The great Christian hope is communion with God as we experience it in both this life and the next. As we traverse this pilgrim life, believers are often profoundly aware of the distance between us and God’s direct presence. In the words of Westminster Shorter Catechism 19, “All mankind by their fall lost communion with God.”1 At the end of all things after Christ returns, our removal from God’s presence will be rectified and so it will be that “the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.” (Rev. 21:3) God will be among us in a new way for restored communion with his people. In other words, we look forward to when we see God face-to-face.
Christians then must ask the question: How might I see God? What does it take to reach that blessed enjoyment of seeing God? We should first respond that the Philippian jailer asked the same question: “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And Paul and Silas answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:30–31). Our leading reply is then the Protestant doctrine of salvation by faith alone. Some, however, might quickly interject that Scripture exhorts us to “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14). Even as early as Gregory of Nyssa’s homilies on the beatitudes, reflections upon the connection between holiness and the beatific vision have given the impression of “a demand for purity that appears for all intents and purposes impossible to fulfill.”2 Setting aside the long historical debates about exactly what it means that we might see God, this essay argues that God’s gifts of grace to believers in Christ provides all that we need to see God in perfect enjoyment of his presence in everlasting life.3 More specifically, the Reformed doctrine of glorification, as a saving benefit received on the basis of Christ’s work applied to us rather than as something we achieve and attain because of any of our works, provides confidence that every true believer in Jesus will see God and be made happy in the enjoyment of his glory on the last day. Read More»
Harrison Perkins | “What Is Required to See God?” | December 5, 2022
1. All citations from the Westminster Standards come from The Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms (Lawrenceville, GA: Committee on Christian Education of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, 2007).
2. Hans Boersma, Seeing God: The Beatific Vision in Christian Tradition (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2018), 82.
3. For exploration of these various historical understandings in the Christian tradition, see Boersma, Seeing God, passim.
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