And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. – Romans 8:30
This is a comforting verse for the believer. In it we are told that those God has predestined from eternity past have assurance that the gift of salvation will be carried through to completion. (Phil. 1:6; See also Romans 8:38-39; 1 Peter 1:5; Ephesian 1:13, 14; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 1:2)
But if you notice, the word “glorified” is also in the past tense, as if to say, “You, who were predestined, called, and justified, are also already glorified.” Almost every passage you read in the New Testament that speaks of the believers final glorification places it in the future (Matthew 13:43; Romans 5:2; Colossians 3:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:14). The believer’s hope (the word “hope” itself indicates a future reality, not a present one) is in our final glorification, when we be like our Lord Jesus (1 John 3:2). So, why does Paul place our glorification in the past, along with other aspects of our salvation that are historic realities we experience before the second coming of Christ, as if it has already taken place?
Here are a couple of things to consider:
First, I believe Paul is giving us a glimpse of how God views us from His all-knowing and unconstrained perspective. God experiences time in a very different way than His creatures. (Psalm 90:4; 2 Peter 3:8) This delves into the doctrine of Divine Eternality. He is able to see the past, present, and future with equal vividness. His memories do not fade and he knows exactly what the future will look like. Nothing is hidden from God, nor does anything surprise Him. Your sin does not surprise Him. Your “choice” to serve Christ does not astonish Him. He holds past, present, and future in perfect harmony and clarity of vision.
Secondly, we also see that God is sovereign, not only over all creation, but particularly, over the salvation of the elect. Before the creation of the world and time as we understand it, the Father chose us in Christ (Ephesians 1:4). At the moment of His effectual call upon us he justified us in Christ and in time. But Paul goes on to say that those who are still waiting in this world, governed by time as God created it, have also been glorified. The past, present, and future meet in the timeless and sovereign God. He is “I am”, not “I was” or “I will be” . He not only knows what the future will look like, He decrees how it will be carried out.
Take comfort in the wonderful truth that our Sovereign God has glorified those who He has called and saved, even though we, from our limited creaturely perspective, wait for that day. From God’s perspective, “It is finished” did not just include our justification at some moment in our past or our present sanctification as we grow in Christlikeness. It encompassed our assured glorification in Christ. As they say, “It’s a package deal.” That is part of the wonderful gospel of Jesus Christ: the good news of our unquestionable glorification.
We may understand our glorification as something to come, but God knows it as already done. Choose to see it from God’s perspective and rejoice!