19. The Glory of God (Romans 8:30)
And whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
A friend of mine had quite a disturbing experience while attending a Dallas Seminary Lay Institute class. One evening before going to class, he stopped at the restroom just outside the library stairs. As he was about to leave a few moments later, he heard the sound of two women’s voices growing louder and louder as they approached. Realizing that within seconds they would be entering the same restroom, my friend was horrified. Panic-stricken, he wondered if he had entered the wrong restroom, or were the two women about to make a serious mistake?
Making a quick decision, my friend raced back into the restroom, entered one of the stalls, closed, and locked the door. Quickly lifting his feet so his shoes could not be seen, a certain giveaway that one of them was the wrong gender, he waited until the two ladies left. When he felt they were out of sight, he made a dash for the door.
Unfortunately, two other ladies were about to enter. He repeated his same evasive tactics. He could not get out quickly enough when they left. Safely outside the restroom, he courageously peered over the doorway to see the sign. To his great relief and bewilderment, it read, “Men.”
The custodian was standing nearby, and my friend could not help but ask, “Is this the men’s restroom or the women’s?” Casually the custodian responded, “Oh, it’s the women’s. I change the sign every week, but I just didn’t get around to it tonight.” A matter of casual indifference to the custodian had become for my friend a matter of great distress.
Changing the labels can make a very significant difference. The terms of our text, “called,” “justified,” and “glorified,” are all theological labels. Their definitions are not a matter of unanimous agreement. Some differ over these labels out of conviction. Others, like the custodian, are simply too casual as though it hardly matters. But people’s lives are greatly affected by the way we understand the calling, justification, and glorification of the people of God. It is for this reason that we are taking one lesson to study these three terms.
Each of these three crucial terms in Romans 8:30 could be the subject of a separate study, but here we will deal with the terms together in one single study. Each term will not receive the same amount of attention. Rather we will consider these three words not so much in terms of their importance as in terms of our ignorance or misunderstanding of them.
Justification will receive the least amount of attention for two reasons. First, Paul has already clearly taught the doctrine of justification in Romans 1-4. A second reason is that Christians generally understand and agree on what is meant by this term. Because its meaning is not nearly as well understood or agreed upon, the term “called” will receive more attention. Also poorly understood is the term “glorified,” not so much out of informed disagreement as out of ignorance.
The three terms will be studied individually before we seek to understand them in relationship to each other. As we come to an understanding of the meaning of this verse, we will then interpret and apply it in the context of verses 28-30 of chapter 8 as a whole, and in light of the argument of the entire Book of Romans.
Those Whom He Predestined, He Called
The term “called” is used in the Bible in a variety of ways, with the usage in the New Testament closely following its use in the Old. Consider the following summary of some of the major categories of the use of the term “call” in both the Old and the New Testaments.
(1) To call into existence, to create (Isaiah 41:4). Certain events are said to be called into existence by God, such as weeping (Isaiah 22:12); drought (Haggai 1:11); famine (2 Kings 8:1; Psalm 105:16); rain (Amos 5:8); and the sword (Jeremiah 25:29).
(2) To give a name.213 In the first chapter of Genesis, God named day and night (1:5, 8). In the next chapter Adam, who was created in God’s image, named the animals (2:19) and his wife (2:23). The one who gives the name is greater than the person or thing named. God names that which He has created (see Isaiah 40:26).
(3) To give a new name. God not only names, He renames. God changed the names of Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 17:5, 15). The Lord Jesus changed Simon’s name to Cephas or Peter (John 1:21). The new name given is indicative of a new destiny, brought about by God who controls men’s destiny (see Isaiah 56:5; 62:2, 4; 65:13-15; Jeremiah 19:6; Daniel 1:7; Revelation 2:17).
(4) To some, God gives His own name (see Deuteronomy 28:10; 2 Chronicles 7:14; Isaiah 43:7; Revelation 3:12; compare Isaiah 63:19).
(5) God calls by name (Isaiah 43:1; 45:3-4). The word “call” is specific. This call may be of an individual (like Abraham, Isaiah 51:2) or of a group (see Isaiah 45:4; 48:12; Jeremiah 1:15).
(6) There is a more general call which is a broad invitation. This “call” may be rejected by men (see Proverbs 8:1, 4; 9:3, 15; Isaiah 66:4; Jeremiah 7:13; 35:17; Matthew 22:14). The use of “call” as a general invitation is rare in the Bible, Old Testament and New.
