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Our Sanctification and God's Glory

This past Sunday, my pastor spoke about the distinction between justification and sanctification. Referencing WLC 70 and 75 he showed how both are of God's free grace to his people. Yet, a distinction is that justification is a singular act of God and sanctification is an ongoing work of God in cooperation with the saint. Essential to understanding sanctification, as WLC 75 notes, is that by it the saint is "renewed in their whole man after the image of God". This fact is no passing comment but, rather, displays the telos... the goal of sanctification; the glory of God.

The Image of God and the Glory of God

Of all God's creation, it was only mankind that was bestowed with the image of God. Herman Bavinck notes in his Reformed Dogmatics that the image of God is not something that the person has but, rather, it is essential to who/what he is. He writes, "the whole human being is image and likeness of God" (Bavinck, RDII 561). Geerhardus Vos notes that essential to understanding the image is to see it as mankind being essentially disposed for communion with God. He writes, "all the capacities of his soul can act in a way that corresponds to their destiny only if they rest in God" (Vos, Reformed Dogmatics 231).

Because the whole person is image and likeness of God, his destiny is to enjoy communion with God his blessedness and reward (WCF 7.1) and, in so doing, glorify the God who's image he bears and with whose glory he is crowned (WLC 1, Psalm 8). G.K. Beale describes well this telos of creation when he says, "God’s ultimate goal in creation was to magnify his glory throughout the earth by means of his faithful image bearers... God’s glory is to be spread 'in all the earth' through humanity crowned 'with glory and honor' and properly expressing their dominion in creation." (Beale, God Dwells Among Us).

The Marring and Rescuing of the Image

Alas, we know that this ultimate goal of Adam enjoying a true and better communion with God and God's image to be spread throughout all creation did not take place in the garden. The sin of our first parents prevented that from being the case. The whole of the image was not expelled from man but was indeed marred. As Bavinck notes, "The image has changed into a caricature" (Bavinck, RDIII 140).

Enter, then, the pinnacle image of God. The incarnate redeemer (Col 1:15, Heb 1:3). He would fulfill all righteousness and accomplish that which Adam failed to do (Rom 5:12-21). The subsequent imperatives for the Christian essentially lie in conforming/being conformed to the image of this very Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:49, 2 Cor 3:16-18, Rom 8:29, Col 3:9-10). This process, as WLC 75 notes, is sanctification. The Christian life is a continual conformity to the image of God as apexed in Jesus Christ. This very image, being in essence the enjoyment of God as blessedness and reward and, thus, the reflection of the glory of God is what is renewed in the man.

This bring us to recognize the telos of our sanctification; God's glory. It is in the image that the enjoyment and glorifying of God are so tightly bound as to be inseparable. It is in our sanctification that we grow in our enjoyment and consequential glorifying of God. It is in the eschatologically perfected image that we will radiate his glory greater than even Moses did (Rev 21:10-11, Psalm 91:14-16). That is the hope we await. That is the hope toward which our sanctification is aimed; fullest joy and God's great glory!


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