After being justified, the apostle Paul says Christians are to be "glorified" (Rom. 8:30).
How? What does it mean, really? Is this just some spiritual-sounding "fluff-fluff" about a nebulous existence in a never-never land with nothing to do?
The true answer is perhaps the most exciting realization in the annals of human history! When you understand you will see that this is not an exaggeration or a hyperbole. Because this basic truth is tremendous, thrilling and genuinely heart warming. It involves the very purpose for which you and I were created and given the breath of life.
Why We Were Created. King David, the shepherd of Israel, had spent thousands of hours out under the stars at night — keeping his lonely vigil, quietly contemplating the vastness of the heavens above and his own smallness as a mere speck in the infinite universe. Later, the great God, the Creator of that universe, inspired David to write: "What is man that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou dost care for him? Yet thou hast made him little less than God, and: dost crown him with glory and honor. Thou hast given him dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet..." (Ps. 8:4-6).
Man was made to have dominion, or rule, over ALL things — ultimately. For man was created "in the image" of God. And God said: "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea..." (Gen. 1:26).
You and I were created to exercise rule or government over all things which God has created. But, as the apostle explains in the book of Hebrews: "Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left NOTHING outside his control" (Heb. 2:8). Eventually, then, man has to indirectly control the entire universe!
Can we begin to grasp our ultimate purpose?
Continuing in Hebrews: "As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor..." (verses 8, 9). Here we see that God's own Son was also made "lower than the angels" — yet is now glorified! For it was fitting that God, "in bringing many sons to GLORY, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through suffering" (verse 10).
Ah, there it is!
Christ, after suffering through many trials and tests, was glorified. Now, He is bringing many other sons to "glory" also. This is, in fact, the "mystery" of God's eternal purpose which is being revealed through the true gospel (Eph. 1:9). For God also is reproducing after His own kind (Gen. 1:24). He has made mankind in His image ultimately to be born of Him as members of the God family, the Kingdom of God. It is God's master plan for the entire human race, "a plan for the fulness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth" (Eph. 1:10).
Need for Divine Character. Yes, we are to be added as members of the very family of God, to become like Christ: "... That he might be the first-born among many brethren" (Rom. 8:29).
After true Christians have repented and have totally surrendered their wills to God, He gives them of His Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). His Spirit is His very nature, a bit of the divine character implanted within His begotten children by a miracle (II Peter 1:4). This is why Jesus could say to His followers: "You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matt. 5:48).
The true Christian is to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (II Peter 3:18). He or she is to become ever more like God — through the power of the Holy Spirit which imparts God's character.
Through constant Bible study and prayer — daily, personal, heartfelt prayer — the Christian focuses his mind and his very being on becoming like Christ. As King David did, he will meditate on God's law through the day — seeking how to apply the Ten Commandments in all their spiritual richness more and more perfectly in his life.
This true Christian' will seek to glorify God in his mind, body, personality and character — his entire being.
We will share the same magnificent, dazzling glory that Christ shares with the Father, for "we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is" (I John 3:2). He will yearn for the resurrection when there is to be no more sickness or pain, no more suffering or death — and no more temptation and mental anguish. Daily, he will beseech God: "Thy kingdom come."
This man, being still human, will make mistakes. But he will never do so willingly, and will constantly repent and learn from his mistakes. He will imitate Jesus, who "offered up prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death.... Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him..." (Heb. 5:7-9).
What a picture!
God is fashioning and molding future sons — testing them through trials and chastenings. Preparing them to become members of the very God family after they have proved that they will yield to His way and literally, willingly, build His very character into their lives through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Glory We Will Share. Notice the apostle Peter's inspired description of the process of glorification: "But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal GLORY by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you" (I Peter 5:10, KJV). Yes, after we have suffered through many tests of our total willingness to surrender to our Maker, He gives us a glorified spirit body.
Is it worth it?
Listen! "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Rom. 8:18, KJV). The very glory of God is not merely to be revealed to us, but is to be manifested in us. For we will become like the resurrected Jesus Christ, "who will change our lowly body to be like his GLORIOUS body..." (Phil. 3:21).
How does Jesus Christ look now?
As we have just seen, Jesus' appearance now is the prototype of what our appearance will be in the resurrection. Notice this description of Christ's appearance now: "His head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow; his eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined as in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of many waters; in his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth issued a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength" (Rev. 1:14-16).
Can you imagine sharing that kind of glory with your Creator?
In a world of sickness, suffering, mental anguish, death and even the threat of cosmocide, this hope should be tremendously inspiring to everyone who comes to understanding. The absolute promise of eternal life as part of the very family of God in a total atmosphere of love, joy, peace and prosperity is almost too much for some to grasp. But God is reproducing Himself! He and the Son do desire — in outgoing concern — to share their plans and opportunities on the God-level of existence with millions of others.
For true love is outgoing concern, And God is love.
God is reproducing after His kind, not after the chicken-kind, or the cow-kind, or some other kind. As my sons look like me, so all true overcomers will look like God in the resurrection. Can we grasp that? True Christians who overcome and qualify in this life will become God as God is God. There is no greater glory than to look and to be like God Himself!
Jesus Prayed for This. In His final prayer just before He was taken to be tried and executed, Jesus asked: "Father, glorify thou me in thy own presence with the glory which I had with thee before the world was made" (John 17:5). What greater glory is there than to have the same glory He had shared with God from eternity? Yet Christ and the Father do not have an exclusivist urge to "hang on" to their glory as something apart from others. They want to share it with every human being made in their image!
So, in His prayer, Jesus prayed directly for us who now believe because of the wards recorded by the apostles in the Bible. Including our generation, He asked "that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one" (John 17:21-22).
God will hear that prayer from His firstborn Son!
Those of every generation who truly walk with God are to be literally BORN of Him, as was Jesus, at the resurrection (Col. 1:18). We will share the same magnificent, dazzling glory that He shares with the Father, for "we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. And every one who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure " (I John 3:2-3).
As it says, if we have this kind of hope, there is a real reason to be pure, to overcome, to build character. It is not a matter of forsaking our fun because God is a crotchety old figure in the sky who looks askance at pleasure. The reality is that God wants us to fully appreciate life in all its variety, but only in the way that does not involve damaging or hurting ourselves or others. Then, all of us can appreciate the total joys of loving, laughing, giving, sharing for all eternity with no hangovers and no delayed penalties.
Filled with God's Fullness. Our Creator has good wisdom and good reason for wanting us to build character — to become pure as He is pure.
He allows us to be tried and tested now. He fashions and molds us like a master potter. Slowly but surely, through constant prayer and personal Bible study, through personal effort and overcoming all the temptations that surround us — with His divine help — we grow unto "the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13).
Then, and only then, will we be truly ready for the "last trump" to sound — heralding the second coming of Jesus Christ, and heralding also our time to be born into the very family of God and share the glory of that family, the God Kingdom, throughout all eternity.
Then, truly, we "may have power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fulness of God" (Eph. 3:18-19).
These words have profound meaning.
This is our hope and our calling. This is the very purpose for which we were created. This is the glory for which true and understanding Christians are willing to serve and to suffer now.