(7) To sovereignly summon. Most often in the Bible, the “call” of God is one that is sovereign. When God calls, that which is called responds:
Surely My hand founded the earth, And My right hand spread out the heavens; When I call to them, they stand together (Isaiah 48:13).
This call is purposed from eternity (Isaiah 41:4). In time, the call may come while one is still in the womb (Isaiah 49:1).
(8) God’s sovereign call is for a purpose. It is not an aimless call but a call to a certain destiny (see Isaiah 42:6; 43:7). That purpose is related to God’s glory (Isaiah 49:1-3; 55:5).
(9) God sovereignly calls men individually to salvation (Romans 1:6-7; 8:28, 30; 9:11, 24-25) and to service (Exodus 31:2; 25:30; Acts 13:1; Romans 1:1). The sovereign call of God is rooted in His choice (Isaiah 41:9; 45:4).
(10) The sovereign call of God is irrevocable, and thus it is the basis for our confidence in what He has purposed and promised (Isaiah 54:6, in context; Romans 11:20).
(11) God’s call is always an expression and outworking of His righteousness (Isaiah 41:2; 42:6).
Having considered the broad range of meanings the term “called” can have in the Bible, what meaning did Paul intend for his reader to understand here in Romans 8? From Paul’s use of the three terms related to calling in his epistles,214 we see that Paul consistently used this term to refer to the sovereign call of God. In particular, he used this term in the sense outlined in category nine above.
In the Book of Romans, not one instance of the term can be found which is inconsistent with the overwhelming sense of God’s sovereignty that prevails throughout the Bible. Note these references, for example:
Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God (Romans 1:1).
Among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 1:6-7).
As it is written, “A father of many nations have I made you” in the sight of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist (Romans 4:17).
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
For though the twins were not yet born, and had not done anything good or bad, in order that God’s purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls (Romans 9:11).
For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable (Romans 11:29).
It could not be any other way than for the sovereign God to summon sinners to faith in Jesus Christ. We were not righteous. We were not seeking Him. We did not understand (see Roman 3:10-18). God chose us in eternity past (“whom He foreknew,” Romans 8:29). For all those whom He chose, He predetermined a plan which would result in our good and His glory (“predestined,” Romans 8:29, 30). How could a sovereign God leave our salvation to us when we would never choose Him? How could He leave our salvation to chance (if there was such a thing)? The salvation which God sovereignly purposed in eternity past for those He chose, He started in motion in time by calling men to faith in Himself. God’s call is not merely an invitation; it is an irresistible summons. When He speaks thus (“calls”), His creation responds—in such a way as to do His will.
Do you find this kind of sovereignty troubling? It should not be. Apart from this kind of sovereignty, you would never have become a child of God. Apart from it, all the events which touch your life would not work for your ultimate good and for His ultimate purpose. If God’s purposes are to be fulfilled, He must be in charge at every step. And so He is. The calling of God is God’s sovereignty at work in drawing men to faith. Our salvation is not only the result of His work of redemption in Jesus; it is also the result of His sovereign calling.
Whom He Called, He Also Justified
We must state here that this sequence, laid out in Romans 8:29-30, is not all-encompassing. Paul is not attempting to trace out every element in the outworking of God’s purposes but rather to trace out the hand of God in achieving in the lives of His sons that which He purposed. Those whom God chose in eternity past, and whom He also calls in time, must also call upon Him for salvation (see Romans 10:8-15). But man’s role in salvation is not Paul’s emphasis here. Paul’s purpose here is to stress the security of the believer and the certainty of God’s promises. This cannot be achieved by focusing on man, but upon God. And so the sequence of events involved in man’s full and final salvation (including his sanctification and glorification) is laid out only in terms of that which God does. Romans 8:28-30 is a sketch of God’s sovereign and gracious activities which result in the salvation of sinful men.
Justification is the result of being called, and it is the basis for our glorification. Just as divine calling is necessary because we do not, cannot, and will not seek God, so our justification by God is necessary because we cannot justify ourselves.
