Galatians 1:11-12 & Luke 2:8-14
From the Reformer
The arguments which the false apostles advanced impress people to this day. “Who are you to dissent from the fathers and the entire Church, and to bring a contradictory doctrine? Are you wiser than so many holy men, wiser than the whole Church?” When Satan, abetted by our own reason, advances these arguments against us, we lose heart, unless we keep on saying to ourselves: “I don’t care if Cyprian, Ambrose, Augustine, Peter, Paul, John, or an angel from heaven, teaches so and so. I know that I teach the truth of God in Christ Jesus.”
When I first took over the defense of the Gospel, I remembered what Doctor Staupitz said to me. “I like it well,” he said, “that the doctrine which you proclaim gives glory to God alone and none to man. For never can too much glory, goodness, and mercy be ascribed unto God.” These words of the worthy Doctor comforted and confirmed me. The Gospel is true because it deprives men of all glory, wisdom, and righteousness and turns over all honor to the Creator alone. It is safer to attribute too much glory unto God than unto man.
—Martin Luther, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians
Pulling It Together
Man’s position is one of receiving peace, not getting glory. All glory belongs to God and only because of God’s glory may a person rest in peace. Otherwise, it is easy to lose heart and even let loose of faith. When one grabs at glory by insisting upon being right or being lord over others in matters that are not found in Holy Scripture, then he simply fools himself. Insisting upon being correct and others toeing the party line when it is indefensible from scripture is never for the glory of God.
We should always run from personal glory. Furthermore, we should give no glory to other people either – not pastor, pope, bishop, or televangelist. Putting one’s trust in their words when not backed up by entire sections of scripture is to ascribe them glory they do not deserve. Too many preachers hang their doctrines on an isolated verse or even phrase in the Bible. Don’t give me a snatch of scripture; this is what the atheists do. Bring me a paragraph, a pericope, a story, a chapter, a book. A verse too often misleads or at best, inspires; a pericope teaches. Inspirational preaching too often begs glory for man; teaching gives the glory to God.
Always look to give the glory to God. This is rarely done by your own reasoning but is consistently accomplished in God’s word. Therein one also finds peace by understanding that it is God who is sovereign and glorious — not self. If you trust your own glory, your sleep will be fitful and your days wary. If you give the glory to God, your faith will remain intact and even if you are hounded as Luther was, you will both lie down in peace and awake in safety (Ps 3:5; Ps 4:8). Glory to God in the highest!
© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reform: Devotions with the Reformers