A Close Look at “Soli Deo Gloria” (Part4)

February 19, 2006 | Speaker: Bro Jurem Ramos


Today, we will continue to look at the practical side of soli Deo gloria. We are looking at some of the specific ways we may glorify God in the ministry. Let me just review the first three and then continue with the rest.

1.   We glorify God alone by setting Him in our hearts as supreme above all things and as our greatest good.

Ps 73:25-26: Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Ministry is not our God; it is not our greatest treasure and ultimate source of joy or significance.

2.   We glorify God when we do ministry, consciously aiming for God’s glory.

1Co 10:31:  So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. We’re not passively doing ministry but we make a conscious effort to do ministry for the glory of God.   Paul wrote also in Col 3:17: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. “Doing all in the name of the Lord Jesus” means that whatever you do it because Christ requires and commands it, and with a desire to honor him. In all that you do pray for His direction and support. Let Christ’s glory be the aim of all our actions and words.   As we have seen in our previous studies, after Paul gives the general principle in Colossians 3:17 that in what whatever one does he is to do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, he shows how this should be done in a practical way in the home or in the work place.   For example, Paul exhorted the slaves in Col 3:23-24:  Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Now, please take note of this. The attitude that Paul exhorted the slaves to have towards God as they served their master is the same attitude one should have as he or she serves in the ministry. That is how you consciously aim for God’s glory in ministry.  

3.   We glorify God by submitting all aspects of the ministry to the standard of God’s Word.

Isa 8:20 To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn. We looked at some examples such as counseling, choosing leaders in the church, giving, evangelism, church discipline, holiness.  

4.   We glorify God by continually being reformed by God’s word.

There is an important Latin motto used by Protestant Reformers of the past that we need to recover today: semper reformanda. It means “continually being reformed.”   This is in contrast to the motto of the Roman Catholic Church which is semper eadem which means “always the same.” This attitude shows when, for example, people say, “I was born a Catholic, I will die a Catholic.” Or, “I’m born UCCP, I’ll always be UCCP.” What people usually mean when they say that is that since they are born and raised in a certain way, or because they have set practices and traditions in their denominations, they will always be like that.   This attitude is wrong. (Read Mark 7:1-13.) The Pharisees had their set ways of doing things. They considered their traditions to be authoritative and binding. They did not evaluate their traditions in the light of God’s word, and as a consequence, God’s commands were nullified.   How did we evangelize before? Did we immediately lead a person to a sinner’s prayer without explaining properly the gospel? Did we immediately assure them that they are already saved after praying? Did we always have the altar call?   Did we always call the singing time Praise and Worship? Why did you call Praise when the song is fast and Worship when it is slow? Is that what it means?   When you spoke in tongues, did you always say, “Shandala… shandala!” Why? Does the Bible say that that is “speaking in tongues?”   Don’t ever fall into this mindset that says, “This is the way we’re going to do things because this is how we’ve always done it for years.” No. We should always evaluate our traditions and our practices every time. True churches are composed of born-again individuals, yet these regenerated Christians are imperfect and still have in them the sinful nature. (1Jn 1:8 says, If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.)  Therefore, the natural tendency of churches is towards spiritual decline. That is why there is a need for each generation of Christians to think biblically and theologically in light of the particular challenges of its own time. We have to evaluate our minister and ministries and ask, are we still in line with God’s? Is there any area of our lives or ministry that we need to change to make it conform more to God’s word?  

5.   We glorify God by humble dependence upon God for the initiation, direction and success of ministry.

2Th 3:1-2 Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. 2 And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith. How did the gospel come to the Thessalonians? Paul wrote in 1Th 1:5: … our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. . . He adds in 2:1: You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure.   The Lord Jesus is our model; He is our perfect example of dependence upon God.
  • Mk 1:35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
  • Lk 5:16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
  • Lk 6:12 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.
  • During His baptism. Lk 3:21 When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened
  • Prior to His selection of the disciples. Lk 6:12-13 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13 When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles:
  • Shortly before feeding the 5000. Lk 9:16 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to set before the people.
  • Before His first explicit prediction of his death. Lk 9:18 Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, "Who do the crowds say I am?" [After the replies of his apostles] He said in v. 22: The Son of Man must suffer… and He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
  • On the Mount of Transfiguration. Lk 9:28,29 About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. 29 As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.
  • Standing before the tomb of Lazarus. Jn 11:41-42 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me."
  • Prompted by the coming of the Greeks. Jn 12:28 Father, glorify your name!" ¦ Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and will glorify it again."
  • For Peter’s protection. Lk 22:31-32 Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."
  • Subsequent to the Upper Room Discourse. [See Jn 17:1-26]
  • In anticipation of the crucifixion. Lk 22:39-45 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, "Pray that you will not fall into temptation." 41 He withdrew about a stone's throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. 45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow.
  • While hanging on the cross. Mt 27:46 About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"--which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" | Lk 23:34,46 Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last. | Jn 19:30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

6.   We glorify God by returning all the glory to God for whatever success we may achieve.

  • Ps 115:1 Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.
  • Ps 127:1 Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.
  • 1Co 4:7 For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?
  • In Ac 12:21-23 On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. 22 They shouted, "This is the voice of a god, not of a man." 23 Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.

7.   We glorify God when we evaluate success in ministry in terms of what the Bible considers as success and not on the basis of what the world thinks.

Today, the churches most often judged "successful" are the large, rich megachurches with multimillion-peso facilities, spas, gyms, swimming pools, resorts, etc. Someone said, “External criteria such as affluence, numbers, money, prominence or popularity have become the measure of success in ministry.”   Some of the questions to ask to evaluate true success in ministry are the following:  
  • Is there faithfulness in teaching of God’s Word? 2Ti 4:1-4 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
  • Are we getting to know God better? Eph 1:17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
  • Is God becoming more and more our greatest treasure? Ps 73:25-26: Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
  • Are we becoming more heavenly minded? Col 3:1-4 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.    |     Heb 11:9-10 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.     |     Heb 11:13-16 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country--a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
  • Is our love for Jesus deepening? Phil 3:7-11 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
  • Is our love for the gospel growing? Ro 1:16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.    |    Gal 1:8,9 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!    |    Gal 6:14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
  • Are growing in Christian virtues? 2Pe 1:5-9 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.
  • Is our love for one another and holiness growing? 1Th 3:12-13 May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 13 May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.
  • Is there a greater desire to life a life worthy of the Lord? Col 1:9-12 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.
  • Are we learning to be more content? Phil 4:11-13 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
  • Are we learning to rejoice in our sufferings? Ro 5:3,4 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. . . . Jas 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. . . . 2Co 12:9,10 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.