Paul has already said much about justification in chapters 1-4 of Romans. Because of this, here we need do no more than review his teaching on the subject of justification. The doctrine of justification, as Paul has taught it to the Roman Christians in this Epistle, is set out below:
(1) Justification is God’s declaration that we are righteous. Man will be declared righteous if and when he lives according to the standard of righteousness which God has set down in the Law (see Romans 2:13, 23, 27).
(2) Righteousness is the basis for justification, and glory is its promised reward. To be declared righteous, one must be righteous. The hope of glory is promised to all who are righteous (see Romans 2:7, 10).
(3) God’s standard of righteousness is too high for men. Because we are sinners, there is no way that we can live in perfect obedience to the Law. The Law therefore justifies no one; it only serves to condemn us for our unrighteousness (Romans 3:10-20).
(4) Because all men are unrighteous, they have no hope of attaining to the glory of God by their own works (3:23).
(5) In His kindness, God provided a means for making men righteous and giving them eternal life. God made a way to forgive men, to give them eternal life, yet in a way consistent with His righteousness. God sent His own sinless Son to die for our sins. God’s wrath was poured out on Him, and His righteous anger was satisfied (propitiated). In Christ, God’s righteousness was made available to all who will receive it. Man receives God’s righteousness by faith, apart from works (Romans 3:21-26).
(6) The divine call of God opens men’s eyes to the truth of the gospel and their hearts toward Him. God’s call irresistibly draws men to Christ by faith, a faith which we are given by God (see Ephesians 2:1-10).
(7) Justification by faith eliminates all boasting in ourselves, and gives us ample basis for boasting in God, in His salvation, in the hope of glory, and even in present adversity (Romans 5, 8).
(8) This justification by faith is not an excuse for continuing to live in sin as we once did; rather it is the basis for living in obedience toward God, for living righteously (Romans 6).
Whom He Justified, He Also Glorified
We have come to the conclusion of Paul’s words in verses 28-30, to the culmination of the process God purposed in eternity past, and to the highest good known to man. Our glorification is the conclusion of the process Paul has been describing. It is the “good” of which Paul has spoken in verse 28. Because our glorification is so little understood, we will pursue at length this theme through the Bible.
Essentially there are but two kinds of glory in this world. There is the matchless, untarnished glory of God, and there is the tarnished, temporary glory of man. If we would understand our glorification, we must understand it in the context of the glory of God and against the backdrop of man’s glory.
The theme of the glory of God is best understood as it has been revealed. God has progressively revealed to us the doctrine of His glory, of its hope and promise for all who are the sons of God, and of its terror for all others. We will therefore endeavor to trace the theme of God’s glory from eternity past to eternity future. Only then can we understand the magnitude of that glorification which yet awaits those of us who know God in Christ.
We will consider the premises which should guide and govern our study, as well as the conclusions we will reach, before we begin to study the glory of God. These premises enumerated here are based upon the teaching of Paul in the Book of Romans.
(1) Glory and glorification must be understood in relationship to each other. Our glorification is to be understood in the light of Paul’s teaching about glory in Romans.
(2) Our glorification, while spoken of in the past tense, is yet future.
(3) Our glorification involves the redemption of our bodies and our adoption as sons (8:17-25; 9:4).
(4) Our glorification is certain (5:2), yet unseen (8:24-25).
(5) Our present suffering is preparatory and prerequisite to our future glorification (5:17).
(6) Our future glorification is God’s promised reward for the righteous, the “glory” of which Paul writes in Romans 2:7 and 10.
(7) Our future glorification is an extension or expression of God’s glory (5:2).
(8) The glory is that which God promised Israel and which Paul still speaks of as belonging to Israel (Romans 9:4).
Having set these premises before us, let us now trace the “glory of God” through the ages as described in the Bible. No more noble endeavor will ever come our way. Let us ask God to open our hearts and minds to His glory. It is indeed a transforming subject.
Satan was a magnificent being with a splendor second only to His Creator. But his reflected, secondary glory was not enough for him. He wanted more. He wanted God’s glory (Isaiah 14:12-14). Because of his greed for glory, Satan fell. All history is evidence of his continuing effort to tempt men to pursue a “God-like glory,” not by trusting in God but by striving to be like God.
When God made the heavens and the earth, He created Adam and Eve in His image. They were to reflect God’s image and His glory by ruling over creation. Satan tempted them to reach for a greater glory, the glory of being like God (see Genesis 3:5). When they followed Satan and disobeyed God, Adam and Eve fell, and all mankind fell with them (see Romans 5:12-21).
