The Great Reunion


Dr. John Hoole – May 17, 2015




John 14:2-3 KJV


2          In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

3          And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.


Jesus didn’t say to his disciples, “I’ve already prepared a place for you in heaven,” but, “I’m going there to prepare a place for you.”  This means heaven has undergone some major remodeling between the time He spoke and the time we join him there.


In an earlier lesson, I pointed out that Satan hates for us to think about Heaven.  He tries his best to divert our attention to other things, or else he will spread lies about heaven.


Revelation 13:6 tells us of Satan’s man, the antichrist,


6       He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven.


Satan blasphemes:


         •  God

         •  God’s Name

         •  God’s dwelling place

         •  God’s people.


Satan would like us to think about anything other than these four.  He will try to get you to believe there is no heaven.  If you persist in believing in heaven, he will try to get you to think it will be boring.  Or he will cause you to think heaven is whatever you make it here on earth.  Another of Satan’s great myths about heaven is that we will be so different there, we won’t really be us.  How do we answer such questions?


We do know from the Scriptures, that Heaven will be a whole lot different from where we live now.  But exactly how different will we be?  Will we exist in such a different form that we will be unrecognizable to each other?  In other words, if I walked up to you in heaven, would you know my name?  Will you who have known me here know me in heaven?  Will we recognize each other in Heaven?


The answer to these questions has an impact on our topic today.  Reunions in Heaven.


Let me ask you a few questions:








Can you imagine the wonderful conversations you will have in heaven?  You will be able to meet all the godly historical and biblical characters.




Have you ever thought about sitting at the feet of Jesus and asking him about things that puzzled you on earth?  Think of the joy of having the Creator take the time, one-on-one, to answer your personal questions.  One of the great joys of eternity will be the great reunion with our long-time friends and family, some of whom have passed on before us to await our arrival to that glorious place.  All the trials, persecutions and pains of life will fade away in the light of God’s countenance.


In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Paul says that the first day of eternity is going to be a great big reunion.  Imagine how great you will feel to see your spouse, child, or parents who have passed away.  I think reunions are a wonderful description of heaven.  But, for it to be fully wonderful, we need to be able to recognize each other.


Heaven may be more than the ideal that we can imagine here and now, but, for certain, it will not be less.  Not only are there going to be many family reunions, but we will also meet people we have never met.  Some of them we have heard about – some will be new to us.  But, even then, they won’t feel like strangers.


Our family will now include the redeemed of all ages, from Adam onwards.  We will meet Old Testament believers, New Testament saints, and great Christians from church history.


How exciting it will be to ask Adam about the first Paradise, or to discuss the great flood with Noah and how he kept the ark clean.  What a pleasure it will be as we listen to David sing his Psalms to their original tunes, or discuss with Job how he could have such a quiet confidence in his God to say: ”Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”




•  Peter, what did your wife think about your quitting the business to follow Jesus?  Peter’s mother-in-law is mentioned in Matthew 8:14.


•  Moses, what did manna really taste like?


•  Abraham, did you see the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah from where you were?


•  Noah, were there any animals which God did not bring to the ark, other than sea animals?


•  Jeremiah, as a teenage prophet, how hard was it to get people to listen to you?


•  James, how difficult was it to grow up as the half-brother of Jesus?


•  Philip, how did it feel to be in one place baptizing an Ethiopian Eunuch, and the next moment in an entirely different place?


•  John the Baptist, what does locust taste like?


If merely meeting an earthly author produces excitement down here, try to imagine the joy of talking with one of the inspired writers of Scripture.  But that will not exhaust our source of fellowship, for the saints of all ages will be there.  I will have a chance to thank people who kept the church on course holding firm to the faith…..even if it meant their lives.


We will meet people like Martin Luther, Charles Wesley, Justin Martyr, John Knox and hundreds of others whose lives became milestones on the pathway to heaven.


Our time on earth is the preliminaries, not the main event.  The short time spent here is but the tune-up, not the concert.  The friendships that began on earth will resume and thrive in a far better world, a world for which we were made, a world of wonders beyond our wildest dreams.  That’s the world or place where my parents and Paula’s grandmother now live.


Every joy on earth – including the joy of reunion – is but an inkling,  a whisper of yet greater Joy.  Niagara Falls, Lake Victoria, the Grand Canyon, the world’s great mountains and coastlines, all these will prove to be but rough sketches of the beauty of heaven.  The best parts of the old world were sneak previews of our home above.  It is like licking the beaters from mom’s mixer after she prepares the frosting for the cake she has baked.


I am looking forward to exploring places and things with Paula that I was unable to do on earth.  I want to enjoy people I have never met here.  I want to walk through the New Jerusalem and look at all Jesus has made for us.


