Glorification

Glorification

In a world where believers are strangers and pilgrims the thought of heaven and home is a great hope and comfort. This world is not our home and there is something much better ahead for God’s people. As the old song says, “if heaven’s not my future home, Lord what will I ever do, my treasures are laid somewhere beyond the blue.” It is not just the place and all the joys associated but it is the person of the Lord Jesus that makes the destination compelling.

As presented in previous articles, our salvation is in three tenses. Justification is the past act that changes a sinner’s standing before God. Sanctification covers the present daily experience of the believer in living a holy life. Glorification is the prospect and will occur when believers are made into the image of Christ. In the New Testament the return of Christ, likeness to Christ and a home in heaven is the hope of the believer,

Looking at these as to a believer’s position in Christ all three are true at the moment of salvation in that the past tense is used. In Romans 5:1 ”having been justified”, 1 Cor.1:2 speaks of those who “are sanctified”, and Romans 8:30 says, “whom He justified, these He also glorified.” Thus glorification is presented as a past act of God performed on the believer. Practically, justification and sanctification come to fruition when glorification takes place.

Romans 8:28,29 say in part, “For we are saved by hope, but hope that is seen is not hope… but if we hope for what we do not see, then we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” The hope of the believer is to see the Lord Jesus and to be changed into His likeness, 1 John 3:2.

The word “predestined” is mentioned three times in the New Testament and is used on all three occasions of believers. It is never said that unbelievers are predestined. All those who are in Christ have been predestined to be made like Him. This is the consummation of our salvation, it is the destination in predestination, “to be conformed to the image of His Son,” Romans 8:29.

There is almost universal agreement among believers regarding the future glorification of the saints. However there are some theologians that would hold a different point of view under the banner of Reformed Theology. The Reformed view of New Testament prophecy is referred to as “Preterist.” This theology holds that most New Testament prophecy was fulfilled in the first century primarily to do with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A D. Among those who hold this opinion some would be termed “Partial Preterists” while others would be called “Full Preterists.” A “Full Preterist” would believe that nearly all of New Testament prophecy was fulfilled in the first century which includes spiritualizing the return of Christ which they assert took place in 70 A D. This is claimed to be a return in judgment as opposed to in glory. The glorification of the saints happened, according to this view, at the same time.

The majority of those holding to Reformed Theology would be “Partial Preterists,” putting the glorification of the saints in the future. Dispensationalist are viewed as “Futurists” in that this theology holds that the prophecies of the New Testament are to be fulfilled in the future. Though there is agreement that glorification will take place, just about every other feature of prophecy held by “Dispensationalists” is denied. This would include events that happen along with the glorification of the saints and those that immediately follow.

Even among those who hold to “Dispensational Theology” the timing of this event is presented differently. The majority of dispensationalists hold to a “Pre-Tribulation” position but there are some who would advocate a “Mid” or “Post” trib. point of view. “Mid-Tribs” would advocate that the church will be on earth until the start of the last half – the Great Tribulation. “Post-Tribs” think the church will experience the time of judgment poured out on the world.

The view presented here is that the Rapture and the glorification of the saints takes place prior to the Tribulation period. This based on the promises of Christ, the presence of the Holy Spirit in believers and the purposes of God with regard to the church and Israel. The expectation in the New Testament is that believers are not only saved from sin but also from the coming wrath. (see 1 Thess. 1:10; 5:1-11). There are no indications given as to how long an interval is between the Rapture and the start of the Tribulation. It may be very short but the glorification of the saints will have already taken place.

The Glorification of the Savior

Fundamental and foundational to the believer’s future state is the current position of the Lord Jesus, at the right hand of the Majesty on high. The resurrection is crucial in that apart from that fact our faith is futile and believers would have no hope. The exaltation of Christ also gives divine approval to the finished work of the cross and this brought Christ into His glory.

In Luke 24:26 the Lord Jesus spoke to the two about his suffering and subsequent entrance into glory. The writer of Hebrews presents Him as crowned with glory and honor, 2:9. The Lord Jesus has been given the highest place and a name that is above all names. He is at the right hand until His enemies are made His footstool.

