On Friday we saw that the connection of the mercy we receive with the mercy we show to others can be a scary prospect indeed apart from the mediation of Christ. If we were to consider the potential of Scripture to strike us with fear more fully, however, we would doubtless include the sixth beatitude as a frightening passage as well. Jesus promises that the “pure in heart” will “see God,” but who among us is pure in heart?
Again, our only confidence is in Christ, who has sanctified His people by His blood (1 Cor. 6:11). He has set us apart definitively as holy and pure, and we prove this status by striving after personal holiness until in glory we are perfected and freed from all sin. This purity is guaranteed by the effectual work of our Savior, and so we who are in Christ Jesus know that we will one day experience the Beatific Vision — we know that we will one day see God as He is.
In Exodus 33:20, the Lord tells us that no man can see His face and live, but this is not due to God making His image-bearers inherently unable to bear His presence. Before the fall, humanity experienced intimate, face-to-face communion with the Creator when He walked with us in the cool of the day (Gen. 3:8). But this fellowship was lost when we fell into sin. The barrier that keeps us from seeing the Lord now is our fallen character. Once this fallenness is removed, there is no reason why we would not be able to gaze on God’s incomparable beauty.
This, indeed, is the Lord’s greatest promise to us, that we will be able to gaze upon Him, the most beautiful, awe-inspiring, worthy, holy, loving being that ever was, is, and will be. We will, as 1 John 3:1–3 tells us, see Him as He is. The Apostle is making reference to Christ: not the human nature of Christ alone but also the divine nature that is perfectly united with humanity in the person of our Savior. And to see the divine nature of the Son of God also means that we will see the other persons of the Trinity as well, for the Son dwells in the Father and the Father in the Son, just as the Holy Spirit mutually indwells the Father and the Son (John 10:37–38). What seeing God face to face means precisely is not for us to know today, but we do know that seeing Him will fully satisfy our souls.
The greatest glory of heaven is not that we will be free of pain, as wonderful as that will be. Instead, the ability to enjoy direct, face-to-face communion with God and see that for which our souls were created will be the highest joy we can imagine. We can scarcely contemplate the wonder of that day, but the beauty of Christ should make us long for it with the deepest longings of our souls and pursue the purity of heart that leads to this vision.