The Completion of Mankind’s Salvation: Glorification
From the time of Creation, humans have tried to create ideal conditions of life for themselves. Adam and Eve started this effort when they tried to bridge the gap between God and themselves by eating the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3). Still later, men built the Tower of Babel in an effort to provide security against natural disaster (Genesis 11).
More recent history records the search of one man for the “Fountain of Youth” whose waters, it was said, would keep people from growing old and dying. Governments have carried out many experiments to create perfect conditions of equality in the law. Attempts have been made to produce perfect health and freedom from sickness and pain. But none of these attempts has been successful, for it is written in God’s Word: “Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).
Nevertheless, what people have always longed for but have been unable to attain for themselves, God freely offers. In this lesson we shall see that what God offers to those who accept His salvation. He will bring it to completion at their glorification. It is at our glorification that we will see an end to sin, sickness, disease, pain, death, poverty, wars, injustice, and so much more. In place of these things, the glory of God shall cover the earth and fill the hearts and minds of the redeemed. Knowing this should cause us to serve God expectantly as we await our glorification.
- Review of Salvation
- Definition of Glorification
- Basis of Glorification
- Assurance of Glorification
- Nature of Glorification
When you finish this lesson you should be able to:
- Relate the other doctrines of salvation to the doctrine of glorification.
- Explain what our assurance of future glorification rests upon.
- Discuss the nature of glorification.
- Eagerly anticipate the completion of your salvation experience.
REVIEW OF SALVATION
Objective 1. Match terms and definitions of the concepts involved in the salvation experience.
In the preceding lessons we have compared salvation to a chain reaction—that is, when sinners bow in repentance for their sins and acknowledges their faith in Christ to forgive sins, all of the other events involved in the salvation experience take place. As we have pointed out, it is only for the purpose of systematic study that we have examined the doctrines of salvation in a certain order. Before we consider the final event involved in salvation, let’s briefly review our study up to this point.
- We learned that in the eternal counsel of God, even before Creation, God willed that people through their union with Christ should be His, and that they should become holy and blameless before This is the doctrine of election, or foreordination. We saw that this was God’s purpose for us because of His grace and love.
- When in time God created people, He created them with a will that was free to respond to His love and grace, or to refuse them. When Adam disobeyed God, exercising his free will, he fell from his position of fellowship with God.
- We examined the results of sin: separation from God, spiritual death, and In fact, it was precisely because of Adam’s sin that salvation was necessary, for his sin affected him and his wife, and corrupted all of his descendants also.
- We learned that God made a way for His righteousness to be maintained through the atonement—as a penalty for the sinner was paid by a worthy and acceptable substitute. For Christ became the substitute for people’s sin: both for their sinful nature inherited from Adam, and for the sins they commit.
- God’s gracious salvation, therefore, fully meets the spiritual needs of people:
- It covers their sins.
- It turns away God’s anger against their sin.
- It reconciles them to God.
- It satisfies the righteousness of God.
- It pays the penalty for sin.
- It removes condemnation from the repentant sinner.
These highlights from Lessons 1 and 5 give us the background of salvation and reveal God’s will in salvation.
Repentance, as we have seen, begins the chain of conversion. As a person recognizes sin and turns from it, confessing it to God, he or she gives evidence of true repentance. The next link in the chain is faith in Christ. Faith, we learned, is the voluntary act and attitude of a person by which he or she places complete confidence in a trusted object, allowing that object to control his or her actions. Repentance involves turning from sin, and faith involves turning to God. When a person does these things (turns from sin to God), that person experiences conversion. We studied these doctrines in Unit 1 under What God Requires.
In Unit 2 we examined What God Provides, which included regeneration, justification, and adoption. Regeneration, you recall is the act of God that gives spiritual life to the repentant sinner as he or she receives the Lord Jesus Christ. This instant, supernatural change that is brought about by the Holy Spirit in the life of the one who believes is called the new birth. And even as this change is occurring, God justifies the believer by an act of free grace, pardoning all sins and accepting him or her as righteous in His sight. The justified one receives a new standing: not guilty.
