Glorification is the final benefit of redemption in the ordo salutis, the “order of salvation” that describes the order in which the saving benefits of Christ are applied to His people. The glorification of believers is grounded in the glorification of the Mediator after His accomplishment of the work of redemption. In the application of redemption to individuals, regeneration is the beginning of glorification because it is the creation of a new nature that will come to its fullest expression when we are glorified. Believers will experience the glorification of their whole person as a result of their union with Christ. Glorification is sanctification, our renewal after the image of Christ, made perfect. The Holy Spirit is the agent of the glorification of God’s people. God will immediately glorify all believers in the resurrection on the last day, conforming them perfectly to the image of His risen and glorified Son. The glorification of believers will include being renewed to perfection by God, without sin, in their glorified bodies.
In the ordo salutis, God applies all the saving benefits of Christ to the elect in their proper order. From predestination to glorification, believers become the recipients of all the blessings of the redemption accomplished by Christ on the basis of His sinless life, atoning death, and resurrection from the dead. Glorification is the final benefit of redemption applied to believers in the golden chain of salvation (Rom. 8:29–31). The Westminster Confession of Faith summarizes the essence of the doctrine of glorification when it contrasts the resurrection of the unjust and the just on the last day: “The souls of the righteous, being then made perfect in holiness, are received into the highest heavens, where they behold the face of God, in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies. . . . The bodies of the unjust shall, by the power of Christ, be raised to dishonor: the bodies of the just, by His Spirit, unto honor; and be made conformable to His own glorious body” (32.1, 3).
Since God savingly unites believers to Jesus Christ when He redeems them, they are guaranteed a share in all the blessings secured by Christ. Those God has already justified in time He will glorify for all eternity. As Jesus was glorified in His humanity in His resurrection from the dead, so all who are united to Him by faith will be partakers of the same glorification. The Holy Spirit is the agent of glorification, as He is the agent of the application of all the other benefits of redemption. The Spirit unites believers to Christ by whom they will be glorified on the last day. The glory by which believers will be transformed is the glory of the risen Son of God.
The regeneration of sinners is the beginning of their glorification. Sanctification is the process by which the transformation begun in regeneration is continued in this life, and this transformation is finally completed in the believer’s glorification. Since the Spirit indwells believers and imparts the glory of Christ to them in this life, it can be said that there is an already/not-yet aspect to glorification. Conformity to the image of Christ that the Spirit begins in a believer in this life is brought to full fruition in the age to come. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18).
All true believers will experience the glorification of their souls and bodies at the same time. There is no preference of one saint over another. Though Scripture teaches that glorification is the final application of the redemption of Christ, there is much that we do not know about what we will be like in our glorified bodies (1 John 3:2). However, Scripture clearly reveals that believers will be free from sin and misery and will be placed in a state in which they are unable to sin in glory for all eternity. God will dwell forever with His glorified people in the new heavens and new earth. The final chapters of the Bible reveal the details of the consummation of all things. As Richard Phillips explains, “The Bible concludes with a picture of a glorified city, the New Jerusalem, in which God’s people will live forever in glory.”
We get the highest hope, the most incredible promise in the New Testament—we will see God’s face (Rev. 22:4). All of our lives we can come close to the Lord, we can sense His presence, and we can talk with Him, but we cannot see His face. But if we persevere through the pain and the suffering of this present world, the vision of God waits for us on the other side. Can you imagine it? Can you imagine looking into the unveiled glory of God for one second? It will make every pain I’ve ever experienced in this world worth it to see that. ‘These words are trustworthy and true’ (Rev. 22:6)—not salve or opium to dull our present pain but the truth of Almighty God, who made us, who knows us, who by the suffering of His Son has redeemed His people. He has now guaranteed that if we are in Christ by faith alone, we are bound for glory, and nothing can derail that train. So, these former things that cause us so much grief will pass away, and He will make all things new.