Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.

Looking Forward to Seeing the Lord Face to Face

Summary:  I am 73 years old. God has blessed me. I have a wonderful wife, beloved adult children and their spouses, and 22 grandchildren. I hope for many more years of good health here on earth to enjoy being with them. But I realized recently that, after 47 years as a born-again Christian, I spend very little time thinking about heaven. So I began to search out some uplifting Bible verses to help me (and hopefully you also) to add what I’ll call “heaven thoughts” to our regular times of seeking the Lord. I trust these thoughts will uplift you as much as they have me. Of course, the basis of our hope of heaven is coming to Jesus Christ in repentance and faith for salvation. Without that, heaven is unattainable.

Philippians 1:23-24
   I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.

The great apostle Paul spoke candidly. He was “torn” by a quandary. For the sake of his Christian brothers and sisters, he knew it was better if he continued his life on earth so that they might benefit by his love for them and his ministry to them.

But his heart’s “desire [was] to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.”

I can relate very well to Paul’s quandary. I love my wife and our children and grandchildren. I hope for many more happy years with them beyond my current 73 years. But I have determined to be more conscious of what comes next for me as a believer. And that is, when the Lord determines that my time on this earth is complete, I will be blessed “to depart and be with Christ.”

I’m looking forward (in God’s timing) to the better by far part! As wonderful as family and close friends on earth can be — and they are wonderful! — there is coming for every born-again believer a heavenly reward that is far better.

Psalm 17:15  As for me, I will be vindicated and will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.

A pastor friend of mine once said that the single greatest thing in all eternity for Him will be that first moment in heaven seeing God’s face. That’s what the faith-filled, God-loving Psalmist King David is talking about here. When his life on earth is complete, he will be satisfied with seeing God’s face, His likeness.

As we read often in the Bible’s Book of Revelation, the innumerable hosts of heaven continually break out in praise and worship to God the Father and Jesus His Son. The effect of being in God’s presence upon seraphim, angels, and the redeemed in heaven is profound.

1 Corinthians 2:9, NKJV  But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

Nothing we have ever seen on earth … nothing our mortal ears have heard … nothing in our mind’s grandest imaginings can prepare us for the awesome blessings God has for believers in heaven.

The God who created the world, the galaxies, and the entire universe will receive us in heaven as family. We will be welcome in His presence forever as His beloved “sons and daughters” (2 Corinthians 6:18). God will not receive us grudgingly or reluctantly, but with the full measure of His love reflected in the Scripture: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

2 Corinthians 12:1-4  I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows—was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.

The “man in Christ” who had this heavenly vision is clearly the apostle Paul himself (see vs. 7). When he was “caught up to the third heaven” (vs. 3) … “caught up to paradise” (4), Paul heard inexpressible things, he received “surpassingly great revelations” (vs. 7).

As we saw above, the natural senses, mind, and heart are incapable of grasping the grandeur of what awaits us in heaven. Paul simply called it “inexpressible … surpassingly great.”

Again, the key is to be a “man[or woman] in Christ.” People don’t die and automatically go to heaven. No, those who go to heaven are repentant believers in Jesus Christ. Jesus alone is “the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through [Him]” (John 14:6). If you haven’t come to Jesus personally as your Lord and Savior, the most important moment in your life and for all eternity is this moment right now! Please stop reading and take a few minutes to read evangelist Billy Graham’s simple, biblical steps to being forgiven, being born again, and becoming a heaven-bound child of God for all eternity. The Lord’s gracious invitation to you is waiting for you at Billy Graham’s website here. It will cost you nothing to get saved; Jesus paid that price for us on the cross!

Isaiah 6:1-7  In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

The prophet Isaiah more than 2,500 years ago had a remarkable vision of heaven and of the Lord seated on His throne. The absolute holiness of the scene overwhelmed him to the point of heart-wrenching repentance for his sins and the sins of the people of Israel.

Isaiah saw the mysterious, glorious seraphim hovering above the Lord and heard them cry out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty.” The heavenly temple shook and was filled with smoke. Our imaginations are incapable of discerning the glory that Isaiah must have seen.

Then the best part (for the prophet then and for us sinners of every age) was God’s response to Isaiah’s genuine repentance. One of the seraphim took a live coal from the altar before the Lord. He touched the prophet’s mouth with it and cried out, “Your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” Today, because the Lord Jesus Christ has come and personally atoned for our sins, we can receive Him in repentance and faith and become sons and daughters of God, with heaven as our destination after this life on earth.

Revelation 4:1-3; 5:11-12, 19:5-6  After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne… [5:11-12] Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” … [19:5-6, KJV] And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.

