Echoing in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation is the statement “Prepare to meet thy God.” Despite the fact that every soul living right now and that has ever lived and ever will live is going to see the Lord Jesus Christ face to face. The multiplied billions blinded still by sin, these words mean absolutely nothing.
However, to those of us who are now in the household of faith by a miracle (regeneration, the new birth) it should be a wake up call. At the same time, it should ignite a burning desire in our hearts to finally (behold) the man (The God Man) who loved us so much (even when we hated Him). He took our place and died for us (for our sin and paid the debt we owed). Are you really longing to see Him?
You know we long for many earthly things down here that can only gratify us temporarily. It is nothing wrong with longing for some of the things down here, but how much more should our hearts be burning to see the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is everything and He holds everything in His Universe together. King David said, “As the dear pants after the water brook, so my soul pants for thee, Oh Lord.”
David here is expressing an intense desire in his heart for God. He wanted to come before Him and actually be with Him. I have often looked within at my own heart and asked this question of myself. I wonder what my thoughts would be if the Lord Jesus suddenly blessed me with millions of dollars right now. Would I forget Him or place Him on the back burner of my heart? Would I begin a pursuit to collect those things I so often see displayed on television, billboards, and magazines that appear to bring many people great satisfaction?
These are hard questions for me and for many of you I am sure. However, when I ask the Lord Jesus to search my heart trying it and testing it, I sometimes think that He may find some of these desires hidden down deep. I often times like to go to the Book of Proverbs and have the Lord Jesus tell me what He thinks of earthly riches. I pray continually that those words found in this Book of great knowledge and wisdom like, “Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death,” will make it's home deep down in my soul/mind and heart.
In Proverbs 30, Agur asked the Lord to give him neither poverty nor riches, but he only wanted the Lord Jesus to give him the allotted portion he needed to sustain his life down here. I ask the Lord Jesus to appoint this to me (His son Clifford D. Tate, Sr.) that I may daily keep and guard my heart from covetousness and keep my heart fixed and focused totally on Him.
King David was a man blessed with many earthly goods, but his heart zeroed in on God throughout his life. Here is what Matthew Henry (1662-1714) had to say about this statement of David in this Psalm. “If God, by His grace, has wrought in us sincere and earnest desires towards Him, we may take comfort from these when we want those ravishing delights we have sometimes had in God, because lamenting after God is as sure an evidence that we love Him as rejoicing in God. He pants after God; he thirsts for God, not the ordinances themselves, but the God of the ordinances. A gracious soul can take little satisfaction in God's courts if it do not meet with God Himself there: “O that I knew where I might find Him!” that I might have more of the tokens of His favor, the graces and comforts of His Spirit, and the earnests of His glory. He longs to come and appear before God, - to make himself known to Him, as being conscious to himself of his own sincerity, - to attend on Him, as a servant appears before his master, to pay his respects to Him and receive His commands, - to give an account to Him, as one from whom our judgment proceeds. To appear before God is as much the desire of the upright as it is the dread of the hypocrite. ”
How many of us can honestly repeat these words of David and truly mean them? I heard a Pastor speaking on one of the Christian networks and he quoted a question he read in a man's book that was very deep, thought provoking, and sincere in my opinion. The question in the book was, If you could have heaven with no more pain, disease, suffering, or death in your body, no more tears or grief in your spirit, and you could enjoy all the things in heaven that you enjoyed on earth, for example luxury cars, fine mansions, sports, nature, the arts, music, movies, etc., but only without the Lord Jesus being there, would you want it? I think this question is one of, if not the most important questions posed today to so-called evangelical Christians.
The wonderful thing that I have found is that we can see Him right now as we live down here. He reveals His character, His nature, His thoughts, and His purpose every day to us in His Word. When we long for Him right now, we hunger and thirst to have His Word made manifest in our hearts that it might produce those things in our lives. The longer we walk and talk with Him being conformed into His image, we hate sin more and more and He enables us to love the unlovable.
