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Question and Answer | Seeing Him Face to Face

If the Lord dwells in an unapproachable light, how shall we see Him face to face?

Scripture teaches that God is invisible (1 Tim. 1:17), and that He “lives in unapproachable light” being One “whom no one has seen or can see” (1 Tim. 6:16). At the same time, we are told that “when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). This may seem confusing! Will we or will we not see God?

As believers, it is not surprising that we long to see the Lord face to face! Moses was not satisfied with his experiences at the burning bush or on Mt. Sinai, so he asked God, “Now show me your glory” (Ex. 33:18). Similarly, the Apostle Paul, an eyewitness to the resurrected Christ, looked forward to the day when he would see God face to face (1 Cor. 13:12).

But there is a clear distinction in Scripture between our ability to see God the Father and God the Son. Scripture carefully indicates that God the Son is the one we will see. In the Old Testament, each incident of seeing God face to face was with the Angel of the Lord, whom we now identify as the pre-incarnate Christ (whether the biblical writer states this explicitly or not). This was true for Jacob (Gen. 32:30), Moses (Ex. 33:11; Num. 12:8; Deut. 34:10), Israel (looking at the cloud resting on Mt. Sinai in Deut. 5:4), Gideon (Judg. 6:22), and Job (42:5). As John says, “No one has ever seen God [the Father], but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known” (John 1:18). And as Jesus says, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).

Like Moses and Paul, we will not be satisfied in our understanding of the Lord until we see Him face to face. But we will find ourselves fully satisfied when we look at the face of Jesus.

BY Dr. Eric C. Redmond

Dr. Eric C. Redmond serves as a professor of Bible at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and as associate pastor of adult ministries at Calvary Memorial Church in Oak Park, Ill. He is married to Pam and they have five children. He is the author of Say It!  Celebrating Expository Preaching in the African American Tradition (Moody Publishers), Where Are All the Brothers? Straight Answers to Men's’ Questions about the Church (Crossway), a commentary on Jonah in the Christ-Centered Exposition Series (B&H Publishers), and a study guide on Ephesians in the Knowing the Bible series (Crossway).

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