Continuity of life from Earth to Heaven


Dr. John Hoole - February




For several weeks, we have been investigating what the Bible says about Heaven.  One thing we have come to understand in some of the questions we have already addressed, is that they require us to   remember, at least in part, our lives when we were on earth.  As an example, to be able to recognize a person in heaven requires us to remember things we knew about that person while alive on earth.  It could be their physical features, their mannerism, the way they talk, the way they laugh, etc.


Today, I would like to expand this thought to what we might remember in heaven about our lives on earth.  Will we be allowed to remember only parts of our lives here?  Or will we remember all the bad as well as the good in our mortal lives.


Let me tell you a story.  Radio evangelist Charles E. Fuller announced that he would speak the following Sunday on “Heaven.”  During that week he received a letter from an elderly man who was ill and often listened to Charles Fuller on the radio.  Here is part of that letter.


“I understand next Sunday you are going to talk about ‘Heaven.’  I am interested in that because I have held a clear title to a bit of property there for over 55 years.  I did not buy it.  It was given to me without money and without price.  But the donor purchased it for me at a tremendous sacrifice.  I am not holding it for speculation since the title is nontransferable.  It is not a vacant lot. For more that a half-century I have been sending material out of which the greatest architect and builder of the universe has been building a home for me, which will never need to be repaired because it will suit me perfectly, individually, and will never grow old.  Termites can never undermine its foundation for it rests upon the Rock of Ages.  Fire cannot destroy it.  Floods cannot wash it away.  No locks or bolts will ever be placed upon its doors, for no vicious person can ever enter that land where my dwelling stands, now almost completed and ready for me to enter it and live eternally without fear of losing my new house ever. There is a valley of deep shadows between the place where I live now and the new one I shall journey to in a very short time.  To get there I will be passing through the dark valley of shadows.  But I won’t be afraid, because my best friend Jesus went through the same valley a long time ago and made it safe for me.  He has stuck by me through thick and thin since we first met and became acquainted.  At that time he promised never to leave me alone. I hope to hear your sermon on ‘Heaven” next Sunday from my home, but I’m not sure I will be able to do so.  My ticket to heaven has no date marked for the journey…no return coupon….and no permit for baggage.  I am ready to go and may not be here while you are talking next Sunday, but we shall meet together there some day.”


 Wow!  What a story!  And he ends his letter with the thought that he will meet and recognize Charles Fuller in heaven.  He was looking forward to that reunion.  But, just how much of our current lives will be carried over from earth to heaven?  Is it more than the ability to recognized family and friends?  We know there are going to be some major changes in our lives when we transfer residence from earth to glory.


                   •  All sicknesses and scars from this life will be gone forever.


                   •  Quality of life makes a major leap for the good.


                   •  Our bodies will not wear down or get tired or die.


                   •  We will be able to eat, but won’t have to – Luke 24:30


                    •  God’s name will be on our foreheads. – Revelation 22:4


                   •  There will be absolutely no pain or sorrow – Revelation 21:4


But there are some things that we will take with us to heaven when we rise to meet the Lord in the air.  There is some continuity between this life and the life we will have in heaven.




Another way to state this question is to ask, “what happens to us at the point of transition from this life to the next?”  What changes occur between when you die and 5 seconds later?  I think there are a number of things showing continuity between our mortal lives and the lives we will have in heaven.


1.     You are going to be the same person.


It is not some other person that arrives on heaven’s shores.  It is you and me.  Now, of course, we are different in the sense that we have a different way of living.  We do have a new nature, but even that began here at our conversion.  We are not sinner anymore, nor do we have a sinful nature.  But it is you who is standing before the crowd which are there to welcome you.  In heaven, we will still be the same persons.  We will not forget who we are.


Job 19:26-27 NKJV


26     And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God,

27     Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!


In Luke 24:39 (NKJV), Christ said:


39     Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have."


                   He said, “It is I myself.”


The continuity between Christ’s earthly and resurrected body was clear to see.  They viewed the nail scarred hands.  Except for a couple instances where He eluded their recognition, people recognized him immediately.


It was Jesus, in the flesh, that met the disciples and others following his resurrection.  Yes, his flesh was glorified and would never die again, but it was He in his flesh.  If it wasn’t the same flesh as before He died, then why did his body need to be resurrected.


Jesus called people in Heaven by name.  In Luke 16, He mentioned the beggar, Lazarus, sitting next to Abraham.  And in Matthew 8:11, He mentioned Abraham, Isaac and Jacob sitting in Heaven.  A name denotes a distinct identity, and individual.  The fact that people are called by the same names they have on earth, demonstrate that in Heaven they are the same person.  In Heaven, I will be John Hoole, without all the bad parts – forever.  If you know Jesus, you will still be you – without all the bad parts.  Just as our genetic code and fingerprints are unique now, we should expect the same of our new bodies.  In Heaven, no two of us will be alike.