God does this, as we saw, by reckoning to the repentant sinner the righteousness of Christ (which is received by faith alone). But this is not all, for in addition our Heavenly Father by adoption places us in His family as sons with all the rights and privileges that accompany family membership. Thus we saw that . . .
- In regeneration a person receives a new
- In justification a person receives a new
- In adoption a person receives a new
In our last lesson we discussed the doctrine of sanctification. We saw that because of Christ’s work in us, we are called to respond in holy living. Sanctification refers to our need to be “set apart” from sin and to be “set apart” unto God in complete dedication. We learned that when we were born again, we received a position of sanctification that God provided in Christ. Consequently, our new lifestyle involves walking according to the Spirit, and this experience (or walk) is to be marked by progress in Christlikeness as we move toward a more complete knowledge of God.
And finally, in this present lesson we consider our eventual destiny as we are gathered together in the presence of our Savior. This is the concluding aspect of salvation that all creation eagerly awaits—our glorification (Romans 8:18-25).
DEFINITION OF GLORIFICATION
Objective 2. Select from several statements the correct definition of glorification.
As we have considered the chain of salvation link by link we have been aware that what God has begun must surely be carried forward to completion. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit simply represents the down payment on the beginning of life eternal that will be completed in the life to come. Paul says he is “confident . . . that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). Thus glorification the final link will be added on the Day of Christ Jesus as the final crowning act in God’s work of redemption. That day lies ahead and with its arrival our whole being will be set free and all creation will be liberated as well (Romans 8:21-23).
What is this Day of Christ Jesus? It is the day when Christ returns for His own His church, those who have been redeemed and who are trusting in Him. We read these words in 1 Thessalonians 4:16–5:2:
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words. Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. (Italics mine.)
We read further about this day of the Lord in l Corinthians 15:51,52, and 58:
Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed . . . Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (Italics inserted.)
Also, we read these words in Philippians 3:20,21:
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (Italics inserted.)
As surely as creation was a historical event, even so glorification will be a climactic historical event. It will take place and we shall be changed, glorified in His presence (1 Corinthians 15:54). Glorification then, may be defined as the work that God will perform by which He will complete our salvation, making us morally perfect for eternity, and bringing us into His presence in a body like Christ’s glorious body (Philippians 3:21). Not only have we longed for this event that Paul spoke of nearly 2,000 years ago to Roman Christians (Romans 8:18-25), but also we, like Hebrew Christians have “tasted…the powers of the coming age” (Hebrews 6:5). Like a powerful magnet the attraction of this coming age turns our hearts and minds “homeward.”
BASIS OF GLORIFICATION
Objective 3. Choose a statement that correctly states the basis of glorification.
We have seen that each aspect of salvation rests on the atoning work of Christ. Our future glorification is also guaranteed by His death, resurrection, and intercession.
His death, which is the final effective solution for the problems caused by people’s sin, has made the following provisions:
- God’s righteousness is established (Romans 3:25).
- Reconciliation is made between God and people (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).
- Purification of sins is accomplished (Hebrews 1:3).
- Redemption is effected (Ephesians 1:7).
Christ’s resurrection indicates God’s satisfaction with His work. In his classic chapter on resurrection, 1 Corinthians 15, the apostle Paul proclaims that because Christ has been raised from the dead, believers shall be also.
Christ’s work in our behalf did not end with his death and resurrection. He shows His concern for us by His intercession on our behalf before His Father in heaven (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25). Jesus himself assured us that He would intercede for us. (Read Luke 22:32, John 14:16, and John 17:9.) Christ’s intercession is effective in preserving His blood-bought people from falling and in preparing them to be in His presence forever.
ASSURANCE OF GLORIFICATION
Objective 4. Match biblical terms that give an assurance of glorification with their meanings.
