This is the last in a series of excerpts from the new MBC resource, “What Every Christian Should Know About Salvation,” available at mobaptist.org/apologetics.
As we learned in the last column, glorification is the means by which God fully reverses the effects of the Fall, purging sin and its stain from the created order. It involves the return of Jesus, the future resurrection and judgment of all people, and the creation of new heavens and a new earth.
The glory we experience now as Christ lives in us, and the glory we experience in death as our souls / spirits ascend into heaven, are partial works of glorification. But full glorification for followers of Jesus takes place when He calls our bodies from the grave and gives us incorruptible bodies similar to the body He bore when He rose from the dead.
Physical resurrection is the apogee of personal glorification, for in it we shrug off the last vestiges of sin that have clung to our mortal bodies. In glorification, the effects of the Fall are fully and finally reversed.
At the return of Christ, all who have died in the Lord are resurrected. Their souls / spirits, which are in heaven with Jesus, are reunited with their bodies, resulting in complete personal glorification; the body, soul, and spirit are fully conformed to the image of Christ and thus free of any effects of the Fall. Christians alive on the earth at the return of Christ are instantly transformed as they are given glorified bodies; at the same time, their souls / spirits are perfected as well.
This is the 13th in a series of excerpts from the new MBC resource, “What Every Christian Should Know About Salvation,” available at mobaptist.org/apologetics
Glorification is the final stage in God’s work of salvation. It is the crowning achievement of sanctification, in which Christians are fully conformed to the image of Christ. It is the perfection of the body, rejoined with soul and spirit in resurrection, as well as the restoration of the universe to its original state.
Put another way, glorification is the means by which God fully reverses the effects of the Fall, purging creation of sin and its stain. It involves the return of Jesus, the future resurrection and judgment of all people, and the creation of new heavens and a new earth.
For the most part, when Christians talk about glorification, we are referring to our future resurrection, at which time we receive incorruptible bodies similar to the body Christ had when He rose from the dead.
In this respect, Wayne Grudem provides an excellent summary: “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.”
Rev. 14:13 – Then I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write: The dead who die in the Lord from now on are blessed.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “let them rest from their labors, for their works follow them!” (HCSB)
The dead who die in the Lord
This section ends with a voice from heaven saying, “Write: The dead who die in the Lord from now on are blessed.” This is followed by the Holy Spirit, who speaks, “Yes, let them rest from their labor, for their works follow them!”
Certainly, those who “die in the Lord” are blessed. Their names have been written in the Lamb’s book of life. The angels have rejoiced at their entrance into the kingdom. Jesus has gone to prepare a place for them in His Father’s house and will return to resurrect and glorify them. They will live forever with Jesus in the new heavens and new earth. Meanwhile, at the moment of death, they are absent from the body and present with the Lord. And they will be wherever Jesus is forever and ever. These are blessings for which every believer may rejoice for they are gifts of God’s grace, secured through the finished work of His Son.
But what does the phrase “from now on” mean? It cannot mean that those who previously have died in the Lord are lesser citizens of the kingdom or are denied the full benefits of eternal life. Nor can it mean that God withholds His promises from particular saints just because they lived in a different chapter of human history. Rather, the voice from heaven seems to be assuring those who remain faithful to the Lord during a time of extreme persecution that in death they are spared further suffering. Even more important, they are reminded that “their works follow them,” meaning they will be richly compensated in eternity for what they willingly sacrificed in time.