Tim Staples explains that we will never be able to fall from heaven as one-third of the angels did—because, unlike the angels, we will have the fullness of the beatific vision.
Host: The person asks, “If angels, who could see God, could fall, does that mean that we can fall when we are in Heaven and can see God?”
Tim: Ah, that is a popular misconception, Cy, and a great question. The angels never had the Beatific Vision—because if they did, in fact, as rational creatures just like we are—humans and angels, we are rational creatures—if the intellect is presented with the fullness of truth, it WILL be directed towards that truth. And if the will is presented with that ultimate truth and ultimate good which is God, it will choose that ultimate good. So the angels could not have the Beatific Vision. When Revelation 12 talks about them being cast down from Heaven, we have to remember that “Heaven” is used in different senses in Scripture. You know, “Heaven and Earth” can refer to just the sky, or “up there,” that sort of thing, and not necessarily the Beatific Vision.
The Beatific Vision is a specific theological concept you find, you know in places like 1 John 3, verses 1 and 2: “Brethren, we do not yet know what we shall be, but we know this: we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.” Right? Revelation 22 talks about how we will see Him, you know; Matthew 5:8: “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 18:10; our angels, our guardian angels, see God. That’s the Beatific Vision—not in “seeing” with eyeballs; it’s “seeing” in the sense of “possessing God” in a—in a directly intuited comprehension of God. Once you attain that, you cannot—it’s impossible for you to turn away.
Alright, so the angels would have been created in what—what we say in Latin, right, “in statu viae,” “in a state of journeying.” They were in a place of testing. They would have had faith; we get that, right, because even the demons have faith, James chapter 2 tells us. They would have had faith, they were in a state of grace; but they were in that “in statu viae,” a state of journeying, because, just like all rational creatures, God has deigned for them to have a choice: to choose God and his plan or to choose to reject Him. And they did in fact reject him, we read about that in Revelation 12, and one third of the angels fell.
So they did not—that’s the bottom line—they did not have the Beatific Vision. Those who chose God attained to the Beatific Vision, and now they are in that blessed state.