Soli Deo Gloria
Soli Deo Gloria!
We should consider the humor of it all. Here we are, mortal human beings trying to get a handle on God, the Creator of all things! Surely it must bring God a bit of a chuckle to watch our intellectual gymnastics and the mortal, fallible, and sinful attempts to discern the unlimited, the unchangeable, and the all-powerful. At the same time, it pleases God when his people engage in the struggle to know him.
In this life, understanding God will never be fully accomplished. Theologians spend lifetimes studying just a few aspects of God’s attributes or character, only to discover that full understanding cannot be obtained. Yet come the divine exhortations to learn and grow in our faith. Here, too, we make another surprising discovery. The more we study and hear the Word of God, the greater our hunger grows for more.
In this Epistle reading St. Paul marvels over it all. He is overwhelmed by the wisdom and knowledge of God, especially with respect to how that wisdom is displayed in his Son, Jesus Christ.
The world glorifies itself with its own wisdom (v 33). Unbelieving minds believe they know the mind of God, but they don’t. In human arrogance, we pronounce our own opinions about who God is and what he is like.
In the April 21, 2000, issue of the Wall Street Journal an article entitled “Redefining God” appeared. The tenor of the article was that in postmodern America, traditional views of God were no longer acceptable and to make God more “relevant” people and some denominations were taking it upon themselves to define the Almighty according to their own desires. I fear that such an article only reflects a generally held view that if there are some traits about God that make us uncomfortable, we may simply choose not to believe in them.
It’s quite a funny concept—the puny creature gets to decide who his Creator is and on what basis he will relate to him. Postmodern humanity wants to set the rules by which God can govern his own creation. Time and again, many are willingly fooled into thinking that our perceptions can create reality. In other words, if we believe it to be so, then it is. But the truth is that unbelieving minds always believe they can pay God back for sins they’ve committed, but they can’t (v 35). Plan after doomed plan propose to “get right with God” through self-improvement.
Islam demands that the five pillars of the faith be completed. Buddhists insist on following the eightfold path of enlightenment. Mormons stress being worthy enough to please God. Ethical humanists want us all to work hard so we can create our own heaven here on earth. All these kinds of ideas only feed that which God despises above all other things—self-righteousness!
We cannot offer payment of any kind for a debt that has already been fully paid! It is no wonder that Jesus saves his harshest words for any who would attempt to make payment for their sins (Mt 23:27–28).
It is time to cease our endless speculations about God and stand in wonder at the reality of his wisdom revealed to us in the Scriptures. We cannot find truth from within ourselves, but we can know the wisdom that comes from above (2 Pet 1:19–21). Why settle for the conjectures of men when we may receive the utter wisdom of God? Choosing to accept human conjectures about the nature of God instead of accepting His own words about Himself is a bit like being given a choice between a fine lobster dinner at a five-star restaurant or partaking in fare retrieved from the dumpster behind a fast-food restaurant. Yet many opt for the garbage—amazing!
We know that all of God’s wisdom is perfect, but the greatest expression of divine wisdom is Jesus Christ. In Christ we see the amazing wisdom of God more clearly than any other way. In Jesus Christ we see the singular and perfect solution for the rendering of God’s perfect justice. In the life of Christ there was not a single misstep, not a single flaw. He was perfect in every way (2 Cor 5:21). Perfection became sin on behalf of sinners, and the Father’s divine justice was fully satisfied. Oh, the wisdom of God that divinity itself should receive humanity’s punishment!
What human mind would have considered that a criminal’s death on a Roman cross of execution would be the means by which humankind’s salvation would be won? Never in the history of the world has the Father displayed his love for humankind more fully than on Calvary’s painful cross!
And it is God’s amazing wisdom that we should come to know of this divine love by means of 12 seemingly unremarkable men whom God has made remarkable. Through the apostolic Scriptures we have seen the wisdom that comes from above. Through the working of fallible people in fallible congregations led by fallible pastors, the Word of Life is proclaimed to you!
So what is the end result of God’s divine wisdom revealed to us from above? God receives all the glory so richly due him. Johann Sebastian Bach, the great Lutheran composer of the eighteenth century, always wrote at the end of each of his many compositions the following: Soli Deo Gloria—To God Alone the Glory. As far as Bach was concerned, anything he wrote was precisely for the purpose of glorifying God alone. What a wonderful way to live our lives as people living under God’s grace. I pray that at the end of every good work, which Christ establishes in your life, you may write your “Soli Deo Gloria.”
At the end of every single day our song to honor God’s gracious wisdom in Christ will be written, Soli Deo Gloria. And I pray that when our loved ones stand at the foot of our grave, the inscription on our tombstone is Soli Deo Gloria. “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! To him be the glory forever! Amen.”