. By contrast, it is right for God to seek his own praise because he is supremely praiseworthy. Indeed, he must be praised. The perfection of his being so demands that he be glorified that he would be wrong not to glorify himself. Isaiah writes:

I am the Lord, that is My name;

And My glory I will not give to another,

Nor My praise to carved images. (Isaiah 42:8) 

As this text shows, God is jealous of his glory. It is for him alone and no others. When we find in the New Testament that it is the Father’s purpose to glorify the Son and gather a people around him to praise him for eternity, this is a sure sign that the Son himself is God. God does not share his glory with another; he does share it with the Son, therefore the Son is God. The self-glorification of God in Christ is the final purpose of the entire creation.

We must align our own purposes with the over-ruling purpose of God for his creation. God’s glory is to be the motive for all of our activity: ‘whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God’ (1 Cor. 10:31). The pervading instinct of Protestant theology is therefore to attribute nothing to the creation and everything to the Creator. Here we see how the five Solas interconnect: the first four are bound together because they all have the fifth as their goal: teaching sola Scripturasolus Christussola gratia, and sola fide serves to protect and magnify the glory of God. Sola Scriptura emphasises the glory of the sufficient word of God, solus Christus the unique glory of Christ, sola gratia the glory of God as alone our Saviour, and sola fide the glory of the works of Christ rather than our work. Our spiritual instinct must always be to glorify God alone.