Thursday, June 21, 2007

Can a Christian sin habitually?: Part 5

GLORIFICATION: THE "NOW" AND THE "NOT YET"


It may surprise unbelievers that Christians are not perfect nor are they supposed to be; as a matter of fact, that might surprise some Christians. I still like the bumpsticker that says "Christians aren't perfect...just forgiven." Apparently not many people read it and heed it. No, this is not a bumpersticker kind of theology that says it's okay for a Christian to sin; it merely tells the truth, the truth of God's grace shown to us in Jesus Christ. Peter says it plainly in his second epistle but all the New Testament epistles remind us that we have our part in this blessed process called sanctification; Peter tells believers to "add to your faith."


But there will come a time when the believer finally realizes his/her wish for complete and final deliverance from sin and all its ugliness that our mortal bodies continue to emit.


We theologians often speak of the work of God in the believer as being three-fold, "justification, sanctification, and glorification." And yes, I are a theologian. And we rightly emphasize that all three are the work of God. The three-fold works come in a single unit we call salvation. The first, justification, is the only one of the three that is exclusively a "one time" work; sanctification and glorification begin at justification or salvation and continue as a process throughout the believer's life. Out of the three, only justification and glorification will remain in our glorified state in the presence of our Lord. Sanctification is a necessity for the believer while in this mortal flesh and on this temporal sod; it will be completed in our glorification.



THE GLORY NOW



The Lord Jesus prayed for us in what we know as His "high priestly prayer" found in John's gospel, chapter 17. In this prayer the word "glory" in various forms occurs 8 times, the glory of God and the Lord Jesus being primary. However, we, Christ's disciples, are included even in the glory that is God's. Verses 9-10"I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them." Verse 22 and v. 24, "And the glory which You gave Me I have given them...that they may behold My glory which You have given Me." This is one of the most glorious passages in the Word of God (no pun intended), that the glorious Lord Jesus Christ would give to His disciples His glory. This motley crue of fishermen and a tax collector certainly didn't deserve His marvelous gift of glory, but it has nothing to do with deserving, does it?



The intention of the Holy Spirit in providing us with this passage of holy scripture was that we might apply it to ourselves as well as to the original disciples (II Tim.3:16-17). That we can indeed apply this gift of glory to ourselves is borne out in vv. 20 and 21: "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their words; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me." This is almost too wonderful to read, much less believe.



In Jesus' words in v.22, we find a very important verb in a very important and significant tense in the Greek text, "I have given." This is one word in the Greek text, a single verb, dedoka (please forgive the transliteration). The verb is perfect active indicative and means that Jesus is the one who has given us a gift (active voice, Jesus acted) at one time in our history (indicative mood, the mood of reality) that is still ours today (perfect tense). The very significant perfect tense means that something that occured in our past is still in affect today. This glory once given can never be rescinded. Beloved, "the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable" (Rom. 11:29).



This "glory" that is ours and always will be ours means that we now possess or are possessed by the "manifestation" of the holiness of God, and His love, mercy, forgiveness, and grace. Glory is a manifestation that honors God. As God is glorified in Jesus Christ, those in Christ glorify Him as well.



Do you recall what was lost in the fall, that thing that we "fall short of?" Paul tells us in Rom. 3:23 that we "have all sinned and fall short of" what? God's glory! But no longer does the believer fall short of God's glory. In Christ and only through Christ is that glory restored.



There was a great "mystery" veiled during the time of the Old Testament saints (I Pet. 1:10-12) that was not to be unveiled until the work of Christ was finished. That mystery included the salvation of yours truly and every Gentile who has and ever will come to faith in Christ. "The mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:24-29 for context). This is where the glory lost has been regained among God's fallen creatures. This is a "now" kind of glory, ours most assuredly through Christ who is indeed "in you." The glory has been restored.