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Will We See the Trinity in Heaven?
June 29, 2011
I recently added a feedback and suggestion component to this site that allows readers like you to suggest topics for me to consider writing about. This has generated a lot of fantastic ideas, many of which are going to take a lot of study to adequately answer. One that I wanted to address right away is this: Will we be able to see all three members of the Trinity in heaven? Here is the question as asked by Andrew T:
When we get to heaven, will we see all three persons of the Trinity, or only Jesus? Will the Father and Spirit still be invisible? It’s something I’ve been wondering about for a long time, especially since I was raised in Oneness Pentecostalism (UPCI), but have now come to a more orthodox understanding of the Christian faith.
My immediate reaction to the question was a simple “No.” No, we will not see all 3 members of the Trinity in heaven (and here I am assuming not the intermediate heaven, but the new heaven and the new earth). But I wanted to give it some thought and reflection and I wanted to see who else has grappled with the question. And at the end of it all I return to that answer: No, I do not think we will see all 3 members of the Trinity in heaven. Why? Because for 2 of them there is nothing to see. Kind of. Let me explain myself. After I do so, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
The Bible makes it clear that as sinners we cannot see God’s face. God is the one who is “of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong” (Habakkuk 1:13). He is the one “who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see” (1 Timothy 6:16). Our sin keeps us from being able to come before the holy presence of God. Yet there are several parts of the Bible that hold out seeing God, beholding him, as a great future promise. Matthew 5:8 says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Revelation 22 promises “the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.”
Scripture makes it clear that it is the work of Jesus Christ that allows us to come before the Father. It is Christ who accomplishes the work that makes us holy so we can now be accepted by God. I am certain that in heaven we will see Jesus Christ face-to-face. Christ is incarnated not just for the years of his ministry here on earth, but forever. We will see him as a man eternally. And through his completed work on the cross we can embrace the biblical promise of seeing God’s face.
But does this mean that we will be able to see all 3 members of the Trinity in physical form?
No, for the simple reason that God the Father has no body; he has no physical form. The same is true of the Holy Spirit. It is possible that the Spirit may take on physical form as he did at Jesus’ baptism and at Pentecost, but the Holy Spirit has no innate physical form. He is, after all, Spirit. And the Father is not a man, he is not an old, bearded man sitting on a throne. So certainly we will not behold him in that kind of a form.
So what does the text mean when it says that we will see God’s face? I take it to mean that we will see and behold God’s glory, whatever that entails. John sought to describe this in his vision where he wrote “At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald” (Revelation 4:2-3). Note that he did not describe a physical form—hands or head or feet, but the effect of that form—glory, radiance, brilliance. God’s glory radiates from his perfection, from his holiness, something that we will only truly be able to experience as perfect, holy beings. Our perfection, accomplished in the work of Christ, will allow us to experience God’s perfection. So as I understand it, this is what we will behold—not God the Father incarnated, but God the Father’s glory—perhaps God the Father as glory. And I think we will only really be able to understand this when we see and experience it. The reality of it, the wonder of it, is too far beyond all we have experienced here on earth.
John MacArthur says “Heaven will provide us with that privilege—an undiminished, unwearied sight of His infinite glory and beauty, bringing us infinite and eternal delight. We can begin to understand why Peter, after seeing only a faint glimpse of that glory, wanted to make a camp on the Mount of Transfiguration and stay there permanently!”
God’s glory is terrifying to the sinner but the deepest longing of the one who has been redeemed. And so we can say with the Psalmist “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” Soon enough.
Now I would love your take on this question—one that was a little bit more difficult to answer than I would have thought. Do you think we will see the 3 persons of the Trinity in heaven?