George H. Morrison - Devotional Sermons
The Crowning Vision
We shall see him as he is--1Jo 3:2
Whether we shall see God as He is, is a question that has been often agitated in the schools. No man hath seen God at any time. That we shall know Him with a knowledge intimate and satisfying is the Scriptural hope which we all cherish. God doth so interpenetrate all heaven that to be in heaven is to be in God. But whether we shall see Him face to face, and have an immediate vision of His being, is a question on which men have reverently differed. Even the seraphim around the throne veil their faces with their wings before Him. These mighty creatures, the bodyguard of heaven, cannot brook the glory of Jehovah. And so it has been reverently questioned whether it will ever be possible for man to see a glory which they cannot bear.
But if God, in His essential being, may be forever shrouded from our human gaze, it is not so with the Lord Jesus Christ. If there is one thing clear upon the page of Scripture, it is that when the believer wakes in glory he shall behold his Savior face to face. Now we see through a glass darkly; we are like men beholding in a mirror. We walk by faith, or we strive to walk by faith, and faith is the evidence of things not seen. But when earth retires and we awake in heaven, faith shall be perfected in sight: and then we shall see Him as He is. Eye hath not seen and ear hath never heard the things that God hath prepared for them that love Him. That is the faith in which the saints have lived, and it is in such a faith that they have died. And of all the things that God hath so prepared there shall be nothing half so wonderful or satisfying as the immediate vision of our Savior.
I should like to note that these words of John are to be taken in their deepest sense. We shall see Him as He is. Our first thought would be to take these words as a vivid contrast to what our Savior was. Now we see Him as He was; then we shall see Him as He is. But the thought of the apostle goes far deeper than any difference between past and present: we are to see Him as He really is. John knew, as all the apostles knew, that his exalted Lord was always one. That He is the same yesterday and forever is the consistent testimony of the apostles. And what John means is that now we see Him dimly, whether in Galilee or on the throne, but then we shall see Him as He is. In our very clearest moments here we see Christ but dimly and imperfectly. All we have ever seen and known of Him is, as it were, "the outskirts of His ways." And the wonder of the sight of heaven is this, that with eyes made perfect by the love of God, for the first time we shall see Him as he is. It is often a very thrilling moment when we first see people as they really are. We thought we knew them, and then some hour arrives when heights and depths in them flash out upon us. And then we feel that we have never known them, never understood their real character, never fathomed their depths of personality. In some such way, when we awake in heaven, we shall feel that we have never known the Savior. Now we know in part and see in part; then shall we know even as we are known. At last, when we are purged and purified, and when the love of God has given us eyes to see, we shall see Him as He is.
We Long for the Person, Not the Place
It is this immediate vision of the Lord which will crown the blessedness of heaven. The joy of heaven is the beatific vision. That heaven is a very real place is the unvarying teaching of the Bible. "I go to prepare a place for you," says Christ; and "in my Father's house are many mansions." But a mansion may be very beautiful and adorned with every treasure wealth can purchase, and yet the heart may be very lonely there. There is nothing more desolate than a beautiful home when somebody who was its light is gone. All that art can minister and wealth supply seems but a mockery in such an hour. And so the very magnificence of heaven would only make it a more lonely place if the presence of our Savior were not there. As with homes, so is it too with countries, and heaven is often spoken of as a country. The most beautiful scenery God ever made can never satisfy the human heart. And heaven shall be far more beautiful than earth, for it is reality and earth the shadow, and yet a man might be unhappy in it. That is why Paul, whenever he thinks of heaven, immediately passes to the thought of Christ. He knew all about the sea of glass, but he never dwells on that. He never says, when life is hard and difficult, "I have a desire to depart and go to heaven"; he says, "I have a desire to depart, and be with Christ."
That we shall see Him there as He is we may regard as certain, when we remember that there we shall see Him at home. I think you must always see a man at home if you want to see him as he really is. Of course, there are some homes of which that is not true. There are homes where a person is not his real self. That is especially true of sensitive children in homes Where there is more ridicule than sympathy. And the untold evil of such homes is this, that they make the child shrink into himself, which is the very thing God meant no child to do. It has not been my lot to meet with many hypocrites, but I have watched them closely whenever I have met them; and my experience is that very often hypocrisy can be traced back to the home. When a child is repressed instead of being encouraged, when it is afraid to open its lips lest it be jeered at, then it grows reticent and loses all self-confidence, and hypocrisy becomes perilously easy.