When we are hungry or thirsty in our bodies for food or water, nothing else will satisfy. To sit and be still will not remove the hunger pains. We must place food into our stomachs. I want my heart to long for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ with far greater desire, yearning, and eagerness than for my necessary meat. Paul said, “For me to live is Christ.” What did he mean? I believe Paul meant that Christ was the very essence of his present life right at that particular moment and of every moment; he would have down here on earth.
Paul had no side issues; Christ was the very essence of his being reaching into the inner part of him. He wanted to no nothing save the Lord Jesus Christ and everything about Him he could learn. Paul could not wait to be personally in Christ's presence again face to face, for the Lord Jesus had revealed Himself directly to Paul in His glorified body. Paul never ever could shake himself of such an intimate encounter with the Lord of Glory and longed from the depths of his heart and soul to stand before Him forever.
Philippians 3:10 “For my determined purpose is that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly]”
When we make this our determined end, we can't help but long to be with Him. To know Him is to love Him supremely because in Him is all the fullness of Almighty God. Paul had rightly concluded that none of the fine things in this world was worth his toil, time, and effort. He realized that the Lord Jesus Christ and communion with Him were greater than anything this world had to offer him. This caused his heart to long for that time when fellowship with the Savior flowed continually unbroken by any thing he did or any outside influence.
He steadfastly looked to the time when he could without obstruction or interruption just worship and adore Christ always. I find myself to many times leaving my first love and being snared by the things around me that I can see. Paul knew that he belonged to the Lord Jesus Christ right then for him in time and he was certain that he would belong to Him forever. He had a settled purpose, direction, goal, plan, course, and desire and that was to see and behold the One who knocked him off his horse long ago on that Damascus road and set his feet on a glorious new course. Paul had no idea how wonderful this Christ (all the Christians he persecuted spoke of) was to them and could be to him.
John 17:3 And this is Eternal life, that they may know you the One true God and His Son Jesus Christ whom You have sent. (NKJV)
Paul wanted to know nothing else save Him. What a depth of focus and determination we find in this man. I want that focus and grit to resonate within me for my Lord and Savior. We all must recognize that the many things we might do are not the end, but Christ and His glory is the end of everything we do.
Dr. John Gill (1690-1771) had this to say about the Apostle Paul living to Christ. “Christ was his life “efficiently”, the efficient cause and author of his spiritual life; he spoke it into him, produced it in him, and disciplined him with it: and he was his life, objectively, the matter and object of his life, that on which he lived; yea, it was not so much he that lived, as Christ that lived in him; he lived by faith on Christ, and his spiritual life was maintained and supported by feeding on him as the bread of life.”
Matthew Henry (1662-1714) had this to say of the Apostle Paul living for Christ, “It is the undoubted character of every good Christian that to him to live is Christ. The glory of Christ ought to be the end of our life, the grace of Christ the principle of our life, and the word of Christ the rule of our life. The Christian life is derived from Christ, and directed to Him.”
The quotes I have included from these two men sum up with supreme certainty the dynamic desire one should have if they truly know and love our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Longing to see His face is not just nice words to say, but it must be the hearts determined end. If my life will exemplify this longing, I must be allowing Him to draw me in deeper and deeper into His heart. I must dive into His heart as if I were plunging into a swimming pool or a lake. I must gather a huge breath and go down as deep as my lungs (in the spiritual sense) my heart will allow me before I must come up for air.
On the other hand, to see Him face-to-face is like standing before a consuming fire. Moses after he came down from Mount Siena had a face that glowed from the glory of the Lord. It was if he could not take anymore and he had to descend that he might exhale. What a picture for us this is of how it will be when we finally behold His wonderful face for the first time. We will scarce be able to contain ourselves. Also knowing that the Lord Jesus is more eager even than we are to have us with Him where He is right now. Hallelujah! Praise His Holy Name!
Sincerely in Christ,
Clifford D. Tate, Sr.
Author, Silent Assassins of the Soul (not yet published; coming soon)