Ordo Salutis: Glorification
While I’ve chosen to skip over a post on growing in grace as a part of holiness, remember that we’ve said that holiness is not a static place one arrives at, only to then live in that state until death. Not even close. God will continue to purify and cleanse a person’s heart and mind, making him or her aware of areas of sin. I like to think of choosing to cooperate with this further growth as just one way that a person wisely avoids getting set in his or her ways as they age. There is no place for a snarky, belligerent, crotchety person in the kingdom of God.
And then there’s death. I probably should have written more about this. Suffice it to say two things:
1. Death has always been, theologically speaking, the Christian’s enemy. Christ conquered death on the cross and in His resurrection because it was an enemy that needed conquering.
2. Death is not simply a transition from this life to the next. We do not say, “O happy dagger!” as in Romeo and Juliet. We always grieve, even if it is in hope.
Glorification is what happens to us at death. While this can be a tricky subject since none of us has ever died and come back to tell of it, Jesus has died and has been resurrected.
Steve Harper writes, “The issue of our ultimate glorification is based on the responses we make to the presence of the kingdom. It is the activity of the kingdom that makes a real connection between time and eternity” (The Way to Heaven, p. 97). When Jesus came and inaugurated the kingdom–God’s real rule and reign here and now–He forced you and me to reckon with it, to either accept and enter the kingdom or to reject and oppose the kingdom. Our entrance now means that heaven one day is our great reward.
We get a glimpse of what our future life will be like from Him, as well as other descriptions in the Bible. And while we won’t spend a ton of time examining what happens after we die, here are a few things we can know for certain will happen at death:
- We will await the general resurrection in the presence of Christ.
- We will, along with every human being, undergo judgment and the resurrection of the righteous or the wicked. We will be given incorruptible bodies capable of living in the news heavens and new earth. Incorruptible means we will no longer be subject to the enemies of sin, death and the devil.
- We will be like God. This is the Eastern Orthodox Church’s doctrine of deification. 2 Peter 1:3-4 says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” Peter’s words here speak of life in the present as an anticipation of the future–notice the language of promises, which implies future fulfillment.
- We will be fully restored in all aspects of God’s image: the natural, political and moral.
- We will live and reign for eternity with Christ on the new earth, which has been united with the new heavens.
Remember that this is all part of God’s plan for us and that our current spiritual formation is leading us to this point.