While the fact of our glorification is based upon the objective work of Christ in history, our assurance of future glorification is based upon certain terms that arise out of the work of Christ as it applies to us as believers.
These terms indicate that our salvation looks toward the future for complete fulfillment. Our present salvation experience, then, is only the beginning of what will be brought to completion on the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).
NATURE OF GLORIFICATION
Objective 5. Identify true statements concerning the nature of glorification.
Perfecting of the Soul
Glorification speaks primarily of moral perfection. Of this John says, “We shall be like him” (1 John 3:2). This does not mean that we will be God as He is God, but we shall be like Him in moral perfection.
As we stand glorified in His presence, we shall not be able to sin. Glorification removes forever the possibility of our falling into sin again. Glorified, we shall be like Him (sinless) forever.
The following verses of Scripture explain something of the fullness of perfection we shall have. I have included in parentheses the words used in the original language of the New Testament (Greek) to indicate the degree of our perfection. Read each of these Scripture verses carefully.
- Ephesians 1:4; 5:27 Colossians 1:22 (amomos)—indicates that we shall be without spot or moral blemish.
- Colossians 1:22 (hagios)—suggests that glorification consists in our being made holy in Christ to such a degree that we will perfectly satisfy the holiness of
- Philippians 1:10 (aproskopos)—implies the absence in us of any cause of stumbling, so that we arrive at our destination morally uninjured and blameless.
- Philippians 1:10 (eiliknines, used with aproskopos)—gives the idea of that which is pure, without spot, and therefore
- 1 Corinthians 1:8 (anegkletos)—speaks of that which is free from any incriminating charge. Because of this, on the Day of Christ Jesus we shall all stand in God’s presence free from all moral objections.
- 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 5:23 (amemptos)—indicates that we shall stand in the presence of the Father faultless in every part of our being—spirit, soul, and
- Ephesians 5:25-27 (spilos and rhutis)—teaches that the church shall be “without spot or wrinkle or any other ”
Taken together these expressions give us some idea of the perfection we shall have. Mankind has longed for moral perfection ever since the Fall in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). Moreover, the society we shall enjoy will be a perfect one, for perfect human beings will populate it. With paradise restored, our eternal state will be wonderful beyond our greatest dreams. For with no disease, crime, poverty, and political disharmony, the enlightened hearts and minds of the redeemed will be free to enjoy the wonders of an infinite creation and glorify the One who makes it all possible.
Participation in Eternal Life
Glorification will bring about our full participation in eternal life. At the present time we have eternal life (John 5:24), but the fullness of this life is still to be realized. Perhaps the following example will illustrate this a bit better. At regeneration the implanted seed of eternal life begins to grow, but it does not produce fruit until it reaches maturity on the Day of Christ Jesus.
Eternal life includes two aspects: 1) a superior quality of life, and 2) unending life. When we were restored to our proper relationship with God through Christ Jesus, we entered a new life. This life is in harmony with the life of God himself. It is a life greatly superior to the life we previously lived. It is truly an abundant life. Glorification is the giving of the total measure of eternal life to us—a perfect relationship with God that has a transcendent quality about it. This relationship surpasses all that our finite minds can comprehend, for it is perfect, and therefore infinite, whole, and ideal. And this full measure of eternal life shall be ours forever.
Full Realization of Freedom
Salvation produces something that is contrary to what would normally be expected: as Christians submit themselves to Christ they become free. Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). He added, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). The truth, as revealed in the Word that became flesh (Christ Jesus), is what makes people truly free.
Freedom is the very thing people want; and what they want, God promises. But those people who will not give up their own will in submission to God remain in bondage. They will forever be enslaved to sin, hopelessness, and death.
