The Ordo Salutis: Glorification
Romans 8:29 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. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
The Golden Chain of Salvation… A series of steps in the process of salvation, necessarily ending in the believer being glorified. For too many believers glorification is a concept that has no definition in their minds. For many, their understanding of glorification goes no farther than a vague notions that: “Jesus saved me from my sins and someday I will go to heaven, or someday my body will be redeemed.[i] Yet, in Romans 8:29-30, the passage we call the “Golden Chain of Salvation”, there is something more given to us. Paul writes “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…”[ii] Following on this, Paul continues with a description of what happens when God predestines. The one that is predestined is called, justified, and finally glorified. The status of “being glorified” is equated to conformity to the image of his Son. Let’s unpack this a bit more…
What is “Glory”?
“Glory” is the translation of the Hebrew word “Cabod” which means heaviness. What then is the “Glory of God”? God’s glory is his “heaviness”. This begs the next question: What is “heavy” about God? God does not have “weight”[iii], consequently the term should be understood to mean “important”. We call concepts that have serious implications “heavy” concepts. What then, is “important” about God? God’s attributes show us what is important about Him, they have serious implications for our lives. For example, it is important that God is:
- eternal and the source of life
- the one who provides for and blesses His people
Glory then is not something outside of God, a standard of “shininess” that we use to describe him, (as if “we” could set a standard to describe God!) Glory is the very essence of God. God “is” glory. Something is “glorious” when it shows us God, or reveals God.
What does it mean to be “Glorified”?
Justification is a legal term. The believer is justified by Christ’s work on the cross. Specifically, the legal demands of God’s law that condemn us as a result of our sin, are satisfied. The Westminster Short Catechism puts it this way:
Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as
righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.[v]
But In Romans 8:30, we read: “and those whom he justified he also glorified. The implication is that God does something to those whom he “justified”. For God to “glorify” the believer is not to proclaim how great the believer is, or to clothes us in white robes and give us a halo in heaven. It is to make the believer to be like Himself. We become “like Christ”. We show the world the “heaviness of God”. This is the “end goal” of salvation. Consider the following simple example: God defines truth. We can say God “is” truth.[vi] Thus the 9th commandment: You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. False witness violates the very nature or character of God. Thus, when you tell the truth, you show the world the character of God – you glorify Him!
Some implications of glorification
The gospel is deep and wide in its implications. Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin, he satisfies the wrath of God,[vii] he cleanses us from our sin,[viii] he pays the debt we owe to God,[ix] we have “peace” with God.[x] These are all precious parts of the gospel, but they are not the total gospel. In the Garden, Adam and Eve, being in the image of God,[xi] were “God’s people” and He was “their God”. He dwelt with them in the midst of the Garden. When Adam and Eve fell, God’s image was severely marred, creation was cursed,[xii] and they were driven from the garden.[xiii] Restoration became the goal of the gospel. The promise of the Covenant, running throughout scripture, reveals this: “I will be your God and you will be my people”[xiv] The restoration of creation depends on the restoration of mankind. Glorification achieves this goal. This is why we read in Ephesians that God’s predestined plan is that those who “hope in Christ will be to the praise of His Glory.”[xv]
This is the day that “all creation is groaning for” – the revelation of the son of God.[xvi] Glorification is the end goal of redemption, for then all creation will be set from the bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.[xvii]
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.[xviii] Rejoice! If you are a believer in Jesus Christ you will be like Him. You will be glorified.
Martin B. Blocki has served since 2003 as the Associate Pastor of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North Hills in Pittsburgh, PA since 2002. He is a counselor at the Biblical Counseling Institute in Pittsburgh. Rev. Blocki graduated from Indiana University, Bloomington (BME), Arizona State University (MM), and the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary (MDiv). Martin and his wife, Kathy, have two married sons, one daughter, and four grandchildren.
[i] Romans 8:23-25
[ii] Romans 8:29
[iii] Westminster Shorter Catechism, question #4. What is God? God is a Spirit…
[iv] This list is obviously partial!!!
[v] Question #33.
[vi] John 14:6
[vii] Leviticus Chapter 1 foreshadows this portion of the work of Christ. Romans 3:25
[viii] Leviticus chapter 4 foreshadows this portion of the work of Christ. Psalm 51:2. 1 John 1:9
[ix] Leviticus chapters 5 & 6 foreshadow this portion of the work of Christ. Col 2:14
[x] Leviticus chapter 3 foreshadows this portion of the work of Christ. Romans 5:1
[xi] Genesis 1:26
[xii] Genesis 3:16-19
[xiii] Genesis 3:22-24
[xiv] Jeremiah 30:22, Heb 8:10
[xv] Ephesians 1:12
[xvi] Romans 8:19
[xvii] Romans 8:21
[xviii] Philippians 1:6