Top Menu

Why Three Glories – Part 1

Part 1: Eyes to See & Ears to Hear

Printable Version

Paul, the Apostle of Jesus Christ, explained that in the resurrection of the dead three glories will be revealed.

I Corinthians 15:41-45 IV (KJV) – There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead

His reference to created things in his writings on the resurrection of the dead, namely the sun, the moon, and the stars, follows Jesus Christ’s manner of illustrating His teachings with things that were created.  Consider, for example, how Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven is like unto (or to)…

  • a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field
  • leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.”
  • a treasure hid in a field. And when a man hath found a treasure which is hid, he secureth it, and, straightway, for joy thereof, goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.”
  • a merchant-man, seeking goodly pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
  • a net that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind, which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels; but cast the bad away.”
  • a certain king, who would take account of his servants
  • a man, an house-holder, who went out early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard.”
  • a certain king, who made a marriage for his son.”
  • ten virgins, who took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom

By teaching after this manner, both Jesus and His servant Paul revealed the invisible or spiritual things of the kingdom of heaven and of immortality through things which have been made.

Romans 1:20 IV (KJV) – For God hath revealed unto them the invisible things of him, from the creation of the world, which are clearly seen; things which are not seen being understood by the things that are made, through his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.

According to Mark, Jesus taught the multitudes to whom He ministered “many things by parables.” Knowing that not everyone would understand Him, Jesus taught them as they were able to bear His words.  At the same time, Mark clarified that Jesus expounded all these things unto His disciples.

Mark 4:24-27 IV (KJV) – And he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God? Or with what comparison shall we compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth; but, when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it. And with many such parables spake he the word unto them, as they were able to bear; but without a parable spake he not unto them. And when they were alone, he expounded all things unto his disciples.

Prior to Jesus’ ministry, John the Baptist had prophesied that few would receive Jesus’ testimony.  In fact, as John the Beloved noted, not even His disciples understood all of Jesus’ words, at least not at first.  Thus, teaching by way of parables did not mean that the people Jesus and His disciples ministered to would grasp or comprehend the meaning of their lessons.  For example, when speaking of Himself as the Good Shepherd, John recorded how those who heard Jesus that day did not understand His parable:

John 10:6 IV (KJV) – This parable spake Jesus unto them; but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them.

Is it any wonder then that, as Luke reported, Jesus “cried <called out>, He who hath ears to hear, let him hear” when teaching the parable of the sower – a parable about sowing the word of God as a sower sows seed in a field with the intent of growing crops?

Luke 8:4-9 IV (KJV) – And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable, saying, A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell by the way-side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. And others fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundred-fold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He who hath ears to hear, let him hear. And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be?

Who today is able to bear Jesus Christ’s words and the words of His disciples?  Who have ears to hear His sayings and to receive His testimony?  Who will allow Him to expound all things unto them?   With respect to the present discussion, who have ears to hear Paul’s teaching on the resurrection and to receive the verses in which he wrote, “There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead”?  According to Jesus, those who continue to receive His words will receive them in abundance, while those who do not continue to receive His words will have taken from them that portion of God’s word which they had once received.

Matthew 13:8-16 IV (KJV) – Then the disciples came and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever receiveth, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; But whosoever continueth not to receive, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables; because they, seeing, see not; and hearing, they hear not; neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias concerning them, which saith, For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their hearts, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear. And blessed are you because these things are come unto you, that you might understand them. And verily, I say unto you, many righteous prophets have desired to see these days which you see, and have not seen them; and to hear that which you hear, and have not heard.

On the one hand Jesus will say to those who continue in His words, even the abundance of His words, “blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear.” On the other hand, those who do not continue in His words, those who will not hear the voice of the Lord, will eventually die as to things pertaining unto righteousness.

Luke 8:18 IV (KJV)Take heed therefore how ye hear; for whosoever receiveth, to him shall be given; and whosoever receiveth not from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have.

We may yet ask, why exactly are there people who have eyes to see and ears to hear the word of the Lord while others do not?  As noted in the words of Jesus recorded in the scripture quoted above from Matthew 13, the hearts of those who do not hear had “waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their hearts, and should be converted, and I should heal them.”  But why exactly would someone close their eyes and their ears to the Lord of glory?  Here again we turn to the words of Jesus.  It is because they love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil.

