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Will We See God the Father after We Are Glorified? Part 2

by Karl Kemp  
3/24/2017 / Bible Studies


We continue this study here in Part 2.

I'll quote part of what Norman L. Geisler says on this topic ("Systematic Theology In One Volume" [Bethany House Publishers, 2011]). On pages 1255-1256 Geisler mentions that we will see God face-to-face and he refers to Rev. 22:4, but he doesn't mean that we will really see God the Father at all, much less on a permanent basis as we reign with Him (Rev. 22:3-5). From Geisler's point of view, which is a widely held point of view, you cannot see a Person who is equally everywhere at the same time, omnipresent. From my point of view, the fact that God the Father is, at least in one sense present everywhere, need not, and probably does not, mean that He cannot have a localized presence with a spiritual body.  

Geisler speaks of God's OMNIPRESENCE on pages 493-495. I'll include two excerpts: "What, then does omnipresence mean? It means that all of God is everywhere at once. As the indivisible Being, God does not have one part here and another part there, for He has no parts. God is present to but not part of creation. ...." I don't claim to fully understand these things, but I have to go with what the Bible seems to clearly teach about our actually seeing God the Father. I don't believe we can fully understand these things. For one thing, these things haven't been full revealed. After we are glorified we will have a much greater capacity to understand these things.   

Geisler speaks of our having "a direct, complete, and final revelation of God in which the believer will see the divine essence." He quotes with approval the view of another that "the divine essence would be seen by direct intuition [intuition isn't actually seeing God the Father] (face to face)." "In the beatific vision's unmediated knowledge, the divine essence WILL INFORM OUR FINITE MINDS; WE WILL HAVE A FULL AND DIRECT KNOWLEDGE OF GOD HIMSELF [my emphasis here and as we continue. If I understand Geisler, he, in agreement with a large number of Christian scholars, doesn't believe that we will see God the Father.]." And, "This ULTIMATE KNOWLEDGE of God will be perfect (1 Cor. 13:9-10); our partial knowledge will turn into COMPLETE KNOWLEDGE; our incomplete understanding will be transformed into COMPLETE UNDERSTANDING. Whatever we can KNOW ABOUT GOD, WE WILL KNOW, AND WE WILL KNOW IT PERFECTLY." My goal is not to criticize Geisler or Hodge (I respect them as being sincere, Bible-believing, intelligent, born-again Christians) or the many theologians who agree with them, but I believe that some of their foundational ideas about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are probably wrong.  

1.3. AN EVANGELICAL THEOLOGIAN WHO LEAVES SOME ROOM FOR US TO ACTUALLY SEE GOD THE FATHER AFTER WE ARE GLORIFIED, EVEN THOUGH HE DOESN'T FULLY UNDERSTAND HOW THIS WILL WORK. (I freely admit that I don't understand all the details. For one thing, I don't believe God has revealed them.) I'll quote a paragraph from what Wayne Grudem, an evangelical theologian, says under the heading "There Is One God" (( ("Systematic Theology" [Zondervan, 1994], page 238); I should point out that Grudem believes in the Trinity, but he, unlike many who believe in the Trinity, believes in the preeminent role of God the Father in the Trinity. (He bases this on what he believes the Bible teaches on this topic; I agree with him.) Large numbers of those who believe in the Trinity emphasize the oneness of the essence, nature, being of the three Persons of the Trinity to such an extent that they deny, for one thing, that God the Father can have a preeminent role in the Trinity; see my last paper which is titled "Preeminent Role of God the Father in the Trinity: What about the Council of Nicea and the Nicene Creed?" It is on my internet site; Google to Karl Kemp Teaching. 

One more thing before I quote what Grudem says under the heading "There Is One God." I'll quote a paragraph from Grudem that deals with the meaning of God's "simplicity" ("Systematic Theology," pages 177-178): "The unity of God may be defined as follows: God is not divided into parts, yet we see different attributes of God emphasized at different times. This attribute of God has also been called God's simplicity, using simple in the less common sense of 'not complex' or 'not composed of parts.' But since the word simple today has the more common sense of 'easy to understand' and 'unintelligent or foolish,' it is more helpful now to speak of God's 'unity' rather than his 'simplicity.' " I won't quote the footnote that Grudem has at the end of this paragraph. This concept strongly emphasizes the one essence, nature, being of the three Persons of the Trinity. Is this concept being overstated? I believe it is.)): 

"Scripture is abundantly clear that there is one and only one God. The three different persons of the Trinity are one not only in purpose and in agreement in what they think, but they are one in essence, one in their essential nature. In other words, God is only one being. There are not three Gods. There is only one God" (page 238) It's clear that "there are not three God's," but the Bible puts a strong, unapologetic emphasis on the three distinct Persons, who communicate with one another; who speak about one another; who each have definite roles to fulfill; who love one another with very great love, etc. Grudem agrees at least to the extent that he (unlike many who believe in the Trinity) speaks (rightly I believe) of God the Father having a preeminent role in the Trinity.  

