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WHAT IS GLORIFICATION?
by Philip Owen

            In one of the most powerful yet succinct expressions concerning salvation, the Apostle Paul gave believers at Rome a panoramic view of redemption from eternity past through eternity future.  Referring to believers as “those who are called according to His purpose,” Paul revealed that those whom God “foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified” (Rom. 8:28b-30).  With respect to a believer’s person, then, the end of salvation is glorification for eternity.  Briefly consider with me what this glorification is that awaits every member of the body of Christ.

            First, we must disabuse ourselves of the notion that to be glorified is simply to become a Superman, “faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings at a single bound,” and virtually impervious to anything except kryptonite. (Or so it was with the Superman of my childhood; I’m not certain about the more recent versions.)   Glorification involves, not our becoming more than what we are now, but in some sense, becoming other than what we are now.  Glorification is not a change that makes us superhuman; it is a transformation that makes us like Christ.

            From a Roman jail, where no doubt he had much time to meditate on these truths, Paul explained to the church in that city that “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” (Phil. 3:20, 21).

            This brief passage teaches us several blessed truths about our coming glorification.  First, it is the work of our “Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Paul used the full, official title of our Lord to emphasize the high and holy position of the One who effects this change in His saints.  Second, glorification is a transformative work, a word meaning “to change the figure of.”  Paul expanded on this concept in his first epistle to the Corinthians.  Speaking of the resurrection of the dead, he wrote that “it is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body.  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” (15:42b-44a).  Yes, believers will be human beings throughout eternity; and, yes, we will have recognizable bodies, substantial bodies, but the properties constituting and governing them will be spiritual rather than material.  Third, glorification is that part of Christ’s redemptive work that brings believers “into conformity with the body of His glory,” conformity meaning “jointly formed, having the same form as another.”  Thus, the “transformation” is defined as being formed like Christ, not as He was during His incarnation, but as He was following His resurrection when He ascended to sit with His Father in all the expressed and manifested power and glory of God.  Fourth, and perhaps counterintuitively, glorification in its purist and highest essence entails submission, as He “subject[s] all things to Himself.”  In other words, to be glorified, to be exalted, will be to experience perfect subjection to the Person of Christ, such a subjection that, though we will have individual bodies, individual minds, and though we will be separate and individual personalities, our thoughts, desires, and wills will be one with the Lord.

            Yes, it is certain that all the grief and wreckage caused by the Fall—death, pain, suffering, weakness, sadness, doubt, unbelief, fear, and sin itself—will be eradicated.  But the essence of glorification will be our exalted submission to the mind and will of Christ—a love that will be poured out moment by moment from the Lord and reciprocated perfectly and completely by His saints.  And the glorified body will be the enabler of that perfect, perpetual, and pure expression of love.  Without it, we could neither endure the full expression of God’s glory nor return to Him that glory which He deserves.        

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