Glorification includes the full realization of freedom. Among other things, we shall be free from sin. Now our freedom from sin is partial (John 8:32-36; Romans 6–8; Galatians 5: 1, 13), but it will be complete on the Day of Christ. At the present time we struggle against carnal desires, but then this struggle will be over. And we shall have freedom to do what is good.
Glorification will also bring us freedom from the Law. In Christ we are free from the Law insofar as justification and sanctification are concerned. At the present time God’s moral law provides guidelines for our conduct, but in the eternal state there will be no need for such law (Matthew 5:17-18).
And finally, glorification will bring freedom from death. While at present Christians have not been freed from the experience of dying, they have been shielded from its power to hurt (1 Corinthians 15:51-56). As a result of Christ’s death and resurrection, we no longer need to fear death (Hebrews 2:14-18). And at glorification we shall finally triumph, for death shall be no more!
We will enjoy the full realization of our freedom in Christ at our glorification. (See Romans 8: 18-25; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18). We are now “children of God” (1 John 3:2) and we are trying to be like our Lord; however, then we shall be perfectly conformed to the likeness of the Son (Romans 8:29,30). When we are glorified our humanity is perfected into the perfect likeness of the perfect human nature of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Perfecting of the Body
Since glorification involves the whole person, it includes the perfecting of the body. The Bible gives true dignity to the human body, and nowhere is the body depreciated or called sinful. In fact, we are told in Genesis 1:26-30 that the whole person was made in the image of God. Adam was included in Creation when God reviewed it and declared that it was very good (Genesis 1:31).
In the New Testament where the term flesh is used, it refers most frequently to the sinful nature, the carnal self, the “old man.” The New Testament speaks of the body as the physical part of people’s being. People have eyes, ears, hands, feet, and other physical members, and they are not sinful. The normal bodily functions themselves are not evil. Only when these functions are perverted is there moral wrong. Thus, the body itself will share in the glory, since it is a vital part of what we are. Remember, we are a unity: body-soul-spirit beings.
In these verses Paul asserts that the body is a key part of people’s wholeness, even in eternity. Although many ancient pagans believed that the body was the prison of the soul, Paul viewed it as a temple appropriately created to be the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19).
Some have been misled by the word translated vile in the King James translation of Philippians 3:21: “who shall change our vile body.” However, newer translations render this more properly as “Who . . . will transform our lowly bodies” (NIV). It is true that at the present time, because of the influence of sin, it is the body of our humiliation (margin reference for Philippians 3:21, KJV). As a result, it is yet subject to the curse of sin, with its pain, sickness, suffering, and death. But in glorification, the body will be changed and made like Christ’s glorious body (Philippians 3:21; 1 John 3:2).
The resurrection of the dead and the transformation of the living are miraculous events that stagger our imagination. Our limited minds can’t grasp what a glorious, universe-shaking event the Day of Christ will be. Like John, we don’t know precisely what the nature of the glorified body will be (1 John 3:2). To this question Paul answers that God will clothe us with a body of His choosing. He adds:
So it will be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. “And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.” (1 Corinthians 15:42-44, 49).
Paul compares the resurrection of the body to the growth of a plant from a seed planted in the ground. The stalk of grain that comes up is not exactly the same as the seed. As the glory of the grain stalk outshines the lowliness of the seed, so the resurrected body is more glorious than the body that was buried. The resurrected body is not an exact copy of the old body that was buried. Christ’s resurrection is a guarantee that those who die in Him shall be raised to life eternal (1 Corinthians 15:20).
At our glorification, therefore, we shall undergo the greatest change that people have experienced since Creation and Calvary, as God brings us into His presence forever. All creation will share in this glorious freedom as it is set free from decay (Romans 8:19-23). There will be a new earth. Death and dying shall be no more, neither grief, nor crying, nor pain. All tears shall be wiped away forever. The God of creation and redemption is the one who glorifies us and makes His home with us—forever. And with Paul we may rejoice in the confidence the future holds for us, sure that God who began this good work will carry it on to completion (Philippians 1:6).