The more you emphasize (overemphasize) the oneness of God the more you may come up with ideas like there is no way that God the Father can have a preeminent role in the Trinity, or that you could ever see (I mean literally see with our glorified, spiritual eyes) the two distinct Persons of the Father and the Son who are "one in essence, one in essential nature," where "God is only one being." Many would say that the only reason that we will be able to see the Lord Jesus after we are glorified is because of His having become a man, the God-man, with a body, now a glorified body. Many speak of our being able to see God the Father in the face of the Lord Jesus, which is quite different than actually seeing the Father face to face. (It is often difficult to know what some commentators mean: They often speak of seeing God (God the Father), but they don't really mean that we will see Him. Our answer to the question whether we will be able to see God the Father (and whether the angels can see Him now) rather significantly affects our concept of God the Father. 

I'll quote part of what Grudem says on pages 188-190 under the heading "Invisibility" ("Systematic Theology" [Zondervan, 1994]). (I'll quote four paragraphs from Grudem here.) I wouldn't be including this excerpt if Grudem did not go beyond what he says in his first paragraph here, or even his second paragraph. He doesn't claim to understand all the details, but he takes seriously what the Bible says in verses like Matt. 5:8 and Rev. 22:3-4: "Related to God's spirituality is the fact that God is invisible. Yet we also must speak of the visible ways in which God manifests himself. God's invisibility can be defined as follows; God's invisibility means that God's total essence, all of his spiritual being, will never be able to be seen by us, yet God still shows himself to us through visible, created things. ... [I'm not so much concerned whether we will see "God's total essence," but whether we will see Him as a Person, even if we don't see His total essence. I doubt that we will see His total essence.]

But how will we see God in heaven? We will never be able to see or know all of God, for 'his greatness is unsearchable' (Ps. 145:3 ; cf. John 6:46; 1 Tim. 1:17; 6:16; 1 John 4:12, which were mentioned above [they were mentioned above in Grudem's book]). [[I don't think in terms of ever being able to know all of God! He is God! But I don't believe He will be invisible to us after we are glorified. He isn't invisible to the angels now, for one thing (Matt. 18:10)! John 6:46 says that no one has ever seen God the Father, except the Son, and 1 John 4:12 that no one has seen Him at any time. 1 Tim. 1:17 speaks of the Father as "invisible," and 6:16 speaks of Him who "dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see." I don't believe it was intended that any of these four verses deny that we will see the Father after we are glorified. All of these verses are discussed in this paper.]] And we will not be able to see - at least with our physical eyes [We will not have "physical eyes" after we are glorified] - the spiritual being of God. Nevertheless, Scripture says that we will see God himself. Jesus says, 'Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God' (Matt. 5:8). We will be able to see the human nature of Jesus, of course (Rev. 1:7). But it is not clear in exactly what sense we will be able to 'see' the Father and the Holy Spirit, or the divine nature of God the Son.... Perhaps the nature of this 'seeing' will not be known to us until we reach heaven. [I don't believe our seeing God the Father will be complicated. I assume we will see Him after we are glorified. I believe He has a form, a spiritual body (cf., e.g., Ezek. 1:26-28) for us to see. However, I believe there is much room to doubt that we will ever literally see the Person of the Holy Spirit.] 

Although what we will see will not be an exhaustive vision of God, it will be a completely true and clear and real vision of God. We shall see 'face to face' (1 Cor. 13:12) and we shall see him as he is' (1 John 3:2). The most remarkable description of the open, close fellowship with God that we shall experience is seen in the fact that in the heavenly city 'the throne of God and the Lamb shall be in it, and his servants shall worship him; they shall see his face, and his name shall be on their foreheads' (Rev. 22:3-4).  

When we realize that God is the perfection of all that we long for or desire, that he is the summation of everything beautiful or desirable, then we realize that the greatest joy of the life to come will be that we 'shall see his face.' This seeing of God 'face to face' has been called the beatific vision, meaning 'the vision that makes us blessed or happy' ('beatific' is from two Latin words, beatus, 'blessed,' and facare, 'to make). To look at God changes us and makes us like him" 'We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is' (I John 3:2; cf. 2 Cor. 3:18). This vision of God will be the consummation of our knowing God and will give us full delight and joy for all eternity: 'in your presence there is fulness of joy, in your right hand are pleasures for evermore' (Ps. 16:11)." 

