Soli Deo Gloria

No. 59 - 26th November 2017

The Israelis were surrounded on every side. There was a hostile nation to the South. A large army attacking from the North and two smaller armies from the East. No, I’m not talking about the six-day war back in June 1967. This was about 1200 BC. So, what’s new? The Israelites were having a pretty rough time of it and cried out to God for help – which is what we tend to do as a last resort. So, God spoke to a young man called Gideon, and said, “I want you to save Israel from their enemies”. Well, Gideon was rather nonplussed. He wasn’t a soldier. He had no connections. He was nobody. And he was as frightened as everyone else. He took some persuading let me tell you, but eventually he agreed to put out a call for volunteers to come and join him. Surprisingly enough, about thirty thousand men turned up to fight. I imagine Gideon was well pleased with the result, but God’s reaction was entirely different. He said, “you’ve got far too many men for me to work with”. What? “When I hand the enemy over to you” God told him, “I don’t want your men boasting that they did it on their own”. So, God set about whittling Gideon’s army down to just three hundred men against a vast invading army. The odds were so great against them, that no one could possibly say that the victory was their achievement and try to steal the glory from God.

From the very start of the Reformation, Martin Luther realised, as with Gideon, that our salvation is totally God’s doing, so that no one can boast or think of it as their own achievement. Over the last few weeks I’ve been talking about the five pillars of the Reformation. The first four were about all the things God did to reconcile the human race to himself. First, he sent his Son, Jesus Christ to become a substitute for the human race – By Christ Alone. Then the offer of salvation was to be received freely by taking God at his word and not trying to work for it ourselves – By Faith Alone. The offer was entirely God’s initiative, just out of the goodness of his heart – By Grace Alone. And fourthly, God’s plan was all laid out for us in the Bible and we cannot replace it by our own hard work and sophisticated methods – By Scripture Alone. So finally, the fifth pillar of the Reformation draws the other four together and says that God did it all by himself. Soli Deo Gloria. The Glory belongs to God alone. Not to me, or to you, nor to anyone else. Soli Deo Gloria.

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