October 3 – Glorification
Now, we won’t spend a ton of time on this, but it is important to put a little bit of a timeline to the afterlife. As things stand right now, when believers die, they go to be with Christ (Phil 1:23; 2 Cor. 5:8). This is a spiritual union, not a physical one, since we leave behind our bodies, and note, we don’t turn into angels when we die; throughout the Bible angels are entirely different beings, and in Revelation 4 we see both angelic beings and humans surrounding the throne of God. However, when it comes to that spiritual state we don’t know much more than that, so it’s reasonable to wonder things like how our spirits will experience time, what we’ll do, and whether or not we’ll be plucking golden harps (probably not). But inevitably those with Christ will participate in a coming resurrection which is characterized by Jesus’ own resurrection, in which believers live for eternity with new, gloriously remade bodies.
This is glorification, the full end and consummation of our salvation. It will occur at the very end of time, coinciding with what the scriptures call the Day of Judgment or the Day of the Lord. This is Jesus’ Second Coming, when he returns to earth to bring an end to the mortal era and ushers in his eternal kingdom. Now, you’ve probably seen enough wacky Christian stuff to know that people have a lot of thoughts and feelings about these “End Times,” like if there will be a rapture, who the antichrist is, and if the mark of the beast will be a microchip that Bill Gates will try to inject into you (again, probably not). Everything to do with glorification happens after the End Times, so we’ll delicately sidestep those controversies and look at the hope we have in eternity with Jesus.
And turning to Romans 8 we’ll see that this hope is actually the hope of the whole cosmos, that creation, having suffered under the curse of our sin (Gen. 3:17), longs to be liberated from bondage just like we do. At the point of glorification, the heavens and earth will be remade (2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1) in a similar way to which believers will be glorified—along with the whole universe, we will be freed from the power, penalty, and presence of sin and enjoy a glorious, eternal state with our God among us. However, one important difference exists for believers in their glorification. We won’t just made anew, but we’ll be made like Jesus (Rom. 8:29), which elevates us to the image of God we were created for (though, to draw one important distinction, we will be like Jesus in glory but not in deity; just as he is now, only God will be God). So not only will God leave us eternally secured within his presence, what we might initially think of as the conclusion of our salvation, but God will also remove the stain of sin from the cosmos forever, which is really the fullest conclusion of God’s work in salvation.
• Would someone read Romans 8:18-23 for us?
• What stood out to you in this passage?
• How does this passage help us understand glorification? (check out 1 Cor. 15:51-58 for more)
• Thinking about the past seven weeks, how does this final step, glorification, finish out the process of salvation?
• Look at verse 21. What does it mean that creation itself will be set free?
• Could someone read Revelation 21:1-4 for us?
• What is beautiful about this future vision to you?
• How does this future vision give you hope for your daily life?