Question Box: Will we actually "see God" if granted immortality?

Question or Topic Scripture
Will we actually "see God" if granted immortality? Exodus 33:11,20

Answer

As we attempt to answer this question, I am aware that there are those who feel strongly about this issue. Some feel that we will indeed "see God", while others insist otherwise. In expressing my thoughts on this matter, it is my hope that our readers will be stimulated to provide us with some help on this difficult subject.

Moses

We will begin by looking at Moses, who provides us with an excellent illustration of the complexity of this issue. We are told in Exodus 33 – "And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend" (Exodus 33:11).

Conversely, in the same chapter, we read: "And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. ... And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen" (Exodus 33:20,23).

Therefore, the expression "face to face" did not mean that Moses actually looked on the face of God. It is more likely that God ("who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets") spoke unto Moses through an angel. (Compare Exodus 3:2 – "And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush".)

Face

The word "face" in both the Hebrew and Greek, is translated from words that have many applications. It may refer to the physical appearance but it can also mean "in the presence of", along with several other choices. Cain was driven out from the face of the Lord (Genesis 4:14). Some have even suggested that in this case, reference is being made to the faces of the cherubim.

Jacob wrestled with an angel in Genesis 32. This is how the incident is described: "And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved" (Genesis 32:30).

Being in the presence of God, (or figuratively before his face), may simply mean that one has been in the presence of a representative from God.

Invisible, Unapproachable

It is clear from a number of references, (including those already mentioned), that mortal man will not and has not actually seen the literal face of God. Moses, who knew God face to face is said to have "endured, as seeing him who is invisible" (Hebrews 11:27). Consider these additional verses:

"Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see" (I Timothy 6:16).

"No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him" (John 1:18).

"And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape" (John 5:37).

Will The Immortal Saints See God?

There are a few verses that indicate that there will be a time when men will see God. To be consistent with the scriptures already presented, the following references must refer to men in the immortal state, although it is not specifically stated:

"For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God" (Job 19:25-26).

"Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God" (Matthew 5:8).

"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is" (I John 3:2).

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known" (I Corinthians 13:12).

"There shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads" (Revelation 22:3-4).

The Manifestation of God

Before we can draw any conclusions, we must take into consideration the fact that Jesus was a manifestation of God. Will we see God, or Jesus face to face? Consider:

"Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us" (Matthew 1:23).

"No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him" (John 1:18).

"Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father" (John 14:9)?

Dwelling with Men

There are many indications that God will not only be seen, but that he will dwell with men. For example: "I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God" (Revelation 21:3).

We also read: "Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them" (Revelation 7:15).

The NIV translates this same passage: "Therefore, they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them" (Revelation 7:15 – NIV). There is a considerable difference in the effect of this verse, depending on which translation you may wish to apply.

Will God actually dwell on the earth? "But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee" (II Chronicles 6:18). "Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest" (Acts 7:49)?

Habitation of God

God will dwell with men, but can we be sure how this will be accomplished? There is another symbolic representation of the manifestation of God as described by Paul to the Ephesians:

  1. Ephesians 2:19-22
  2. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
  3. And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
  4. In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
  5. In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
The Question Remains

When I look at all of the factors in this issue, I find it difficult to come to a positive conclusion without relying on my personal paradigm. The concept of seeing God, or seeing his face, is subject to many qualifications.

Will we actually be in his presence, or will we be in the presence of Christ? Will we actually see him or will we have a more perfect understanding of him in the Kingdom? Will he dwell in us in any other way than through his spirit?

It is indeed wonderful that we have great and precious promises, that we may be partakers of the divine nature. When we are "clothed upon with our house which is from heaven", will we also see God face to face? I hope that someone out there has a better answer to this question and that they will share it with us.

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