  

It is clear that God the Father does not have a physical body, but the Bible has a lot to say about our being able to see Him after we are glorified. Based on what the Bible says, I have to believe, without being dogmatic on this point, that God the Father has a spiritual body, a body with a form similar to our bodies. This is an important topic for us to consider. For one thing, it will involve our relationship with God the Father throughout the rest of eternity, which will never end, from the time we are glorified, and while we are reigning with Him and the Lord Jesus in new Jerusalem forever and ever (Rev. 22:5). 

God the Father's spiritual body, assuming He has a spiritual body, which I do assume, would have to be a body appropriate for Him. We were created in the image of God. So were the angels, who are also called sons of God in the Bible (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; Gen. 6:2, 4; cf. Luke 20:35-36), as are born-again Christians, and especially after we are glorified (cf. Rom. 8:19), after we are born into the fullness of eternal life. 

All Christians agree that our being created in the image of God includes things like our having an understanding of what is right and wrong and a need to do what is right by God's definition, intellect, emotions, creativity, and that we were created to know Him, to worship Him, to serve Him, and apparently even in that the form of our bodies is similar to the form of His body. The cherubim, seraphim, and angels have spiritual bodies. They are not invisible spirits who have no form or shape; they have spiritual bodies. (They are invisible to our physical eyes unless something supernatural takes place that makes them visible to our physical eyes.) I certainly would not say that the spiritual bodies of the angels or our spiritual bodies are fully comparable with the body of God the Father (He is God, the Creator!), assuming, as I mentioned, that He has a body, but large numbers of Christians don't believe He has (or can have) a body. (I have explained why so many believe that way to some extent above.)

  

1.4. SEEING GOD THE FATHER AFTER WE ARE GLORIFIED, AND ON HIS COMING TO SAVE AND TO JUDGE. Large numbers of Christians (I'm thinking especially of evangelicals) think in terms of God the Father sending His Son to the earth at the end of this age to save and to judge, and this is Biblical. The New Testament has a lot to say on this topic. However, as we will discuss in some detail in this paper, the Bible has quite a bit to say about the coming of God the Father to save and to judge at the end of this age. The book of Revelation is especially relevant on this latter point, and I have learned over the years to pay special attention to what the book of Revelation says on the end times. It is God's last word in the Bible on the end times, and it is packed with super-important information that we would not know apart from this book.  

What the book of Revelation says about the coming of God the Father to save and to judge (and it does not stand alone on this topic) suffices to confirm that He Himself will come at the same time He sends the Lord Jesus. I believe they will come at the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet right in the middle of the seven-year period that is sometimes called "Daniel's 70th Week." This is super-important information, and recognizing this fact will apparently help us rightly interpret some other end-time passages. As I mentioned, we will discuss two such passages in some detail in this paper (1 John 2:26-3:3, especially 2:28 and 3:2; and James 5:7-8, with James 5:1-12 along with some other key passages from the Book of James).

  

I'll Quote Part of "Will we see God's face?" (three paragraphs) on the "Grace to You" internet site. This was "adapted from John F. Macarthur, 'The Glory of Heaven' (Crossway, 1996), pages 143-146." "In heaven, since we will be free from sin, we will see God's glory unveiled in its fullness. That will be a more pleasing, spectacular sight than anything we have known or could imagine on earth. No mere earthly pleasure can even begin to measure up to the privilege and the ecstasy of an unhindered view of the divine glory. 

Matthew 5:8 says, 'Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.' The Greek verb translate 'see' (horao) is in a tense that denotes a future, continuous reality. In heaven we will continually be seeing God. ... ...believers in heaven will forever have perfect, unbroken fellowship with the King of Kings! ... Revelation 22:3-4 seals the promise: 'The throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve him. They shall see his face. 

As Christians, our highest satisfaction will come WHEN WE SEE GOD AND HIS SON, JESUS CHRIST, AND WHEN WE STAND BEFORE THEM IN PERFECT RIGHTEOUSNESS [my emphasis]. Heaven will provide us with that privilege - an undiminished unwearied sight of His infinite glory and beauty, bringing us infinite and eternal delight. ...."

  

I'll Close this Introduction with the Answer that Billy Graham Gave to the Question, "Will We Actually See God when We Get to Heaven? ... ("Answers," https://billygraham.org/author/billy-graham, December 13, 2012): "Yes, some day we will be in God's presence forever if we know Christ, and we will see God in all His greatness and glory. Jesus said, 'Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God' (Matthew 5:8). 

