“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." (Matt. 5:8, ESV)

This possibility is based on how Jesus describes seeing God as something occurring in this life in the Gospel of John.

... he [Jesus Christ] has made him [God the Father] known." (John 1:18b, ESV)

I left out the first part of the above verse because the issue over textual variation distracts from this question.

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’? (John 14:9, ESV)

It is also based on a person's willingness to come to Christ as expressed in the following.

"And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:19–21, ESV)

If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. (John 7:17, ESV)

When Christopher Hitchens debated the existence of God with William Lane Craig, he made the statement, "I don't want any deity telling me what to do." This seems to be a key reason for disbelief.

  • 1
    I am not sure your title can be deduced from Matt 5:8 - ultimately all the righteous will see God (Rev 22:4) because all the righteous are pure in heart. One can get further with John 3:19-21 and Rom 1:18-22. The wicked will be excluded from God's kingdom because they refused to accept God and thus, do not want to be there (Rev 6:15-17). See also 2 Thess 2:9, 10.
    – Dottard
    Mar 6 at 2:28
  • @Dottard So maybe the question should be is Matt. 5:8 something fulfilled during this lifetime or in heaven?
    – Perry Webb
    Mar 6 at 3:14
  • Are you effectively asking about Jesus' intent of the meaning of this beatitude?
    – Dottard
    Mar 6 at 4:51
  • Up-voted +1. Yes, repentance is absolutely essential to faith.
    – Nigel J
    Mar 6 at 9:05
  • @Dottard Or, how broad a sense did Jesus intend. Does it apply in this life, not just heaven?
    – Perry Webb
    Mar 6 at 10:36

1 Answer 1


Purity in heart is something that no sinner has. "The heart is deceitful above all, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart" (Jeremiah 17:9-10 KJV). Further, the prophet added, "O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. O Lord, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing." (10:23-24 KJV)

So, when Jesus tells his disciples that the pure in heart are blessed, for they shall see God, he is pointing them to a future time when that purity of heart shall have been brought about, in the sincerely repentant who agree with God's verdict on their deceitful sinfulness. Note what Ezekiel says on this point:

"...they shall take away all the detestable things thereof and all the abominations thereof from thence. And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh...

Repent and turn from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn and live ye." (Ezekiel 11:18-19 & 18:30-32 KJV)

Jesus and his disciples knew well such Hebrew scriptures. Further, John the Baptist had first come, to prepare the way of the Lord, and his message was of repentance with water baptism. All those who submitted to that were prepared to then receive the Messiah and his gospel. Repentance is absolutely requisite for God to deal with our sin. It is not doubt that causes sin, but sin that is not repented of that blocks saving faith.

Jesus was stating that purity of heart would be the portion of those who would see God. Such ones would turn, and live. Repenting is the turning, which God enables in those who have been prepared to receive the good seed of the kingdom. It then takes root in a cleansed heart and produces fruit.

Unrepentant sinners are certainly full of doubts, but those willingly unrepentant are full of resentment against God, bitterness, and self-righteousness. Unrepentant sinners may come to a point where they face up to their sin and the need to repent, if they see that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe, that in it is revealed the righteousness of God; that the wrath of God shall be "revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness" - Romans 1:16-18. But the willingly unrepentant will never have pure hearts and they will never see God.

It is not doubt that causes sin, but sin that is not repented of that blocks saving faith. The willingly unrepentant are defying God, raising their angry fists against him and saying that he is unjust and unrighteous. Your quote from Christopher Hitchens is a classic demonstration of that.

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