Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Reformation 500 - Christ Alone and The Glory of God Alone

The final instalment of my notes for the Lent Course:

 Reformation 500 Lent Course Session 5

Review so far

Sola No. 4: Solus Christus - In Christ Alone

Christianity is Christ! The clue is in the title. Take Christ out and we are more or less left with inanity!

Solus Christus is an excellent summary of theology’s first principle, and first love. The gospel is essentially the announcement – the setting forth in speech – of what is in Jesus Christ.” Vanhoozer, After Babel, p149

Colossians 2:3; Ephesians 3:8

Acts 4:12 – The only Saviour; John 14:6 – The only way to God the Father

Christ’s unique person – The eternal Son – The God-Man – Hebrews 4:15; Colossians 2:9

Christ’s unique saving work – incarnation – life – death – resurrection – ascension – return – 2 Corinthians 5:19

Christ the Anointed One / Messiah (cf. OT) as prophet, priest and king (see Institutes II.15.1-6, Letham, The Work of  Christ) – revealer, reconciler, ruler

1 Timothy 2:1-6 – As God and man Christ is uniquely qualified to be our Mediator – represents both God and man – as a man he can die; as God his death is of infinite value

Christ’s saving work – all that is needed for salvation - John 19:30 - “It is finished” – not “I am finished”, a cry of victory, “done!”, “accomplished!”, “achieved!” – price fully paid, Jesus’ saving work complete

Christ unique sinless means he is the only possible saviour – the lamb of God without spot or blemish (1 Peter 1:19) – an acceptable sacrifice – everyone else is part of the problem not part of the solution!

The cross as essential and central – Emil Brunner, “Luther certainly hit the nail on the head when he described Christian theology… as a theologia crucis [a theology of the cross]. The whole struggle of the Reformation for the sola fides, the soli deo gloria, was simply the struggle for the right interpretation of the Cross. He who understands the Cross aright – this is the opinion of the Reformers – understands the Bible and understands Jesus Christ.” Luther says: “this text – ‘He bore our sins’ – must be understood particularly thoroughly as the foundation upon which stands the whole of the New Testament or the Gospel, as that which alone distinguishes us and our religion from all other religions…. Whoever believes this article of faith is secure against all errors, and God and the Holy Ghost is necessarily with him.” The Mediator, p435 citing Luther Works v25, p330 – 1 Peter 2:24

Christ as the centre and goal of the Scriptures - Luke 24; John 5:39-40 – The Written Word leads us to the Incarnate Word

Every spiritual blessing in Christ – Ephesians 1:3

Faith unites us to Christ – what is in Christ (light, life, love etc.) is all ours in Him (Luther’s marriage analogy – Christ’s riches, status ours, our debts his etc.)

Colossians – Christ is supreme (1:15ff) therefore Christ is sufficient, so stick with him (2:6ff) – no need to add anything to Christ – in fact, adding anything to Christ as necessary for salvation takes away from Christ’s saving work – he alone is powerful to save

Gospel plus something is actually less than the gospel – not saving good news any more

As opposed to our good works / morality – we cannot save ourselves (see sessions on grace and faith) – we need a Saviour not just a bit of help or a few tips nor education nor example etc.

Not religion or “church” without Christ etc. Not by sound theology

As opposed to the saints esp. Mary – no excess merit of the saints – not as mediators – not to be prayed to

Notice that Mary calls God her Saviour – she is not the rescuer, she was in need of rescue (as we all are)

Cf. The sacrifice of Christ and the supposed sacrifice of the Mass – the once for all nature of Christ’s sacrifice – Hebrews 9-10 – his unique and final High Priesthood

Also Turks at the gates

Galatians 1:6-9 – stick with the grace and gospel of Christ as proclaimed by the Apostles

What might people be tempted to add to Christ? Or depend on instead of Christ?

Sola No. 5: Soli Deo Gloria - To The Glory of God Alone

What do you think of as glorious? What answers might you give in a word association game for “glory”?

What is the ultimate aim (or aims) of your life? How might others describe their ultimate goals?

Is your God to small? Do you underestimate or neglect his glory and greatness? How?

Vandrunem: “Soli Deo Gloria can be understood as the glue that holds the other solas in place, or the center that draws the other solas in a grand, unified whole.” (p15) – the logical consequence of the other solas – a necessary and fitting conclusion of them – salvation is the work of God alone so he alone gets the glory

The Te Deum Laudamus - “We praise thee, O God; we acknowledge thee to be the Lord….” Etc. (BCP Morning Prayer)

Glory – Hebrew: kabod – heaviness, weight, substance, mass, worth, presence, value, splendour, reputation, honour – God substantial (cf. human dust!)

Rick Warren: The glory of God: “It is who God is. It is the essence of his nature, the weight of his importance, the radiance of his splendour, demonstration of his power, and the atmosphere of his presence. God’s glory is the expression of his goodness and all his other intrinsic, eternal qualities.” (The Purpose Driven Life, p53)

The glory cloud – Exodus 13:21-22; 14:19-20; 16:6-10; 19:9, 16-18; 40:36-38; Numbers 9:15-23 cf. Psalm 97:1-2 – clouds surrounding God; Psalm 99:7 – associated with the Holy Spirit – Isaiah 63:11-15; Nehemiah 9:19-20; Haggai 2:5 – tabernacle – Exodus 40:34-35

Moses’ request to see God’s glory – Exodus 33:18-23 – note connection with God’s presence (vv14-15), name, character etc.

