Is the glorification of God’s people directly tied into sanctification and holiness?
A couple of weeks ago, we examined the Holy Spirit’s ultimate ambition in the glorification of God’s people and God’s creation (Romans 8:18-30). You may find and listen to that message via the Sermon Video or the Sermon Podcast tabs under Resources.
Glorification is the consummation of salvation wherein God’s people receive their resurrected spiritual bodies. According to Philippians 3:20-21, their bodies will be like Jesus’s resurrected body. This is part of the reason why Jesus is referred to as the first-fruit of the resurrection. His resurrection in the middle of human history showcases the future for all of his disciples.
Glorification is the final link in the golden chain of redemption. Upon conversion, a person is justified by faith in Jesus Christ. God then begins moving them towards the goal of glorification. Nestled between a disciple’s justification and glorification is the process of sanctification, whereby a disciple’s character is transformed into the image of Christ (Romans 8:29-30). In this sense, glorification is directly tied to sanctification and holiness. Only those who are justified and sanctified will be, subsequently, glorified.
Sanctification serves glorification in the sense that the sanctification process readies one’s soul to inhabit one’s glorified body. When sanctification is completed, our souls will be thoroughly sinless. The beauty of our souls and our bodies will harmonize gloriously (1 Corinthians 15:42-43). We currently live in a world where beautiful souls often occupy broken bodies and broken souls often occupy beautiful bodies. Such will not be the case when the salvation of God’s people is completed. Beautiful souls will occupy beautiful bodies as a result of God’s multifaceted, redemptive activity.
Now, some may wonder if the depth of one’s sanctification in the here and now will effect the degree of one’s glorification in the future. I believe so for at least three reasons. One, God uses suffering as an ordinary tool in the sanctification of His people (Romans 5:1-5; 8:28-29; James 1:2-4; Hebrews 12:3-11). Two, the New Testament ties the experience of suffering in the world that is to the expectation of glory in the world that is to come (2 Corinthians 4:16-18; Romans 8:17). Three, varying degrees of suffering faithfully endured result in varying degrees of glory finally enjoyed (2 Corinthians 4:16-18; 1 Corinthians 3:10-15).
This perspective should encourage all disciples because all disciples will experience varying degrees of suffering in the world that is. God promises to leverage our sufferings towards the full measure of our salvation. A disciple of Jesus Christ never suffers in vain. Therefore, we are able to “rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame” (Romans 8:4-5).