Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Soli Dei Gloria- How Do We Glorify God

DAY 23- 3/23/17- SOLI DEI GLORIA- How do we Glorify God?  

“I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols” (Isa. 42:8).

          While our work may glorify God, and our actions of love may glorify God, and things like prayer and witnessing honor Him, there is one thing we do that is more special still- it is to worship God.  We take this for granted.  One of the reasons God asked us to keep a Sabbath weekly is that it is good for us to honor God with our time and focus. 
    When we believe in His redeeming work, we glorify Him.  When we trust in Him by faith, relying on His grace, believing in His sacrifice on the cross.  When we trust in His reality, His real love- we honor Him.  As we continue to grow in our faith- He becomes more and more the center of our lives.  He becomes our Lord more and more as we follow in His steps.  This glorifies God and reflects positively back to Him- even if no one else sees it.                           

Prayer: Lord, may my heart, my time, my talent, my giving all reflect your glory.  

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Soli Dei Gloria- The Singleness of Glory

DAY 22- 3/22/17- SOLI DEI GLORIA- GLORY TO GOD ALONE  The Singleness of Glory

“Soli Deo honor et Gloria” (Vulgate translation of 1 Tim. 1:17)- “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory forever and ever Amen.” 

Some translate Soli Dei Gloria as “Glory to the only God.”  In some parts of animistic African Religion (and American voodoo) there are many gods who receive growing ranks of glory until the most glory goes to the invisible creator God.  In Roman Catholicism and to a lesser degree in eastern orthodoxy there are differing ranks of glory going to saints and especially to Mary.  The Second Council of Nicea spoke of three different levels of glory: 1) the latria that glorifies and adores the Trinity; 2) the Hyperdulia that glorifies Mary; 3) the dulia that glorifies the other saints.  Ironically when the angel came to Mary to tell her she would have a son you see her tremendous humility and she said, “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Lk. 1:46).  The problem is when we start spreading the glory around to others (instead of to God alone) that we can easily slip (consciously or subconsciously) into praying to, worshiping these other saints as if they were god, demi-gods, or mediators between us and God.  But there is only one mediator between us and God (1 Tim. 2:5) and that is Jesus Christ.  When we try to take the glory that is due to God and give it to another- it diminishes the honor that is due Him.  So the first two commandments say, “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God...(Dt. 5:7,8). 
Prayer: Help me Lord to give my heart solely to you and to no other.  May you alone be my one true Lord.  

Monday, March 20, 2017

Soli Dei Gloria- Glorifying God in our Actions

“So whether you eat or drink of whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”  (1 Cor. 10:31

Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel, perhaps the greatest Reformation musicians, wrote on each of  their pieces, “Soli Dei Gloria.”   This does not mean (as some suppose) simply that our music should praise God.  It also means that what we produce, what we work for, what we do in life should glorify God.  If you look at the lives of Handel and Bach they were prolific.  Their work was not simply motivated by money (though Handel sometimes appears to be the merchant) but their inspiration was purposeful.  They lived on- purpose lives- writing music to honor God. 
    To Glorify God is to have a purpose.  The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, "What is the chief end of man? The answer is "To glorify God and to enjoy Him forever."  The Reformation brought a supreme sense that we are not to glorify the saints, or the church, or the Pope, but we should glorify God alone.  This singleness of heart and purpose brought about the Protestant work ethic- a motivation to do even small things (washing dishes, taking out the trash) to the glory of God.  Today we are missing that direction, meaning and purpose in life (and even in church life).  

Prayer: May my work, my song, my art, my love, my life honor you and you alone, O Lord. 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Faith Alone- Assurance of Salvation


I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 1 John 5:13

Thoughts: The Medieval Roman Catholic Church thought that to be assured of your faith was to rest on your laurels and that this was not healthy spiritually.  But both Luther and Calvin spoke of the assurance that comes by the Holy Spirit when we have faith.  We do not always have to be in a constant state of doubting and wondering.  There is a joy knowing that He is our God and we are His people.  This is the covenant statement that is made real by faith.  Faith is the key that opens the door to the benefits, joy,  and reality of God. 

Prayer: Lord thank you for the certainty of faith and the assurance of hope we have in you.  

