To God be the Glory
Tomorrow is Christmas Eve 2017. May the joy and peace of the birth of Lord Jesus be with you!
The fifth and last of the Reformation Solas is Soli Deo Gloria, Glory to God alone. Christmas is a perfect time to sing God’s glory. We all are familiar with the “Christmas praise,” one that sung by the angels and echoed by Christians throughout generations:
Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests. Luke 2:14
There are two directions in this doxology: Glory goes up to God, from the created to the Creator, the redeemed to the Redeemer. Peace goes down to those who have God’s favor, from the Creator to the created, the Redeemer to the redeemed. One of my favorite hymns, “To God be the Glory” by Fanny Crosby, echoed this angelic praise beautifully:
To God be the glory, great things He has done!
So loved He the world He gave us His Son.
Who yielded His life an atonement for sin,
And opened the life-gate that all may go in.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father through Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory, great things He has done!
“Give glory” doesn’t mean we give some of our glory to God. No, that’s not what it means. Think glory as sunshine. Just like we don’t generate sunshine, we don’t generate glory. It is from a different source. “Give glory” is the act of recognizing the source of glory. God is the source. He is the only Person who has the right to receive glory, for He alone is the author of life and the source of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17), including our salvation.
On the opposite side of “give glory” is “accept glory.” Give glory to God is the right thing to do, accept glory is the wrong thing to do. One causes peace, joy, and spiritual growth, the other causes unbelief. Jesus said:
How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? John 5:44
Only God is in the position to receive glory. A person who accepts glory is to push God aside and take His position, which makes the person a counterfeit god. If a place is full of people who accept glory from one another, that place is full of idols. We drive God out when we glorify each other. A church without God is a house of unbelief, its destruction is unavoidable.
Not only they have the tendency to accept glory from one another, with the heavy influence of the secular culture, Christians nowadays have the tendency to use the word “god” lightly. They call a female model or actress “woman god,” a handsome male actor or athlete “man god,” a famous scientist or scholar “great god.” They are doing the very thing that God forbids them to do: giving glory to the idols. God says:
I am the Lord; that is my name!
I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols. Isaiah 42:8
Dear brothers and sisters, don’t seek glory for yourself. Don’t accept glory from one another. Don’t call a mortal god. There is only one true and living God, He alone deserves glory.
God Alone the Glory
By the time our new church building was about ready, I was wondering what words can we put at the entrance of the sanctuary as a reminder of who we are. Then the following words appeared:
Christ is the Lord,
Glory to God.
Yes, we are Christians. We call Christ Lord, and we give glory to God. Solus Christus and Soli Deo Gloria. In this church, Christ alone is the Lord, Savior and King, and God alone receives the glory.
Dear brothers and sisters, 2018 is at the door. Another new year, another new beginning. What’s the best way to start a new year? Let me suggest three things:
- Sing God’s glory. From the first Sunday of 2018 come to worship God and sing aloud His glory with the whole congregation. Singing is important. The angels sing. The heavens and earth sing. Lift up your voice to God. Practice the joy of worship in the assembly of God’s people.
- Practice humility. In 2018, serve God with a heart of thanksgiving and humility. Recognize other people’s efforts, but do not accept glory from one another. Say to the Lord at the end of each day: “I’m an unworthy servant, I’ve only done my duty.” The Lord Himself will reward His servants.
- Start the new year with daily devotions. Keep daily devotions starting the first day of 2018. Our church has developed a Devotional Guide for the month of January. It has Scripture reading and songs for 31 days. We’ll post it on church website by year end. Follow it to get a good start of the year.
It is with thanksgiving that I write the last sentences of this article. I start writing “Life is a Song” on the first week of 2017, one article a week, this is the last one. 2018 is a new year, may the Lord lead each of us in new ways of serving Him. Happy new year everyone!