1 John 3:2 (KJV) says, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” I have two questions about this verse.
1. Doesn’t this nail as incorrect what I have heard is being taught in some charismatic circles, that Christ cannot appear until the church is purified?
2. Does the “for” in “for we shall see him as he is” indicate that our seeing him is part of what will make us “be like him?”
Those who teach that the Church needs purification simply do not understand what happened at the cross, and are questioning the sufficiency of the Lord’s death. The purification process they usually refer to is the Great Tribulation. This view is one of the consequences of adopting the replacement theology heresy, wherein the Church has supposedly replaced Israel in God’s plan.
The Great Tribulation is coming for two reasons, according to Jeremiah 30:1-11. The first is to completely destroy all the nations where Israel has been scattered, and the second is to purify Israel. If you believe that the Church has inherited God’s promises to Israel, then you’re stuck with the Great Tribulation.
When He said, “It is finished,” (John 19:30) Jesus was referring to the work of purifying the Church. Paul agreed saying that anyone who is in Christ is a new creation, the old has gone and the new has come. (2 Cor. 5:17) This promise is in the past perfect tense meaning it is already true in God’s eyes. In Ephesians 2:6 Paul wrote that we’re already seated in the Heavenly realms with Christ as a demonstration of God’s grace. The Church doesn’t need purification.
As for your 2nd question, yes. Our ability to see Him as He is when He comes will be an indication that we’re like Him.