Do you really want to see Jesus? Randy Alcorn reflects on the happiness we will experience as we look on the face of Christ:
"Ancient theologians often spoke of the “beatific vision.” The term comes from three Latin words that together mean “a happy-making sight.” The sight they spoke of was God. To see God’s face is the loftiest of all aspirations. But sadly, for most of us, it’s not at the top of our list of desires.
Wayne Grudem writes in his Systematic Theology:
When we look into the face of our Lord and he looks back at us with infinite love, we will see in him the fulfillment of everything that we know to be good and right and desirable in the universe. In the face of God we will see the fulfillment of all the longing we have ever had to know perfect love, peace, and joy, and to know truth and justice, holiness and wisdom, goodness and power, and glory and beauty.
The most astonishing sight we can anticipate in Heaven is not streets of gold or pearly gates or loved ones who’ve died before us. It will be coming face-to-face with our Savior. To look into Jesus’ eyes will be to see what we’ve always longed to see: the person who made us and for whom we were made. And we’ll see Him in the place He made for us and for which we were made. Seeing God will be like seeing everything else for the first time.
I grew up in an unbelieving home. My dad, a tavern owner, was totally hostile to Jesus. (He remained so until he was 85 and appeared to be dying, when I had the privilege of leading him to Jesus; he lived four more years.)
When I was in high school, God drew me to Himself, and Jesus changed everything for me. God’s Son gave me my first glimpses of the Creator.
When Moses said to God, “Show me your glory,” God responded, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you… but you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live” (Exodus 33:18-20, NIV).
Moses saw God, but not God’s face, yet in another sense “the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend” (Exodus 33:11, NASB).
God “lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see” (1 Timothy 6:16, NIV). Sinful humans were rightly terrified by the prospect of seeing God. Samson’s father, Manoah, who after seeing the angel of the Lord, told his wife, “We are doomed to die! We have seen God!” (Judges 13:22, NIV).
Yet—and this is really striking to me—Job cried out with this ancient hope, and solid confidence: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27, NIV).
To actually see God and not be struck dead? Job was given a promise of something that, before the incarnation of Jesus, was unthinkable!
The God who lives in unapproachable light became approachable in the person of Jesus (John 1:14). In fact, it was Jesus Himself who made God visible to us: “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known” (John 1:18).
Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father.” Jesus answered: “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:8-9, NIV). Jesus also said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8, NIV).
This anticipated what God promises we’ll experience after the resurrection, on the New Earth: “No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face” (Revelation 22:3-4, NIV).
“Without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14, NIV). For us to see God would require us to undergo radical transformation between now and then. And that’s exactly what will happen.
By faith in Christ, God’s children already have His righteousness, which will allow us into Heaven (see Romans 3:22; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Because we stand completely righteous before God in Christ, once we’re glorified and forever made sinless, we’ll be able to see God and live!
Incredible. Yet absolutely true!
For more on Jesus, see Randy’s book Face to Face with Jesus: Seeing Him as He Really Is.