Can I imagine what that will be like? No, not really - because heaven will be far greater than anything we presently know. ... ...it will be far more glorious than anything we have ever experienced - and one reason is because we will be in the presence of God forever. ...."

 

2. DID EZEKIEL SEE GOD THE FATHER? I believe he did see God the Father, but he clearly did not see Him clearly or directly. He certainly did not see Him face to face. He saw Him in a vision (a theophany), but I believe that vision reflected much reality. God was not trying to deceive Ezekiel, or us! In EZEKIEL 1:25 "there came a voice from above the expanse [which was the platform on which God's movable (movable at very high rates of speed) throne was located] that was over their heads [over the heads of the four cherubim who supported and carried God movable throne]." Undoubtedly this was the voice of God the Father, who sat on the throne. (He was able to stand on the platform too, and He could, and did, leave the platform. In Ezek. 10:18 Ezekiel was able to see God the Father (to the extent he was able to see Him and His glory) leave the temple (He had been in the Holy of Holies) and stand on the platform above the four cherubim. As we will see, the fact that the Son of God comes on the scene in Ezekiel chapters 9 and 10 confirms that it was God the Father on the throne, not the Son of God.

2.1. I'll quote EZEKIEL 1:26-28 and make several comments: "Now above the expanse [a platform] that was over their heads [the heads of the four cherubim] there was something resembling a throne, like lapis lazuli in appearance; and on that which resembled a throne, high up, was A FIGURE WITH THE APPEARANCE OF A MAN. [[My emphasis. God (God the Father; the One that Israel thought of as God in the Old Testament) could have just let Ezekiel see His radiant glory without a form, but He let him see "a figure with the appearance of a man." Ezekiel didn't see the details (for one thing, the glory, fire, and radiance would have blocked out the details), and I'm confident that he didn't see His face, but I believe it is very important information that Ezekiel saw "a figure in the appearance of a man." As we continue with this paper, it will be confirmed again and again to my satisfaction (but I won't be dogmatic on this point) that God the Father has a form (a spiritual body) and that we will be able to see Him, even face to face, after we are glorified. I realize that many (undoubtedly the majority) don't believe we will ever be able to actually see God the Father. Many (and I'm speaking mostly of evangelicals) believe that God the Son was the One seen in passages like Ezek. 1:26-28 and that He is the only One we will see after we are glorified; we will not ever see God the Father according to this point of view.]] (27) Then I noticed from the appearance of His loins [I'll quote part of what the Webster's Dictionary says on the meaning of "loins," when referring to humans: "the hips and the lower abdomen regarded as a part of the body to be clothed...."] and upward something like glowing metal that looked like fire all around within it, and from the appearance of His loins and downward I saw something like fire; and there was a radiance around Him. (28) As the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD [Hebrew "Yahweh"]. And when I saw it, I fell on my face and heard a voice speaking."

 

I'll Quote Two Footnotes and a Few Sentences from what Lamar Eugene Cooper Says under Ezek. 1:26-27 ("Ezekiel" [Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1994], page 70): "The idea of God with a human form sometimes has been dismissed as an anthropomorphic accommodation, God's way of trying to help us in comprehending deity [by using a figure of speech]. Yet the discussion in Gen. 1:26 concerning the human form as an image of the divine seems to suggest that God has a form. [This seems to be a reasonable assumption. This doesn't mean, of course, that God was limited to being in the holy of holies in the temple at Jerusalem when He dwelled there; nor is He limited to being in heaven.] Spirit beings who appear in Scripture all have human form and often are mistaken for human beings. See note on [Ezekiel] 1:5-14." I'll quote that note from his page 65: "The word 'form' is [Hebrew "demuth"], which is used in Gen. 1:26 concerning humans who are created in the image of God. The notion that spirit beings including God have a form clearly is taught in the Bible. All spirit beings appearing to humans had a form like humans (see, e.g. Gen. 18:1-19:29 [which undoubtedly refer to the preincarnate Son of God and two angels]; Dan. 10:5-6 [preincarnate Son of God; cf. Rev. 1:12-16]; Ezek. 9:2-4 [preincarnate Son and six angels]; Acts 1:11 [two angels]; Heb. 13:2 [people who have interacted with angels without knowing it]. ...." 

On page 71 Cooper comments that "Because of the infiniteness of his being and his holiness, God could only reveal himself to humans in a limited way." He has a footnote here, which I won't quote. In this footnote, Cooper doesn't address what it will be like after we are glorified. It will be very different then, but perhaps God the Father will still have to filter out some of His glory. I should also mention that Cooper says that the man clothed in linen in Ezekiel chapters 9-10 was "an angel associated with the judgment of Jerusalem" (page 131). I am confident that He was the preincarnate Son of God, the Angel of Yahweh.