C.S. Lewis, in his book, The Problem of Pain,  expressed his awe at the diversity with which God created us.  He writes: “If He had no use for all these differences, I do not see why He should have created more souls than one.”   C.S. Lewis continued: “For it is not humanity in the abstract that is to be saved, but you – you, the individual – your place in heaven will seem to be made for you and you alone, because you were made for it – made for it stitch by stitch as a glove is made for a hand.”


In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul points out that our present physical bodies will be raised.  Beginning in verse 42, Paul says IT is sown a perishable body.  What is “IT?”  “IT” is your earthly physical body.


                   “It is sown a perishable body,

                            It is raised an imperishable body;

                   It is sown in dishonor,

                            It is raised in glory;

                   It is sown in weakness,

                            It is raised in power;

                   It is sown a natural body,

                            It is raised a spiritual body.”


In the same way, it was really Jesus who stood among the disciples after his resurrection, and you, in your flesh, will be standing before God in heaven.  Our future body will be like Christ’s resurrection body.


In  another book, C.S. Lewis expressed that, in this life, we have become bent (meaning “sinful”).  We are bent versions of what God intended for you and me.  Our deceitfulness, laziness, lust, deafness, disability and disease are not the real you.  They are temporary perversions that will be eliminated.  They are the cancer that the Great Physician will surgically remove.  And His redemptive work is such that never again will they return.  When you arrive in Heaven, for the first time you will be the person God created you to be.


For some reason I have been asked by some (none in this class) if we are going to be angels in Heaven.  The answer is a definite NO!  Death is a relocation of the same person from one place to another.  The place changes, but the person remains the same.  The same person who is absent from their body is the one who goes to be with Christ.


2.     You remain fully conscious in heaven


         This continuity is related to the first one.


According to 2 Corinthians 5:8, believers go directly into the presence of Christ at their death and they are conscious and in command of all of their faculties.  Our body dies and it loses its abilities, but you will be totally conscious and aware of your surrounds.


2 Corinthians 5:1, 6-8  (NIV)


1       Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.


6       Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.

7       We live by faith, not by sight.

8       We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.


One moment we are living on earth, and the next finds us feeling right at home in heaven with the Lord.


Revelation 6:9-10  (NKJV) adds:


9       He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held.

10     And they cried with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?"


These martyrs continued to be fully conscious in heaven immediately following their death.  We, likewise, will be conscious as we make the transition from this mortal life to that which we will have in heaven.  At no time will you lose your faculties.


3.     Personal love will continue from here to heaven.


The people we love here will still be our loved ones in heaven.  Your love will continue and grow when you arrive in heaven (Agape Love).


We will no doubt lose interest in many things that attracted us on earth.  It is hard to imagine, for instance, talking about a favorite television program, not because it would be evil, but because it would be so trivial, irrelevant and dull.  No TV program on earth today will excite us like Heaven will.


But surely we won’t lose interest in the things of earth that mattered, some of which were lighthearted and others deep and profound.  These are part of the shared experience of loving relationships.  Such adventures forge a camaraderie like that of soldiers who’ve served beside each other in the trenches.  They never forget what they experienced together in that foreign land.  Neither, I think, will we forget fighting spiritual battles in the trenches of earth.


I can envision us sitting around a campfire in heaven telling stories of the truly exciting times on earth.  Those times when we turned to our heavenly Commander and trusted him to guide and sustain us on the long march.


We will remember those moments when we leaned heavily on our Christian comrades for strength where we tended to each others needs and carried and guided each other across the battlefields.  We will remember the times when we basked in the company of family and friends, fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household (Eph. 2:19)  By the way, if you can’t imagine sitting around a campfire telling stories in heaven, why not?  This will be but one way of expressing our love in heaven for those we loved on earth.


What did the apostle Paul say at the end of the love chapter of the Bible – 1 Corinthians 13?  In 1 Corinthians 13:13, he said:  Now abides faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.

Have you ever wondered why “love” is the greatest of these three?  Could it be that only love is eternal?  Once we are in heaven, will we need hope and faith?


Romans 8:24 says about “hope,”


But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?


That which we hoped for will be completely fulfilled in heaven.  Therefore, we do not need to hope any longer. baith is somewhat similar to hope  That which we believed in, through faith, will be completed in the presence of Christ.  Hebrews 12:2 tells us that Jesus is the “finisher of our faith.”


We know that eventually faith gives way to sight.  We will see that which we have already gratefully accepted by faith.


But love continues throughout eternity.  God’s love continues in heaven.  His love for us never diminishes one bit and our love for him will be enhanced as it blossoms fully.


Our love for God and for those we have loved here will continue in heaven.


