In 1 John 3:2, the Apostle John says that the reason we will become like Jesus upon His return is because we will finally see Him as He is. Both our natural eyes and the eyes of our heart will perceive and comprehend and understand Who Jesus actually is. We will see Him as He is. When Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, comes to claim His bride and judge humanity, all questions, doubts, confusions, denials and wrong beliefs will melt away and we will encounter unbridled, unveiled Truth for the very first time. It will be intense.
Matthew 24:30 says that he will come with “power and great glory [in brilliancy and splendor].” At this point, billions of people from the nations of earth will actually mourn [and beat their breasts and lament in anguish]. Why? Because they will be encountering authentic love, righteousness, justice and beauty face to face. And they will have turned down the opportunity to be fascinated by this Man and dwell with Him for all eternity.
But the redeemed will be caught up with this Jesus, this bridegroom king, in the heavens, and we will be changed in the twinkling of an eye. Changed into what? John says it has not yet been fully disclosed or made clear what we’ll be like. But he says we’ll resemble and be like Him. Those sketchy details alone can stretch an imagination beyond its limits, because Jesus is indescribable! With some futility, John tries to describe His encounter with Jesus on the island of Patmos in Revelation 1. He says in the midst of seven lamp stands he saw:
One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.
Try and envision someone whose countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. John wasn’t comparing Jesus’ countenance to just a shining sun, which alone will blind someone who looks upon it long enough. The comparison is to a sun shining in its strength. No wonder John fell at His feet as dead!
I share this not to exhort you to hold on for dear life and try to stick it out until Christ’s return, so that you can finally see Jesus and be changed. I share it because I believe it’s possible to begin that “seeing” process now. The Bible’s clear that there are some limits on just how much of Jesus we can perceive in this present age (1 Corinthians 13:12), but it’s also clear that we can encounter Him in more substantial ways than Moses did! And what happened to Moses when he sat before the Lord for 40 days? His face shown with the glory of God—that very same glory Jesus will bear upon His return!
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 3:16-18:
Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
And what do we see in this verse, but the very same principle that John makes in 1 John 3—that the key to our transformation into Christlikeness is seeing Him. As we sit before the living Word of God and behold Jesus through revelation supplied by the Holy Spirit, we are being transformed into His likeness. It’s supernatural and beyond explanation as to how this all works. But it works. From one glory to the next and to the next, we’re being changed, from the inside out, into an exact representation of Jesus Christ—that same Jesus whose voice is as the sound of many waters and whose countenance is like the sun shining in its strength.
It all starts with seeing Him as He is.
That’s why Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1 is so important for us to pray over ourselves and our loved ones: that God would give us a “spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him” and that “the eyes of [our] understanding [would be] enlightened”. It’s the Spirit who searching the deep things of God (1 Corinthians 2:6-16). Without the Spirit, God’s wisdom is hidden from us. Paul says “the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
That’s why it’s also so important for us to continually ask God for more of the Holy Spirit. In Luke 11:9-13, Jesus follows up His famous passage about asking, seeking and knocking (which is more correctly translated as “Ask and keep on asking… seek and keep on seeking… knock and keep on knocking”) with the statement: “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” By implication, Jesus is saying that the best gift we can keep asking for and keep seeking after and keep knocking about is the gift of the Holy Spirit!
(Now for those of you who think that the filling of the Holy Spirit is a one-and-done deal you experience at the time of your conversion, I ask you: What happened to the Paul and Barnabas in Acts 13:52, who “were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit”, when Paul had already been filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17; Acts 13:9)? I also suggest you read AW Tozer’s excellent booklet titled, quite simply, How to be Filled with the Holy Spirit.)
I spoke at Real Life Ministries this past summer about the increased revelation of Jesus Christ that the Holy Spirit is pouring out upon the earth in this hour. It can be compared to the advancement of television over the decades. The clarity with which one can behold Jesus has progressed from an old, fuzzy, black and white, tube television rendition to today’s more crisp, clear, dynamic and vibrant picture. While it’s still not quite life-like, it’s much closer to the real deal. And it will continue to advance until it crescendos at His second-coming.
Do not be content with your current revelation of Who Jesus is. Because I guarantee you that it’s incomplete, just as mine is. There were a people that thought they knew exactly what the Messiah would look like when He came the first time. They were called the Pharisees—the religious elite of their time. They were the same ones that rallied the Jews to have Jesus killed by the Romans. If our understanding of Jesus does not progress with the Spirit, we risk falling into the same trap the Pharisees did in the first century. We will reject Jesus. In my message, I shared that:
Growing in revelation of Jesus isn’t just important for those who aspire to be worldwide ministers or those who desire to be considered “great in the kingdom of heaven.” It’s also going to prove to be the vital defense mechanism against offense at the onset of His return. The more we think we know Jesus and actually don’t—to that degree we’re prone to being offended at the revealing of who He actually is.
We have to have a humble spirit that yields to God’s agenda and says, “Your ways are higher than mine. Your foolishness is greater than my wisdom. Teach me Your ways, God. By your Holy Spirit, help me see Jesus for Who He really is.”
That’s our destiny: To have a full and accurate knowledge of the Son of God. Paul says in Ephesians 4 that the purpose of apostles, prophets, evangelists, teachers and pastors is to equip the saints for the work of ministry. What does that process bring about in our lives? He explains:
[That it might develop] until we all attain oneness in the faith and in the comprehension of the [full and accurate] knowledge of the Son of God, that [we might arrive] at really mature manhood (the completeness of personality which is nothing less than the standard height of Christ’s own perfection), the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ and the completeness found in Him.
Paul is once again in agreement with John that the prerequisite to spiritual maturity and Christlikeness is a full and accurate knowledge of the Son of God, AKA seeing Him.
Encountering Jesus is what transformed Paul’s life on the road to Damascus. And it is what will transform us. Let us continue the journey.