One day it will be clear what God has done in us, and oh what a day that will be! Do you know 1 Corinthians 15.41-42a? You should read it. It says just as the glory of one star differs from another star, so the glory of one believer will differ from another believer – for we are not clones of each other in heaven.
I imagine some of you reading this blog today will know what you go through in life each and every day, a life that hardly anybody knows about, and the thrill as a believer that comes as you comprehend afresh how our heavenly Father is going to transform your suffering into glory. That is why Paul says in Romans that suffering produces glory. That means when we see one another in the glory – and yes we will recognize one another – we’re bound to say: “I never knew this is who you really were!” And then, “Oh, you’re so like yourself!” That’s why the heroes of the gospel have this great hope. That’s why they live such relevant Christian lives. It is because of this overwhelming sense of where it’s all going to lead them:
2 Corinthians 3.18: “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. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
Yesterday was the launch service of All Souls Anglican Church, our new church plant. While the events were underway that I wrote of in my last series of blog entries, we were busy with all the things needed to establish a new church in New Jersey. Many saints around the world joined us on our knees in prayer for this work. I particularly asked for prayers of spiritual protection of our team and for the Holy Spirit to work in exhortation and conviction through the preaching of the gospel.
And I saw the glory in the faces of the worshippers as Barbara and I greeted and thanked them for coming to our first service. Before they came up to me to speak of the preaching of God’s Word and how the preaching had lifted them powerfully, I could already tell in their faces that they had had a glimpse of the beginnings of glory here.
I wish I could take you with me to an elderly saint’s house or to their care residence to see the difference faith makes when there isn’t much to look forward to. It is because without trust in Christ there is only the memory of the past, of youthful days, and that’s where the unbeliever goes for happiness. But for the believer with their reliance on Christ’s saving work the best is yet to be. The joy is still to come! That’s what I mean when you sit with an old faithful believer who is just glowing. It is not a figment of your imagination. It is the beginnings of glory here in which God is saying in a miniature transfiguration that they never see,
“I want you to get a little glimpse of who this person really is who is justified by faith in my Son Jesus Christ and who has entered into all the privileges of my grace.”