'Soli Deo Gloria' - Glory to God alone
"Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!." (Rev. 5.13)
"Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!" (Rev. 5:12)
One feature will always be present in the work that God, through his Holy Spirit, carries out to edify the Church: every action is for the glory of God and results in extolling of the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
God says: “…my glory I will not give to another.” (Isaiah 42:8). The Scriptures teach that it pleases God the Father to see His son exalted. Therefore, the Holy Spirit was sent to glorify the Son (John 6:14) and the Father gave Jesus “the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Therefore, God is glorified when the Church submits to Jesus Christ’s Lordship.
The testimony of the apostles clearly demonstrates their understanding about the issue. They never accepted glory from men. Peter and John at the Temple, when the man lame from his mother’s womb was cured, asked the multitude that was marveled with the miracle: “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?” And they immediately explained: “The God of Abraham…glorified His Servant Jesus… the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all” (Acts 3:13, 16).
This should still be the attitude of God’s servants today. They cannot and should not announce their own name, nor accept advertisement of their names as great characters of faith. They should point to Jesus (“This is the Lamb of God”), demonstrating with their behavior the same attitude that was in John the Baptist: “He should increase, but I should decrease” (John 3:30).
Moreover, the Lord does not allow, in His Work, the proclamation of names of “great servants of God” – be they preachers, prophets, singers or musicians – for, after having done all that was ordained to us, “We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do" (Luke 17:10).
A biblical doctrine that, when practiced, contributes to avoid the exaltation of men is that of the Church, as the Body of Christ. In the Body, although there are many members, and each one of them has a profitable function for the edification of the Body, the Lord uses every member. For this reason, if a member is very much used by the Lord, he is not in evidence, for the other members are also very used by the Lord.
The same happens among the pastors of the Church. As the pastors are anointed with the Holy Spirit and, therefore, are all used by the Lord – be it in preaching, in shepherding, in the operation of healings and signs – and as the Lord gives prosperity to every one of the local churches, and not only to the church of a certain gifted pastor’s – there is no foundation for any pastor to exalt himself or to be exalted.
Another reason not to exalt the pastors that are very much used is that the Word of God teaches that everyone needs the other members of the Body, for no pastor has all the 5 ministries (apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher). This biblical fact forces every pastor to live in fellowship with one another, for thus their churches will receive the benefit from the other ministries. The pastors know that the edification of the churches happens in the first place as a result of the operation of these five ministries (Eph. 4:11-12).
Paul, the Apostle, warns about this issue, when he affirms that no one should think of himself “more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly…For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, …so we, being many, are one body in Christ” (Romans 12:3-8).
The pastors also know that vanity – even the vanity of being very much used by the Lord – is fatal to the spiritual life of any Christian. In the Work of the Holy Spirit there is no room for “great and vain servants of God.” There is only place for “unprofitable servants.” Still: a vain pastor is a spiritually fallen pastor.
Finally, it is good to keep in mind the danger that exaltation represents for a servant of God. The more a servant is put in evidence – unduly accepting the glory that is due to God alone – the more he presents himself as a preferred target for the attacks of the Enemy, who will tempt him in his vanity.
It is good, then, never to forget this basic principle of the Work of God: Soli Deo Gloria! (Glory to God alone).