The other day, with the return of the snow, my son exclaimed to my wife, “God sent the deep, deep snow back!” She replied, “Yes, he did!” My son, who is always saying, “see it, see it,” if he has missed something (a horse and buggy on the road or a bird at the bird feeder), said to her, “You [meaning him] see Him [meaning God]?” Oh the profound things that come from the mouths of babes!
Many people don’t believe Christianity is true or come to doubt their faith by asking a similar type of question, “Why should I believe in God if I cannot see Him?”
This is a classic example of a statement or question pre-determining our response. Can or could we ever see God, was it His design? What might impinge this sight even if we could?
In multiple places the Bible affirms that God is spirit (Jn 4:24, “God is spirit”) and invisible (Col 1:15, “The Son is the image of the invisible God.”). Even before sin entered the world and humanity fell from a favoured state with God (Gen 3), the sense from the opening chapters of Genesis is that God was spiritually present in the Garden (Gen 3:8).
Since the Fall, sin has separated us from God. The only way in which we can “see Him” is to be restored to fellowship with Him through the Gospel (faith and repentance in Jesus Christ, Mt 5:8-“Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”). Then we shall see God spiritually and one day see Him physically. And it is precisely this Jesus who offers salvation who is the means by which we can physically see God.
Through Jesus, as God’s Son, we can see God the Father.
The Christmas story celebrates God the Son taking on human flesh, incarnating as Jesus, “to save His people from their sin.” Through Jesus, as God, we can see God. This is what Jesus said to His disciple Phillip in John 14:9, “Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” Because God the Father and God the Son share one Divine essence, to see Jesus is to see the Father. (A very poor example is my likeness to my grandfather and father. Many people who have never met me but knew them have come up to me and said, “you must be Jack or Don’s grandson or son.” We share a genetic likeness). Now evidently, we cannot see Jesus today—He’s returned to heaven—however through Jesus’ witnesses, the Apostles, and through the record of God’s Word, we can “see” Jesus and believe (Jn 20:29, 30–31).
Jesus also told the story of a man who had a house, entrusted it to servants, and then went away on a long journey promising to come back (Mk 13:34). Jesus came and He is also returning to bring judgement upon the unbelievers and reward and blessing to his followers. Then we shall see God in Jesus. Then believers will see Him (“the lamb”) for eternity as He is with us in a new Creation (Rev 21:22).
In the meantime, we can know God through faith and repentance in Jesus and see God spiritually.