First, you’re correct to insist that, according to the Bible, “No man has seen God at any time” (John 1:18; cf. 1 John 4:12). But it’s important to remember the second part of this verse: “The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” In other words, John asserts that we have seen God. We’ve seen Him in the face of Christ.
In the same passage the same apostle says that the world was created through the Son, who is Himself the visible incarnation of the invisible Father (John 1:3, 10; see also Colossians 1:16). In Jesus, then, a sizable number of people have already spoken with their Creator “face to face.” We are solemnly assured that many more of us will enjoy the same privilege in the hereafter; for “when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2).
Where heaven is concerned, we’ll grant you that the scriptural evidence is a bit fuzzy. But this doesn’t mean that we’re entirely in the dark about the nature of the life to come. Most Christians have believed that those who die in Christ enter into an immediate, conscious, spiritual relationship with the Lord. They have further affirmed that in this state the saints await the resurrection and renewal of their bodies on the Last Day.
These beliefs are based on clear biblical testimony. The apostle Paul, for instance, says that “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” Many passages can be cited in support of this view. See, for example, 2 Corinthians 5:6-8, Philippians 1:23, and John 5:25-29. As for those sections of Scripture that seem to provide evidence for the alternative theory of “soul sleep” (e.g., 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14), we’d suggest that there are other ways to interpret these verses. In fact, since most of the evidence points in the other direction, it seems that different interpretations are not only possible but necessary.
If you would like to discuss these concepts further, call our staff of pastoral counselors.
Heaven: My Father’s House
Becoming a Christian