God created the universe as a showcase by which He could display His glory. Men were to see God’s glory in nature, and were obliged to glorify Him in worship. They refused, choosing rather to exchange the glory of God for a lesser glory, one which was like unto their own image. Because of this, men have shown themselves to be worthy of divine condemnation (Romans 1:18-23).
In the beginning, God’s glory was reflected in His creation and in man. Sin has tarnished the reflection of God’s glory. God chose a people to whom and through whom He could display His glory—the nation Israel. God’s glory was evident in His deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage (Numbers 14:22). It was evident in the wilderness, especially when the people sought to rebel against God (Exodus 16:7, 10; Numbers 14:10; 16:19, 42). God’s glory was revealed at Mt. Sinai, when He gave the Law to Moses (Exodus 24:16-17). It was also evident in the garments of the priest (Exodus 28:2, 40). It filled the tent of meeting (Exodus 29:42-43; 40:34-35; see also Leviticus 9:6, 23). Seeing God’s glory was the highest ambition and desire of Moses, a desire which God granted to him, in part (Exodus 33:18–34:8). When Israel went to war, God’s glory accompanied them in conjunction with the ark (see 1 Samuel 4:21-22).
Israel’s sin resulted in the manifestation of God’s glory in judgment (Exodus 16:7, 10; Numbers 14:10; 16:19, 42). Eventually God removed His glory from the midst of this people, as a judgment for their persistent sin (see 1 Samuel 4:21-22). When the tabernacle was replaced by the temple, the glory of God filled it (1 Chronicles 16:10; 2 Chronicles 7:1-3).
Israel’s glory was her God (1 Samuel 15:29). Glory belonged only to Him (1 Chronicles 29:11). Israel’s response to God’s glory was to glorify Him in worship (1 Chronicles 16:29). Even sinners were to give glory to God (see Joshua 7:19; 1 Samuel 6:5). Israel was not to worship idols because this would give glory to mere images, rather than to God. But beyond glorifying God in worship, Israel was to tell the nations of God’s glory (1 Chronicles 16:24). This is the heart of evangelism, then and now.
Israel did not glorify God. They turned from the God of glory to man-made idols. They did not obey His law. Justice and mercy were forgotten; worse yet, they were trampled under foot. Through His prophets, God admonished His people but they would not listen. God warned of a coming day of judgment at the hand of heathen nations. Beyond the day of God’s judgment was a day of redemption and restoration. There would come a time when Israel would be brought to repentance. God would then rule over them and even over the other nations.
All of this was described in various ways in the prophets. One of the prominent themes in the prophets was that of the glory of God. The theme of the glory of God as related to Israel’s sin, her judgment, and then her deliverance and future restoration are described by the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah. Below are a sampling of the verses which play out the theme of God’s glory:
Israel’s Sin Against God’s Glory
And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:3).
For Jerusalem has stumbled, and Judah has fallen, Because their speech and their actions are against the Lord, To rebel against His glorious presence (Isaiah 3:8).
“I am the Lord, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, Nor My praise to graven images” (Isaiah 42:8).
“‘For as the waistband clings to the waist of a man, so I made the whole household of Israel and the whole household of Judah cling to Me,’ declares the Lord, ‘that they might be for Me a people, for renown, for praise, and for glory; but they did not listen’” (Jeremiah 13:11).
God’s Glory Requires His Judgment of Israel’s Sin
“Now therefore, behold, the Lord is about to bring on them the strong and abundant waters of the Euphrates, Even the king of Assyria and all his glory; And it will rise up over all its channels and go over all its banks” (Isaiah 8:7).
Now it will come about in that day that the glory of Jacob will fade, And the fatness of his flesh will become lean (Isaiah 17:4).
How the Lord has covered the daughter of Zion With a cloud in His anger! He has cast from heaven to earth The glory of Israel, And has not remembered His footstool In the day of His anger (Lamentations 2:1).
God’s Glory and the Overthrow of the Nations Which Were His Chastening Rod
And Babylon, the beauty of kingdoms, the glory of the Chaldeans’ pride, Will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah (Isaiah 13:19).
But now the Lord speaks, saying, “Within three years, as a hired man would count them, the glory of Moab will be degraded along with all his great population, and his remnant will be very small and impotent” (Isaiah 16:14).
