Question:

Hello.

Will everyone see the face of God the Father on judgment day? I know that every eye will see Jesus, even those who pierced Him. Is seeing the face of God the Father only a privilege for the saved?

I appreciate your time.

Answer:

I believe you are striving to make a distinction that is unnecessary. "'If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.' Philip said to Him, 'Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.' Jesus said to him, 'Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works'" (John 14:7-10). To see Jesus is to see the Father.

To face someone is to be personally involved. There is no one representing you. "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad" (II Corinthians 5:10).  "For it is written, 'As I live, says the LORD, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.' So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God" (Romans 14:11-12).

But seeing someone's face is also an expression of knowing someone intimately. "There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads" (Revelation 22:3-4). The wicked never understood God and Christ, but the righteous will intimately know them through rest of eternity.

Question:

Hi Jeffrey,

Just a follow up here. Maybe you have some more info to share. Kindly, I totally understand what Jesus said to His disciples about himself and the Father. That's not at all in question, for me.

Here are a few Scriptures I would like to share with you to give a clearer context to my student's question.

Being a preacher, I'm positive that you're aware that in Exodus 33:20, God tells Moses that he cannot see His face because no one can see His face and live.

Similarly, we are told in John 1:18 that no one has seen God at any time, only the begotten Son. Furthermore, I John 3:2 says in reference to the Father, that we will be like Him when He is revealed, for we will see Him as He is. There is a glory of God that cannot be physically seen while we are in our earthly bodies. This does not contradict anything Jesus said of course. These are two different contexts. I have a previous understanding of your valid explanation. My student's question, however, has to do with those who are accursed being able to literally see the glory of God before being eternally cast into the lake of fire.

We know that the righteous will see Him in all His glory, as Jesus does and as the angels do (Matthew 18:10).

I'm not striving to make any unnecessary distinctions. I try to open my class to my students to ask questions, and I help them research and study. I also reinforce with them that we will not have all of our specific questions or curiosities answered, but that God gives us all things that pertain to life and godliness. I answered my student's question months ago, but I wanted to consult someone else too in case I needed to go back and correct myself.

I should have given you a clear context the first time I asked the question. Anyway, thanks again for your time and commitment to the Word.

Answer:

"Then Moses said, 'I pray You, show me Your glory!' And He said, 'I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.' But He said, 'You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!' Then the LORD said, 'Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock; and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen'" (Exodus 33:18-23).

Moses had asked to see God's full glory, but God told him that no mortal man could survive seeing His full glory face-to-face. Many people speculate why, but we have to limit ourselves to what God said. I suspect that a part of it has to do with sin. "This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all" (I John 1:5). But it could be that mortal flesh is too weak in the presence of the spiritual. We do know that those who have seen angels often had strong reactions, such as fainting.

"I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will bring about at the proper time--He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen" (I Timothy 6:13-16).

One of the recurring symbols in Revelation shows the saints approaching God across the crystal sea that separates God from His creation.

  • "Out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God; and before the throne there was something like a sea of glass, like crystal; and in the center and around the throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind" (Revelation 4:5-6).
  • "And I saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, holding harps of God" (Revelation 15:2).
  • "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea" (Revelation 21:1).

In the end, there is no barrier between man and God. "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them" (Revelation 21:3). But until that time, there are limits to how well we can know God.

John tells us that Jesus alone knows Father intimately, since the Father, the Son, and the Spirit have dwelt eternally together. "No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him" (John 1:18). People may talk about know what God wants, but no man has intimate knowledge of God.

When Christ returns, we will all be changed. "Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality" (I Corinthians 15:51-53). The issue of surviving in the presence of God no longer exists. "Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is" (I John 3:2).

A Jesus' return, all mankind will face God in judgment. "For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:9-11). Matthew 25:31-46 gives an account of all, both good and evil, giving an account of their lives on earth. "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad" (II Corinthians 5:10). The wicked will be banished from the presence of God.

"Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:11-15).

However, the righteous will dwell with God.

The wicked won't know God intimately, that is, face to face. But this does not imply they won't meet the God they had spurned during their life and come to know what they lost prior to being banished eternally away from all.

Response:

Hi Jeffrey,

Thanks for getting back with me again. I feel reassured of the answer I gave my student. I will try to pass your email on to her, too. My mother also visits the La Vista Church of Christ's website. She is teaching a women's class on Rahab and she plans to use some of the material from the website and give due credit of course.

Again, the Lord bless you.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email