What Does It Mean That Christians Will Be “Glorified”?

David Finkbeiner  and J. Brian Tucker
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We all love those times when we find ourselves pleasantly surprised by something that exceeds our expectations. Those times give us a glimpse of the Christian’s eternal future, for no matter what we might say about it, our final destiny will be beyond what we can imagine this side of heaven. Paul put it this way in 1 Corinthians 2:9: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him” (NLT). Still, even though we can only glimpse our future in a fragmentary way, reflecting on that future is well worth the effort.

The Christian’s final destiny in Christ is called glorification. This is the final stage in God’s work of salvation when the believer is fully sanctified, conformed to the image of Christ, and given an immortal, resurrected body like Christ’s glorified body. Scripture describes several elements of glorification. First of all, our bodies will be resurrected, and they will be transformed into a glorious body like Christ’s resurrected body that will endure forever (Rom. 8:22–25; Phil. 3:20–21; 1 Cor. 15; 2 Cor. 5:1–5). To those of us whose bodies are aged, weak, painful, disabled, or sickly, the thought of a body forever free from all such infirmities is unspeakably good news.

In addition to resurrection, at glorification we will be fully conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29–30; 1 John 3:2–3). This includes our resurrection, of course, but beyond that, it means that all vestiges of sin will be eliminated from our lives once and for all. No more struggles with besetting sins; no more falling to temptation; no more struggles with evil thoughts, wrong motives, and sinful attitudes; no more coming short of what God wants for us. In Christ, final deliverance from sin in all its forms and effects will be ours; our final sanctification will be realized. And because Christ is the true image of God and pattern for redeemed humanity (2 Cor. 4:4; Rom. 5–6), we will be completely restored to all that God intended human beings to be when He created us.

Believers’ glorification will also include full participation and fellowship with the perfected people of God. All God’s people, individually and corporately, will be perfected in holiness (Eph. 5:25–27; Rev. 19:6–8). Together as one we will worship the Lord (Rev. 7:9–10). We will enjoy full citizenship in the heavenly city with all God’s people (Phil. 3:20; Heb. 11:8–16; 13:14; Rev. 21:9–22; 22:5). We will together rejoice in the perfect realization of God’s eternal rule and will serve Him and reign with Him forever in the new heaven and earth (Rev. 7:15; 22:3–5).

Perhaps greatest of all, our glorification will include unhindered fellowship with the triune God (Rev. 21:1–4, 22–27). Spiritual death—that alienation and hostility to God introduced at the fall—will be forever reversed. The intimate fellowship with God enjoyed by our first parents will be restored, and more. This is the heart of eternal life (John 17:3). Our moments of joy in worship in the present are only pale glimpses of the bliss of unhindered fellowship with the living God. It is this for which we were made; it is this for which the human heart longs, whether it realizes it or not. David says of God that in His presence there is “fullness of joy” and “pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11 ESV). When we are glorified, that joy will be ours, because God will be ours.

For Further Reading:

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