John 3:19-21 IV (KJV) – And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil. For every one who doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he who loveth truth, cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest.

This is, as Jesus said, the condemnation that rests on the world.  It is this condemnation which rests upon everyone who does not come unto Him.  It is the condemnation that each one is under already.  In Paul’s description, such people are past feeling because they received not the love of the truth.  Instead of keeping the Lord’s command to seek first to build up the kingdom of God and to establish His righteousness, they take pleasure in unrighteousness and remain in the same even when God makes Himself known unto them.  Thus, as Paul has testified, many such people fall away from the gospel.

II Thessalonians 2:9-12 IV (KJV) – Yea, the Lord, even Jesus, whose coming is not until after there cometh a falling away, by the working of Satan with all power, and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Please note here how it is God who sends strong delusion to those people who do not receive the love of the truth.   You may be asking why it would be God doing such a thing?  Remember, it is God who sets the bounds of our habitation.  And because there are people who refuse to abide in truth, in His graciousness and mercy, God provides a place for them outside of the truth (according to their own desire to live in darkness).  Remember, that by definition anything outside of truth is a lie and thus a delusion.

At this point it is instructive to recall how Isaiah prophesied regarding those who do not hear or answer when God speaks, and those who chose to do that which is wicked before the Lord.

Isaiah 66:4 IV (KJV) – I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear; but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.

Such judgment is reserved for those who rely upon their carnal minds as opposed to relying on God’s word by faith.  Consequently, they cannot understand or discern the truth which God has revealed through His incarnate Word, Jesus Christ, because, as Paul has written, the carnal mind is enmity with God.  Therefore, unless they are willing to open their eyes and their ears to receive light and truth through God’s Word, they will not be able to see or hear what the Spirit of the Lord is revealing unto the churches.  In turn, they will not receive a correct and an appropriate understanding of spiritual and immortal things.  For such things are obtained only by faith in Jesus Christ – meaning they can only be received through the Holy Ghost by whom we receive the love of God (i.e. the love of the truth).  For thus it is written:

I Corinthians 2:9-16 (KJV) – … Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, except he has the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

John 14:26,27 IV (KJV) – But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.  Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

John 16:12,13 IV (KJV) – I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth; for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he will show you things to come.

Romans 5:5 IV (KJV) – And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

Will you not, then, let the Spirit of truth open your eyes and your ears so that you may come to understand the spiritual things of His kingdom into which He came to usher you?  Allow the Lord of glory to bring to your understanding the importance of the resurrection of the dead and unto what eternal state you will soon enter into at the close of your life on this earth.  For as it is written of the resurrection:

Revelation 22:11 IV (KJV) – He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still.

As you consider Paul’s teaching on the resurrection, recall how he placed great emphasis on the resurrection of the dead throughout his entire ministry.[1]

I Corinthians 15:12-20 IV (KJV) – Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen; and if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ; whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For it the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised; and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

The hope of the resurrection, in particular of the resurrection of the just, was foundational to all that Paul believed and confessed.

Acts 24:14-16 IV (KJV) – But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets; and have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjustAnd herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offense toward God, and toward men.

Simply stated, the resurrection was not a side topic to Paul, or topic he touched on lightly or glossed over quickly.  Paul’s focus was on Jesus Christ and on the power of His resurrection to such an extent that he labored for this great purpose:  “if by any means,” he said, “I might attain unto the resurrection of the just.”

Philippians 3:8-15 IV (KJV) – Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith; that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the just.  Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect; but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended; but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded; and if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.

Do you have ears to hear like Paul?  Are you willing to see Jesus Christ as the Light of the world, the One sent by God into the world so that we might not have to walk in darkness?  Can you say with Paul that you press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus?  Are you pursuing this goal such that if by any means you might also attain unto the same resurrection Paul sought and obtained?  The answers you give to these questions by the decisions you make in your life each day will determine your final eternal estate.  Remember, God has appointed unto men once to die and then to appear before the Lord to be judged according to his deeds done in the flesh.

Hebrews 9:27,28 IV (KJV)– And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment; So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and he shall appear the second time, without sin unto salvation unto them that look for him.

Knowing these things, Paul wrote:

II Corinthians 5:9-11 IV (KJV) – Wherefore we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that everyone may receive a reward of the deeds done in the body; things according to what he hath done, whether good or bad.  Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.

