Spectacular glory awaits those who are joined to Jesus.
Not only will we see him in all his glory — which might be thrilling enough — but we will share in his glory as he transforms “our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21). Rightly did C. S. Lewis observe that “the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship” (The Weight of Glory, 45).
This is the stunning doctrine of glorification. It’s almost too good to be true. Almost.
If the Bible didn’t make it plain, most of us would insist such a wonderful destiny could never be ours. But text after text tells the story of the glory that will be ours in Jesus, the supremely glorious one. It’s the story of our glory in the story of his.
Creation: Glory Given
Humanity’s story begins with Adam and Eve, created in God’s image from the dust of the ground, crowned with glory and honor as the pinnacle of creation’s six days and installed as God’s vice regents in his new world. “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion . . .” (Genesis 1:26).
David expresses in Psalm 8 his wonder at God making man with such glory and honor.
What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet . . . . (Psalm 8:4–6)
Given dominion over God’s creation. Crowned with glory and honor. Here’s where our story begins. But a fall is coming.
Sin: Glory Tainted
Not only did the first humans disobey God and tumble from humanity’s former glory, but we all have disobeyed and shared in that fall. “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Humanity retains a glory after the fall — and still said to be made in God’s image (Genesis 9:6) — but our glory as God’s climactic creatures has been tainted.
Redemption Accomplished: Glory Pioneered
For centuries, humanity limped along in faded glory — fallen and falling, hoping, at best, for some revolutionary intervention from God. The decisive turn came when God himself, in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, dwelt among us, as one of us, and pioneered humanity’s way into the very presence of God. In his perfect God-glorifying human life, sacrificial human death, and victorious human resurrection, Jesus has taken humanity to a previously unexperienced glory at the right hand of God, where there is fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11).
Jesus is the true image of God (Colossians 1:15; 2 Corinthians 4:4) and, according to Hebrews 2:9, is now crowned with glory and honor, fulfilling the glorious destiny of humanity from Psalm 8, and ready to begin applying that glorious destiny to those who would join him through faith.
Redemption Already Applied: Glory Patterned
In Jesus, the work of our glorification already has its start. God is restoring us bit by bit to humanity’s original glory — and to a glory that far outstrips it — as we are “conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29). As our souls fix on Jesus and his glory as our pioneer and perfecter (Hebrews 12:1–2), we “are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18). Glorification has begun in earnest for those united to Jesus by faith, even as so much more awaits.
Redemption Not Yet Applied: Glory Consummated
When we talk about the Christian doctrine of glorification, we refer mainly to this astounding glory that is still yet to come. Yes, our glory is already being restored, having begun in new birth. We already have a foretaste of the new creation — we are a foretaste of it (2 Corinthians 5:17). Yet the doctrine of glorification mainly anticipates the spectacular glory that is coming our way in our resurrection bodies (1 Corinthians 15:42–43) and the coming new heavens and new earth (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1). Our slowly increasing glorification now will come to an explosive consummation then.
How spectacular is that coming glory, says the apostle Paul, that “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing to the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). The immense difficulty of this life is “slight momentary affliction” which “is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17). The glory that the fallen creation aches for is “the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:21). The already-glorified God-man, for whom we await as our Savior, “will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (Philippians 3:20–21).
Tasting Our Coming Glorification
The Bible gives us a taste of the mind-blowing glory that is coming our way in Jesus. Luke 12:37 teaches that Jesus will attend to us as we dine. He “will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them” (Luke 12:37). Also, 1 Corinthians 6:3 teaches that we will judge angels.
Matthew 13:43 says we “will shine like the sun,” just as Jesus “shone like the sun” at the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:2) and now shines in his glorified human body (Revelation 1:13–16). The Transfiguration was not the stripping away of Jesus’s humanity to somehow see him in his divinity. It was a foretaste of his glorious human body to come after the resurrection when he ascended to his Father’s right hand. It is the glorified humanity of the God-man that the disciples caught a peek of on the Mount of Transfiguration — the glorified humanity that all his believing brothers will share in when we are fully glorified in the new heavens and new earth. We will not just see the transfigured Jesus, but be transfigured with him. “We will be like him,” says the apostle John, “because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).
Finally, and perhaps most awe-inspiring, we will share his throne. If Revelation 3:21 didn’t say it, we wouldn’t dare dream it: “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.”
We will not be God, but we will be stupendously one with him. We will not become the Groom, but we will be married to him. This is an almost unbelievably great story — from dust to dominion to destruction to redemption to transformation to the very throne of heaven. Only through “the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” could it be so arrestingly true that “the name of our Lord Jesus [will] be glorified in [us], and [we] in him” (2 Thessalonians 1:12). What a future awaits those who belong to Jesus and, by his grace, have an even greater treasure than a glorified self — the glorified God-man himself.