In His High Priestly prayer the Lord Jesus prayed “And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with you before the world was.” Later in the same prayer He refers to His desire that we might behold the glory that He has been given. (John 17:5, 24).

When we see the Lord Jesus He will not appear as the Man of Sorrows but as the King of Glory. In Titus 2:13 glory is displayed by and in Him, “awaiting the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” (JND). He will also be introduced to the world by the voice of God saying, “Behold the Man,” followed by the pronouncement that He shall bear the glory. (Zech. 6:12, 13).

The fact that these things are true of Him give assurance that those who belong to Him will share in His glory. He is the first-fruits and the harvest will follow. We will appear with Him in glory when He comes for us.

The Glorification of the Saints

The Purpose:

The salvation that God provides for us will not be complete until His people are with Him in heaven and made like His beloved Son. Romans 8:19 speaks of a future manifestation or revealing of the “sons of God.” This given in the context of hope and the anticipation of the glory that will be revealed. Peter likewise in 1 Peter 1:9 presents the goal of our faith being the salvation of our souls.

The very presence of the Holy Spirit in us is an indication our salvation is not complete. The Holy Spirit is the guarantee that a future redemption of the body will happen. The Spirit has sealed us for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 1:14; 4:30).

God intended that those that are saved by faith should ultimately be with Him in heaven. This is what the Lord Jesus prayed for with regard to us. This is why the Holy Spirit has sealed us. This what the Word of God assures us. The ultimate purpose of the Father is to populate heaven with those who are like His Son.

The whole outworking of salvation is to the praise of the glory of His grace. Believers will be on display for all eternity as objects of His kindness and grace. This is what J.N. Darby had in mind in his beautiful hymn,

And is it so I shall be like Thy Son?

Is this the grace which 

He for me has won? 

Father of glory, 

(thought beyond all thought!) 

– in glory to 

His own blest likeness brought.

Yet it must be: 

Thy love had not its rest 

were Thy redeemed 

not with Thee fully blest. 

That love that gives 

not as the world, 

but shares all it possesses 

with its loved coheirs.

Not I alone; 

Thy loved ones 

all complete in glory, round Thee 

there with joy shall meet,

all like Thee, 

for Thy glory like Thee Lord, 

object supreme of all, 

by all adored.

The Prospect:

The gospel not only presents justification: freedom from the penalty of sin; and sanctification: freedom from the power of sin; but also glorification: freedom from the very presence of sin. We are saved by hope and this hope is an integral part of the salvation that is received by faith. Along with faith and love, hope is one of three abiding realities. (1 Cor.13:13).

Our hope is made secure by the presence of the Lord Jesus in heaven as the anchor for our souls. The hope is made sure by the promises of God in His word. This gives assurance to the believer and is what the “helmet of salvation” represents in Ephesians 6. Hebrews 9:28 presents the return of Christ for those who are waiting for Him, this coming will not be to deal with sin but to bring salvation. That is, to bring completion to the work begun at His first appearing.

Heaven is presented as the goal of the Christian life. This current time of suffering will give way to eternal glory. The sorrows of this age will be replaced by the joys of heaven. Our eyes will see the King in His glory. (Is. 33:17). We will be like Him for we will see Him as He is. (1 Jn. 3:2).

The troubles of this current age are seen as momentary and will give way to eternal glory. All believers will be presented faultless before the presence of His glory. (Jude v24). This will also lead to the presentation of the bride to her heavenly Bridegroom.

The Process:

Glorification is among the initial acts that take place at the Rapture. The Lord Jesus comes to the sky, the dead in Christ will be raised and living believers will be caught up. This will happen in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye. This is not a process over time but a crisis that occurs in a moment. Instantaneously along with the return, resurrection and rapture glorification will take place.

Paul by direct revelation from God explains: the dead are raised incorruptible, that which was sown in dishonor will be raised in glory, and what is sown in weakness is raised in power. The natural body is raised up as a spiritual body. At the same time those who are alive and remain will be changed from mortality to immortality. (1 Cor. 15:42-44).

This is when this wonderful transformation takes place. These lowly or earthly bodies will be changed to be like unto His glorious body. (Phil. 3:20,21). These bodies are designed for life here on earth and have been subject to the effects of sin. The transformed body is fitted for life above and will not be subject to decay and death.

