John Piper on Soli Deo Gloria

Romans 11:36
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Romans 16:27
To the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Ephesians 3:21
To God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Soli Deo Gloria – Glory to God Alone

by John Piper

We use the phrase glory of God so often that it tends to lose its biblical force. But this glory, like the sun, is no less blazing— and no less beneficial—because people ignore it. Yet, God hates to be ignored. “Mark this, then, you who forget God, lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver!” (Ps. 50:22). So let’s focus again on the glory of God. What is God’s glory, and how important is it?

What Is the Glory of God?

Isaiah 6:1-3 – The glory of God is the holiness of God put on display. That is, it is the infinite worth of God made manifest. Notice how Isaiah shifts from “holy” to “glory”: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (). When the holiness of God fills the earth for people to see, it is called glory.

The basic meaning of holy is “separated from the common.” Thus, the holiness of God is His infinite “separation” from all that is common. It is what makes Him the infinite “one of a kind”—like the rarest and most perfect diamond in the world—only there are no other diamond-gods. God’s uniqueness as the only God—His “Godness”— makes Him infinitely valuable, or holy.

In speaking of God’s glory, the Bible assumes that this infinite value has entered creation. It has, as it were, shined. God’s glory is the radiance of His holiness, the out-streaming of His infinite value. And when it streams out, it is seen as beautiful and great. It has both infinite quality and magnitude. So, we may define God’s glory as the beauty and greatness of His manifold perfections.

Manifold Perfections

Ephesians 1:6 – “the glory of his grace”

2 Thessalonians 1:9 – “the glory of his might”

John 17:5 – “Before the world existed”

The Bible also speaks of God’s glory before it is revealed in creation. For example, Jesus prays, “Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed”

God’s glory is the outward radiance of the intrinsic beauty and greatness of His manifold perfections.

I am aware that words are poor pointers here. I have replaced one inadequate word—glory—with two inadequate words—beauty and greatness. But God has revealed Himself to us in words like “the glory of God.” Therefore, they are not meaningless.

We must constantly remind ourselves that we are speaking of a glory that is ultimately beyond any comparison in creation. “The glory of God” is how we designate the infinite beauty and the infinite greatness of the Person who was before anything else. This beauty and greatness exist without origin, without comparison, without analogy, without being judged by any external criterion. God’s glory is the all-defining, absolutely original standard of greatness and beauty. All created greatness and beauty comes from it and points to it, but such things do not comprehensively or adequately reproduce it.

“The glory of God” is a way to say that there is an objective, absolute reality to which all human wonder, awe, veneration, praise, honor, acclaim, and worship is pointing. We were made to find our deepest pleasure in admiring the infinitely admirable—the glory of God. This glory is not the psychological projection of unsatisfied human longing onto reality. On the contrary, inconsolable human longing is evidence that we were made for God’s glory.

1 comment
  1. WOW! This gives a whole new meaning to being a “holy” people and what THAT should look like. “Should” being VERY operative to this equation.

    Thank you for sharing John Piper with us!

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