Is it possible to see God? Can you imagine to meet your Creator before you die? If someone already had visions or dreams where he met God, Jesus, or other saints, he might know that such experiences exist. Biblically speaking, just think about Jesus’ transformation on a high mountain where he could be seen with Moses and Elijah or let us consider the blinding conversion experience of Saul, later called the apostle Paul. However, such events happen rarely.
What I am speaking of here is, rather, that God Himself wants to enable us to look at Him, to see and meet Him in our own spirit as soon as the eyes of our heart have been enlightened to perceive Jesus’ and later also God’s stature when Jesus has revealed our Heavenly Father to us (Mt 11:27). How do we see them, then? In fact, usually not as clear as our physical eyes are used to. Instead,
“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor 13:12-13 ESV)
Jesus once gave us the following promise and we need not be afraid that He only spoke of life after death for those who believe. He said,
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Mt 5:8 ESV)
(1) What is meant by a pure heart? The Benson Commentary says,
Matthew 5:8. The pure in heart — Those whose hearts are purified by faith; who are not only sprinkled from an evil conscience by the blood of Jesus, but cleansed by the Spirit of God from vain thoughts, unprofitable reasonings, earthly and sensual desires, and corrupt passions; who are purified from pride, self-will, discontent, impatience, anger, malice, envy, covetousness, ambition; whose hearts are circumcised to love the Lord their God with all their hearts, and their neighbours as themselves, and who, therefore, are not only upright before him, but possess and maintain purity of intention and of affection in all their designs, works, and enjoyments; serving him continually with a single eye and an undivided heart.
Oh, that’s a lot, isn’t it! Sounds almost deterrent as to the perfection described here. Yet we may not forget that it is not our work to change our hearts. With God all things are possible!! He both purifies our souls by faith and cleanses our minds and hearts by His powerful Spirit until we love nothing more than beholding Him.
(2) How do these blessed ones eventually see God? Does that sight even change over time? The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges considers our view of God as progressive in development. It writes,
The Christian education is a gradual unveiling of God, all have glimpses of Him, to the pure He appears quite plainly. Cp. 1 John 3:2-3. In a further sense the unveiled sight of God is reserved for the Eternal life.
Let me conclude this article with one of Oswald Chambers’s daily devotionals in which he explains what we ought to keep in mind if we really want to look at Him.
Transformed by Beholding
Jan 23, 2014
We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image… —2 Corinthians 3:18
The greatest characteristic a Christian can exhibit is this completely unveiled openness before God, which allows that person’s life to become a mirror for others. When the Spirit fills us, we are transformed, and by beholding God we become mirrors. You can always tell when someone has been beholding the glory of the Lord, because your inner spirit senses that he mirrors the Lord’s own character. Beware of anything that would spot or tarnish that mirror in you. It is almost always something good that will stain it— something good, but not what is best.
The most important rule for us is to concentrate on keeping our lives open to God. Let everything else including work, clothes, and food be set aside. The busyness of things obscures our concentration on God. We must maintain a position of beholding Him, keeping our lives completely spiritual through and through. Let other things come and go as they will; let other people criticize us as they will; but never allow anything to obscure the life that “is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). Never let a hurried lifestyle disturb the relationship of abiding in Him. This is an easy thing to allow, but we must guard against it. The most difficult lesson of the Christian life is learning how to continue “beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord….”