These past months, we have addressed the five solas. But, one should know that these truths are woven together by and point to this final doctrine: Sola Deo Gloria (Latin for “glory to God alone”).
God’s glory is both one of His innate characteristics and something He deserves. Regarding the former, we read in Isaiah, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory,” (Isa 6:1-3). One can examine the reality of these words in nature, for example. As Psalm 119:1 says, “The [skies] declare the glory of God.”
But the phrase Sola Deo Gloria refers to the glory God deserves. If glory refers to one’s weightiness, then to give glory is to acknowledge that one’s weight by veneration. In this case, one venerates God by living for Him alone, which is done through acts of obedience to Scripture alone, which is to walk by faith alone in Christ alone by grace alone.
God describes Himself as a jealous God, which is to say He does not tolerate the competition of other gods nor the unfaithfulness of His people. He explained this while giving the first two of His Ten Commandments (see Exo 20:3-6). Later, Israel created a golden calf to worship. It would behoove one to know that the ancient world viewed calf idols as a sort of mediator between a people and their god. Such explains why after the calf was made, Aaron the priest initiated a feast to God, not the calf (Exo 32:1-6). Nevertheless, the jealous God became angry because Israel was not worshiping Him only.
Why does God require such veneration? Only God exists, and only He created the world. The cosmos belongs to Him (Ps 50:10-12), nor does He need us (Acts 17:24-25). In God’s good pleasure, He created and sustains everything (Col 1:16). He made mankind to live for (Ecc 12:13) and to love Him (Matt 22:37-38). Yet we deliberately rebelled against Him, denying Life Himself. But by God’s good pleasure, He sent His Son to pay our debt of death in three days–a debt we could not pay, even in eternity–so that we would have eternal life (John 3:16), which is an eternity of intimately knowing and living with God (John 17:3). Then a day will come when all peoples confess Jesus is Lord, “to the glory of God the Father,” (Phil 2:9-11).
Anything short of these things is man-centered, not God-centered. None shares in God’s glory (Isa 42:8); all He does is for His own (Isa 48:11). Luke, who even recorded Mary’s great blessedness (Luke 1:41-42), also included a compensatory narrative explaining that saints receive a greater blessedness by hearing and keeping God’s Word (Luke 11:27-28), for only He receives all praise, honor, and glory (Rom 11:36). Bringing up your children in a life of honoring God in their words, thoughts, and actions (1 Cor 10:31) will develop a good conscience for practical and spiritual living.