Let’s face it, experienced counselors can wind up in a rut. We have our favorite methods, verses, and personal stories. We may draw the same diagram on the whiteboard to emphasize the same point to different counselees. Sanctification is our emphasis time and time again. True, that’s the track we follow in almost every case. As important as the doctrine of progressive sanctification is to daily life, we should not neglect to point our counselees also to the doctrine of glorification.

This blog is a reminder to bring the hope of glorification to our counselees. I’m not talking about espousing our views of the millennium. Instead, we should emphasize the fact that this world is passing away and there is a New Heaven and a New Earth to come. Glorification may not be a familiar track. Here are four reasons to spend some of your valuable counseling time covering the implications of this important doctrine.

1) The Bible Often Speaks of the Glory to Come

Counseling is the private ministry of the Word. This calling compels us to teach the whole counsel of the Word. That means that we look in both the Old and New Testament for counseling principles. The doctrine of glorification saturates the entire corpus of Scripture from the first book to the last. God’s promise of a future Savior is expressed at the beginning of the created order. One day the offspring of the woman will bruise the head of the enemy (Gen. 3:15). The remainder of the Old Testament reveals the battle between the serpent and the Redeemer. The Old Testament Scriptures point to the future promise.

When reading the New Testament, we frequently read about the culmination of God’s plan—from Mary’s song in Luke, which recognizes that the fulfillment of the promises of God from ancient times had come to pass, through to Revelation 22, which describes the place where the servants of the Lamb dwell. Time is progressing until time and this world are no more.

2) Our Counselees Need to Be Reminded That God Will One Day Make All Things Right

Psalm 37 begins, “Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers!” Assurance is given that “the wicked will perish; the enemies of the LORD…vanish—like smoke they vanish away” (Ps. 37:20). Jesus testified that God will “give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night” (Luke 18:7). Those who slander, persecute, and harm the innocent will face a righteous God. Victims of abuse need to hear these words in Isaiah 61:8a, “For I the LORD love justice.” This truth is a comfort to those who know that an injustice has been done to them. They can entrust themselves to Him who judges justly, as did our Savior (1 Pet. 2:23). This knowledge provides a reason to behave in a Christ-like way. “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord’” (Rom. 12:19). That repayment may not come soon or even in this life, but assuredly it will come.

3) Some Counselees Need to Hear That Their Ongoing Battle with Sin Will One Day Be Completed

These dear ones become disheartened, nearly to the point of despair. Whether living with pain due to the fallenness of this world or the seemingly never-ending battle with inward sin, they need to hear that they are destined to live in future glory. We join them in groaning and waiting eagerly for the redemption of our bodies (Rom. 8:23). One day we will be like our Savior (1 John 3:2). The promise that those whom God has justified He also glorified (Rom. 8:30) can make distressing battles more bearable. The redeemed have a destiny which includes no tears, no death, no mourning, no crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away (Rev. 21:4). There is an end in sight.

4) Our Counselees Need to Be Reminded of the Hope of a Future Reward

At the outset of his first letter, Peter urges his readers to consider their inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, unfading, and kept in heaven for them (1 Pet. 1:4). Jesus promised a great reward in heaven (Luke 6:22-23). Both Peter and Paul speak of heavenly crowns. Your counselee may object, “That sounds so selfish, to do good in order to get a reward!” We read in the book of Revelation that these crowns are cast before the throne of God in acknowledgment that our Lord alone is worthy (Rev. 4:10-11). Dave Harvey adds this explanation—there is a difference between doing good works to please our Savior and the selfish ambition we read about in James 3:16. Yes, seeking acclaim is an ungodly motive. Nevertheless, our counselees can be encouraged to know that the Lord recognizes and values the small sacrifices offered to the Lord. In the parable of the talents, the master praises his faithful servants with these words, “Well done, good and faithful servant…enter into the joy of your master” (Matt. 25:14-24). Our good deeds are meant to glorify God ultimately (1 Pet. 2:12).

All the emphasis on glory brings the mind back to the reality that Jesus is the embodiment of God’s glory (John 12:41). The concept of glorification is focused on the Savior. The mission of Jesus was to glorify the Father; the Father glorified the Son (John 17:1, 5). We witness this mutual glorification and reflect it back (John 12:27-30). We glorify God with our body (1 Cor. 6:20), to the praise of His glorious grace (Eph. 1:6). May we add glorification to our counseling and thus glorify our glorious Lord.

Questions for Reflection

Do I need to expand my counseling to include the doctrine of glorification? How can I teach my counselees about earthly rewards without giving them a worldly motivation? Do I set an example of one who lives with glorification in mind?