Tuesday, June 19, 2018

He also glorified

Preaching on Romans 8:30 last Sunday, I've been thinking about what it means for believers to be glorified. Glorification does not mean that that our humanity will be absorbed into the divine. That would not be the redemption of man, but his obliteration. Rather, in glorification we shall become all that we were intended to be as God’s image-bearers.

There is an analogy between the glorification of the believer and that of Jesus' own humanity. At his incarnation Jesus became a divine person with a human nature. There is an unbreakable union between the divine and human in person of Christ, yet there is no confusion between his two natures. That which was God in Jesus did not become less than God when he was made flesh. That which was human in Jesus did not become more than human when his flesh was glorified. Jesus became like us in humiliation, that we might become like him in glorification. We will be glorified together with Christ. We shall partake of his glory and so we shall become partakers of the divine nature.

I've also been reading my way through The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way, by Michael Horton. He has a remarkable chapter on The Hope of Glory: "Those Whom He Justified He Also Glorified". A key theme in Horton's work is that the Christian account of the relationship between God and human beings is not that of 'overcoming estrangement' so that the finite is absorbed in the infinite. Instead the Bible teaches that finite human beings 'meet the Stranger', our infinite Creator, and in that encounter the creator/creature distinction is maintained.

It is with this in mind that Horton gives proper emphasis on the resurrection of the body in relation to glorification, as opposed to a contemplative vision of disembodied souls being infused with the divine.
Rather than sending the human soul upward, away from history and embodiment, this view [that of Calvin and the Reformed tradition] sees redemptive history moving forward to the consummation. Because of this emphasis on the historical economy of grace, Calvin and the wider tradition emphasized the the future resurrection of the dead as the place where the consummation occurs. It is the cosmic, eschatological, and redemptive-historical event of the parousia, not the allegorical, contemplative, striving ascent of the lone soul, that characterizes the Reformed expression of the beatific vision. (Zondervan, 2011, p. 697)
Glorification is the ultimate fruit of the believer's union with Christ. It is the final link in the 'Golden Chain' of salvation that Paul details in Romans 8:30. It is because we are in Christ that we will be made like him and be with him where he is in resurrection glory. Death may sever the union between the Christian's body and soul, but they remain united to Christ body and soul. Horton cites the remarkable words of the Puritan Thomas Watson in his Body of Divinity, "The bodies of the saints in the grave, though separated from their souls, are united to Christ. The dust of a believer is part of Christ's mystic body". (Emphasis added, p. 702, - from A Body of Divinity, Banner of Truth Trust, 1978, p. 309).

To be glorified is to share in the glory that God gave his own Son, "and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him." (Romans 8:17, see also John 17:4-5, 22, 24). 

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