Study 8 WILL WE RECOGNISE ONE ANOTHER IN HEAVEN?
Things Hard to be Understood
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: 1 Corinthians 13: 1-13)
Of all the questions asked concerning Heaven, probably the most frequently asked by God’s people is: Will we recognise each other there? The Bible says – Yes! What does God reveal in His Word about this?
In the Bible there are seven reasons for believing that we shall know and recognise each other in Heaven.
1. THE WORD OF GOD DEFINITELY IMPLIES IT
In 1 Corinthians 13:12 there is a very strong implication that we shall know one another in Heaven. Paul, comparing the present with the future, reminds us that in this life our knowledge is limited, but that when we enter the fuller life of Heaven those limitations will be removed. This suggests that in Heaven we shall know each other in a fuller and a better way than we know each other on earth. Is it conceivable that our capacities for knowledge and recognition of loved ones will diminish in Heaven? Surely not!
2. THE STORY OF THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS CONFIRMS IT
This story, recorded in Luke 16:19-31, was related by our Lord, and it lifts the veil of the after-life. Three personalities are mentioned – the rich man, Lazarus and Abraham; and the point to notice is that they all recognised each other – see verse 23! If lost souls have the power of recognition, how much more will saved souls be able to recognise each other! Sometimes it is said that this story is only a parable, and therefore the picture is only figurative, but even if that were so, figures represent facts, and our Lord’s parables were not related to mislead but to instruct and enforce heavenly truths upon the minds and hearts of His hearers.
3. THE TRANSFIGURATION SCENE ILLUSTRATES IT
In Luke 9:28-36 we read that Jesus took Peter, James and John on to the holy mount, where He was transfigured before them. Suddenly, there appeared Moses and Elijah, and the disciples immediately recognised Moses (who had been dead 1500 years), and Elijah (who had been dead 900 years); and there is no suggestion that any introduction was made in order that Peter, James and John might know who these men were who appeared on the mount! Here is a very strong suggestion of the way in which when you and I, redeemed sinners, get to Glory we shall immediately have the power to recognise everyone there without being told who they are.
4. THE NATURE OF HEAVEN REQUIRES IT
Heaven is revealed in the New Testament as a social place, and we are social creatures. Consider the following:
- 1. Heaven is the CHRISTIAN’S HOME. Can you conceive of a home where those who live there do not know each other? Look up 2 Corinthians 5:6.
- 2. Heaven is the FATHER’S HOUSE. Look up John 14:2. Can you imagine the children in the Father’s House not being able to recognise and know each other?
- 3. Heaven is spoken of as a FAMILY CIRCLE. Look up Ephesians 3:15 – but what a strange family this would be if the members had no power to recognise and converse with one another!
- 4. Heaven is described as a CITY. Look up Hebrews 11:10; 12:22. Are the citizens in the heavenly city to be strangers one to another?
- 5. Heaven is a KINGDOM. The King will be there, and we shall see and recognise Him in all His beauty – look up Isaiah 33:17; and we shall be like Him – look up 1 John 3:2. But shall we not recognise all the loyal subjects of the King also?
- 6. Our NAMES are written in Heaven. Look up Luke 10:20. Names represent personalities, so if our names are in Heaven we are already known there. Shall we not be recognised there also?
- 7. Heaven is spoken of as a “BETTER COUNTRY”. Look up Hebrews 11:16. So we shall enjoy better knowledge and deeper fellowship with our loved ones in Heaven than we do upon earth.
5. THE APOSTLE PAUL ANTICIPATES IT
Several times in his writings Paul tells us that the joy of Heaven will be increased by the presence of his many friends, and especially of those whom he had the great joy and privilege of winning to Christ. Look up 2 Corinthians 1:14, and compare 1 Thessalonians 2:19. How could he write these things if he did not firmly believe that there would be a mutual recognition in Heaven?
6. THE HOPE OF CHRIST’S RETURN ENSURES IT
Look up 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18. Paul wrote this comforting letter to the Thessalonian Christians because some of their loved ones had died, and these young Christians were very concerned to know whether they would meet and recognise them again beyond the grave. So Paul wrote to assure them of the exact thing that would happen when the Lord returned: “the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them…and so we will be with the Lord for ever…Therefore encourage each other with these words.” Yes, we shall be together with our loved ones. There would be little comfort in anticipation if it meant that being together we should not know or recognise them!
7. THE RECOGNITION OF CHRIST SETTLES IT
The fact that the Lord Jesus rose again from the dead, and was then recognised, absolutely guarantees that we shall be recognised and shall recognise each other when we have our new bodies. Look up 1 Corinthians 15:6, and compare 1 Corinthians 15:20; Philippians 3:21. We are to have a body “like his glorious body”, and just as He was recognised in His resurrection body so shall we be in ours. Yes, the redeemed will recognise each other in Heaven.
But the important question is: Are you among the redeemed? Look up 1 Peter 1:18-19. Are you on the way to Heaven? Look up John 14:6. If not – look up Job 22:21.