But while that is true and very sadly true, it only emphasises what I have been saying, that where there is love and sympathy at home, it is there that a man is seen just as he is. He may be a better man, or he may be a worse man, than he is in the judgment of the world. He may be far more generous, amiable, patient; or, on the other hand, he may be less so. But the point is that in the freedom of the home, where there is love and fellowship and sympathy, a man is recognized in his true nature. I have been honored by the friendship of good men whose name is fragrant in city and in market, men whom the bitterest rival never dared to associate with a dishonorable thing, and yet there were depths in them of patient love and heights of idealism quietly realized that could never be known to anyone on earth save to those who had the friendship of their home.
And there "we shall see him as he is"; in heaven we shall see Him in His home. We shall no longer see Him among those who scorn Him; we shall see Him among the multitudes who love Him. Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head. He had only one place here to lay His head, and that was on the cross. And if here, despised and rejected, He was so wonderful and full of grace--what will He be at home! Here He could not turn without men judging Him. Here He was always being misinterpreted. Here, when He wanted to do a deed of love, they laughed Him to scorn. And if in spite of all that human treatment, He was so gloriously and infinitely gracious here, what will He be in the liberty of home? There will be nobody to insult him there. There will be none to hinder Him, because of unbelief. Love will surround Him, and nothing else than love, in the multitude whom He has ransomed. And who can tell what depths will be disclosed then in Him who was so exquisitely gracious when He could not move a finger without cavil.
No Longer Children
Then, once again, we shall see Him as He is because we shall be no longer children. "Beloved, now are we the children of God; but it doth not yet appear what we shall be." In our version it is translated sons of God, but in the revised version you will find it children. That is a small change, but a very important one, and what it means is this. It means that the word for sons (which Paul was so fond of) is a different word from the one which John here uses, and it is different because the thought is different. When Paul speaks of the sons of God, he thinks of the liberties of sonship. But when John speaks of the children of God, he thinks of the weakness and ignorance of childhood. And so John says, "Beloved, we are children now--ignorant and inexperienced children--but the day is coming when we shall not be children, and then we shall see Him as He is." Many of you can appreciate that out of your own experience. When you were a child, you had a loving father, and even as a child you knew he loved you. But it was not till you grew to manhood or womanhood, perhaps when your father was sleeping in his grave, that you ever really understood his character. As a child you used to see him writing, or going out on visitation. Or perhaps some evenings he would be very quiet, and your mother would watch him with an anxious face. But what it all might mean you did not know then, because you were children at the time. My friend, you know it all today. You know how honored and loved your father was. You are no longer children, and so now you see what as a child you had no eyes to see. And beloved, now are we God's children, and it hath not yet been manifested what we shall be, but we know that when it shall be manifested, we shall see Him as He is. Every believer shall be a son in heaven, but no believer will be a child in heaven. The love of God will draw us into manhood, fresh from the releasing of the grave; and in that manhood we shall begin to see what here as children we have no eyes to see, the wonder of the love of Jesus Christ. Words will come back to us we heard in childhood and which we never understood in childhood. Things that seemed cruel and hard to us in childhood will dawn upon our memories again. And being no longer children but grown men, under the quickening of the love of God, we shall understand at last what it all meant. "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But when I became a man, I put away childish things." And so in heaven, being no longer children, we shall put away our childish ignorance, and at last shall see Him as He is.
We Shall Be Like Him
The third ground of our assurance that we shall see Him so, lies in the fact that then we shall be like Him. "We know that when he shall appear we shall be like him," and being like Him, "shall see him as he is." Unless you have some affinity with people, you never see them as they really are. You must have the music of poetry within you if you are really to understand a poet. Personality is wonderfully sensitive--not consciously but by its very nature--and never reveals itself in any fullness save under the sunshine of affinity. You may have known a man for years, yet never known him, just because you are radically different from him. And then some one comes along who understands him by some divine affinity of nature. And in a week or two that kindred soul begins to see what you have never seen; he is like him and sees him as he is. That is especially the case with children. They have an unerring instinct for those who understand them. You must have the childlike heart to see the child. You must have the Christlike heart to see the Savior. And it is just because at last we shall be like Him, in the fullness of our glorified humanity, that in heaven we shall see Him as He is.
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