During the sermon yesterday I extemporaneously spoke about our glorification being done in an instant and how that humbles us. I was working off of a statement I heard several years ago from Pastor Andy Davis that I found to be helpful, encouraging, and humbling. During a sermon, regarding our final glorification, Davis said something along the lines of: “at the moment of our glorification God does in an instant what we couldn’t accomplish in a lifetime.” For the sake of clarity let me expound upon this further.
Justification: We are justified by faith alone as Ephesians makes clear: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works so that no one may boast” (2:8-9). We make no contribution to our justification. Only through the work of Christ (His perfect life, death, resurrection) on our behalf can we be justified. When we look to Christ in faith we are justified, meaning He pays the penalty for our sin and credits to us His righteousness.
Sanctification: The Bible also makes clear that in saving us God intends to sanctify us. In justification, God has declared us righteous and in sanctification, God is making us righteous. In short, it is the process of Him making us more and more like Jesus. As we saw in Romans 8:5-13 the Lord has given us everything we need for this process including His Spirit indwelling us. In fact, as Jesus made clear, we can’t do it apart from Him (John 15:5). Yet, the Bible makes clear that sanctification does involve our effort. Paul wrote: “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12b-13). We are to work out (effort) what God works in us. However, without God’s work in us, there would be nothing for us to work out. This working out is a lifelong process.
Glorification: God will bring to completion our salvation when Christ returns at the consummation of the age. John writes; “we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2b). On that day God will complete our salvation in an instant and we will be like Christ. We will be without sin (we will also receive glorified bodies). This is what Pastor Davis meant by his statement. In an instant the process of sanctification, in which we worked and toiled all our redeemed earthly lives, will be brought to fulfillment. That’s humbling! That’s God’s power and grace! By the way, John makes clear that if we understand this to be our end it doesn’t make us lax about sanctification. In other words, assurance of glorification doesn’t produce apathy about sanctification. Instead, this hope makes us care all the more about our sanctification. Verse 3 reads; “And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”