4.     You will continue to feel emotions in heaven.


We know that God has emotions in Heaven.  In various Scriptures, God is said to enjoy, love, laugh, take delight, and rejoice, as well as be angry, happy, jealous, and glad.  God created us with emotions. Even though we should always avoid creating God in our image, the fact remains we are created in His.


Our emotions are a reflection of and sometimes, because of sin, a distortion of God’s emotions.  In part, to be like God means to have and express emotions.                 Undoubtedly, you will continue to have a personality like you have here on earth; but, of course, it will be fully sanctified.  The expression of your emotions will be different than mine.


Psalm 16:11 NKJV


11     You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.


                   In heaven, we will exercise not only intellect but also emotions.


A moment ago, I mentioned that our love, as well as God’s, will continue in heaven.  Love is more than an emotion, but it exhibits itself often through our emotions.  Consider the joy of being in the presence of God while living here, and understand that our joy will expand its exuberance at seeing Jesus face to face.  There is going to be much joy and great rejoicing in heaven.  Such rejoicing manifests itself, in part, through our personal emotional outbursts.


5.     You will continue to be active in heaven.


Here on earth, God has uniquely gifted each one of us.  By that, I am not speaking just about spiritual gifts, but about our unique talents, abilities, and the things we really love to do.  No two of us are exactly alike.


I don’t think these unique talents and abilities will cease when we arrive in heaven.  I think God will continue to use those talents we have in heaven.  Those that are music writers will continue.  If you love to pursue things like being a writer, an artist, an explorer, that love will probably continue in heaven.


There are, however, some pursuits we have here that will not be needed in heaven.  Since nothing will ever wear out or break down, we probably will not need mechanics and home repair people.  We also probably will not need carpenters, and certainly no preachers of the gospel.


We are but saplings here, but shall be transported into our heavenly soil to grow in God’s light.  Here, our abilities are in blossom – there they shall bust forth with fruit of great beauty.  Our physical death is but the passing from one degree of loving service to another.


In Heaven, we might all desire to do things we have never had a chance to do here.  One thing that will be so great about Heaven is that we will no longer have to battle our desires.  They will always be pure.  Christianity teaches that Jesus takes our sins away while redeeming our desires.


In C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, book seven, The Last Battle, the characters have arrive in New Narnia (Heaven).  Lucy says, “I’ve a feeling we’ve got to the country where everything is allowed.”  Augustine expressed a similar thought: “Love God and do as you please.”  We will love God wholeheartedly – and therefore will want to do only what pleases Him.


King David says, in Psalm 37:4: “Delight yourself in the Lord and all your heart’s desires He will give you.”  Why would He do that.  Because when we delight in God and abide in Him, whatever we want will be exactly what he wants for us.


So far we have identified 5 areas of continuity from this mortal life to that of eternal life.


The last thing that will have continuity as we leave here and arrive in heaven is one that has been at the core of our last several lessons.


6.     You will continue to remember in heaven.


Personal knowledge we have here on earth will continue in heaven.  We will continue, at least in part, to maintain some memory of our life here on earth.


1 Corinthians 13:12 tells us:


         For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face.  Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.


We will remember things that were part of our life on earth.  And this verse tells us that we will understand those events and things much more clearly.  And those we know here, we will know even more fully in heaven.


But, just how much of our earthly life will we be able to remember.  And, if it is more than being able to recognize our friends and loved ones, how much more?  And will it include not only the good things of this life, but also the less pleasant things we experienced on earth.  Or what about things we did that were sinful?  Will we remember all those?


Up to this point in our lesson today, we have discussed personal attributes that will follow us and continue in some way when we arrive in Heaven.  Yes, there are some personal traits that will be part of our persona in Heaven, but those traits will not necessarily in our present form.  Nothing is simply continued, and neither will nothing be simply lost forever.  verything will be transformed.



We cannot know precisely everything about this transformation.  We may not know much at all because Heaven is going to be so utterly another world.  Although the Bible does tell us a number of qualities about our future home, it is still limited because Heaven is far beyond what we may imagine.


1 Corinthians 2:9 NKJV


9       But as it is written: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him."


Number 4, above, mention our emotions.  Emotions are a part of God’s design for our humanity, and not only a result of the Fall.  And I strongly believe they will continue in Heaven.  Think about emotions and the things we really enjoy today.  I believe enjoyment prior to Adam and Eve’s sin must have been greater, because sin always harms every good thing, never helps.  Augustine opined that in Heaven the joy that we receive from God in our souls will “overflow” into our resurrection bodies in a “voluptuous torrent” of pleasure.  As an emotion, we will experience much joy in heaven, even though today we cannot fully appreciate that joy.  Having said that, I do believe we experience a down-payment of Heaven’s joy right now.  For the believer, the joy of the Lord is our strength.