New Testament scholar Dr. Haley Goranson Jacob’s Conformed to the Image of his Son: Reconsidering Paul’s Theology of Glory (IVP 2018) is one of the best books in biblical scholarship I have ever come across. I read it earlier this year and it has had a profound impact on my own theology. I have covered or referenced her work multiple times this year, which you can read here including a helpful summary of her book which you can find here. She concludes her book with a powerful statement on how we ought to think of salvation. Dr. Jacob writes,
I return my reader to one of the key questions of this book: What is
the goal of salvation? For too long, scholars and laymen alike have myopically viewed justification and salvation as ends in themselves, whether for the benefit of the individual or of the incorporative body of Christ. The goal of salvation is believers’ conformity to the Son of God—their participation in his rule over creation as God’s eschatological family and as renewed humanity—but only and always with the purpose of extending God’s hand of mercy, love, and care to his wider creation. This was humanity’s job in the beginning; it will be believers’ responsibility and honor in the future; it is God’s purpose in calling his people in the present.
We characterize the biblical narrative as a story of redemption, what scholars call salvation history. While that is all true, as Dr. Jacob points out, it is really a royal narrative because the purpose of God saving us by justifying us in Christ, is so that we reign with him both now and in the future. As the Scriptures say,
For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:17 ESV)
And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” (Revelations 5:9-10 ESV)