The Doctrine of Glorification
"Glorification is the final step in the application of redemption. It will happen when Christ returns and raises from the dead the bodies of all believers for all time who have died and reunites them with their souls and changes the bodies of all believers who remain alive, thereby giving all believers at the same time perfect resurrection bodies like His own." Grudem, Systematic Theology, 828.
Glorification is the Goal of God's Salvation
· Romans 8:23-25 "we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience."
· Romans 8:30 "And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified."
· Hebrews 11:13-16 "These (Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah) all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city."
· Job 19:25-27 "For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!"
· 1 Corinthians 15:12-14 "Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain."
· Daniel 12:2 "And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt."
· 1 Corinthians 15:50-55 "I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?"
When Does the Glorification of Our Bodies Take Place?
The Bible is clear that the moment we physically die, our souls are immediately transferred into God's presence. There is no such thing as "soul sleep."
· James 2:26a "For as the body apart from the spirit is dead."
· Luke 23:43 Jesus said to the thief on the cross: ".Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." ("Paradise" is another word for "heaven.")
· 2 Corinthians 5:8 "Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord."
· Philippians 1:21-23 "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better."
Our bodies, however, will not be glorified until Jesus returns.
· Philippians 3:20-21 "But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself."
· 1 Corinthians 15:20-24 "But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power."
If we are still living on the earth when Jesus returns, we will be glorified without experiencing death.
· 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 "But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words."
Note: Some people incorrectly inject the idea of a "secret rapture" into these verses. A thoughtful reading, however, will show that there is nothing secret about this meeting with Christ and that it occurs at His Final Return. not 1000 years before it. (That was for free!)
What Will the Glorified Bodies of Christians Be Like?
It is easy to speculate regarding our future bodily form, but the Biblical data speaks in general terms - not specifics. We need to be careful to embrace these general truths wholeheartedly, but stop there.
· Carefully read 1 Corinthians 15:35-49
Note: "Spiritual body" here does not mean "non-physical," rather it means "consistent with the character and activity of the Holy Spirit" and so throughout Paul's epistles. The whole point of resurrection is a physical body!
Our bodies will be like Jesus' resurrected body (in every way except we will not bear the scars of our earthly life).
· 1 John 3:2-3 "Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure."
All of creation will be glorified as well
· Romans 8:19-22 "For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now."
Every Single Human Will be Resurrected, Though Not All to Glory
· John 5:28-29 "Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment."
Note: Just as Christians will be given a body that is perfect for the new heavens and the new earth, so unbelievers will be given a body that is perfect for the torments of hell.