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While I was reading Charles Hodge on the consummation, I was struck by his succinct description of the beatific vision of believers. I think it is helpful. If anything, it serves as food-for-thought for contemporary Protestant theologians who have generally ignored this important doctrine.

Hodge begins by maintaining that we know very little about the vision: “As to the blessedness of this heavenly state we know that it is inconceivable: ‘Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him’ (1 Cor 2:9).”

He then describes what we do know about the beatific vision, summarizes it according to eight elements. I will conclude this post with his words:

We know however: (1.) That this incomprehensible blessedness of heaven shall arise from the vision of God. This vision is beatific. It beatifies. It transforms the soul into the divine image; transfusing into it the divine life, so that it is filled with the fullness of God. This vision of God is in the face of Jesus Christ, in whom dwells the plenitude of the divine glory bodily. God is seen in fashion as a man; and it is this manifestation of God in the person of Christ that is inconceivably and intolerably ravishing. Peter, James, and John became as dead men when they saw his glory, for a moment, in the holy mount. (2.) The blessedness of the redeemed will flow not only from the manifestation of the glory, but also of the love of God; of that love. mysterious, unchangeable, and infinite, of which the work of redemption is the fruit. (3.) Another element of the future happiness of the saints is the indefinite enlargement of all their faculties. (4.) Another is their entire exemption from all sin and sorrow (5.) Another is their intercourse and fellowship with the high intelligences of heaven; with patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, and all the redeemed. (6.) Another is constant increase in knowledge and in the useful exercise of all their powers. (7.) Another is the secure and everlasting possession of all possible good. And, (8.) Doubtless the outward circumstances of their being will be such as to minister to their increasing blessedness (Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology [Hendrickson, 2003], 3:860-61).

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