The term Soli Deo Gloria or "For the Glory of God alone" was also one of the five pillars of the Protestant Reformation. The five solas were like pillars upholding all that the Reformers taught and believed. In rediscovering the Scriptural teaching of the sovereignty of God, the Reformers taught that all of life is to be lived to the glory of God alone.
The Scriptures teach that all glory belongs to God alone. Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake, Psalms 115:1. The creature is due no honour. There is nothing honourable about sinful creatures. All glory must be given to God alone, For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen, Romans 11:36. God is to be glorified alone for all things are of God as their eternal source; through God as their efficient means and to God as their ultimate end. Paul here teaches that by God alone all things exist. Through His power, wisdom and goodness, all things are directed and governed. To Him as their last end, all things proceed.
All glory is given to God in heaven and so it ought to be on earth as well, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created, Revelation 4:11. No one else is worthy.
Well may we say with 1 Chronicles 29:11: Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all.
God is to have all the glory in the realm of Salvation. In regeneration, justification, sanctification and glorification all glory belongs to God alone. It is God alone who justifies, sanctifies and ultimately will glorify undeserving and unworthy sinners. As sinners can do nothing to save themselves, or help in any way in their salvation, no glory is to be given to the creature. All glory belongs to God.
God is to have all the glory in the Church. Romanism, in looking upon the Church as the mystical body of Christ, employs the term Corpus Christi. This term means the "body of Christ". In viewing the Church as the mystical body of Christ, Rome falsely argues that to honour the visible Church is to honour Jesus Christ Himself. Therefore, Romanism elevates the visible church to a place of honour and prestige it ought never to have. Within the system of Romanism there is a complex hierarchy of priests and bishops, cardinals and at their head the Pope, who along with the dead saints are to be respected, revered and even venerated.
The Reformers abandoned this veneration of church officers and dead saints. They taught that the ecclesiastical hierarchy, the popes and the saints canonised by the Roman Catholic Church, were not worthy of the honour or the glory that was accorded them. There is no place of honour and veneration for the Church hierarchy, or the Pope, or the saints, or anyone or anything else. God in Christ is to have all the glory. No man is to be seen save Jesus only!
As salvation is not through the Church, or its ceremonies, its sacraments, nor its officers, then no glory is to be given to the Church or any earthly individual within it. All glory belongs to God alone in the visible and invisible Church, Ephesians 3:21: Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
Every believer is to glorify God in their lives. Romanism made a difference between the sacred and the secular. It was believed prior to the Reformation that the only way to serve and glorify God was to "take holy orders" by entering into a monastery or nunnery and distance yourself from the outside world. Great honour was to be bestowed upon those who did so, for the physical and material world they left behind was deemed to be sinful.
This the Reformers rejected. God is to have all the glory in each believer’s life. For them there was to be no division between secular and sacred, leading to a monastic life. They taught there was no greater honour in being a monk or a nun than being a plough boy or a maid. God’s sovereign purpose directs people into various walks of life. The Christian is to glorify God in every situation in life, wherever the Lord has placed them, Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God, 1 Corinthians 10:31. It is whether we glorify God, whatever our station is life, that pleases Him and not whether we have entered a monastic life.
When we come to the end of our lives may we have the letters ‘SDG’ as an epitaph indicating that we have lived to the glory of God alone.