But there may be some here that are thinking:  “Our focus will be solely on Jesus, not the New Jerusalem.”  To some this might sound like heresy.  After all, Asaph prays, “Whom have I in heaven but you?  And earth has nothing I desire besides you.” (Psalm 73:25).


In our previous lesson, I read to you from Colossians 3.  Let’s read it again.


Colossians 3:1-2 NIV


1   Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.

2   Set your minds (not just your heart) on things above, not on earthly things.


These verses tell us to set our minds not just on Christ, but on things above as well.  Today, I want to explain why I said that – and why it is not heresy.  And I want to spend some time on this issue.  I believe the Bible speaks much on this topic.


I had someone in our family room just a few years ago say, “Jesus is going to be our focus in heaven.”  I sensed he was saying our focus would be on Jesus to the exclusion of all else.  My response is this:  For the Christian on earth, isn’t Christ the focus of our hearts and minds right now?  This Christ-centered mindset does not start when we get there, but should be operative in our lives right now.  He is the center of gravity for everything a Christian does today.


To say our focus will be only on Jesus when we arrive in Heaven sounds spiritual, but it erroneously divorces our experience of God, from life, relationship, and the environment He has placed around us, of which God has given us “richly all things to enjoy” (1 Tim 6:17).


That kind of statement sees the material realm and other people as God’s competitors, rather than as instruments that communicate his love and character to us.  It fails to recognize that God is the ultimate source of joy, and all secondary joys emanate from him.  To love secondary joys on Earth can be – and in Heaven will always be, to love God, their source.


Let me see if I can bring more clarity to this thought.  In Heaven, the barriers between redeemed human beings and God will forever be gone.  To look into God’s eyes will be to see what we’ve always longed to see, and to see the person who made us for his own good pleasure.


Seeing God will be like seeing everything else for the first time.  Why?  Because not only will we see God, He will in essence be the lens through which we see everything else, whether people, ourselves, things, and the events of this new life.


What is the essence of this eternal life?  John 17:3 says it is, “that they may know You, the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”  There is no doubt that our primary joy in Heaven will be knowing and seeing God.  Every other joy will be a derivative, flowing from the fountain of our relationship with God.


To show that this has been the design of God since the beginning, let’s go back to the Garden of Eden.


Genesis 2:18 NKJV


18        And the Lord God said, "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him."


Consider the setting here.  We have God alone with Adam.  Just the two of them.  At that moment, God was the only being Adam could have a relationship with.  And yet, it was God who said, “This is not good. – He needs another.”  God designed us to need each other – not just him.  But always remember, the other – in this case, Eve – was derived from God.


All secondary joys are derived from God.  God’s assessment of “not good” was changed to “very good” only after Adam had another meaningful person to relate to.


Suppose you are sick.  Your friend brings a meal.  What is it that meets your need – the meal or the friend?  Of course, without the friend, there would be no meal.  But even without a meal, you would still treasure your friendship.  Hence, your friend is both your higher pleasure and the source of your secondary pleasure (in this case, the meal).


Likewise, for the Christian, God is the source of all lesser goods, so that when they satisfy us, it’s God himself who satisfies us.  In fact, it is God who satisfies you by giving you the friend who gives you the meal.


Again, I quote 1 Timothy 6:17, which says:    …fix your hope….on God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.  If He provides every thing for our enjoyment, we shouldn’t feel guilty for enjoying them, should we?


To enjoy a conversation with a brother or sister does not require making that person an idol, or a competitor of God.  Now, while we are still on this earth, it is possible for us to put people or things before God.  In Heaven, we never will.  But we will still enjoy others in heaven.  In heaven, we will have no capacity to turn people or things into idols.


God is not displeased today when we enjoy a good meal, a football game, a cozy fire, or a good book.  He is not up in Heaven frowning at us and saying, “Stop it – you should find joy only in Me.”  When we find joy in God’s gifts, we will be finding our joy in Him.


If I give Paula a gift, and she is very pleased, and uses/enjoys it, won’t that make me happy?  Will I be sad that while she enjoys my gift, it takes her time away from me?  In fact, if she didn’t take pleasure in it, I would be disappointed.  Her pleasure in my gift to her draws her closer to me.  I am delighted she enjoys my gift.


In Heaven, God has made homes for each of us and He created all that exists in this heavenly city, and He will be delighted when we enjoy what He has made for us.  He won’t at all be sad, thinking you are taking time from Him while you enjoy his gifts.  As long as we realize – and we will in Heaven – that the gift came from Him, He will take great joy is bringing us joy through what He has made.


All secondary joys are derivative in nature.  That is, they derive their ability to provide joy from its creator.  They cannot separate us from God.  Flowers are beautiful for one reason – God is beautiful.  Rainbows are stunning because God is stunning.  Puppies are delightful because God is delightful.  Study is rewarding because God is rewarding.  Work is fulfilling because God is fulfilling.


