The title of this message is “Soli Deo Gloria,” or in English, “To God Alone Glory.” It is part of a series on the so-called five solas of the Protestant Reformation. Sola is Latin for “alone” or “only.” The five solas are sola gratia (by grace alone), solo Christo (on the basis of Christ alone), sola fide (through the means of faith alone), soli Deo gloria (to the ultimate glory of God alone), sola Scriptura (as taught with the final and decisive authority of Scripture alone).
The first great Reformers themselves (Martin Luther, John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli) never summed up their teaching with this tidy set of five phrases. It developed over time as a way of capturing the essence of what the Reformation was mainly about in its dispute with the Roman Catholic Church. And I think these five solas can be preciously illuminating, both for the crux of the Reformation and for the essence of the Christian gospel itself, which was at stake in this dispute.
Reason - Phrases - Air - Clause - Controversy
I say they can be. The reason I say they can be illuminating is because, as I hope you know, five prepositional phrases hanging in the air with no clause to modify are not helpful in making clear what the great controversy of the Reformation was about, or what the essence of the gospel is. The clause that allows these modifying prepositional phrases to do their wonderfully clarifying work for the sake of the essence of the gospel and the heart of the Reformation is the clause: “We are justified before God . . .” or “Justification before God is . . .”
Then follow the five prepositional phrases doing their magnificent work to define and protect the gospel from all unbiblical dilution. “Justification before God is . . .” or “We are justified before...
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