I think the greatest limit we have now is our inability to see God and our inability to sense and know all the time that He is with us. All that will be changed in heaven. In heaven we will be able to see God everywhere always.
Obviously, I don’t have the full scoop on how we will be able to see Him, but I do have some ideas. Here are four ways in which I think we will be able to see and experience God:
1. WE WILL SEE GOD IN THE BODY OF JESUS
No one has ever seen the face of God. God lives in unapproachable light. It is impossible for us now to see a holy God because we are sinful and we have a body full of sin (Ex. 33:20; 1 Tim. 6:16; Heb. 12:15). But one day He will make us—our body as well as our soul and spirit—holy. In our glorified body we will be able to somehow see God. Matthew 5:8 says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” And in Revelation 22:4, referring to believers in heaven, it says, “They will see His face…”
We know that God is pure spirit (Jn. 4:24). So how will we see Him? How will we see the face of the person of God the Father?
Well, we can only guess. In Revelation 22:4 when it indicates that we will see His face, if we are actually looking at the face of God the Father, since He is pure spirit we would be seeing something that is invisible. How can that be? Well, I suppose we would see (or understand) with spiritual eyes the character of God. And that is most important. Anything physical that we see wouldn’t really be exclusively the person of the Father, it would be the person of Jesus Christ. He is and will always be the physical manifestation of God. The difference between our seeing God in Jesus in heaven and when they saw Him in Jesus when He was on earth is that on earth (even after He was glorified) they saw only what their limited being would allow them to see. In heaven when we see God in Jesus we will see not only the physical part of God but we will see all of God—the glory of God. I wonder what that will look like.
The idea of seeing God in Jesus makes sense to me. Jesus is the one person of the trinity who has a visible, material (flesh and blood) body, yet also a spiritual body (or a supernatural body). And we will be like Him; we will have a flesh and blood body, yet supernatural body.
So I would say that, in heaven, whenever we see Jesus we will see God the Father (We will visibly see the person of God the Father through the person of God the Son.). And this, in our limited sense, has always been true. In fact, while He was on earth He said to Philip, “…He who has seen Me has seen the Father…I am in the Father, and the Father in Me” (Jn. 14:9-10).
Randy Alcorn said in his book that Jesus is “a permanent manifestation of God.” I agree with him. The person of Jesus Christ is the person (the agency) that God has given us to be able to see God. And this I believe will be true for all eternity. Examine the following scriptures and see for yourself what we have been saying (bold added for emphasis):
Then Jesus cried out, “When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. (NIV)
Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? (NIV)
2 Corinthians 4:3-4
But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.
2. WE WILL SEE GOD IN EACH OTHER
Since we will be glorified just as the Father and Son are, we will see God not only in the glorious face of Jesus, but also in the glorious faces of each other. We won’t see God as clearly in people as in Jesus, but I definitely think we will see Him; for we will all be one with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I also think that each of us will have a different degree of glory, and so perhaps we will see different aspects of God in each other. In one we may see more of God’s mercy, in another more of His knowledge, and in another more of his hospitality, etc. This idea should encourage us now to develop those qualities and gifts God has given us; for the more we develop them, the more we will see them in heaven as reflections of God for eternity.
3. WE WILL SEE GOD IN SCRIPTURE
At this present time, when we read and meditate on the Word we see God with our minds eye vaguely. But in heaven, scripture will really come alive to us. We will be able to read the Bible much faster and comprehend every word of it. We will probably be able to memorize very quickly all of it and really understand it. I’m sure we will always be thinking of it and will know how to apply it. The Word will always be in our mouth and in our mind. In every word of scripture we will see Him with our glorified mind more clearly than we ever have seen Him before. God will speak His Word to us and we will speak His Word back to Him. This I see as the purest form of prayer.
I wonder what language we will speak in heaven?—if we all speak a common language. Or perhaps we will speak in the same language we speak now, but will be able to understand all other languages.
4. WE WILL SEE GOD IN NATURE
In the beginning, everything God created was “very good.” That means to me that everything was awesomely beautiful, and Adam and Eve could see God everywhere and in everything—that is, the glory of God was manifested in every part of creation. And they had a perfect and wonderful relationship with God.
But, as we know, everything that God created was corrupted by sin. Therefore everything became less beautiful, and the glory (or the presence) of God less evident.
But God had a plan to restore His creation. He would one day defeat Satan (Gen. 3:15). That day came when Christ died on the cross. His death and resurrection brought defeat to Satan and salvation to man and all of creation (Col. 1:18-20; 2:15).
Randy Alcorn writes:
The power of Christ’s resurrection is enough not only to remake us, but also to remake every inch of the universe—mountains, rivers, plants, animals, stars, nebulae, quasars, and galaxies. Christ’s redemptive work extends resurrection to the far reaches of the universe. This is a stunning affirmation of God’s greatness. It should move our hearts to wonder and praise.
The promise of redemption is eagerly anticipated by all of creation. All of God’s creation long for new life. In Romans 8:20-23 (NLT) Paul writes:
Against its will, everything on earth was subjected to God’s curse. 21 All creation anticipates the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. 22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 And even we Christians, although we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, also groan to be released from pain and suffering. We, too, wait anxiously for that day when God will give us our full rights as his children, including the new bodies he has promised us.
This post is an excerpt from my book Zenith of Prayer.