Posted On October 13, 2020

Reformation Theology: Soli Deo Gloria

by | Oct 13, 2020 | Portraits of Protestants, Featured

Soli Deo Gloria – for the glory of God alone – is the motto that grew out of the Protestant Reformation. At the core of this motto is the pulse beat of Christianity – we have been saved by grace to the praise of His glorious grace (Eph. 1:6). All things lead to the glory of God. The Westminster Confession rightly asks the following question: What is the chief end of man? In other words, what was man-made for? What is his purpose in life? The answer is the following: Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever (Rom. 11:36).

As those who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ, we must live with one driving passion: Soli Deo Gloria – for the glory of God alone. The song that must sound forth from our every action must be: To God alone be the glory! The overarching aim in all of our life must be to bring honor and praise to God. Every thought and every deed must be for the glory of God.

Now, there are several ways to approach this grand subject. An eternity of writing would not suffice to give this subject a proper study. I could go through Scripture to bring out the theme of Soli Deo Gloria. However, this article’s purpose will be to apply this subject practically and experientially to your soul. I will assume in this article that the reader is already aware and convinced of the Glory of God’s primacy in Scripture. For that reason, I will ask the following question: As Christians, those who have been redeemed by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, how do we live for the glory of God? In his book, A Body of Divinity, Thomas Watson gives us three helpful exhortations.

Contentment in Service

In a social media age, a temptation that is ever-present within a local church’s life is discontentment with our own service to the Lord. All you have to do is scroll through social media for a few seconds before you see what others are doing. You hear of other ministers preaching to larger congregations. You see photos of the warm and continuous hospitality of a lady in your church. The temptation is to become jealous. You begin to size yourself up to them, comparing what you have with what they have. Suddenly, you are bitter and downcast. Is this the way we ought to live? No.

How are we to live for the glory of God? Thomas Watson writes:

We aim at God’s glory when we are content to be outshined by others in gifts and esteem, so that his glory may be increased. A man that has God in his heart, and God’s glory in his eye, desires that God should be exalted… Let my candle go out, if the Sun of Righteousness may but shine.”[1]

Contentment in Providence:

Have you been overwhelmed with the present circumstances you find yourself in today? Maybe many of your plans have been canceled this past year. As you look to the prospect of the future, it doesn’t seem all that pleasant to you. Maybe you have begun to say, “If I only had that, or this, then I would be okay.” Though we know that each day we find ourselves under the loving hand of our kind and gracious heavenly Father, we often forget that practically.

Learning contentment in God’s providential dealings with us will allow us to glorify Him. Thomas Watson writes:

We glorify God, by being contented in that state in which Providence has placed us. We give God the glory of his wisdom, when we rest satisfied with what he carves out to us… It is God that has put me in this condition; he could have raised me higher, if he pleased, but that might have been a snare to me: he has done it in wisdom and love; therefore I will sit down satisfied with m condition. Surely this glorifies God much.”[2]

Controlled by One Passion:

If someone were to describe your life in one sentence at your funeral, what would they say? Would they describe all the temporal pursuits you followed? All the riches of this world you treasured-up for your own pleasure? Or would they say that you were a man or woman who lived for one thing, namely, the glory of God. It is good for the soul to think about this from time to time. What lasting impact will I leave for my spouse, my children, my grandchildren?

We want to be known as men and women who lived for God. Thomas Watson concludes with the following:

We glorify God by living to God (2 Cor. 5:15) …. We live to God when we live to his service, and lay ourselves out wholly for God. The Lord has sent us into the world, as a merchant sends his factor beyond the seas to trade for him. We live to God when we trade for his interest, and propagate his gospel. God has given every man a talent; and when a man does not hide it in a napkin, but improves it for God, he lives to God… Three wishes Paul had, and they were all about Christ; that he might be found in Christ, be with Christ, and magnify Christ.”[3]

To conclude, I want to ask you again: will Soli Deo Gloria be the theme of your life? Will you be known as one who brought glory to God? Or do you even know God? Have your sins been forgiven? Have you believed upon the Lord Jesus Christ to save you from your sins? The apostle Paul gives a warning in 2 Corinthians 5:10: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” May God help us all to live in light of eternity! To Him belongs all the glory!


[1] Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2008), 11.

[2] Ibid., 13.

[3] Ibid., 14.

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