The following is an excerpt from Logos Bible software’s commentary on Matthew 5:8.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God—Here, too, we are on Old Testament ground. There the difference between outward and inward purity, and the acceptableness of the latter only in the sight of God, are everywhere taught. Nor is the “vision of God” strange to the Old Testament; and though it was an understood thing that this was not possible in the present life (Ex. 33:20; and compare Job 19:26, 27, IS 6:5), yet spiritually it was know and felt to be the privilege of the saints even here (Ge. 5:24; 6:9; 17:1; 48:15; Ps 27:4; 36:9; 63:2; Is 38:3, 11 & etc). But oh, with what grand simplicity, brevity, and power is this great fundamental truth here expressed! And in what striking contrast would such teaching appear to that which was then current, in which exclusive attention was paid to ceremonial purification and external morality! This heart purity begins in a “heart sprinkled from an evil conscience,” or a “conscience purged from dead works” (Heb 10:22; 9:14; and see Ac 15:9); and this also is taught in the Old Testament (Ps 32:1, 2; compare Ro 4:5-8; Is 6:5-8). The conscience thus purged—the heart thus sprinkled—there is light within wherewith to see God. “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth; but if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with the other”—He with us and we with Him—”and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us”—us who have this fellowship, and who,without such continual cleansing, would soon lose it again—”from all sin” (1 Jn 1:6,7). “Whosoever sinneth hath not seen Him, neither known Him” (1 Jn 3:6); “He that doeth evil hath not seen God” (3 Jn 1:11). The inward vision thus clarified, and the whole inner man in sympathy with God, each looks upon the other with complacency and joy, and we are “changed into the same image from glory to glory.” But the full and beatific vision of God is reserved for that time to which the Psalmist stretches his views—”As for me, I shall behold Thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness” (Ps 17:15). Then shall His servants serve Him: and they shall see His face; and His name shall be in their foreheads (Rev 22:3, 4). They shall see Him as He is (1 Jn 3:2). But, says the apostle, expressing the converse of this beatitude—”Follow holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Heb 12:14).
This past weekend I had the privilege of flying down to Sanford, Florida to attend the wedding of my good friend and fellow blogger Dan and his new wife Karisa. The two met at the NEXT conference in Orlando and then the Ligonier Ministries National Conference. Karisa is a member of St. Andrew’s church in Sanford which is the home church of R.C. Sproul, who is undoubtedly one of the greatest theologians of our time, and Ligonier Ministries. The wedding was lovely and was held at St. Andrews with Dr. Sproul presiding over the ceremony. For me, this was the first time seeing Dr. Sproul in person and it was a great pleasure! Over the years I have benefited greatly from Dr. Sproul’s ministry and teaching, whether it be hearing sermons online, listening to his podcast “Renewing Your Mind”, or reading the monthly magazine “Tabletalk” his contribution to Christianity and my personal walk has been immeasurable. So it was undoubtedly a great privilege to sit under him at the wedding and at church the next morning.
St. Andrew’s is quite a large church, a modern version of an old cathedral. The exterior is a beautiful white with stained-glass windows and huge wooden doors and beautiful architecture. The interior is a huge sanctuary with beautiful vaulted ceilings and ornate columns. In standard Presbyterian style the pulpit is raised in the middle of the “altar” area where Dr. Sproul expounds on God’s Word with authority. With the combination of the architecture and the traditional worship style it’s really like a trip back in time to the Protestant Reformation when you attend the services there.
St. Andrew’s is a Presbyterian church that holds closely and dearly to the ideals and theology of the Reformation. The congregation proudly affirms the five solas of the Reformation; Sola Scripture; Scripture alone, Sola Fide; faith alone, Sola Gratia grace alone, Solus Christus; in Christ alone, and Sola Deo Gloria; glory to God alone. Dr. Sproul and the other ministers hold a profoundly high view of the holiness of God and promote a reverence and awe of God that has been largely forgotten in our day. It was quite a joy to see a congregation that follows a traditional worship style, including corporate prayer and confession, singing of hymns, and of course the organ, be so spiritually alive! In my past experiences with churches like this you can barely detect the Holy Spirit among the congregation because a vast majority of the congregation is spiritually dead and are not true followers of Jesus. This congregation was alive! They sung the hymns with fervor and joy, and the way Dr. Sproul preaches they hang on his every word. Of course Dr. Sproul has a great amount of gravitas when he address the congregation. His authority as a preacher is so much greater in person than when listened to on the computer! He has a passion for Scripture and his greatest desire is to see his congregation grow in holiness by the preaching of God’s Word.
Overall, I was very encouraged by my visit to St. Andrew’s and left feeling joyful in the Lord and the work He is doing through the ministry of Dr. Sproul and Ligonier Ministries. I can only hope that God would give me a chance to visit there again.
For more info on St. Andrew’s and Ligonier Ministries check out their website.