The Order of Salvation: Glorification

            Glorification is the great hope of every believer in Christ. We who have been saved, who are now being sanctified and made into the image of Jesus, eagerly anticipate the day when the sanctifying process will be completed, and we will be glorified.

            In one sense, Christians really can’t even begin to imagine just what exactly God has in store for us in our glorified state. John, writing about this future hope, says, “Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 Jn. 3:2). Paul also affirms that our glorification will somehow involve our being made more like Jesus, when he writes, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Cor. 13:12).

            We also know that this future glorification is intrinsically tied to our future resurrection in Christ. We know, beyond all doubt, that when we die, we go to be in the presence of Jesus in Heaven in our spirit. But we will not remain ethereal, disembodied souls eternally. Rather, when Jesus returns to this earth in triumphant victory, we will march alongside Him. At that time, we will be resurrected in physically glorified bodies, as soul reunites with body once more.

            Paul, writing about our future resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 explains that, “What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.” Whatever this physically resurrected, glorified body will be, we know for certain it will be without sin, disease, sickness, and death. It will, in some mysterious way, be like Christ’s glorified and resurrected body, for, “Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven” (1 Cor. 15:49).

This future glorification should give the Christian great hope because it is an absolute certainty. William Perkins famously referred to Romans 8:29-30 as the Golden Chain of Salvation: “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”

Within this text, we see the order of salvation perfectly laid out. God foreknew and predestined a certain number from mankind unto salvation. Those whom He predestined, He then called at His own appointed time. Through the Holy Spirit, He drew these elected sinners to Christ, granting them the faith to believe in Him, according to His grace. And then, having drawn them to Christ through this effectual call, He also justified His elect by washing away all their sins in Jesus, thereby securing their redemption, adoption into the family of God, and the removal of all threat of condemnation.

            The final link on this Golden Chain of Salvation is glorification. The language used is striking, as Paul tells us that the Lord “also glorified” those whom He had foreknown, predestined, called, and justified. This is intentionally written in a past-tense manner, for though every person who reads this was saved by Christ after this was written, and thus our salvation was a future reality, yet it was so certain that Paul could write of our future glorification as if it had already taken place.

            For the Christian, there is a great deal of hope and assurance to be found within this text and the language employed. It was precisely this knowledge of the certainty of future glorification for the Christian that caused Paul to unequivocally state, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6). Because salvation is a sovereign work of God from beginning to end, there was no doubt in Paul’s mind that God would complete the work He began within us. After all, God predestined us unto salvation from before the foundation of the world. He could hardly be expected to then fail, in time and history, to bring our salvation to its completion.

            God will not fail to glorify every elected sinner for whom Christ died. Glorification is a certainty. It is a guaranteed part of salvation. Just as it is impossible for God to change, so too is it impossible for His Golden Chain of Salvation to be broken. Every Christian will be glorified. We must rejoice in this truth and, in equal measure, strive towards holiness in preparation of this future reality.

Jacob Tanner is pastor of Mt. Bethel Church of McClure in Central Pennsylvania. He has spent time as a reporter, journalist, and editor, and has written for various Christian websites. He and his wife, Kayla, have one son, Josiah. He is currently completing his M.Div. through Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.


Jacob Tanner