1 Samuel 4:21-22 – Phinehas’ wife calls her son Ichabod = no glory – the glory of the Lord has departed with the capture of the ark

Glory cloud filling the temple – 1 Kings 8:10-11; 2 Chronicles 5:13-14; 7:1-3

Visions of God: Ezekiel 1 esp. v28; 3:12, 23; Isaiah 6

The glory cloud departing from the temple – Ezekiel 10:18-19

God is the Glory of Israel (1 Samuel 15:29), the King of Glory (Psalm 24:8, 9, 10) and the God of Glory (Psalm 29:3; Acts 7:2). God the Father the Father of Glory (Ephesians 1:17) – God’s name glorious and awesome (Deuteronomy 28:58)

NT Greek: doxa LXX for kabod – secular Greek, opinion, reputation

We give God glory (praise, honour, esteem) because he is glorious!

John Calvin: “Our being should be employed for [God’s] glory: for how unreasonable would it be for creatures, whom he has formed and whom he sustains, to live for any other purpose than for making his glory known? … The whole order of things would be strangely subverted, were not God, who is the beginning of all things, the end also…. God justly claims for himself absolute supremacy, and that in the condition of mankind and of the whole world nothing is to be sought beyond his own glory. It hence follows, that absurd and contrary to reason, and even insane, are all those sentiments which tend to diminish his glory.”

Calvin: “We never truly glory in him until we have utterly discarded our own glory…. The elect are justified by the Lord in order that they may glory in him, and in none else.” Institutes 3.13.2

The glory of God revealed in creation – Psalm 19; 8 – Calvin, creation the theatre of God’s glory, Institutes 1.14.20, Commentary on Hebrews 11:3

God Himself, the Giver not just his gifts! – Seek first – Matthew 6:33

The passing nature of human glories – Psalm 103:14ff – wealth uncertain (Matthew 6:19ff), fame fleeting etc.

Heaven as glory – when a Christian dies they have been “called to glory” – BCP, “the hope of glory” – future glory – Romans 8:17-18; Titus 2:13, we await the glorious appearing of our great God and Savour, Jesus Christ – “he will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead”

Jesus the radiance of God’s glory – Hebrews 1:3 – his glory seen by the apostles, John 1:14 – the crucified Lord of Glory, 1 Corinthians 2:8 – Transfiguration reveals Christ’s glory – 2 Corinthians 4:3-6, God has given us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ

Glory revealed by Jesus’ signs – John 2:11; 11:4; also work of the Spirit 16:14; disciples 17:10 – esp. Jesus’ death – 12:23-28; 13:31; 17:1-4; Christ’s glory 17:22, 24

Jesus a reversal of worldly glory – greatness in humble, self-sacrificial service not status / display – Philippians 2:5-11 – John 5:44; 12:42-43

2 Corinthians 11:30; 12:8-10 – glorying in weakness

Basil the Great of Caesarea (d. 379): “A man glories fully and perfectly in God when he does not extol himself on account of his own righteousness, but knows that he is lacking in true righteousness, and that he is really justified by faith alone in Christ. Paul boasts of the fact that he despises his own righteousness, but seeks that righteousness by faith which comes through Christ, which comes from God, so that he may know him and the power of his resurrection and may share in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that if possible he may somehow attain the resurrection from the dead.” (Homily 20.3)

Luke 2:14 – The song of the angels

Romans 3:23 – all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

Cf. Babel – Genesis 11 – a false striving for glory without God

Nebuchadnezzar’s failure to glorify God – Daniel 4:30-34, 37

Herod fails to glorify God – Acts 12:21-24

Ephesians 1:6, 12-14 – God saves his people for the sake of the glory of his name – Psalm 79:9; 102:15

We glorify God by bearing fruit as Jesus’ disciples – John 15:8

Isaiah 42:8; 43:7; 48:11; 61:1

Jonathan Edwards, The End for Which God Created the World – no need or inadequacy in our perfect Triune God - his own glory – the overflow of God’s goodness

Is it egotistical of God to want to glorify himself?

No, because God is the highest possible good, the sum of all perfections, it is good for God to glorify himself. It is for our good.

Westminster Shorter Catechism: “Q: What is the chief end of man? A: To glorify God and enjoy him for ever”

1 duty not 2, glorify God by enjoying him

John Piper: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him”

The alternative – some praise to me!

Good works not to earn salvation but out of gratitude and for the glory of God (see quotations from The Augsburg Confession 20.27-28 and Cranmer, Sermon on Salvation, quoted in Reformation Anglicanism, p170)

J. S. Bach – manuscripts: “JJ” = Jesu juva = Jesus, help! - “SDG”

How do the other solas lead to the glory of God alone?

Salvation entirely the sovereign, gracious work of God

Psalm 29:2; 115:1

1 Corinthians 10:31 – everything to be done to the glory of God

Romans 11:33-36; Revelation 1:5-6

Kipling’s, Non Nobis Domine (1934) – “Not unto us, O Lord! / The Praise or Glory be” etc. (hymn, Google!)

Habakkuk 2:14; Revelation 21:1-2, 22-26 – The New Jerusalem: the glory of God gives it light and the glory of the nations will be brought into it


[Salvation] according to Scripture alone, in Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone, to the glory of God alone

Which sola seems most important or relevant to you? Is there one you think we especially risk neglecting?

How will the solas help to shape your prayers and praises, the way you think and live, your evangelism?

What do you think Luther or Calvin might make of the state of the church / society today?

Further reading / resources:

John Piper, God’s Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards (Crossway, 1998)

David Vandrunem, God’s Glory Alone: The Majestic Heart of the Christian Faith and Life – What the Reformers taught… and why it still matters – The 5 Solas Series (Zondervan, 2015)

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