I (Mike) have recently enjoyed the “Ask Pastor John” podcast that John Piper is doing where he answers different questions that people have. It is excellent and I encourage you to listen to it. I recently had the following question asked to me and I thought my response may be others beyond the person who wrote me.
Question: “I’m sitting here doing a study and something came to my mind that I’ve heard you say before. You have talked about “beholding God” when it came to submitting to him and letting him live through you. It’s the “beholding God” that I’ve wondered about. What exactly is meant by that? What does that look like in a Christians life?”
Answer: When I think of “beholding God” I am usually thinking about 2 Corinthians 3:17-18. In the context it is talking about how the veil has been removed from believers so we can “see” God with our minds and hearts. Here is the verse:
2 Corinthians 3:17-18 “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit”
This verse says that as we “see” (or behold) God’s glory by the Spirit, we are changed to be more like him (transformed into his image) and we grow from one degree of glory to another. I think this is the idea of us growing to look more like Jesus. We change as we “behold” him. So, what is the “beholding”…I think it is thinking on, meditating on, and enjoying that which is the glory of the Lord. I think God’s glory is wrapped up in Jesus being known.
Hebrews 1:3 “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,”
So, “beholding” is allowing the eyes of our heart (Eph. 1:18) to be enlightened and focused on Jesus (who he is—the God-man) and what he has done (his substitutionary life and death on the cross). Beholding God happens as we learn about Jesus (reading the Bible, corporate worship, bible study), as we sing about Jesus (theologically informed songs), as we pray to Jesus by claiming his promises and drawing near to him with full assurance (Heb. 4:14-16) because of the cross, and as we fellowship together through reminding each other of the gospel (community group).
God’s word is “breathed out”(2 Tim 3:16-17) by Him and is profitable to us. I think there is a massive link between “beholding God” with an unveiled heart and reading God’s Word and it delighting our heart (Ps. 19:7-11).
So, I know that is a long answer to a short question, but I hope it is helpful!