Thursday, October 18, 2007

Soli Deo Gloria

“I believe that by my own understanding or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to him …”[1] is one description of Paul’s teaching on grace. Grace needs greater emphasis otherwise; we fall into works righteousness, believing that what we correctly or differently do ensures success.

It is all God’s work. We are saved by grace (Eph 2:5), “justified freely by his grace” (Rom 3:24), stand in grace (Rom 5:2) and commissioned by grace (Rom 1:5) for example. Good works follow God’s grace operating in our lives.

My church has trouble relying on God’s grace because many do not spend time with God, hearing his voice, reading his word to know his direction, let alone rely on him to work. Individuals and churches are incapable of connecting with society’s deep needs, apart from God’s empowering grace, meaning he alone is glorified. “… Bach … was sometimes commissioned to compose music for secular occasions… whether the composition was for worship or courtly entertainment, Bach usually signed his work S.D.G… Soli Deo Gloria, ‘to God alone the glory.’”[2] “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen” (Rom 11:36). The work is God’s, accomplished by his grace.

[1] Martin Luther, “Small Catechism of Martin Luther,” in Evangelical Lutheran Worship (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2006), 1162.

[2] ELCA. Centennial Bible Study: Expanding Minds, Session 1. Online: [15 October 2007].

The Bible. New International Version.

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