Dr. Ray E. Heiple, Jr.
Glory in this Life
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 by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18NKJ
Question 83 of the Larger Catechism, asks, "What is the communion in glory with Christ which the members of the invisible church enjoy in this life?" It gives the answer, "The members of the invisible church have communicated to them in this life the first-fruits of glory with Christ, as they are members of him their head, and so in him are interested in that glory which he is fully possessed of; and, as an earnest thereof, enjoy the sense of God's love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, and hope of glory; as, on the contrary, sense of God's revenging wrath, horror of conscience, and a fearful expectation of judgment, are to the wicked the beginning of their torments which they shall endure after death." Last week we considered the amazing truth that all believers have communion with Christ in glory. This week we focus in on the glory that we have with Christ in this life.
As we have noticed in previous articles, when the Catechism speaks of "members of the invisible church," it refers to those professing believers, who are not merely outwardly members in good standing of Bible-believing churches but who have inwardly actually been converted and are truly believing in their hearts what they claim with their lips. These true Christians have "the first-fruits of glory with Christ" in that they are truly and really members in that body of which He is the head. Being true members of Christ they are, as the Catechism states it, "interested in that glory which he is fully possessed of." Here, the word "interested" means much more than "paying attention to," or "not bored." To be "interested" in Christ's glory is to have a share in it and to be participating in it. Jesus is "fully possessed of" the glory of God, but by His grace, we who have been converted to Him now participate in and have a real share in that glory with Him! Similarly, all believers have a share in the Holy Spirit, who dwells in them (Rom. 8:15), yet this same Holy Spirit actually is the Spirit of Jesus (Phi. 1:19; Rom. 8:9; Gal. 4:6).
Thus, according to the Catechism, all believers have "the first-fruits of glory with Christ" communicated to them due to the fact that they are part of the body of which He is the head. Here the question arises, "But since true believers are members of the body of Christ, in what particular ways do they share in His glory in this life?" The Catechism lists the following as those first fruits of glory that believers have in this life:
The sense of God's love
Peace of conscience
Joy in the Holy Ghost
The hope of glory.
The believer is aware that he possesses a new heart, and he knows that it has been created in him simply because God loves him. In his conversion, in his ongoing faith and repentance, and in his God-given love for God and others the true believer experiences God's love. He knows with every breath that God loves him. Only believers can truly say, "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God," (Rom. 8:16). What could be more glorious than to know that God loves you, has adopted you as His own dear child, and will never leave you nor forsake you! Secondly, we have peace of conscience. When God forgave you of your sins and imputed to you the righteousness of Christ, He did "cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God," (Heb. 9:14). What a foretaste of glory God has shown us in giving us clear consciences toward Him! The reality of our present forgiveness and reconciliation with God and our fellow man is truly glorious. Thirdly, we have joy in the Holy Ghost. The joy of the Lord is our strength (Neh. 8:10). To know our God is working all things for our good should enable us to rejoice always (1 The. 5:16). Finally, part of our present glory is the certain truth that this is only the beginning. We have the sure hope, the fixed and definite future of much more glory to come, for we shall go to be with our Lord and see His face with our own eyes. Praise God and give Him thanks for the glory He gives you today!