Glory to God alone: the reformers were reacting against a man-centred theology where the glory of God had been lost, medieval theology looked to see how a man could make his ascent to God. Indeed a whole system of merits had been invented and the gracious nature of God had largely been lost. Against this backdrop, the reformers rediscovered the graciousness of God in all its glory. They also realised that the God of grace was the sovereign Lord of all history. when you read the writings of Calvin and Luther one sees how these two men were captivated by a gracious yet awesome God. These two men realised that because God is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient that she should bow in worship before him and yet at the same time they realised how gracious this God is. They realised that God is sovereign over both creation and redemption and because of this god should be glorified in creation and redemption. The Puritans who framed the Westminster Shorter Catechism understood this when they said that “the chief end of man is to glorify and to enjoy him forever”. the reformation was a period when it was re-emphasized that the whole of life should be lived before the face of God. because of this, the whole of life was to be lived for the glory of God, not just a special sacred realm. For instance, Bach very often put on his musical scores “Soli Deo Gloria” he was conscious that whatever type of music he composed that it should be done for the glory of God. George Herbert the poet expressed this concept this way,
Teach me, my God and King,
in all things thee to see,
and what I do in anything
to do it as for thee.
A man that looks on glass,
on it may stay his eye;
or if he pleaseth, through it pass,
and then the heaven espy.
All may of thee partake;
nothing can be so mean,
which with this tincture, “for thy sake,”
will not grow bright and clean.
A servant with this clause
makes drudgery divine:
who sweeps a room, as for thy laws,
makes that and the action fine.
This is the famous stone
that turneth all to gold;
for that which God doth touch and own
cannot for less be told.
I know the language is old fashioned but we need to heed the teaching today. If we are to follow the reformers in their teaching we need to realise the importance of giving glory to God for all that he has done.
By Scripture Alone: We are to submit all our thinking and deeds to the guidance of scripture, the Bible is the only book that has authority over our lives because it is the supreme authority in all matters of faith and practice. All our Church traditions are to be tested against the teaching of scripture and if anything conflicts with the clear teaching of scripture we must reject it. The Scriptures are our guide to our relationship with God, with one another and to the society around us. To see the life-transforming role of scripture read Psalm 119, here we see clearly someone who delights in the word of God, but notice that he applies the scriptures to the whole of his life.
Through Christ Alone: There is only one mediator between man and God and that is the Lord Jesus. It is Jesus who gave his life as a ransom for many, who paid the price for our salvation. Christ has achieved all that is needed by his atoning sacrifice, mankind cannot add anything to his work. He has done everything that is necessary for our salvation, on the cross he was aware that he had completed the work of salvation when he cried out “it is finished”. Our Lord now intercedes for his people before the right hand of the Father.
By faith alone: The only way that we can receive this salvation is to put our faith in Christ, we entrust him with our whole lives, knowing that we can never contribute anything to our own salvation. all we can do is put out the empty hands of faith and receive what Christ has done. the reformers emphasised the doctrine of justification by faith, one only has to look at Luther’s Commentary on the book of the Galatians to realise the central importance of this doctrine. Paul clearly teaches justification by faith in his letters to the Roman and Galatian churches, this doctrine has abiding relevance for us today.
By Grace alone: Grace is God’s favour shown to those who don’t deserve it, it flows from the Father heart of God and is shown supremely to us in his gift of the Lord Jesus Christ to be our Saviour. The whole of the New Testament teaches us that our salvation is by grace alone. the old Sunday School acrostic helps us to remember what grace is,
We need to glory in the wonder of God’s grace, thereby glorifying him for all that has done for us.