Glorification

“If you’re a Christian, your death won’t be the end of your story. You will pass into the presence of God, and you will know complete peace and joy, but that still will not be the end. The story only truly ends when Christ’s Easter resurrection victory is fully experienced by all of creation, both spiritually and materially.”

 

Here’s where the story ends

Everyone reads a book differently. Some people like to read the final page and know where the story is heading, others like to be kept in suspense until the very end. I happen to be married to the former, my wife cannot watch a movie without knowing exactly how the story ends. I, on the other hand, like the only man in the town who hasn’t heard the final score on cup final day, am desperate to keep the end a mystery!

There’s something of that in the biblical story of redemption. We’ve read ahead, and we know exactly how the story finishes: the lamb that was slain will be the lamb that reigns! He has defeated death, yet we await the turning of the final page; we know Christ’s victory in part, but there is much to happen before the story is finally complete.

Wholly redeemed

The Bible looks to a final chapter in the story of redemption called glorification. It is the moment when Christ returns, the dead are raised, and all the redeemed are instantaneously transformed into the glorious likeness of Christ. Paul describes the scene, ‘the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed’ (1 Corinthians 15:52).

If you’re a Christian, your death won’t be the end of your story. You will pass into the presence of God, and you will know complete peace and joy, but that still will not be the end. The story only truly ends when Christ’s Easter resurrection victory is fully experienced by all of creation, both spiritually and materially. Christ died to pay the penalty for sin, he was raised that we might live as justified children of God. However, his redemptive work not only frees us from sin’s penalty but from all of its effects and consequences, including death. When Christ returns and the dead are raised, death itself will be undone, creation will be freed from its destructive grip. We may be born again and alive in the Spirit today, but it is only then that ‘the mortal will put on immortality’ (1 Corinthians 15:54).

God’s image restored

When God made man, his whole being was made to reflect the likeness of his creator accurately. Sin and its consequence, death, marred that image which should have been visible in every area of his life. Yet God’s plan was to see it fully restored. You will not spend eternity as a disembodied spirit, wandering the streets of glory, because God means to fully redeem his image in man; glorification is physical as well as spiritual. This leads to questions about what you’ll look like, how old you’ll be and so on, most of which Scripture gives us no clear answer to. In fact, much is mysterious about our physical resurrection.

Nonetheless, glorification speaks of a completeness to the redemptive work. So perfect and sufficient is Christ’s victory over death that you will be fully redeemed in every way. Glorification will be a glorious event as, inconceivably, decayed bodies will be raised to life, not merely restored to their previous state, rather, infinitely more glorious. ‘As we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven’ (1 Corinthians 15:49).

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