Jun 4, 2012

Our Glorious Future

1 John 3:2

“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.”

The Nicene Creed, which is itself an expansion of the Apostles’ Creed, refers to the Holy Spirit as “the giver of life.” This title reflects the close association throughout the Bible of God the Holy Spirit with both physical and spiritual life. The Spirit hovered over the primordial waters at creation (Gen. 1:1–2), anticipating the moment when, according to the Father, and at the Son’s command, He would bring forth life. Ezekiel 36:27 looks forward to God’s placing His Spirit within His people so that they will follow His law. “It is the Spirit who gives life,” says Jesus in John 6:63, for the Spirit’s work of regeneration is required if we are to see our need to repent of our sins and trust in Christ (3:1–8).

Romans 8:11 ascribes the work of resurrection to the Holy Spirit; thus, the Apostles’ Creed and Nicene Creed include the Christian belief in the resurrection in their discussion of the Spirit. The resurrection of believers completes their glorification. At the last day, Jesus will return and our bodies will be raised imperishable (1 Cor. 15). The souls of those who died before this day will have been waiting in heaven for this moment; they will be reunited with their bodies, and we will enjoy eternal life in a new creation wherein righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:13). According to the Father’s plan, the Holy Spirit will vivify the mortal bodies of those who are in Christ and grant our physical flesh immortality. The Spirit will have already perfected the souls of those who were waiting in heaven (Heb. 12:22–24), and He will purify our physical bodies from corruption at the resurrection.

In sum, we will be conformed finally and fully, in body and soul, to the image of Christ Jesus our Lord. This is the great comfort of the resurrection, as the Heidelberg Catechism explains (Q&A 57). We do not know everything about what life will be like as resurrected, glorified people. First John 3:2 tells us as much. Yet, it also tells us that we will “be like him,” that is, our Savior. Like Jesus, we will never have to die again (Rom. 6:8–9). We may also surmise that, although we will be different, we will be recognizable to those who have known us, for Jesus’ friends all recognized the risen Christ, even if not at first (Luke 24:13–35; John 20:11–18). Finally, we will be glorified, unable to sin ever again (Phil. 3:11–12; 2 Tim. 4:8).

Coram Deo

Christ’s work of salvation is comprehensive, involving not only rescue from the penalty and power of sin but also from sin’s corruption. We who are in Jesus can look forward to the day when even our bodies will be perfected, and the Spirit, who dwells within us now, will be the One to perfect our bodies. On that day, we will be like Jesus, and we are to pattern our lives after His example now in glorious anticipation of that final day.

For Further Study