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Glorification (Receiving a Resurrection Body)

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When Christ redeemed us he did not just redeem our spirits (or souls) - he redeemed us as whole persons, and this includes the redemption of our bodies. Therefore the application of Christ's work of redemption to us will not be complete until our bodies are entirely set free from the effects of the fall and brought to that state of perfection for which God created them. In fact, the redemption of our bodies will only occur when Christ returns and raises our bodies from the dead. But at this present time, Paul says that we wait for "the redemption of our bodies" and then adds, "For in this hope we were saved" Romans 8:23-24. The stage in the application of redemption when we receive resurrection bodies is called glorification. Referring to that future day Paul says that we will be "glorified with him" Romans 8:17. Moreover, when Paul traces the steps in the application of redemption, the last one he names is glorification: "And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified" Romans 8:30.


The day we are glorified will be a day of great victory because on that day the last enemy, death, will be destroyed, just as Scripture predicts: "For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death" 1 Corinthians 15:25-26. The the context of a discussion of the resurrection of our bodies when Christ returns, Paul says, "Then shall come to pass the saying that is written: 'Death is swallowed up in victory.' 'O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?'" 1 Corinthians 15:54-55. When our bodies are raised from the dead we will experience complete victory over the death that came as a result of the fall of Adam and Eve. Then our redemption will be complete.


We may therefore define glorification as follows: Glorification is the final step in the application of redemption. It will happen when Christ returns and raises from the dead the bodies of all believers for all time who have died, and reunites them with their souls, and changes the bodies of all believers who alive, thereby giving all believers at the same time perfect resurrection bodes like his own.


New Testament Evidence for Glorification:


The primary New Testament passage on glorification or the resurrection of the body is 1 Corinthians 15:12-58. Paul says, "So also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ" 1 Corinthians 15:22-23. Paul discusses the nature of the resurrection body in some detail in verses 1 Corinthians 15:35-50. He then concludes the passage by saying that not all Christians will die, but some who remain alive when Christ returns will simply have their bodies instantaneously changed into new, resurrection bodes that can never grow old or weak and can never die:


1 Corinthians 15:51-52


51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.


Paul further explains in 1 Thessalonians that the souls of those who have died and gone to be with Christ will come back and be joined with their bodies on that day, for Christ will bring them with him: "For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep" 1 Thess. 4:14. But here Paul affirms not only that God will bring with Christ those who have died; he also affirms that "the dead in Christ will rise first" 1 Thess 4:16. So these believers who have died with Christ are also raised up to meet Christ (Paul says in 1 Thess. 4:17, "We .... shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air"). This only makes sense if it is the souls of believers who have gone into Christ's presence who return with him, and if it is their bodies that are raised from the dead to be joined together with their souls, and then to ascend to be with Christ.


In addition to these passages affirm the reality in 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thess. 4, several other NT passages affirm the reality of the doctrine of glorification. Jesus says, "The hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who had evil to the resurrection of judgment: John 5:28-29. Jesus also says, "This is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day. For this is the will of my father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day: John 6:39-40; 44, 54.


Paul says, "He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you" Romans 8:11; 2 Corinthians 5:1-10. He realizes that Christians should live in eager expectation of Christ's return and of the change in our bodies to be like this own perfect body. He says, "But our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself" Phil. 3:20-21.


To be continued...



References: Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology



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