“The fortified city will disappear from Ephraim, And sovereignty from Damascus And the remnant of Aram; They will be like the glory of the sons of Israel,” Declares the Lord of hosts (Isaiah 17:3).
God’s Glory and the Restoration of Israel
In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth will be the pride and the adornment of the survivors of Israel (Isaiah 4:2).
Then the Lord will create over the whole area of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, even smoke, and the brightness of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory will be a canopy (Isaiah 4:5).
But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles (Isaiah 9:1).
Then it will come about in that day That the nations will resort to the root of Jesse, Who will stand as a signal for the peoples; And His resting place will be glorious (Isaiah 11:10).
Then the moon will be abashed and the sun ashamed, For the Lord of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, And His glory will be before His elders (Isaiah 24:23).
In that day the Lord of hosts will become a beautiful crown And a glorious diadem to the remnant of His people (Isaiah 28:5).
The Nations Will Glorify God
Therefore a strong people will glorify Thee; Cities of ruthless nations will revere Thee (Isaiah 25:3).
“And you will swear, ‘As the Lord lives,’ In truth, in justice, and in righteousness; Then the nations will bless themselves in Him, And in Him they will glory” (Jeremiah 4:2).
All Creation Will Glorify God
“The beasts of the field will glorify Me; The jackals and the ostriches; Because I have given waters in the wilderness And rivers in the desert, To give drink to My chosen people” (Isaiah 43:20).
Shout for joy, O heavens, for the Lord has done it! Shout joyfully, you lower parts of the earth; Break forth into a shout of joy, you mountains, O forest, and every tree in it; For the Lord has redeemed Jacob And in Israel He shows forth His glory (Isaiah 44:23).
Before leaving the theme of the glory of God in the Old Testament, several important observations should be stressed:
First, Israel’s glory was to share in the glory of God. Israel did not have a glory of her own. Israel was, by divine design, established for the glory of God. God’s presence among His people was glory to Israel. The righteousness of God manifested in and through His people was the glory of God.
“In the Lord all the offspring of Israel will be justified, and will glory” (Isaiah 45:25).
“No longer will you have the sun for light by day, Nor for brightness will the moon give you light; But you will have the Lord for an everlasting light, And your God for your glory” (Isaiah 60:19).
“I bring near My righteousness, it is not far off; And My salvation will not delay. And I will grant salvation in Zion, and My glory for Israel” (Isaiah 46:13).
Second, God’s glory is as evident in His judgment of sin as it is in the manifestation of His righteousness through His people. When Israel sinned, they were unrighteous. This did not glorify God. God’s glory was therefore manifested in His wrath toward sin. Whether in her obedience or in her disobedience, God would be glorified through His people, Israel.
Third, Israel’s glory was not to be hoarded but to be shared with and by the other nations. Israel quickly began to think of her glory as her glory. While God would not share His glory with any other “gods,” Israel was to share her glory with the nations. This she refused to do. When God spoke of the glory that was to come, Israel would be glorified, but the nations would also have a share in it.
Behold, you will call a nation you do not know, And a nation which knows you not will run to you, Because of the Lord your God, even the Holy One of Israel; For He has glorified you (Isaiah 55:5).
Surely the coastlands will wait for Me; And the ships of Tarshish will come first, To bring your sons from afar, Their silver and their gold with them, For the name of the Lord your God, And for the Holy One of Israel because He has glorified you (Isaiah 60:9).
For I know their works and their thoughts; the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and see My glory. And I will set a sign among them and will send survivors from them to the nations: Tarshish, Put, Lud, Meshech, Rosh, Tubal, and Javan, to the distant coastlands that have neither heard My fame nor seen My glory. And they will declare My glory among the nations (Isaiah 66:18-19).
Fourth, Israel’s glory would ultimately be brought about by Messiah Who would first suffer and then enter into His glory. Israel, God’s servant, failed. She had proven that she was unable to be the servant God required. The Messiah was to take Israel’s place and to become the Suffering Servant. Only in Him could Israel be justified. Only in Him could Israel be glorified:
Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry out or raise His voice, Nor make His voice heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break, And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not be disheartened or crushed, Until He has established justice in the earth; And the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law (Isaiah 42:1-4; see also 52:13-15; 53:1-12).
