The Doctrine of Glorification

A Holistic Portrayal of the Doctrine of Glorification

Curated from a video series by Tom Barnes

Course Introduction

About the Course

Course Introduction Summary

The words of Romans 8:29–30 have often been described as the “golden chain” of salvation. In these two verses Paul gives an over­view of God’s work in redeeming his church from beginning to end. The main point is that what God begins he will complete. What Christian has read these words and not been thrilled by them? “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be con­formed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”

Having been through formal theological training, having cut my pastoral teeth upon the Westminster Shorter Catechism, and having spent many years studying the Bible, I always believed that I had a good understanding of the terms in these verses such as “foreknew”, “predestined”, “called”, and “justified”. There was one ex­ception—“glorified”.


Please do not misunderstand. Whenever I came across this concept in the Scriptures I had a general idea of what was under consideration. I knew that it was “the final stage of the process of salvation . . . the point at which the doctrine of salvation and the doctrine of the last things overlap.” In other words, glorification is “the final phase of the application of redemption.” I knew that the doctrine of glorification involved the transformation of the believer and the final and ultimate stage of sanctification, and that the by-product would be the cessation of our struggle with sin and the resulting pain in this world.

Yet some issues always bothered me when I read of glorifica­tion. To begin, why does the Bible speak of God glorifying us, or of that ultimate state being one of glory (Rom. 2:7; 8:18)? Why is this process not spoken of as being “ultimately sanctified” or sim­ply “made perfect”? What is behind the use of the word “glory”?


Related to this issue, if the reader of the Bible could come to understand what was behind the use of this term, would there be some understanding of God’s plan of redemption and what He is doing in the lives of saints, which many Christians have been missing?


And there are the more obvious questions: What is involved in glorification? When does it take place? What will our glorified bodies be like? Does this future reality have bearing upon the life of the saint in the present? If so, what is it? What impact does it have on the church?

Armed with all these questions, I turned to systematic the­ology works, theological dictionaries and other tomes, and kept my eyes open as I worked my way through scholarly journals and Christian periodicals. To my surprise, I found out that very little writing has been done in recent years on the doctrine of glorifi­cation, even though I was beginning to suspect that it had tre­mendous ramifications for a person’s faith and hope. I was not alone in this assessment. Millard Erickson commented over two decades ago, “The topic is one which receives little treatment in standard theology textbooks, and even less attention in sermons, yet it is rich in practical significance, for it gives believers encour­agement and strengthens their hope.” I am convinced that little has changed since Erickson penned those words.

A decade ago I began to collect information and take note of statements in the Bible which would relate to this topic. I decided that someday I would study glorification thoroughly for the pur­pose of my own growth and for that of teaching my own congre­gation. The results of what I have found have had such a profound impact that I decided that I needed to share them with a wider audience.

My prayer for you as you read this work is that your faith in our great Lord and his work in your life will be strengthened, that you will come to see with greater clarity the hope of your calling, that you will be moved to worship our Savior, and finally that your life will become a billboard for the glory of our sovereign God!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Tom Barnes

About Tom Barnes

Tom is pastor of Minden Evangelical Free Church and has been a pastor for over three decades. He is married to his best friend, Karen, and they have three children: Melissa and her husband, David, live in Wyoming with their daughters, Blaire and Bree, and their son, Brooks; Meagan and her husband, Jioni Reliford, live in Colorado with their son, Jayden; and Jeff lives in Nebraska. Tom has authored four books: Living In The Hope Of Future Glory (2005, Evangelical Press); Atonement Matters (2008, Evangelical Press); Every Word Counts (2010, Evangelical Press); and A Matter Of Life Or Death (2015, Evangelical Press).

Where It All Began

Reading Assignment

Read Living in the Hope of Future Glory, chapter 1.

Study Questions
  1. How would you define the glory which humans initially had in creation and which is restored through redemption? How does it relate to being created in the image of God?
  2. Is the desire for our life to be significant and to make a difference wrong in and of itself? Why or why not?
  3. Summarize what you learn about glorification from:
    1. God’s revelation of his glory to Moses in Exodus 33-34.
    2. Israel’s calling to be a light to the nations?
  4. It is often said that the Old Testament doesn’t have much to offer for the Bible’s teaching on bodily resurrection. In what ways was this refuted and/or confirmed in this chapter?
  5. What impact does this chapter have on:
    1. Your view of God?
    2. Your view of self and/or other people?
    3. Your living as a disciple of Jesus Christ who makes other disciples?

The Heart of the Matter

Reading Assignment

Read Living in the Hope of Future Glory, chapter 2.

