Ro 3:22-23: “(22) This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, (23) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.
I’ve asked myself what Paul mean by this statement recently. Obviously he refers to the fact that all men are naturally sinners who could not deal with their own sin but needed the sacrifice of Christ to do that. However my contention is with “fall short of the glory of God”. Is that to mean that men had the glory of God but was taken away from us through sin? And if that is the case does the sacrifice of Christ bring us back to a position of being raised back to the glory of God?
I believe that this question can only be well answered if there is a solid understanding of the gospel of the Kingdom, a brief of which is in my previous post. The gospel clearly outlines the plan of God in bringing Jesus Christ unto earth to die for us. (Ge 1:26-28; 2:9;17;3:22-24; Mt. 25:34; Eph 1:4; 2:10; 2 Ti 1:9; Rev.2:7;26-27; 3:21)
2 Ti 1:9-10 “(9) who has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, (10) but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour, Christ Jesus who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel”.
Mt 25:34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world”.
We can see that Paul states to Timothy that God’s mind towards men from creation was that man might share in his glory. This is in fact the gospel that Jesus himself (Mt 4:17; Mt 19:27-29; Lk 22:28-30) and the early apostles preached (Peter’s example message – Ac 2:14-36, Paul’s example message – Ac 13:13-52; Ro 8:17). It is interesting to note how Paul calls this gospel the “gospel of the glory of Jesus Christ” in 1 Co 4:4.
Man was created in the image of God and God began to show him ways in which man will share in his glory by giving him authority over the earth. Man however failed the test that would have caused God to fully reveal his plan for him (man) when man listened to the devil.
However, to true Christians who are the heirs of the promise to Abraham, we can expect that God is going to restore to us His glory when Christ is come. This is the ultimate destiny of our Christian walk, the real purpose for our calling to serve.
Ro 8:17-18 “Now if we are children, the we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
2 Co 4:17-18 “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
The glory of Christ is ultimately revealed in Christ coming to take up his throne on earth as the Son of God, the Son of David (2 Sa 7:11-16, Lk 1:32-33, Is 55:3-5) and the Seed promised to Abraham (Gal 3:14,16; Ge 12:7). However, true Christians will also be fully glorified with him because we will share in his rulership of the world. This glorification is the last phase of the four phase steps that reveal will of God towards all men.
Ro 8:30 “And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified”.
Take note of these from Ro 8: 30:
“Those he predestined” refers to all men, since it it the will of God that all men will share in his glory.
“those he called” are all who hear the message of the gospel of Kingdom.
“those he justified” are those who accept the sacrifice of Christ as the only way that their sins can be washed, and who go on further in obedience to be baptised in water.
“he also glorified” are those who under the indwelling influence of the Holy Spirit, live their lives in service to the Lord, again in obedience to his own commands us to how he should be served. This is the most crucial part of the life of Christianity, and is what will really determine our portion in the inheritance.
Here we see a gradual narrowing down to those who will finally receive the promise of inheritance of the Kingdom. Glorification is a reward for our works of service done while in the body. Paul says that it is the people he has won for the Lord which he will glory in before Christ on that day. This is the work he will present before Christ to be glorified.
2 Co 5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due to him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad”.
1 The 2:19-20 “For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ when he comes? Is it not you? (20) Indeed, you are our glory and joy”.
Da 12:3 “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the starts for ever.”
1 Co 3:12-15 “If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames”.
Rev 2:7 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”
This tree of life is the same tree that was in the garden of Eden. God would have given it to man if he had passed the test, and would have elevated him to share in His glory as the King of all the earth and everything in it. Glory is what the gospel has been all about. No doubt the early apostles laid down everything just for that glory. They put no confidence in the flesh, and considered suffering for the course of the kingdom as the norm, not the exception.
Ro 2:7-8 “To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honour and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.”
Ph 3:7-11 “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. (8) What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ (9) and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. (10) I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings becoming like him in his death, (11) and so somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead”.
But where will this glory be exercised? Rev 20 speaks of a Millennial kingdom, and God promised “our fathers” Abraham and David (Ge 12,15,17, 2 Sa 7:11-16) a land and a kingdom that will last forever. This promise’s fulfilment begins in this Millennial reign and continues into the New Jerusalem of Rev 21.
John says in Rev 21:4 “I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. …”
Jesus says in Lk 22:28-30 “You are those who have stood by me in my trials. And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel”.
In heaven after the first resurrection, the true Christian’s work will be judged for quality ie. 1 Co 3:11-15, and he will be assigned to an area of authority proportionate to his work done (refer to Mt 25:14-30; Lk 19:17-27 on how God equitably rewards his servants for work done). Christ will then return to take up his throne in the Millennial kingdom and carry on that rule to the everlasting city, the New Jerusalem, the new heaven and the new earth.
Obviously this glory that a true Christian will receive cannot surpass anything that we may ever receive on earth. Sometimes this makes me believe that since we are going to rule the whole creation, galaxies and stars, there must be aliens out there (and this is my personal opinion, no biblical backing please). No wonder I get emotional and angered when I hear people not speaking the “whole will of God” Ac 26:28 but a “quarter gospel”. Because knowing this is my destiny makes it ever so easy to lay down my life in conformity to the will of God and the direction of the Holy Spirit in seeking such glory (Ro 2:7; 8:13-14). No wonder someone like Paul – unlike our modern day preachers – , with the exception of the Philippian congregation, will refuse to accept being paid or offered any gifts for the work he did in obedience to God. Not that he wasn’t entitled to it, but he knew that the greater and more excellent glory is ahead of him. (1 Co 9:1-18, Ac 20:33-35; 2 Th 3:6-9; Php 4:10-20). No wonder the disciples under the direction of the Holy Spirit sold their possession to help in the church as needs arose (Ac 2:44-45). No wonder Paul, even though imprisonment had been prophesied by Agabus, was not deterred in going to Jerusalem (Ac 21: 10-11). I could go on and on. But this is not fantasy, nostalgia or madness. This is seeking after the glory of the Kingdom according to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and in obedience to the will of God.
Quotes are from the NIV version of the bible. All mistakes are mine please, not the bible’s :-).