[1- Roman Catholic Council of Trent: Sess Vi, Canon 23: "If anyone maintain that a man once justified can not lose grace, and, therefore, that he who falls and sin never was truly justified, let him be accursed." ] 

The Westminster Confession (Reformed) makes the following points:
1) Assurance of salvation is possible for those who believe.
2) This is based on the promises of scripture and is not a conjecture.
3) You can have faith but not have assurance.
4) True believers may have their assurance shaken.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Sola Fide- What this Denies

For by grace you are saved through faith and this not of yourselves so that no one can boast. 
All your righteousness is as filthy rags. Isaiah 64:6

Thoughts: Faith alone means that all good is secondary.  It is not that we are good and so God gives us faith.  It is not that we do some good and our faith pulls us up making us righteous the rest of the way.  It is faith alone- by itself that brings us salvation.  If anything was of ourselves we could brag and boast about it.  But in heaven we lay our crowns before the throne. 
     Penance- the idea that we can make up for our bad; doing good deeds to some how help ourselves or even another in their salvation is somehow wrong.  There were some who believed we could pray another into heaven.  We cannot pass our faith onto another- it is their faith that saves them.  The   Latin church criticized this idea saying that this degrades good works so that people will not try to be good.  But we do good not because we need to go to heaven, but out of gratitude to God.  Luther is purported to have said , we sin in our best deeds as well as our worst.  Bad motives affect even the good we do.  Calvin said, “The human heart has so many crannie where vanity hides, so many holes where falsehood lurks, is so decked out with deceiving hypocrisy, that it often dupes itself.” (Inst. 3.2.10)

Prayer: Lord, help me to appreciate that any good I do is not of me.  

Friday, March 17, 2017

Faith Alone- What this affirms

Now faith is being confident in what we hope for and assurance of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)

Thoughts: Faith alone means that faith is important.  We should appreciate the gift of faith and to treasure, guard, and nourish that gift. 
     We should be careful not to wallow in doubt.  Doubt in itself is not is not a virtue- as worry is not a virtue.  The ability to live free of worry- being assured of God’s love and trusting in Him- is both freeing and develops love and hope. Faith and hope bring with them a sense of meaning and purpose in life. The idea of faith alone only enhances that purpose and confidence in truth and God.  Today many are missing this affirmation- and live to hear spin tickle their ears.  Faith not only leads us and gives us hope it also convicts showing us where we start to off the right path and calling us to repent and turn around. 
    Faith is tied to hope and love.  Faith makes hope real and gives us a goal to live for.  Faith is trust that the hope is not a false hope but a real hope.  Faith is tied to love.  Without trust, love would be shallow.  Faith develops deep and true love.  Faith in God enables us to love God in response to His love which gives us faith.
Prayer: Lord, help me to treasure the faith you give me and to let it grow in me.

Luther: The Holy Spirit is no skeptic.  He has written neither doubt nor mere opinion in our hearts but solid assurances- which are more sure and solid than all experience and even life itself.   

Today there are some who even say "the opposite of faith is not doubt but certainty."  This flies in the face that the definition of faith- above is certainty and assurance.  There is room to doubt.  Doubt is not a sin in and of itself but it can become a sin.  It is not a sin when we doubt what is not true.  It can become a sin when we trust in our doubt more than we trust in the Lord.  The emphasis of the certainty faith flies int he face of those in the catholic church who say that we can never find assurance in this life.  Luther and Calvin taught that assurance can be found as sure as anything in this life by the Holy Spirit speaking through the Word of God- when we believe and trust it.  

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Sola Fide- Faith Alone


“For by grace you have been saved by faith, and this not of yourselves.  It is the gift of God so that no one can boast.”  (Ephesians 2:8,9). 

“A man is justified by faith apart from works of law.” (Romans 3:28)

“Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification…that works by love.” (WCF 13.2)

Thoughts: For Martin Luther, this was the foundational principle of the Reformation.  Everything else should be measured against this for him.  Faith itself is a gift from God of His grace.  Today there is a great deal of boasting.  But we cannot and should not boast of saving ourselves. 
    It is through faith- not through any good acts- not prayer, Bible reading, church attendance, helping the poor, voting properly, establishing a Christian state, not a religious bureaucracy or a religious elite telling us what to do.  Faith puts all people on equal footing- no matter what our wealth, education, popularity, faith is what counts.  We would do well to note that in our day.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for your gift of faith.  Help my faith to grow and honor you.