Christ: God’s Glory Revealed in the Flesh
Our Lord Jesus Christ is God’s revelation of His glory. If the creation manifests the glory of God, far more does the One who created it—God manifested in the flesh:
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).
And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Hebrews 1:3).
It is no wonder that glory accompanied the announcements of Christ’s coming:
And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened (Luke 2:9).
“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased” (Luke 2:14).
“A light of revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Thy people Israel” (Luke 2:32).
This “glory” of our Lord was often veiled during the days of our Lord upon the earth. It could be seen by His mighty deeds,215 and by His character, but most were unable to see it, even His disciples. And so, from time to time, God lifted the veil. Such was the case at our Lord’s transfiguration:
Who, appearing in glory, were speaking of His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions had been overcome with sleep; but when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men standing with Him (Luke 9:31-32).
Throughout His earthly life, Jesus did not seek men’s glory but rather He sought to glorify His Father.216 In His high priestly prayer for His disciples in those last hours before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed:
“And now, glorify Thou Me together with Thyself, Father, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was” (John 17:5).
“And the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given to them; that they may be one, just as We are one” (John 17:22).
“Father, I desire that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am, in order that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me; for Thou didst love Me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24).
Because the nation Israel had rejected God, they also rejected His Son. They crucified Him, nailing Him to the cross of Calvary. By means of His innocent suffering and death, God provided the only means by which sinners could be saved. Jesus bore the wrath of God in the sinner’s place. Jesus provided the righteousness of God, which the sinner could never produce. Because of His suffering, God glorified the Lord Jesus:
Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-11).
The glory of our Lord has its present dimensions for which the Christian can now rejoice.
But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, how shall the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory? For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory. For indeed what had glory, in this case has no glory on account of the glory that surpasses it. For if that which fades away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory (2 Corinthians 3:7-11).
But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18).
We who have seen the glory of God in Christ have also been given the privilege of proclaiming the glory of God displayed in the gospel:
In whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:4-6).
We have the privilege while waiting for the coming of His glory to live our lives to His glory:
For all things are for your sakes, that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God (2 Corinthians 4:15).
Wherefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God (Romans 15:7).
As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker among you; as for our brethren, they are messengers of the churches, a glory to Christ (2 Corinthians 8:23).
We, along with Israel of old, look forward to the full revelation of the glory of God in His kingdom at the return of our Lord Jesus Christ:
When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory (Colossians 3:4).
Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus (Titus 2:13).
Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed (1 Peter 5:1).
After these things I heard, as it were, a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God (Revelation 19:1).
And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. And the nations shall walk by its light, and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it (Revelation 21:23-24).
Having briefly traced the theme of the glory of God through the Scriptures, we may now draw some conclusions as to the meaning of “glorified” in Roman 8:30.
(1) To be glorified is to enter into the blessings of the full glory of God which we now experience in part.
(2) To be glorified is to receive our adoption as sons and the redemption of our bodies.
(3) To be glorified is to be free from the corruption of sin and death.
(4) To be glorified is to experience the goal for which we were chosen, called, and justified.
(5) To be glorified is to obtain that “good” for which God has been causing all things to work together (Romans 8:28).
(6) To be glorified is to have a share in the glory which belongs to Israel.
A number of implications which have very practical outworkings in our daily lives may be drawn from our text.
The glorification of the believer is a sure and certain hope. As Paul said earlier, “we exult in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2). God purposed and promised it. God is sovereign, and He controls each step in His program to assure that it is accomplished. God’s reputation and glory are at stake. All three of the crucial verbs in our text are in the past tense: “called,” “justified,” “glorified.” Even though this final step of glorification is still future, it is a certain hope.
God is the One who is at work. He is the One who is the subject of all three verbs: He “called,” He “justified,” He “glorified.” Because God is sovereign, in complete control, His purpose of glorifying us will be accomplished. The certainty of our hope of glory is rooted in the sovereignty of God. Just as we have been called and justified, so we shall be glorified. God’s infinite wisdom and power are in control. God’s plan is progressing toward that goal.
Some try to motivate Christian service and faithfulness by fear, doubt, and guilt. Paul never does, and neither does any writer of the sacred Scriptures. The security of the believer and the certainty of glory is the basis for faithful service.
