Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Inaugurated Eschatological Glory

What is Inaugurated Eschatology? Basically it’s an understanding that in Christ’s death and resurrection we have begun to experience the new life that will be completed at the return of Christ. It’s a way of understanding how we can be seated in heavens where Christ is and yet still be living here on earth. In the New Testament we constantly find what many have called the “Already, not yet” aspect of what Christ has done for us.

A passage that I’ve been thinking about this week is 2 Corinthians 3:17-18. In this passage we are told that we are currently being changed from one degree of glory to another through our gazing upon the glory of the Lord.

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And 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 [lit. from glory to glory]. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:17-18 ESV

On the other hand, in 1 Corinthians 15 Paul says that in the future, at the return of Christ, we will be changed when we see Christ. That is, we will glorified.

Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.
1 Corinthians 15:49-53 ESV

So we see that we have been and are being glorified, and yet someday we will be perfectly glorified. So my question is this, “To what extent are we glorified before the return of Jesus?”

While there are various concepts behind the Hebrew and Greek words for glory, the one that I'm thinking about is the concept of “weightiness.” One aspect of God’s glory is that he is set firmly. He is not movable. He does not change like shifting shadows. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. This is one key aspect of the glory that we will share with our Father when in heaven.

Before the fall Adam was able not to sin. After the fall Adam was not able not to sin. In Christ we are again able not to sin, but still stuck in a corrupted body which is prone to sin. In heaven we will be “immovable,” that is, not able to sin. This is our hope of glory. We will become like he is. We will be saved from the power of sin and will rule over it. We will not be tossed to and fro by every wave of doctrine or blown about by every wind of passion.

Yet even now, as we read God’s word to gaze upon his glory, we are slowly being transformed into his image. We are becoming heavy with righteousness. We are putting on the full armor of God and it is weighing us down. This work of God in us is providing an anchor in this dark and turbulent world that allows Paul to command:

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV

In other words, be weighty!

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