by Joe Leavell
Many people that I’ve talked to and counseled with through the years have struggled with their faith in a God that they cannot see with their own eyes. They have often expressed their desire for God to physically appear to them, because they believe that obedience would be so much easier if they could see Him.
I understand that unbelievers use this as an excuse for unbelief, but I want to address believers who struggle in their faith because they cannot see God. To unbelievers, let me just say that God is not simply interested in showing up on your doorstep to satisfy the question of His existence. He is interested in you turning from your sin to faith in Christ, so that you can be reconciled to God. He is not as interested in satisfying your curiosity as He is in satisfying your soul.
Consider a thought with me for a moment. Because of our rebellion, God says that no one can see God in all of His glory and live (Exodus 33:20). It’s kind of like how staring at the sun will kill your eyes. In this way, if you think about it, the fact that we cannot see God is actually an act of His mercy. Humanity’s sinfulness separates us from Him. He knows the power of His glory, and in His mercy does not want to destroy us by revealing His glory.
Beyond being spirit, this is one of several reasons why you cannot see God. It is not that He is being cruel to demand faith in someone we cannot see. The reality is that we cannot experience His glorious presence because of our fall. Though He is Spirit, Scripture says God Himself once walked side by side with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Because of man’s sin, that companionship was shattered, and God could no longer reveal Himself to us in the same way that was once enjoyed. The beautiful fellowship man once shared with God was utterly broken in the Garden of Eden.
However, even in our fallen state, God has been gracious to us in revealing His existence to us. For one, Romans 1:20 tells us that even His eternal Godhood is easily seen through His creation. Through ancient history, God also revealed Himself to us through prophets who wrote the Scriptures. But His revelation of Himself to us was not complete. In order for us to be reunited with Him in the presence of His glory, He would have to veil His splendor by taking on human flesh and dying for our sin.
In taking on humanity, sacrificing His body on the cross, and then rising again from the dead, Jesus rescued those who believe in Him from their rebellious sinfulness and gave peace and fellowship with God. Through Christ, one day believers will be made incorruptible and will able to kneel before Him in all of His majesty and splendor and not be consumed. Scripture teaches that the only way for us to have access to the God of eternal glory is through His Son, Jesus Christ.
I Still Really Want To See God
I get it. I want to see God too. I desire more than anything else to physically worship at the feet of Jesus. Frankly, I totally get how much simpler it would be to obey and to have faith in someone whose glory you can verify with your senses. I want to see the scars on His hands and His feet, and forever praise Him for redeeming me from my sin. Today would sure be nice!
I really do think it is right to have that yearning to see our God face to face. There really is a longing in our hearts to enjoy His glorious presence forever. That longing is a yearning for the fellowship with God for which we were created in the first place. That is a very good thing. But please understand, dear believer, that God is not being mean to those who have placed their trust in Him by not physically revealing Himself to us. It is that we cannot stand before His glory in bodies that are tainted by sin or else we will instantly die.
We Will See Him Soon
Jesus will come again, but that day has not yet come to pass. One of the primary reasons why is because of His grace to the lost and His desire for them to come to Christ (2 Peter 3:9). While we wait for His coming, He did not leave us on our own but rather God has poured out His Spirit on all believers. He takes up His residence within us, which Jesus said is actually better for us at the moment than His physical presence (John 16:7). He has also given us God’s Word, which reveals Himself and His will to us. He has also given us other believers to encourage us and teach us. These are God’s gifts to those of us who have faith in Christ. This, Peter says in 2 Peter 1:3, is sufficient for us to live the God honoring lives that He desires us to live. In fact, Jesus told Thomas who insisted on seeing Jesus alive before believing, that there is actually a blessing for those of us who believe without seeing (John 20:29).
We really will see Jesus face to face! Whether it is upon the closing of our eyes in death, or at His return to earth as King of Kings, Scripture teaches that we will see our King and spend eternity praising Him for who He is and what He has done for us.
Rest in Him.
He is coming soon.
“Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” – 1 John 3:2