So I have turned the final page of Philip Graham Ryken’s Written in Stone: The Ten Commandments and Today’s Moral Crisis. How appropriate—on this reading journey—that it would occur on October 31st. The Ten Commandments were written, ultimately, for God’s glory alone (soli Deo gloria); and it was on this day, 499 years ago, that the Protestant Reformation was birthed.
THE FIVE SOLAS
In 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the castle church door in Wittenberg, Germany. This point in time is usually recognized as the official starting point (although there are interesting arguments in favor of looking further into the past, especially at the lives of John Wycliffe and Jan Hus). Truly, a reformation took place that would significantly alter both church doctrine and practice for ages to come.
The key beliefs that capture this era have been crystallized in what is known as the “5 Solas.” These solas capture the heart of the Reformation. The word “sola” is Latin for “alone” or “only”:
- Sola Fide, by faith alone.
- Sola Scriptura, by Scripture alone.
- Solus Christus, through Christ alone.
- Sola Gratia, by grace alone.
- Soli Deo Gloria, glory to God alone.
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
As I look back at Dr. Ryken’s book, now having read and taught through the Ten Commandments, I have come to learn that the first (“You shall have no other gods before me,” Exodus 20:3) is the foundation in which the remaining nine rest upon.
He writes in his book:1
This is the fundamental commandment, the one that comes before all the others, and lays the foundation for them. Before we learn anything else about what God demands, we need to know who He is, and who we are in relationship to Him. “Now get this straight,” God is saying, “I am the one and only God. And since I am the only God, I refuse to share my worship with anyone or anything else.”
God will not share the stage with any other performers. He refuses to have any colleagues. He will not even acknowledge that He has any genuine rivals. God does not simply lay claim to one part of our life and worship; He demands that we dedicate all we are and all we have to His service and praise.
Thus the Ten Commandments begin by asserting the great theological principle of soli Deo gloria: glory to God alone.
Below is a list of articles I’ve written over the past few months pertaining to the book and commandments:
When a Father Refuses to Love God
Misusing God’s Name
Looking for the Loophole in God’s Law
Honoring Our Parents
A Duty to Oppose
The Ultimate Meaning of Marriage (Rev 19)
3 Attitudes on Possessions
A Culture of Lies
The Secret to Contentment
Ryken’s final paragraph in the book reads:
We do not keep God’s law in order to be saved. We have been saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. But why were we saved? To glorify God, which we do by keeping His commandments. Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15).
Happy Reformation Day!