June 11, 2014
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
One question I have been asked concerning What Will Heaven Be Like? is “Will I recognize my loved ones in heaven, and will they know me?” There is evidence in scripture that answer this question with a definite, “Yes!” Let’s look at Mark 9:2 through 5:
Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up on a
high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them.
His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow; such as no launder
er on earth can whiten them. And Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and
they were talking with Jesus. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi,
it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You,
one for Moses, and one for Elijah….”
Consider what Peter said: “…let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah….” He wanted to construct three dwelling places for Jesus, Moses and Elijah, and stay right where they were, beholding this preview of glory! But Peter had never met Moses or Elijah! They were long gone from the earth before Peter was born! Moses had died about 1,430 years before and was buried by God in an unknown grave “…in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth Peor…” (Deuteronomy 34:6). Elijah – about 880 years before – “…went up by a whirlwind into heaven…with…a chariot… [and]…horses of fire…” (II Kings 2:11). But Peter – and apparently James and John also – immediately recognized these two famous personages conversing with Jesus!
This is a brief preview of glory in Mark 9:1 through 7. If these three disciples immediately and innately knew people who long before had preceded them to heaven, then it stands to reason – we will know our loved ones in heaven, and they will know us!
Further, it seems that we will know everyone else in heaven! Paul wrote in I Corinthians 13:12, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly; but then face to face.” What does he mean? A common mirror in Biblical days was made of polished brass or bronze (see Exodus 38:8). Once in use, it would get scratched. You could see a reflection in it perhaps to fix your hair, but certainly the image was not clear enough to remove an eyelash from your eye! Paul adds in the same verse, “Now I know in part; but then I shall know just as I also am known.” Then – in glory, how will I be known unto God? – because that is the idea Paul is putting forth here. I will be known perfectly – even as God knows me perfectly now! It says in Hebrews 4:13, “There is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”
There is good reason why “…all things are [NOT] naked and open…” to us now. We are sinful creatures, even as Christians. We still have the sin nature as well as a new godly nature. And, I must confess it applies to me, and to you also – the thoughts that sometimes come into the mind are not very holy or nice, even if we don’t give them voice because of social restraint!
What would be the reaction of people if they could know our every thought? For instance, have you ever been cornered by a person who is a bore, a boor or a nonstop talker? And – as he is jabbering away, and you are smiling and nodding your head as if agreeing – have you ever thought, “I wish he would just shut up and go away!” If people could read our minds – now, this side of heaven – how may friends do you thing we could retain?!! But then, in glory, we will be rid of our sinful natures, and all our thoughts will be pure and uplifting! That’s why Paul says, “…then I shall know just as I also am known.”
I believe that in heaven we will be able to fully know anyone and everyone we meet. We will, as it were, be able to read their minds which will be fully open to us with nothing to hide. And we will be fully open to them!
There is another text in Luke 16:19 through 31 that supports this idea that we will know our loved ones in heaven, and they will know us. It is the ‘parable’ of the Rich Man and Lazarus. Many scholars do not think this scripture is a parable because Jesus never used proper names in other parables. This may be a real event that Jesus knew about. The rich man recognized not only Lazarus – whom he probably knew by name, since he was laid everyday at his gate to beg. He also immediately knew Abraham, who had lived and died more than 2,000 years before!
When we get to heaven – and we will get there only because Jesus paid for our sins with His blood – will we know our loved ones? Yes! And they will know us! Praise be to God! It is just another reason to anticipate going to our heavenly home! And may we be doing all we can to get our loved ones into heaven with us!