Salvation is a process that begins when a person accepts Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. It consists of 3 major steps or phases. The first is justification, which occurs at the moment of repentance. The second is sanctification, which begins with regeneration and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit at the moment of repentance, but then continues throughout the believer’s entire life. The final step is glorification, which will be the topic of our sermon today.
Southern Baptists define glorification as “the culmination of salvation and the final blessed and abiding state of the redeemed.” Glorification involves the redemption of our fleshly bodies, thereby completing the salvation experience. We will abide in our glorified bodies with Christ for all eternity.
As we have already studied, when we as Christians are first saved our spiritual nature is declared righteous and made alive to God. However our old carnal bodies remain and the sinful desires of the flesh linger. Therefore, the spirit (which is alive) and the flesh (which is still dead) war against one another for dominion over a person’s mind. But when glorification takes place, the wicked body of flesh will be done away with and replaced with a new spiritual body that is incorruptible and righteous.
Of the 3 phases of salvation - justification, sanctification, and glorification - we know the least about glorification. This can attributed to the fact that we have not yet experienced it and therefore have a limited knowledge and understanding of how it works. Still, despite our lack of information, there are still some important details about glorification provided in scripture.
This morning we will discuss the glorification of our bodies, the glorification of the natural creation, our anticipation of the coming glorification, and the triumph of glorification over our present sufferings.
I. THE GLORIFICATION OF OUR BODIES (Romans 8:11,17)
In the early portion of this chapter Paul was emphasizing the role that the Holy Spirit places in sanctification. It is the leading of the Holy Spirit that enables us to grow and mature in Christ. But now the focus shifts to the Holy Spirit’s work as it applies to glorification. Those who have accepted salvation through Jesus Christ will have life given to their mortal bodies “through His Spirit who dwells in you”. In this final phase of salvation a person’s body of flesh will be made alive to God and hostilities between it and the spiritual nature will forever cease.
As God’s children we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. Our inheritance is far more magnificent than what we can imagine. The beauty and splendor of heaven is beyond description, and the promise of God’s continual blessings to be lavished upon us leaves me in awe. In addition to these promises, one of the most wonderful things we will receive as heirs of God is a glorified body.
Our glorified bodies will be imperishable, honorable, and powerful. They will no longer be natural bodies driven by the lusts of the flesh, but rather spiritual bodies which are fully in tune with the Holy Spirit. They will not hurt, ache, or ever become sick. They will not age, weaken, become feeble, or ever die. Likewise, they will not be shamed by or inflicted with sin. Our glorified bodies will be physical to the touch, yet not limited in some of the ways that our current bodies are. For example, we can enjoy the pleasure of eating yet we will never hunger or thirst. Our glorified bodies will appear similar to our present bodies, but without any flaw. While there is much we simply don’t know about our glorified bodies, we can say with certainty that they will perfectly suited for our eternal dwelling place in heaven.
II. THE GLORIFICATION OF THE NATURAL CREATION (Romans 8:19-22)
Although it is not alive per se, Paul personifies the creation as “waiting eagerly” for the day when God’s people will be glorified. When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, the Lord cursed not only their bodies but also the entire creation. Plants, animals, the environment - all of the earth itself was subjected to corruption as a result of the sin of man. But there is coming a day when this curse will be lifted and the natural creation of God will be restored to its original glory. When this occurs the glorified creation of God will serve as the eternal home of the glorified people of God.
In the final chapters of Revelation we read about a “new heaven and new earth”. This is referring to the glorified heaven and earth that will established in the last days. Just as we lack many details regarding the glorification of our bodies, we also don’t know as much as we’d like to about the “new heaven and new earth.” What we can say for sure is that God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) will be immediately present there, most likely reigning from the New Jerusalem, and we as His redeemed believers will be dwelling with Him.
The Bible describes the “new earth”, which most understand to be the glorified earth, as a place with no more sadness, sorrow, or tears. There will be no pain, anguish, or death. We can imagine an incorruptible earth that is free of natural disasters, harsh weather or temperature, pollution, and any other imperfections. It will be the ideal location to live with Christ forever.
III. EAGERLY AWAITING THE GLORIFICATION (Romans 8:23-25)
Just as creation longs for the “revealing of the sons of God”, so also we are eager for “the redemption of our bodies”. This is a part of the great hope that we have as Christians, that one day we will receive a glorified body which is completely free from the effects of sin and death. Anticipating this wonderful event, Paul perseveres through the daily struggles of this present life.
Many theologians have made suggestions as to when the glorification of our bodies will occur. Perhaps the most widely accepted view is that glorification will occur when the rapture of the church takes place. The bodies of the “dead in Christ” will be resurrected from their graves and rise to meet Jesus in the air. There they will be reunited with their spirits and instantaneously glorified into new spiritual bodies. Likewise, those who are alive at the time of the rapture will ascend into the air and their corrupted bodies will be glorified also.
Other theories exist regarding the exact timing of the glorification, which is associated with a trumpet blast. Rather than disputing over these unknown details, we should instead take comfort in knowing that it will occur at the precise point God chooses and it will be the final phase in the salvation process. Following the glorification of our bodies, our redemption will be fully complete - both spiritually and materially.
IV. GLORIFICATION TRIUMPHS OVER PRESENT SUFFERINGS (Romans 8:18)
As he reflects upon the wonders of glorification Paul comes to a marvelous conclusion. The sorrows, pains, griefs, and other sufferings of this life are not even worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed to us some day. We will someday receive imperishable bodies and live in a new heaven and new earth. The glory we will experience when this happens defies our wildest imagination. The struggles we carry in this life pale in comparison to the blessings we will receive in the next.
What a wonderful thought to know that we will someday be given glorified bodies. The effects of sin will be vanquished forever more and we will live with Christ in our new bodies, in the new heaven and the new earth, for all of eternity. Satan and all of his influence will be utterly cast out and we will stand in the holy presence of God Almighty. It is then that we will experience the fullness of our salvation.
With these verses, Paul concludes the portion of Romans dealing with the mechanics of salvation. He has taught us that as believers we have been justified, we are being sanctified, and we will be glorified. To phrase it another way - we have been saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved. Salvation is not an event, but rather a process. Have you given your life to Christ and begun to experience salvation? If you haven’t, how about getting started today?