The Product:

Glorification ushers the believer into the fullness of their salvation. This brings us into an “inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:4,5). This will be the “end of your faith – the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:11).

What was true positionally with regard to a believer’s standing will become true in perfection. At the moment of salvation each one is declared to be “holy and without blame.” (Eph. 1:4). All became part of a “holy priesthood” and constitute a “kingdom of priests.” Morally, we will be made like Him. While the presence of sin and the possibility or potential to sin is true of us here below, this will be impossible on that day.

Another aspect of glorification will be a more full and complete knowledge. Paul states in 1 Cor. 13:12 “now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I am also known.” Knowledge will increase because faith will give way to sight and symbol to reality.

The Presentation:

After the Tribulation period the church will be presented in glory. Psalm 45 depicts the presentation of the bride where all her glory is derived from the bridegroom. The bridegroom is the King and His desire is to see the beauty of His bride. The bride is seen in garments of glory and being brought into the King’s palace. The word given to her is, “because He is your Lord, worship Him.” (Ps. 45:11).

In Romans 8 all of creation is groaning in anticipation of the day when the effects of the curse are removed. “For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.” (Romans 8:19). Though glorification takes place prior to the Tribulation it is only at the Revelation of Christ that the church will be presented.

This is seen in Revelation 19 where the reign of Christ is announced with these words, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns.” (Rev. 19:7). After this the announcement is “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” (v8). In Revelation 21 the bride is seen in association with the heavenly Jerusalem as she is viewed by the believers on earth who are entering into the Millennial Kingdom.

Glorification is what happens to us but it is all for His glory. This will be seen as the culmination of the work of salvation. Believers are seen as having the glory of God. They are also seen in garments that are clean and bright and that are a result of the acts of righteousness done here on earth. That which was done for the glory of God will be visible in the wedding garments on that day.

The Point:

What is the practical aspect of this doctrine, that is, what should this mean to us today? All that is revealed about the future should have an effect on us in the present. One of the purposes of prophecy is that the “Daystar” might rise in our hearts. The fact it is in our hearts, as opposed to in the sky, speaks to a rising hope within us, the increased expectation of His coming.

Another practical feature of prophecy and the rising hope is an increased desire for holiness. Everyone that has this hope in Him purifies himself even as He is pure. (1 John 3:3). Living in the light of His return will have an effect on personal holiness, which includes morality, integrity and a blameless walk.

The observance of the Lord’s Supper is a constant reminder of what is to come. Though believers gather to remember Him there is the thought that it is only “til He come.” Like all the feasts God has ordained there is in this feast a backward look as it is in remembrance of Him. There is also the present reality as we worship and obey His word. There is also anticipation as it looks ahead to His return and with that great event comes the glorification of the saints.

Glorification took place positionally at the moment of salvation. It will be effective in a perfect sense in a future day when we are made like Him. Day by day there should be movement in that direction. This is seen in practical sanctification which involves progression with believers becoming more like Christ. In 2 Corinthians 3:18 it is said that this change is effected by the Holy Spirit and is from one degree of glory to another.

The Lord Jesus in Ephesians 5 is seen working with or on His bride. He loved her and gave His life for her but He is also using the Word, the washing of water by the word, “that He might present it to Himself a glorious church not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blame.” (Ephesians 5:27).

The hope ahead should inspire us today. Paul spoke of this in Colossians 1;5 when he said “because of the hope which is laid up for you in Heaven.” The word “because” has the thought or sense of “inspired.” This then is the motivation for the features mentioned in verse 4, faith in Christ Jesus and love for the saints. The hope was the motivation for a vibrant faith and observable love in their lives.

Positionally, glorification is a past completed act. Practically, there should be movement or growth in that direction day by day. Prospectively, it will be a reality “when we see Jesus.”

“Complete in Thee no work of mine may take, dear Lord, the place of Thine;

Thy blood hath pardon bought for me, and I am now complete in Thee.

Yea justified! O blessed thought! And sanctified! Salvation wrought!

Thy blood hath pardon bought for me, and glorified, I too shall be!”

-James M. Gray

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, Who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.” Jude vv24,25

 

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