Study Questions
  1. Explain why glorification is centered in Jesus Christ.
  2. What is meant by the affirmation, “Glorification is a future eschatological reality for the justified alone.”
  3. What impact does this chapter have on:
    1. Your view of God?
    2. Your view of self and/or other people?
    3. Your living as a disciple of Jesus Christ who makes other disciples?

Getting the “Talk” Right

Reading Assignment

Read Living in the Hope of Future Glory, chapter 3.

Study Questions
  1. If God saves mankind for his own glory (see Isaiah 43:25; Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14), in what way can it also be said that he saves mankind for the purpose that humans would be glorified (1 Cor. 2:7)? How is human glorification related to God’s glorification?
  2. There are some who argue that the glorification of the Christian refers only to the perfection into which believers enter at the Second Coming of Christ and their own bodily resurrection. Why does the chapter argue that glorification involves more? Which approach do you believe is most consistent with Scripture and why?
  3. Paul affirms in Romans 16:25 that we are strengthened according to the gospel. In what ways has this book so far deepened your trust in the entailments of the gospel, i.e. that in Jesus Christ we can do any or all of the following: Serve him faithfully, and with fruit? Continue to grow in him? Deal with besetting sins we have? Avoid being paralyzed by our fears? Avoid being paralyzed by depression?
  4. What impact does this chapter have on:
    1. Your view of God?
    2. Your view of self and/or other people?
    3. Your living as a disciple of Jesus Christ who makes other disciples?

Spiritual Transformation

Reading Assignment

Read Living in the Hope of Future Glory, chapter 4.

Study Questions
  1. Explain what is meant by the “intermediate state” and how we know the Bible teaches this.
  2. What is meant by “spiritual transformation”?
  3. What are some of the biblical passages that make it clear we will be transformed spiritually at death?
  4. Describe some of the changes that will take place in this spiritual transformation.
  5. What significance does this doctrine have for our future?
  6. What significance does this doctrine have for us and for those whom we are discipling in the present?

Physical Transformation

Reading Assignment

Read Living in the Hope of Future Glory, chapter 5.

Study Questions
  1. Many Christians think about our future eternal state being one of a disembodied existence in an ethereal heaven. Why is it important for us to remember that we will someday be resurrected and live eternally as glorified saints—both in spirit and in body?
  2. Briefly summarize the biblical evidence for the saints’ future bodily resurrection.
  3. How and why is the resurrection of Jesus Christ necessary for the believer’s future resurrection? Why is this important to remember?
  4. Briefly describe what the future physical transformation in the resurrection will be like.
  5. What difference do the truths of chapter five make for you as you make disciples?  As you seek faithfully to follow Christ? What difference do they make for those you are discipling?

Reputation Transformation

Reading Assignment

Read Living in the Hope of Future Glory, chapter 6.

Study Questions
  1. What is involved in the future reputational transformation of saints?
  2. Explain what the ultimate goal of this transformation is.
  3. In light of how God has created us to function, why is this future transformation so important?
  4. In what ways do the truths of Chapter Seven strengthen you for mission and in what ways should it strengthen those whom you are discipling?

Environmental Transformation

Reading Assignment

Read Living in the Hope of Future Glory, chapter 7.

Study Questions
  1. List the discoveries you make in this chapter about what the new heaven and new earth will be like.
  2. How do these discoveries differ from what you had previously believed?
  3. In what ways does the content of this chapter help you as a disciple of Jesus Christ? How does it help you trust in Christ and be strengthened by the gospel? How does it help you disciple others?


Reading Assignment

Read Living in the Hope of Future Glory, conclusion.

Study Questions
  1. After reading the book summary on pages 263-65, see if you can repeat in your own words what it says. With whom can you share this message (your spouse, children, a friend, someone whom you are discipling)? When will you share this message with them?
  2. T. M. Moore, cited in Donald S. Whitney, Praying the Bible (Wheaton, Crossway, 2015), chapter two, has said: “Nothing has brought more vigor, satisfaction, and consistency to my own prayers as this single discipline [of praying Scripture].” I agree! What parts of the summary (especially those things listed under “Some Key Discoveries”) in this Conclusion do you want to put in your prayer journal or on your prayer list so you can regularly pray these biblical truths for yourself and others?
  3. What parts of this conclusion lead you to: Praise God? To give thanks to him?
  4. Is there any way in which the Spirit of God has moved you to confess a lack of trust in or obedience to our Savior?
  5. In what ways has this book deepened your trust in God that “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6)?