14-06-2016 THE GLORY THAT
WILL BE OURS - PART THREE
By John Aldworth
Heb. 2:6-7: What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? Or the Son of Man that Thou visitest Him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; Thou crownest Him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands.
Rom. 8:21: Because the creature itself also shall be delivered bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God.
Col. 3:4: When Christ, who is our life, shall appear then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.
Thus far in this study series we have seen that God's original purpose in creation was that man should be crowned with 'glory and honour'. And that purpose is ongoing. Accordingly, the verb 'crownest' in Heb. 2:7, is in the present tense indicating that although Adam forfeited his honour and glory through sin God will restore glory to his saved descendants.
God's promise to do this, to restore glory to man, is re-iterated in several places in the Bible. Ps. 84:11 says, The Lord will give grace and glory. In Rom. 8:18 the Apostle Paul declares:
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.
This glory refers to the 'manifestation of the sons of God' (vs. 19), which the Apostle goes on to describe as 'the glorious liberty of the children of God'. That is the freedom of liberty of glory. Verses 29 and 30 spell out the process by which this glory is given by God:
It is by conformation to the image of his Son and, step by step, involves predestination, calling, justification and, wait for it, being glorified. Verse 21 says 'the creature itself', i.e. the whole creation on earth, shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption.
This glory and liberty, is, of course, the 'earthly' glory that will be revealed in the coming Day of Christ, which is the 'pre-millennial kingdom of God', as Bible teacher Tom Ballinger has rightly termed it. The earthly glory evidently differs only in degree from the glory which awaits those saved in the heavenly calling of the 'church which is his body', the 'mystery' church over which Christ Jesus is Head (Eph. 1:22-23).
That is, the heavenly glory is brighter than that of its earthly counterpart. This is necessarily so because in heaven we will be in and with Christ who will then shine with the fullness of the Father's glory. The important difference between these two glories is made clear in the doctrinal 'resurrection' pronouncements of 1 Cor. 15. For example, verses 40-42 teach emphatically:
There are celestial (that is, heavenly) bodies, and bodies terrestrial (that is, earthly): but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of
the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead ...
It is important to realise that we can't choose what sort of glory we will be given, any more than we can choose which body we will be resurrected with. This is because God Himself decides what our resurrection body will be like. And He only does that after our death as believers, which, in this passage, is likened to the sowing of seed.
As 1 Cor. 15:37 states: '... that which thou sowest is not quickened except it die'. We are then told (vs. 38) of this seed that 'God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him, and to every seed his own body.'
So, thankfully, the choice has already been made as to what sort of body and what sort of glory, we grace-saved believers in the 'high calling' of Phil. 3:14 will receive. Thus Phil. 3:20-21 teaches that ...
The Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ ... shall change our vile body that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working, whereby He is able to subdue all things unto Himself.
Nevertheless, whether our future destiny be on earth, or in heaven, whether we will have an earthly or heavenly glory, there is one condition that we and all believers must meet in order to qualify for glorification. It is that we first suffer with Christ.
Rom. 8:17-18 sets out this truth for believers in the Acts period calling, whose destiny, we believe, is to be resurrected back on earth. (Note that there is no scripture in the Acts period literature telling these saints of the Pentecostal dispensation that their destiny lies in heaven. Rather their expectation, like that of the Apostle John, was that they would reign with Christ on earth [see Rev. 20:4]). The verse says:
And if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ, if so be we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us.
2 Tim. 2:10-12 sets out a similar but slightly different process for we who are in the high and heavenly calling. (By the way, to ascertain that this calling is indeed heavenly and not earthly, see Phil. 3:14, Col. 3:1-4, 2 Tim. 4:18, Col.1:13). The passage says, the Apostle Paul speaking:
Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes that they may also obtain this salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. It is a faithful saying that if we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we suffer, we shall reign with Him; if we deny Him, He will also deny us.
Note that our salvation comes 'in Christ Jesus with eternal glory'. This touches on the important mystery dispensation teaching that, spiritually and positionally, we have already been quickened by God together with Christ and baptised by God into Christ's death and resurrection (Col. 2:12). Furthermore, we have been made to 'sit together in heavenly places in Christ' (Eph. 2:6).
Such a wonderful salvation was really only forecast in the Acts period. That is to say that it was not spiritually realised or practically experienced as a matter of the heart at that time. Rather it was hinted at as something yet to come.
Granted, it may have become part of the Apostle Paul's experience during the Acts period as the Lord continued to show him 'those things in the which I will appear unto thee' (Acts 26: 16). However, I beg leave to doubt whether any man, even the Apostle Paul was fully 'in Christ' in that dispensation? Certainly, God the Father did not reveal the experiential fullness of being 'found in Christ' to Paul during the Acts dispensation, for the apostle says that he was still seeking it in Phil. 3:9-10.
Actually, the strongest pre-prison epistle reference to being 'in Christ' is, 'If any man be in Christ Jesus He is a new creature' (2 Cor. 5:17). Here the 'if' is both prospective and conditional. This is because being 'in Christ' only becomes an accomplished spiritual fact received by faith in the mystery revelation of Paul's prison epistles and, again, it depends on us continuing to be 'found in Christ'.
Thankfully, our being 'in Christ' is secured for us eternally through our being 'resurrected with Christ'. By a miracle of grace God has proclaimed us already 'risen with Christ' (Col. 2:12-13) and, since He has done it, no man can undo it.
Accordingly, in the day of Christ which is to come our glory will always be conditional on our being 'in Christ'. This is because He is the only man thus far to have been 'crowned with glory and honour' (Heb. 2:9). Despite that being true, nevertheless a real crown and real glory truly do await us. Thus the Apostle Paul in his last letter to Timothy (2 Tim. 4:8) was certain that:
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge shall give me at that day: and not to me only but unto all them that love his appearing.
Thus far in this study series we have learned that our future glory, whether it be on earth or in heaven, will only come through resurrection. And that resurrection will take place in the Day of Christ 'at his appearing and his kingdom' (2 Tim. 4:1) when the Lord in glory will 'judge the quick and the dead'. There are, however, different resurrections as 1 Cor. 15:23 clearly teaches.
We who are called and saved in the mystery dispensation are resurrected as 'Christ the first fruits' in that already we have been (spiritually speaking) raised up out of death together with Christ (Eph. 2:5-6 and Col. 2:12). That is to say, that as we have already been made one with Christ irrevocably, in his death burial and resurrection, we necessarily appear with Him in heavenly resurrection glory.
However, there are other resurrection differences. For example, those in the earthly calling see by faith the resurrected, ascended Lord 'seated at the right hand of the Father (Heb. 1:3). However, in terms of 'Jesus Christ preached according to the revelation of the mystery' (Rom. 16:25, Eph. 3:1-4), our view, by faith, is of Christ being 'hid with God', and our life with Him, until his appearing in glory (Col. 3:4).
©john aldworth 2016