Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Did you hear what I said? I will WALK beside Him in the Kingdom of Heaven!

In an attempt to unpack the Kwan of our salvation, we have looked at JUSTIFICATION and SANCTIFICATION. We turn our attention now to GLORIFICATION.

Soteriology is the theological term for the study of "salvation." Biblically, salvation is not something we do, but that God does, although we have certain responsibilities in the process.

Three Aspects of Salvation
Of course, in describing being saved, we must ask, "Saved from what?" This is the question answered over three entries, for there are three aspects of our salvation. There is a sense in which Christian salvation is past, present, and future all at the same time. Also, all He justifies He sanctifies and ultimately glorifies.
PAST ... I have been saved from the penalty of sin. (JUSTIFICATION)

PRESENT ... I am being saved from the power of sin. (SANCTIFICATION)

FUTURE ... I will be saved from the presence of sin. (GLORIFICATION)

The Baptist Faith & Message (2000) notes that, "Glorification is the culmination of salvation and is the final blessed and abiding state of the redeemed." It is the last installment of our salvation and the one that is our glorious future, conformity to the image of Christ (Rom 8:28-30). In fact, this is a certainty for all those He's justified; they will undoubtedly be glorified. This is seen in v.30 where glorified is seen in the past tense, meaning that in God's mind it's as certain as if it had already happened. This completion of our salvation occurs upon Christ's return (Heb 9:27-28).

Three Effects of Glorification
There seem to be at least three effects of glorification mentioned in Scripture.

First, there is the glory of God. We see that we will share in His glory (Rom 8:17) and that God's glory will be revealed in us at glorification (Rom 8:18).

Second, we will receive glorified bodies. We will have a body like Christ's (1 Jn 3:2). We're not sure exactly what that will look like, but we recall that after His resurrection Christ could eat, His body resembled His previous body, and that He could move through walls. For sure we know that our lowly bodies will be transformed like His (Phil 3:20-21).

Third, upon glorification there will be the absence of evil, disease, sin, death, etc (1 Cor 15:51-57). We will be imperishable and immortal (1 Cor 15:52). There will be no more death, no more sin (1 Cor 15:55-56).

When Christ returns, He will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body. Then every child of God will be made like the Son of God (1 John 3:2), that is, all Christians will receive glorified bodies like His. No more will they have the limitations they now experience in their “lowly” bodies, which are humbled by disease and sin. Their resurrected bodies will be like Christ’s, and their sanctification will be completed.

Anticipating Glorification
What should a Christian's attitude be toward glorification? Biblically, it is our motivation to work for the Lord (1 Cor 15:58). We should not sit back and take our glorification for granted. It should not give us an excuse to coast, but should be our motivation for serving Christ.

Second, the prospect of glorification should give us encouragement (1 Thes 4:13-18). No matter how bad things get down here, there's more ahead. Our home is not here, but in heaven. We are to be encouraged and encourage each other regarding the salvation that awaits us, our glorification.

As Christians, we need not fear death, for in death our situation improves. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Cor 5:6-10). Our physical bodies will die, but death is not feared since we will receive an even greater body. We live for Christ and death is gain for us (Phil 1:21). The following story helps to illustrate our confidence in God's plan of salvation and its culmination in glorification.

While walking in the field one day with my two young sons, a bee from one of my hives made a beeline for the elder boy and stung him just above the eye. He quickly brushed it away and threw himself in the grass, kicking and screaming for help. The bee went straight for the younger son and began buzzing around his head. The next thing I knew he too was lying in the grass, yelling at the top of his lungs. But I picked him up and told him to stop crying. “That bee is harmless,” I assured him. “It can’t hurt you. It has lost its sting.” I took the frightened lad over to his elder brother, showed him the little black stinger in his brow, and said, “The bee can still scare you, but it is powerless to hurt you. Your brother took the sting away by being stung.” Then I explained 1 Corinthians 15:56 by telling them that the sting of death is sin. But our Elder Brother the Lord Jesus hung on the cross and took the sting out of death by dying in our place. Since the law demands satisfaction only once, death is powerless to hurt us if we accept the work of Christ in our behalf. The unbeliever is filled with fear because he must face God with his sin. But for us, death’s sting is gone; it was left in Jesus. Death may still buzz around and scare us at time, but it can no longer harm us.
It's an amazing thing to think about really, somewhat overwhelming and very hard to believe. To have a resurrected and glorified body. Where the lame will walk and the blind will see. Some can't believe it.

A double amputee, Lieutenant Dan couldn't believe it. He expressed his disbelief to Forrest:
They say if I take Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior, then I will walk beside Him in the Kingdom of Heaven. Did you hear what I said?! I will WALK beside Him in the Kingdom of Heaven!

Hard to believe, sure, but it's true. It's certain. Those in Christ are justified, sanctified, and glorified, for that is the kwan of our salvation in, through, and because of Christ and Christ alone.


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