God is a lavish giver.


Romans 8:32 (NIV) tells us:


32        He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?


These “all things” are in addition to His Son, Christ, but they are never instead of Christ.  Scripture tells us they come along with Christ.


If we didn’t have Christ, we would have nothing.  But, because we have Christ, we have everything.  Hence, we can enjoy the people and things God has made, and in the process enjoy the God who designed and provided them for our pleasure.


Every day we should see God in his creation, in the food we eat, in the air we breathe, in the friendships we enjoy.  I thank God almost daily for the privilege to teach His Word in this class.


So we can enjoy a great reunion in Heaven, where it never detracts us from the joy found in Christ, but knowing that we and our friends are there because of the work of Christ.  Just over in the Glory Land, there will be a reunion of:


•  mothers and babies,


•  fathers and sons,


•  husbands and wives,


•  brothers and sisters.


One thing that is true of earthly family reunion is also true of our heavenly reunion.  At family reunions, we like to eat.  Of all things to which Jesus could have compared heaven to, He chose to compare it with a great feast.


The image of the kingdom is that of a vast hall for feasting and joy, all blazing with light.  Far from being cold, antiseptic or the silence of a monastery or library, heaven is pictured as a wonderful banquet, filled with happy laughter.  It is a time filled with the warmth of friendship.


We have said a lot concerning the great reunion that will occur in heaven.  And yet, personally, neither my father, or Bible character, or the great saints of the ages, hold top priority in my desire for fellowship in the New Jerusalem.


I long to see Jesus!  It is He who took my place on the cross.  He died the death which I deserved.  He alone delivered me from sin – and purchased my salvation.  And now, He has chosen to live with me forever.  He is the One who made Heaven possible.


D. L. Moody penned these words:


         The light of heaven is the face of Jesus

         The joy of heaven is the presence of Jesus

         The melody of heaven is the name of Jesus

         The harmony of heaven is the praise of Jesus

         The theme of heaven is the work of Jesus

         The employment of heaven is the service of Jesus

         The duration of heaven is the eternity of Jesus

         The fullness of heaven is Jesus Himself!


Although I have not seen Him, I love Him.  He has become the theme of my song….the expression of my confession,....the joy of my life…the basis of my blessings, …and the foundation of my hope of heaven.


Most importantly, Christ is going to be there with us in heaven, in the holy city.  He is now in heaven with the Father, but one day He will come and get us and take us away to those heavenly mansions.


Revelation 21:3-4 NKJV


3       And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.

4       And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."


What is going to make heaven so delightful?  It won’t be the pearly gates.  It won’t be the jasper walls.  It won’t be the golden streets.  It will be that we shall behold the King in all His beauty and see His face.  Our relationship with Christ will be an intimate one.  God’s house will be a happy home because Christ is there.  He will be the center of attention in heaven.


Revelation 7:17  (NIV)


17     For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water.


There will be no temple in the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:22).  Ancient cities were filled with temples, where men attempted to reach out to God.  In heaven there will be no need for a temple, for God’s people will live in His presence and praise Him continually.  There will be no “dry periods” in our spiritual existence, for we will live in unbroken communion with our Lord.


The era of God and man walking and talking together in Paradise’s garden, which was lost through Adam’s fall, will be restored again, and God’s original purpose of creation will be realized. and much more.  Fellowship between Creator and creature with complete understanding.


Now we only sing about it:  “Face to face I shall behold Him”  “And He walks with me, and He talks with me”  “And I shall see him face to face”  But, in heaven we will experience it, and much more.




The real issue is not will there be recognition in heaven, but, rather, will I see you in heaven?  This is the most important question of all.


Here is a wonderful truth:  God has actually made it easy for you to go to heaven.  He did the hard part when he sent His Son to die on the Cross for you and me.  You can only be assured of this by trusting in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.  This, and this alone, can guarantee that you will be involved in the joys of recognition in heaven.


Jesus said, in John 10:6,


I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.


Jesus also said, in John 10:9,


         I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved.


Jesus is not only the only way to heaven.  He is also the door through which you can enter that glorious place.


One of our most beloved hymns puts it this way:


My hope is built on nothing less

    Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;

I dare not trust the sweetest frame,

    but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ the solid rock I stand;

    All other ground is sinking sand;

    All other ground is sinking sand.


That really says it all. If you want to go to heaven, you must base your hope on the solid rock, Jesus Christ. Are you standing on the Rock this morning. If you know my Jesus, I’ll be with you in that resurrected world. With the Lord and with our friends, we will embark on the ultimate adventure, in that spectacular universe awaiting our exploration. Jesus is the center of it all.


When you have those rare moments on earth when you gasp in awe and say, “It can’t get any better than this”, believe me, it can and will, when we see His face.