The Hope of Glorification


Whenever I would have a nightmare as a child, I would run to my parents’ door and wake them for comfort. Without fail, my mom would tell me to think on what heaven would be like in order that I might find my comfort in the sinless future promised to believers. I cherish that encouragement from my mom and the innocence of my young mind imagining mansions (I was reared on the King James) and streets of gold, and more importantly my fascination with Christ’s return, as in my mind’s eye, I envisioned him coming for us in the clouds.

Greater yet is the Apostle John’s encouragement to us in his first epistle where he writes, “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” (1 Jn. 3:2).[1] Thus, John sets out what we know historically as the Beatific Vision. Put simply, when we see Jesus (the Vision), we will be made like him (Glorification), because we shall see him as he is. John also states that we are uncertain of what exactly this transformation will be like because he has not yet appeared. There is a hope, an expectant certainty of this reality of which John speaks, as he relays in the verse following the one above. In so doing, John also calls his readers to pursue a certain way of living. John states, “And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure” (1 Jn. 3:3). In other words, though we do not know what we will be like in total, we know because Jesus is pure that we also should pursue purity. In what follows, I want to pastorally address how we are to understand the hope of glorification as a motivation for purity.

Glorification as a Motivation for Purity

John’s encouragement concerning Christ’s appearing is couched in the middle of his letter-wide theme of those who know God not pursuing sin. John uses phrases like “walking in light” instead of “darkness” to indicate proper fellowship with God and being cleansed from sin because of the blood of Jesus (1 Jn. 1:7). Within the same context he calls believers to confess their sins because we all sin and Christ has provided forgiveness of that sin (1 Jn.1:8–2:2). John then goes on to say that this fellowship with God is expressed as well in the way we love the brothers and sisters of the church and that those who love God and brethren do not love the world (1 Jn. 2). He then begins to speak of the appearing of Christ and the believer who has “confidence and [does] not shrink back,” because they are righteous due to his righteousness. We can see this as grounding our glorification in our justification. Paul also relays this truth in Romans 8:29–30:

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Notice Paul’s take on the doctrine of glorification. He speaks of the conforming of believers to the image of Christ, which seems to be that which is presently happening, yet those whom God justified will also be glorified—the completion of the conforming of believers to the image of Christ is glorification. Just before this is Paul’s call to the believer to live according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh (Rom. 8:1–14) and yet explains that those who are in Christ will suffer, like Christ suffered and that we (along with creation) groan for the redemption of our bodies, that which we rightly call glorification in theology.

Confessing the Motivation of Purity which Glorification Brings

Therefore, we see the correlation of our justification, sanctification, and glorification. That we who have such a hope would live as Christ lived, suffering with hope, and purifying ourselves as we look to that hope. It is not with anticipation of earning anything, since Christ has already earned it for us, but rather with anticipation of our final transformation in being conformed to the resurrected image of the eternal Son. The Reformed confessions (e.g., Westminster, Second London Confession) speak of this hope in various ways, sometimes as the hope of the resurrection and sometimes in the verbiage of judgment. The Second London Confession speaks of the resurrection as “the last day, such of the saints as are found alive, shall not sleep, but be changed. and all the dead shall be raised up with the selfsame bodies, and none other; although with different qualities, which shall be united again to their souls forever.”[2] Subsequent to this concerning judgment the same confession states, “for then shall the righteous go into everlasting life, and receive that fulness of joy and glory with everlasting rewards, in the presence of the Lord,” and

As Christ would have us to be certainly persuaded that there shall be a day of judgment, both to deter all men from sin, and for the greater consolation of the godly in their adversity, so will he have the day unknown to men, that they may shake off all carnal security, and be always watchful, because they know not at what hour the Lord will come.[3]

We see from these summaries of our faith the hope and joy of glorification, and yet also the motivation of purity that comes from that hope. Therefore, the believer who has been justified, and is being sanctified, will be glorified at the moment we behold the beauty of God in the face of Jesus. And the response to this in the here and now is that we would put on Christ Jesus as our garment of righteousness, purifying ourselves as he is pure awaiting this Beatific Vision. This means that even as we live with our eyes upon this world proclaiming the truth of the Gospel, the hope of our salvation found in the Gospel also points our eyes heavenward, with the hope and comfort of his appearing and with such anticipation we are not only calmed of our fears (as when I was a child), but also compelled by such great grace and hope that will live our lives for him awaiting his return!

Christ as the Fullest Hope of our Glorification

When Christ does return, the reality of our glorification which we cannot fully now know will be known, because we will know as we have been known (1 Cor. 13:12). It is to say that our hope is not in the what of our glorification, but the who of our glorification. When we see Christ as he is, it will be a vision unfettered by sin and thus we can experience the reality of Christ’s presence in a way that no human has experienced. This is not dependent on one’s purity, even though it is a motivation for our purity. The end goal is not that one would claim some achievement; the end goal is Christ, because he is pure and therefore our delight. Therefore, while our feet are firmly pressed to the earth and while we from gratitude do the work Christ has called us to do, we also gaze heavenward longing to see the face of the one who has transformed us, is transforming us, and will transform us when we see him who radiates the beauty of God in his appearing.


See also The Beauty of Christ and the Formation of the Soul

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016).

[2] Second London Confession, 31.2.

[3] Second London Confession, 32.2, 3.

Picture of Jason B. Alligood

Jason B. Alligood

Jason B. Alligood is the Teaching Pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Peoria, Illinois. He holds a PhD in Systematic Theology from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has been married to Amber since 1997 and together they have three children: Jonah, Karis, and Aubrey.
Picture of Jason B. Alligood

Jason B. Alligood

Jason B. Alligood is the Teaching Pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Peoria, Illinois. He holds a PhD in Systematic Theology from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has been married to Amber since 1997 and together they have three children: Jonah, Karis, and Aubrey.