The glory of God is the highest good. We must always view our good as subordinate to the glory of God. We must make the glory of God our ultimate goal. Our glory is always subordinate to His glory. Our glory is His glory. There will always be a “vain glory,” a glory which Satan promotes and which men pursue, but this is not the glory of God. Let us, like Moses, yearn to see His glory and to seek it as our highest good.
The glory of God is the standard for our every thought and deed. If we seek a guiding principle for our lives, let the glory of God be of paramount importance. Whatever we do, it should be to the glory of God: “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
The glory of God is the perspective from which life should be viewed and lived out. Satan would have us seek our own glory and the glory which men give one another. God would have us seek His glory alone. Seeking the glory of God gives us a perspective by which all of life can be viewed. In the context of Romans 8, the glory of God is that which gives the Christian hope and confidence in the midst of our sufferings and groanings. Elsewhere, Paul tells us that the glory of God makes our present sufferings seem insignificant:
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven; inasmuch as we, having put it on, shall not be found naked. For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed, but to be clothed, in order that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord—for we walk by faith, not by sight—we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. Therefore also we have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him (2 Corinthians 4:16–5:9).
The glory of God helps explain a command of Scripture which many find distasteful. More than ever (due to the current drift of our culture), Christian women are perplexed and even distressed at Paul’s command that women refrain from a prominent leadership role in the church. The following texts are usually the source of their dismay:
Let the women keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but let them subject themselves, just as the Law also says. And if they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church. Was it from you that the word of God first went forth? Or has it come to you only? (1 Corinthians 14:34-36).
Let a woman quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression. But women shall be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint (1 Timothy 2:11-15).
In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word; they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. And let not your adornment be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God (1 Peter 3:1-4).
I believe that the “glory of God” gives us the perspective which not only explains the reason for this biblical imperative but can also give us joy in obeying it. Note the way in which Paul uses the term glory in this text:
But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying, disgraces his head. But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying, disgraces her head; for she is one and the same with her whose head is shaved. For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head. For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake. Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God. Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with head uncovered? Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering. But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God (1 Corinthians 11:3-16).
Many efforts have been made to explain this text. Many have failed. In spite of this, I urge you to reconsider Paul’s words in this text in the light of our study of the glory of God. God alone is worthy of glory. God prohibits men from giving glory to anyone or anything other than Himself, yet He does grant us a share in His glory. Satan, on the other hand, wants to tempt us to seek our own glory rather than to give glory to God. He even tried to tempt our Lord to pursue a lesser glory:
Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory; (Matthew 4:8).
If we view God’s glory as the highest good, our highest good, then we will not seek any lesser glory. We will gladly give to God the preeminence, position, and praise which He alone deserves. This is precisely the premise on which the New Testament writers base their instruction to Christian women. God has given men the task of reflecting His glory. They are therefore to assume positions of leadership and preeminence in the church. Women are to reflect the believer’s response to the glory of God. They are not to seek that which gives them glory but are to gladly conduct themselves in a way that focuses the glory on their husbands. The husband then uses his glory for the benefit of his wife. This is but a picture of God’s relationship with His children.
Why is there such an outcry today about this biblical instruction? I would like to suggest that there are at least three reasons. First, our culture is adamantly opposed to God’s ways. Second, Christians have become enticed to seek their own glory as though it were a virtue, rather than a vice. Finally, they have completely failed to understand the command that women avoid preeminence (including leading and teaching men and getting attention from their clothing or demeanor), in the light of God’s teaching on glory. The doctrine of God’s glory should cause one to delight in surrendering that which we do not deserve and seeking by this to glorify God. God’s glory gives us a new perspective concerning any glory we might seek for ourselves.
Paul’s words, found in the eleventh chapter of Romans, provide us with our concluding thought to hold in our minds: “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:36).
214 For the verb form, Kaleo, see Romans 4:17; 8:30; 9:7, 11, 24, 25, 26; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 7:15, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22, 24; 10:27; 15:9; Galatians 1:6,15; 5:8, 13; Ephesians 4:1, 4; Colossians 3:15; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 4:7; 5:24; 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 1:9. For the other two (adjective and noun) forms, see Romans 1:1, 6, 7; 8:28; 11:29; 1 Corinthians 1:1, 2, 24, 26; 7:20; Ephesians 1:18; 4:1, 4; Philippians 3:14; 2 Thessalonians 1:11; 2 Timothy 1:9.
Related Topics: Election