Finally, I saw him. The surgeon’s face looked tired and concerned as he sat next to me and waved to the kids. Over the years, he has become to me a sort of angel of life and death whose presence fills me with either hope or dread. His face told me this was one of the latter. Instantly my head started throbbing and my vision doubled.
“Surgery went well, he’s resting now. But Margaret, I’m sorry. David’s body is beyond repair. There is nothing I can do.”
While most of us don’t have bodies as full of disease as my husband, each of us is constantly dying: our bodies will age, wither, and fall back into the dust from which we came. This earth is a far cry away from the “good” God called it in Genesis 1. Sin brought death into the world and destroyed creation. Our lives are a part of this system of chaos, disorder, and death. The brokenness not only affects our bodies but also our souls; sin has not only warped our physical bodies, it has deformed our souls. Sin-sick and wicked at heart, we could never even begin to relate to the thrice-holy, all-loving, infinitely righteous God. There is nothing we can do to eliminate the consequences of sin, whether our own or others’.
But this is not the end of the matter. The word of the Lord:
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Eph. 2:4-8
From the moment we are saved, we are reconciled and united with God. Our new relationship with him introduces us to the peace and comfort of knowing Him, where before there was only chaos and pain. Yet – we still live in this world. The effects of sin are still devastating, and while our salvation is secure, the consequences of our sin are not immediately resolved. God ministers to us in this dark place by giving us the Holy Spirit and telling us that one day He will bring us out of this darkness and into His marvelous light.
We have already received the promised state of glorification, but we do not yet live in the reality of that future state. It’s one of those “already, not yet” things in Scripture. When we are glorified, we will be given new, perfect bodies, and we will be in a perfect place where sin does not and cannot exist. We will have perfect relationships because we will all be without sin and enthralled with the beauty and glory of Christ. We will be in perfect unity with God as His children. When we are glorified, we will be who we were created to be: perfect children of God, co-heirs with Christ, peacekeeping brothers and sisters, meant to worship and commune with the Godhead.
Glorification is a Promise.
If we have been called by God and justified, we will receive glorification. It is a promise from God. There is nothing this earth or sin can do to take that away from us (Romans 8:20). If this world kills us, then in the very moment that the tenuous thread of our physical life is severed, our souls will fly to be with Christ (Luke 23:43; 2 Corinthians 5:8). We are “being guarded through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time,” according to 1 Peter 1:5. The salvation spoken of here is not merely justification, that is, salvation from the penalty of sin. Instead, Peter primarily has in mind salvation from this broken world and the sin around us! And because God is the one who is acting here – the one doing the guarding and revealing – we can have perfect confidence that what He has promised will be done.
Glorification is our Inheritance.
We have been adopted into the family of God. In Biblical times, when a child was adopted, he could not be excluded from the will or cut off from the family. Biological children could be excluded from inheritance but adopted children couldn’t. This is a nuance of the text that we miss because of cultural differences. When we are referred to as adopted sons, this means we are both chosen and guaranteed our inheritance forevermore, along with all of the benefits and blessings that come with it. This is another component of Peter’s statement in 1 Peter 1:5. We are being ‘guarded’ by faith against anything that could ‘disinherit’ us – and as we saw, guarded by God Himself, no less! Glorification is a benefit of salvation by faith, and as such, is an inviolable part of our inheritance as God’s adopted children.
Glorification is our Hope.
The reason that the doctrine of glorification matters is that this doctrine forms the foundation of the comfort, peace, and hope that God gives us to continue living in this difficult place. As we experience the effects of the Fall, we can act without fear of life or limb, and with confidence, we can sacrifice for those around us. We can make ourselves vulnerable to pain by obeying Christ and honoring Him. We can deny ourselves and meet the needs of those who do not have Christ because we know that should we die, we will be with Christ! Listen, believer: the world has nothing – nothing that can threaten you! Because of the doctrine of glorification, every threat, every hurt, every agony will absolutely disintegrate in the presence of the Lover of our souls. Every nagging fear, every crippling anxiety will be sloughed off like skin from a snake, and we will be raised imperishable (1 Corinthians 15:42).
While today it is so hard to see David in pain and limited in his capacity to play with his children or minister to our church, a day is coming when all of this world will fall away for him. One day his body will fail him, and immediately, he will be united with the kind Father who has faithfully and tenderly cared for us. David will have a perfect body, free of sin, disease, and limitations. He will receive great reward for his faithfulness to serve the Lord in the midst of his infirmities, and this gives me great peace. The years we suffer here on earth are but a breath when compared to the vast endlessness of eternity. I can live these short years of suffering with confidence that each day brings me closer to home with my Father. I long for the day my life is free of all that is broken and wrong, and full of all that is good and holy.
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.” Philippians 3:20-21
Editor's Note: This originally published at Thinking & Theology.