 

God the Father went on to speak with Ezekiel as the book of Ezekiel continues with Ezek. 2:1. Ezekiel saw the radiance of God, which undoubtedly goes with His glory, and the fire, but it is clear that He saw "a figure with the appearance of a man" (verse 26). His appearance of a man apparently includes loins, legs (with feet), torso, arms (with hands [cf. 8:3]), and a head with a face, etc. The words "the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD [Yahweh]" of 1:28 help confirm that Ezekiel did not clearly or fully see God as He is, or see Him face to face. But, again, it seems that God the Father wanted to demonstrate that He has a form (we could say spiritual body) quite similar to that of human beings who have been created in His image. This is confirmed by many other passages in the Bible that we will consider in this paper. The Old Testament made it very clear that Israel was not permitted to make any idols, including any idols with the appearance of a man. For one thing, it would have been impossible (and especially in the ancient world) to make an idol that would resemble the glorious and complicated appearance that Ezekiel saw, including the fact that so many details regarding the "figure with the appearance of a man" were not given. How could you begin to reproduce in an idol what Ezekiel saw? And, again, that was totally forbidden (cf. Exod. 20:4-6 and Deut. 5:8-10, the second of the Ten Commandments). 

2.2. EZEKIEL 3:22-23: "The hand of the LORD [Hebrew "Yahweh"] was upon me there, and He said to me, 'Get up, go out to the plain, and there I will speak to you.' (23) So I got up and went out to the plain, and behold, the glory of the LORD was standing there, like the glory which I saw by the river Chebar [in Ezekiel chapter 1], and I fell on my face." I don't see anything new or helpful in these verses regarding the appearance of God the Father that Ezekiel saw. 

2.3. EZEKIEL 8:1-4: "It came about in the sixth year, on the fifth day of the sixth month [Ezekiel 1:1-2 mention the fifth year, on the fifth day of the fourth month, which was fourteen months earlier.], as I was sitting in my house with the elders of Judah sitting before me, that the hand of the Lord GOD [Hebrew "Adonay Yahweh"] fell on me there. (2) Then I looked, and behold, A LIKENESS AS THE APPEARANCE OF A MAN [my emphasis]; from His loins and downward there was the appearance of fire, and from His loins and upward the appearance of brightness, like the appearance of glowing metal. [This is fully comparable with the vision of chapter 1. The "likeness as the appearance of a man," which seems to be quite important, is very similar to the words of Ezek. 1:26.] (3) He stretched out the form of a hand [We would expect the One with "a likeness as the appearance of a man" to have arms and hands. Ezekiel chapter 1 didn't mention arms or hands, but they could be assumed with "a likeness as the appearance of a man." This was a vision, but, as I mentioned, I assume it is based on reality. Visions like this certainly did not communicate the idea of God's eternal invisibility.] and caught me by a lock of my head; and the Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem [from where He lived, having been carried into captivity to Babylon], to the entrance of the north gate of the inner court [of the temple], where the seat of the idol of jealousy [a pagan idol that greatly offended God] was located. (4) And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, like the appearance which I saw in the plain [in chapter 3]." As these verses continue God (God the Father) gave Ezekiel a guided tour through parts of the temple to show him some of the very serious sins that were being committed by leaders of the people of Judah in the temple, including the "idol of jealousy." ((This scene took place just before God judged Judah through the Babylonians in 587/586 BC. We read of that destruction in Ezekiel chapters 9-11, which we will briefly discuss as we continue. The Babylonians destroyed the temple and much of the city of Jerusalem and carried most of the Jews into captivity. Ezekiel had been exiled to Babylon earlier [597 BC] along with King Jeconiah, who was also called Jehoiachin. Daniel and his three friends had been exiled to Babylon earlier than that [605 BC].)) 

I believe it is rather strongly confirmed that it was God the Father who appeared in the visions of chapters 1, 3, 8-11, and 43 (chapters that I discuss to some extent in this paper), in that, God the Son comes on the scene and interacts with God the Father in chapters 9 and 10. It isn't clear exactly what Ezekiel saw of God the Father in chapters 9 and 10, but apparently not more detail than in chapters 1, 3, and 8.  

 

We will continue discussing Ezekiel's seeing God the Father in a vision, theophany in Part 3 of this paper. 

© Copyright by Karl Kemp

http://www.karlkempteachingministries.com Karl Kemp worked as an engineer in the space field throughout the 60s. He became a born-again Christian in 1964. He received an MA in Biblical Studies in 1972. He has been a Bible teacher for 45 years. See the website for more info on his books, papers, etc.

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