“By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” (John 15:8).
How may God be glorified? What does it mean for God to be glorified? Today, we conclude our examination of the biblical doctrine of Soli deo Gloria or giving God all the praise and honor for who He is and what He has accomplished.
Jesus said to His disciples in the upper room, ““By this my Father is glorified.” The word glorified is from the Greek word δοξάζω (doxazo) from which we derive our English word doxology. Jesus posed a statement of certainty to His disciples. He stated that by them doing something, the Father would be glorified. What is it that disciples are to do in order to glorify God the Father?
Jesus said, “that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” If Jesus’ disciples bear spiritual fruit which is in keeping with the character of God and an evidence of obedience to the Word of God, God the Father will be glorified. Additionally, by bearing fruit and glorifying God, disciples of Jesus so prove that they are indeed Jesus’ disciples.
In concluding the second major section of the Epistle to the Romans, the Apostle Paul breaks forth into a climatic doxology of praise and glory to God. In Romans 11:33-36, the apostle writes: Oh, the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways. For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.
This outburst of praise is not only due to the apostle’s understanding of God’s plans for Israel (chaps. 9-11), but also for the entire scope of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone for all sorts of people (chaps. 1-11). Paul emphasizes several reasons why believers are to give God glory.
Believers are to give God glory because God is great. “Oh, the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God.” God is extremely great in wisdom and knowledge. Supreme intelligence belongs to God alone. Humans are unable to truly understand all that God is, but can grasp the reality that His character as being so much greater than their own. Therein is reason to give Him glory.
Believers are to give God glory because God is unfathomable. In describing the infinite God the text says, “How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways.” His decrees, as to commendation and condemnation, cannot be completely understood by finite man. What He does, why He does it, and how He does it cannot be completely comprehended.
To support this conclusion, Paul quotes from the Old Testament. He cites Isaiah 40:13; Job 15:8; 36:22-23; 35:7; and 41:11 as biblical evidence of God’s preeminence. We owe Him everything. God owes us nothing. Therein is reason to give Him glory.
Finally, believers are to give God glory because God is complete or perfect. Everything either comes from Him, on the basis of something He has done, and exists for Him. This includes the redeemed. Therein is reason to give Him glory.
How long is everything that exists to give God glory? The text reads, “To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” The opportunity to give praise, majesty, and exultation to God is for eternity. Why? Because He is worthy! Because He is God!
The following hymn, based on Romans 11:36, was written by Dr. James M. Boice shortly before his death in June of 2000. It is an appropriate conclusion to this all too brief treatment of God’s preeminent glory.
Give Praise to God
Give praise to God who reigns for perfect knowledge, wisdom, love; His judgments are divine, devout, His paths beyond all tracing out.
No one can counsel God all wise or truths unveil to His sharp eyes; He marks our paths behind, before; He is our steadfast Counselor.
Nothing exists that God might need for all things good from Him proceed. We praise Him as our Lord, and yet, we never place God in our debt.
Creation, life, salvation too, and all things else both good and true, Come from and through our God always, and fill our hearts with grateful praise.
Come, lift your voice to heaven’s high throne, and glory give to God alone!
Soli deo Gloria!