Returning now to Paul’s teaching on the glories, those which will be manifest in the resurrection of the dead, many of us may expect to come forth in one the three glories he listed.  Again, in the words of Paul:

I Corinthians 15:41-45 IV (KJV) – There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead

Now consider how John the Revelator also gave a listing, as mentioned above, of the several eternal estates to be revealed when Jesus comes to reward all men according to their deeds.  Unlike Paul, John listed four: 1) unjust, 2) filthy, 3) righteous, and 4) holy.

Revelation 22:11,12 IV (KJV) – He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me to give every man according as his work shall be.

Why list a fourth eternal state of being?  One of the four estates mentioned by John the Revelator is not a glory.  Specifically, there is no glory awaiting those who are filthy when they depart from this life.  According to the word of the Lord, they must remain filthy when they enter eternity.  On the other hand, those who are not filthy when they die will enter one of the three glories Paul identified.

I Corinthians 15:41-45 IV (KJV) – There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead

Specifically, those who are unjust when they die will remain unjust still on into eternity as they inherit another glory of the stars, for one star differeth from another in glory.   Those who are righteous still will inherit a reflected glory, even another glory of the moon.  Finally, but not last, those who are holy still will inherit the one glory of the sun, even that of the fullness of God’s grace and glory through Jesus Christ their Lord.

As Paul explains, God has made a way for us to understand these three glories associated with the resurrection of the dead.  By representing each of the glories with heavenly bodies that are distinguished by the degree of light by which each may be recognized, Paul is showing us that each glory is different from the other two in proportion to the relative amount of light each radiates.  Note also that there is one day glory while there are two night glories. In other words, the two night glories and the one day glory are as different as night is from day.

  • Sun: it is the brightest of the three and represents the fullness of light and truth.
  • Moon: it is a reflected glory, one that evidences shadows, especially as it passes through its different phases.  It also rules over the night.
  • Stars: these represent a range in glories that are divided in the night sky. They too represent a state of glory that is mixed with shadows and darkness and is easily obscured in daylight. And in comparison with the other two glories, this glory radiates very limited light.

Regarding the eternal state of the filthy, those who do not inherit one of these three glories, Jude helps us understand why they end up in a state of no glory:

Jude 1:12,13 IV (KJV) – These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear; clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.

Briefly comprehended, there is reserved for them the blackness of darkness forever.  This is why their eternal estate is not a glory.  There is no light in the station into which they are consigned for eternity, none whatsoever.  Recall how Jesus said there is no truth in the devil when testifying against His enemies.

John 8:44 IV (KJV) – Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do; he was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar, and the father of it.

Well, those who are filthy when they die will filthy still when they are raised from the dead to spend eternity where Satan abides, which is totally absent of the truth, that is, in darkness, in the total absence of light.  This is the state into which Satan and those who follow Him go because they hate the light and thus sin against the light.  For this reason God has prepared this place for them called outer darkness.  It is a place void of light and truth, and thus it lacks any and all intelligence.  It is filled with suspicion and doubt, with craftiness and cunning.  And those who dwell there are contemptuous and despising of those who abide in the light.  They even despise themselves.  Thus, their final state is not a place of glory.

Taken together, the graphic illustrations given by Paul with John and Jude give us a vivid appreciation of the four possible eternal estates that have been prepared by God for each of our souls.  In fact, to get the most out of their teachings, we can experience the degree of light and truth each of these four estates hold through a simple experiment involving doing the following:

