Faithlife Sermons

We Shall Behold Him

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The funeral message for C. Wade Hartley.

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One of the memories I will always have of my father-in-law is of him sitting in his chair intently studying his road atlas of the United States. He loved planning road trips to some point of interest in the United States. In his younger years he planned and went on trips to see the natural wonders of the United States such as Mount Rushmore, the Grand Canyon, the Smoking Mountains and Alaska. In his later years his trips were limited to Air Corp reunions and visits to our home in Illinois or Michigan.
As breathtakingly beautiful as the natural wonders of the United States are, they are nothing to compare to the wonder of Beholding the Face of God.

The Wonder of Wonders is to Behold the Face of God

Theologians have named the wonder of beholding the face of God the “Beatific Vision.” The term comes from three Latin words that together mean “a happy-making sight.” The promise that believers will see the face of God is found in Revelation 22:4.
Revelation 22:4 ESV
They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.
It is easy to overlook this little verse found in the midst of the description of the glories of the New Heaven and New Earth, but that would be a mistake. There is perhaps no promise found in Scripture that is more wondrous than this. You see, at this moment no creature can behold the face of God the Father, not even the highest angels. Paul writes concerning God the Father...
1 Timothy 6:16 ESV
who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.
The question naturally arises, how is it possible that the glorified saints will someday be able to do what even the highest angels cannot do?
The answer to that question is found in the dialogue Jesus had with Thomas and Philip on the night of his betrayal. Jesus makes this remarkable claim.
John 14:6–7 ESV
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Jesus is the Only Way to Behold the Face of God

Wade studied his road atlas so intently because he wanted to find the best route to the earthly wonder he wanted to see. Many people imagine religion and Christianity like this. They assume that there are multiple routes to heaven and that Christianity just happens to be the best route, but according to Jesus this is not so. He is the only way. He is the only truth. He is the only light.
Jesus makes this claim, because...

Only Those Who Have the Righteousness of Christ Can Approach the Father

It is our sin and unrighteousness that keep us from God. Jesus’ death on the cross is the double cure to our separation from God. On the cross he took the sin of those who place their trust in him, paying the penalty for that sin by his blood. On the cross he also gave us his prefect righteousness to clothe so that those who trust in Christ my boldly approach the throne of grace. The author of Hebrews writes this...
Hebrews 4:16 ESV
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
What a comfort it is today to know that we can draw near to the throne of grace to receive the mercy and grace we need in this time of sorrow!
The second reason Jesus is the only way is because...

Only Those Who Have the Eyes of Christ Can Behold the Father

I said earlier that even the highest angels cannot behold the face of God the Father. We read in Scripture that them must shield their eyes from his glory. The bible also teaches that those who look upon God will die and yet as we read earlier Job anticipated the day when he would rise from the dead and with his own eyes would behold the face of God. How is this possible? 1 John 3:2 gives us the answer:
1 John 3:2 ESV
Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
At the resurrection, believers will receive a body just like the body Christ now has. In his glorified human flesh Jesus beholds the face of his Father and someday we who are in Christ by faith will behold the Father as well!
Until that day, the glorified saints in heaven behold the resurrected Son of God and as we read earlier from John 14, to see Jesus is to see the Father.
This hope gives us courage as the wonders of this world fad from our vision.
2 Corinthians 4:16–18 ESV
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

The Wonders of this World Will Someday Fad From Your Sight

It is commonly admitted, “You can’t take it with you.” It is not so commonly admitted that if you live long enough that if you live long enough time will take all of your earthly treasures from you even before you reach the grave! As a family, this painful truth played out before our very eyes the last four years as we watched one after another of Wade’s earthly treasures taken from him. The last of these treasures was his eyesight. The deterioration of his eyesight filled Wade’s heart and mind with much anxiety and fear during the last months of his life. It was difficult for all of us to watch.

The Affliction of Seeing the World’s Glory Fad is Temporary

The affliction of losing all our earthly treasures is preparing us to receive our heavenly treasure. Paul calls it the “eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison”! God’s purpose for taking us through the painful lose of earthly treasures is so we will make God our true treasure. As the glories of this world fad, the glories of heaven come into sharper focus. We are not prepared for heaven until we can say with David:
Psalm 27:4 ESV
One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.
This is our ultimate comfort...

The Joy of Seeing Glory of God’s Face Will Never Fade

This hope gives us the comfort and courage we need as we face the lose of a husband, father, grandfather and friend. When the people we love have made Christ their treasure, they too become a heavenly treasure. Listen again to what Paul says:
2 Corinthians 5:6–8 ESV
So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
For over forty years, Sybil and Wade had made Springfield Missouri their home. It was difficult three and a half years ago for Wade to leave his home. Since that time Sybil and Wade have made their home with us and now our earthly home is absent one person. However, neither Springfield Missouri or Carmichaels Pennsylvania were his true home. For the believer, our true home is with Christ. This is our comfort this day.
However, before I close I do want to ask this very important question to each of you. Is your true home in heaven. As we have learned the only way to see the face of God is through Jesus Christ. If you have not done so, please make Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior today.
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