“In the Spirit” John saw things almost beyond description. How can mere words capture the glory He saw in the heavenly vision! He was called up to heaven (4:1) — “Come up here, and I will show you…” And he was indeed shown many things, glorious things, which he recorded in the Revelation.

Here are just a few, and these are the same things you will see as a believer when at death you go from your mortal body to eternity with the Lord. He heard the Lord’s voice (vs. 4:1). He was “in the Spirit” (1), opening up realms of vision and revelations far beyond our natural senses. He saw God and His throne in heaven (2-3), with a gorgeous rainbow encircling the throne. And from His throne came lightning, rumblings, and peals of thunder (5).

He saw Jesus, the crucified and resurrected Lamb of God (5:6), who had died and risen for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). He saw and heard 100 million(!) angels burst out in praise to the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ (5:11-12).

And who can fail to be moved by the scene John saw in Revelation 19 — the roar of a great multitude in heaven … heavenly beings falling down before God in worship … then “what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: ‘Alleluia! For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.’” And from this portion of Scripture (Rev. 19:6 and 19:16, along with 11:15) comes the famous and emotionally overpowering Hallelujah Chorus,” which has moved millions of hearts on earth to worship. Just imagine how much more glorious such praises will be in heaven in the visible presence of God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit of God, along with the redeemed of all ages and an innumerable company of angels!

Revelation 1:10-14, 17-18a  On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.”I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire… [17] When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever!

The apostle John wrote the Book of Revelation in the latter part of the first century A.D. (scholars disagree on the precise date). Many decades earlier he had been one of the 12 original apostles who walked daily with Jesus for 3-1/2 years. He knew Jesus well, had walked and talked with Him, eaten with Him, observed Jesus’ ministry, and was sent by Him on ministry assignments.

Nevertheless, when John in Revelation chapter 1 saw the resurrected, ascended, and glorified Jesus, his strength left him and he “fell at his feet as though dead” (vs. 17). Christ’s eyes were like blazing fire (14). His voice was like the sound of rushing waters (15). His face was shining like the sun in its brilliance (16). That which we have known on earth will in heaven be in a far greater and more glorious state. To those believers (and I’ve heard it) who wonder if things will be boring(!) in heaven, I have this to say: what you will see and experience in heaven is far beyond anything you can imagine in the limits of your mortal intellect (see 1 Corinthians 2:9, KJV).

Hebrews 12:22-24  But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

Heaven! The “heavenly Jerusalem” … millions of angels joyfully assembling … God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit … and “the spirits of the righteous made perfect.” Perfect? Yes. Now, on this earth, “we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12). Perfection at last, the perfection the Lord imparts to us as we pass from earth to heaven.

Luke 23:39-43  One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Many Christians wonder: what happens when a believer dies? The answer is that a born-again believer, at death, goes directly to the Lord’s presence in heaven. Jesus told the repentant thief, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Today! On the day of his death.

The apostle Paul emphasized the same truth of the believer’s immediate entrance into heaven upon death: “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8, KJV). Echoing Jesus’ promise to the repentant thief, Paul said that for a believer in Christ to leave his body at death is to “be present with the Lord.”

This should greatly encourage all who have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. There is no delay, no purgatory, no intermediate stop en route to heaven. The end of a Christian’s time on earth leads directly to his or her immediate entrance into the Lord’s heavenly presence.

Job 19:25-27, NASB  For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!

Despite his great, even calamitous, earthly suffering, the godly patriarch Job (Job 1:8) was shown his glorious future after this life. He prophesied words that should thrill us today. He knew that his “skin [would be] destroyed” in death. Yet he understood that he would see God! He even foresaw the eventual resurrection of the dead. And the thought of seeing God face to face caused his heart to yearn within him.

Job should be a great encouragement to us today. No matter what troubles we encounter in our earthly sojourn, there is joy, glory, and unspeakable blessings awaiting us in the Lord’s presence. These thoughts should encourage in us heaven-focused emotions such as Job expressed: “How my heart yearns within me!”

Matthew 25:21  “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’”

I am excitedly looking forward to that day! The one moment in all eternity that I most long for is that instant of standing before Jesus on His throne and hearing Him say to me, Well done, good and faithful servant. Come and share your Master’s happiness!”

In closing, I encourage you to take time frequently to ponder the glories of heaven that await you as a believer in Jesus Christ. In the great spectrum of time and eternity, our life on earth is a vapor (James 4:14), a mist that is here now, then quickly gone. But there awaits for the follower of Jesus an eternity in His presence and experiences beyond our capabilities now even to imagine — “In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11, NKJV). Believers, look forward to that! It is “your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).


Check out our related message: To See God the Father...



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©2016, James H. Feeney.
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Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.