  1. The absence of glory (i.e. the absence of light and truth): Go out on a fully overcast night, in which there is no moonlight or starlight showing, and look around. Nothing should be visible! (Mists on such a night would even drive the lesson more vividly home into our hearts.) Equally dramatic, go into a perfectly dark cave and turn out all light. As you experience the blackness of darkness, which Jude said is reserved for those who are filthy, ask yourself, would I want to live here in outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth?  Would I want anyone to live under such conditions? Please also contemplate how agonizing light would be to those who truly hate true light. It would be better for them in total darkness than in even the slightest degrees of light.  Now readMatthew 12:18-27 (KJV) & Hebrew 6:4-8 IV (KJV) with Jude 1:19 IV (KJV)
  2. The glory of stars: Now go out on a cloudless night when there is no moon and look up at the stars. They truly are beautiful and reveal a glory like unto that which and into which the peoples of the earth may be resurrected from the dead. Now look around you. Can you see colors? How far away from yourself are you able to see in all of the different directions around you? Be sure to go to a place in which there are no street lights or city lights which give off artificial light. This glory is reserved for those who have never been born again and thus die in their sins.  As such, and according to Jesus, they will never see or enter into the kingdom of God. On the other hand, they did not blaspheme the Holy Ghost, so they are not without some glory. Therefore, these are those who have a small but differing portion of light, wherewith they all differ in brightness and thus in their knowledge of the truth.  Now read: John 3:3,5 IV (KJV), John 8:21 IV (KJV) & Luke 8:18 IV (KJV) with I Timothy 4:10 IV (KJV)
  3. The glory of the moon: Next, go out on a cloudless night when the moon is in one of its brighter phases and look up at it. It truly is magnificent. The moon also represents a glory unto which and into which the peoples of the earth may be resurrected from the dead. As you did on the cloudless, star-lit night, look around you. How much color can you see? How far are you able to see around you? Again, be sure to go to a place where there are no street lights or city lights to mask or supplement the moonlight. This glory is for, in part, those who were born of the Lord but did not confess Him before men. Therefore, Jesus Christ, as the Lord of Hosts, does not confess them before the angels in heaven or His Father who is in heaven. Theirs is a reflected glory, one the Lord graciously gives them as they rule over darkness even as the moon rules over the night sky.  Now readII Timothy 2:12,13 IV (KJV), Matthew 10:28-38 IV (KJV), Luke 12:1-12 IV (KJV) & I John 2:23 IV (KJV) with Romans 10:8-13 IV (KJV) & Luke 12:55-58 IV (KJV)
  4. The glory of the sun: Finally, go out on a nice, sunny day. This time don’t look up at the sun or you could hurt your eyes. Instead, simply look around you. What colors can you see? How far are you able to see? What about the shape of objects, how much easier is it to see depth and forms? Note also that unlike the moon, there is no shadow of turning with the sun. Meaning, there are no phases with the sun as there are with the moon. Those who inherit this glory are they who are one with Jesus Christ. They abide in Him and He in them. They are full of His glory and reign with Him in His kingdomNow readMatthew 5:1-18 IV (KJV) with Matthew 13:45 IV (KJV); then read John 12:25,26 IV (KJV) with John 14:1-3 IV (KJV) & John 14:21,23 IV (KJV); finally consider Hebrews 7:23-25 IV (KJV) as you read Revelation 2 & Revelation 3.

After experiencing the light in each state, ask yourself, what amount of light and truth do I want in my life for eternity?  How much light would I enjoy both now and after I die?  At the same time, ask how much light that you would like to radiate from your life?  Do you want to be filled with light, or just shine a little so that only those close to you may see the light that is in your life?  Which of the following judgments do you hope to hear Jesus Christ say to you when He returns in glory:

Matthew 25:35 IV (KJV) – … Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

Matthew 25:42 IV (KJV) – … Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.

Matthew 7:30-33 IV (KJV) – depart from me ye that work iniquity.

Each of us would be wise to remember His words:

Luke 12:8,9 IV (KJV) – Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of Man also confess before the angels of God. But he who denieth me before men, shall be denied before the angels of God.

John 3:5 IV (KJV) – … Except a man be born of water, and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

Matthew 22:12,13 IV (KJV)  – And he said unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king unto his servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take and cast him away into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Remember also, how of our Lord’s return in glory it is written:

Revelation 19:11-16 IV (KJV) – And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war; His eyes as a flame of fire; and he had on his head many crowns; and a name written, that no man knew, but himself. And he is clothed with a vesture dipped in blood; and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth proceedeth the word of God, and with it he will smite the nations; and he will rule them with the word of his mouth; and he treadeth the winepress in the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on a vesture, and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

Revelation 22:12 IV (KJV)And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me to give every man according as his work shall be.

What reward will Jesus Christ have for you when He returns in glory?  Will it be a place prepared for you in His light or in the darkness outside of His presence?  The answer depends upon how you respond to the light and truth He reveals to you each day of your life.  My hope and prayer for you is that you will come unto Jesus Christ and receive and hold fast to the hope of glory, which is Christ in you, and that in so doing you will obtain the resurrection of the just as did Paul.

What’s to come?

In future posts in this series, “Why three glories,” you will learn why:

[1] Acts 17:16-18,30-33