Will we recognize one another in Heaven?


Dr. John Hoole – January 4, 2015



Can you imagine your first glimpse of heaven?  I imagine that first view of heaven will cause us to gasp in amazement and delight.  I am sure it will be unlike anything we have ever seen or imagined.  The first gasp will be followed by many more as we turn and see yet many other sights that take our breath away.  Heaven will be an endlessly wonderful place.


Why will heaven be so beautiful and wonderful?  Because the One who’s prepared it for us is so skillful and creative.  He knows exactly what you like, and you won’t be disappointed.


When Paula and I knew our child was on the way, we picked out the right décor, and set up the crib just so, selected the perfect blankets.  The quality of the place we prepared for her was limited only by our skills and resources and imaginations.


Since our Lord isn’t limited in any of those categories, and since he loves us even more than we love our children, what kind of place can we expect him to have prepared for us?  It will simply be the best place ever made by anyone and for anyone.


Our home is being built for us by the Carpenter from Nazareth.  Building is His trade.  He knows how to build.  A good carpenter envisions what he wants to build.  He plans and designs.  Then he does his work, carefully and skillfully fashioning it to exact specifications.  He takes pride in the work he has done and delights to show it to others.  And when it’s his own children or his bride whom He has made it for, He takes special delight.


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 remodeling between the time He spoke and the time we join him there.


I mentioned in an earlier lesson 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.  On one hand, the devil tries to get us to think Heaven is a really boring place, where we sit on clouds, playing our harps, and singing every hymn we have ever known over and over again for all eternity.  On the other hand, he tries to get people to believe heaven really doesn’t exist.  It’s just a bunch of wishful thinking, “pie in the sky” Sigmund Freud called it.


In our past few lessons, we have noted and addressed a number of questions as it relates to heaven.  Today, we are going to address the question: Will we recognize each other in Heaven?


Another of Satan’s great myths about heaven is that we will be so different there, we won’t really be us.  We do know from the Scriptures, that Heaven will be hugely 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? 




This is a frequently asked question in Christian circles.  And, of all the questions on heaven, this is one where there is probably more agreement among us.  And yet, an affirmative answer to the question of recognition in heaven, has great implication in some of the other question raised about heaven.  If we say “yes, we will recognize each other in heaven,” that answer will affect or impact our answer on each of these questions.:


                   •  Will we carry our current personalities over to heaven?


                   •  Will we be gender – male and female – in heaven, as we are here?


                   •  When we are in heaven, will we remember the lives we lived on earth?


                   •  Will we express individual traits and emotions in heaven?


                   •  Can we enjoy heaven knowing a loved one didn’t make it there?


Your answer to these questions will be affected by your answer to: Will we recognize each other in heaven?  If you don’t see the relationship between the answer to this question and the others yet, hopefully you will as this lessons unfolds.


Some people question the continuation of gender more than they question the matter of recognition of loved ones in heaven.  And yet, I would submit that if you say “yes,” we will recognize each other in heaven, then you almost must say “yes” to the continuation of gender.  How easily or accurately can recognition take place if a person is, well, desexed?


Acceptance of recognition in heaven assumes the continuance of our mind and memory, only it will be a far more capable mind and not limited by a sinful nature.  But then, that begs for the continuation of the memory of our lives here.


If we say you and I will recognize, in heaven, the acquaintances we knew on earth, you are saying that you remember things about them that you knew on earth – physical features, voice, personality, gender, etc.


But, as soon as you admit to memory in heaven of things that occurred on earth, are you not answering “yes” to each of the five questions mentioned above?


The Biblical idea of recognizing each other in Heaven finds its way into many of the songs we sing.


Charles H. Gabriel (1856 – 1932) – third verse of “O That Will Be Glory”


                   Friends will be there we have loved long ago;

                   Joy like a river around me will blow.


Virgil P. Brock


He was a guest at the home of Homer Rodeheaver (Evangelist Billy Sunday’s choir director)  While there Mr. Brock was inspired, after seeing several beautiful sunset, to write “Beyond the Sunset” (1936), which speak of reunion with friends.


                   Beyond the sunset, O glad reunion,

                   With our dear loved ones who’ve gone before;

                   In that fair homeland, we’ll know no parting,

                   Beyond the sunset forever more.


Carl Blackmore (1934), in “Some Golden Daybreak’”. Verse 3”


                   Oh, what a meeting, there in the skies,

                      No tears nor crying shall dim our eyes;

                   Loved ones united eternally,

                      Oh, what a day-break that morn will be.


Other songs we know include this same theme of reunion with family and friends.  Songs like:   Shall We Gather At The River  (verse 1);  My Home, Sweet Home        (verse 2);  Sweet By and By (verse 1).  I’m sure there are many other songs that echo this theme.  And I haven’t even tried to think of choruses which speak of reunion.


The older I get, the more I enjoy having family over, or going to reunions.  Four years before my mother passed away, we had a reunion to celebrate her 90th birthday.  There were many who came from the places where my father and mother had pastored.  Some of these people I hadn’t seen for over 40 years.  It was one of the better reunions we have had.


A few days before Christmas an elderly man in Phoenix called his son in New York.  He said, “I hate to ruin your day, but I have to tell you that your mother and I are divorcing; 45 years of misery is enough.  We’re sick of each other, and so you call your sister in Chicago and tell her.” Frantic, the son called his sister, who exploded on the phone.  “What do you mean, they’re getting a divorce” she shouted.  “I’ll take care of this.”


She immediately called Phoenix, and said to her father, ”You are not getting divorced.  Don’t do a single thing until I get there.  I’m calling my brother back and we’ll both be there tomorrow.  Until then, don’t do a thing, DO YOU HEAR ME?”


The man hung up his phone and turned to his wife.  “Okay, honey.  The kids are coming for Christmas and they’re paying for their own flights.


This desire to be with loved ones will not cease when we arrive in heaven.  Not only are we looking forward to being with those who have preceded us, but they are probably looking forward to your arrival with anticipation.


92-year-old Ruth Emmert once said, “I hope I die pretty soon or my friends in heaven are going to think I didn’t make it.”  Real people engaged in real communication will be a vital part of the life of heaven.  Without it, isolation is the alternative.  Fellowship in churches on earth, around Christ, is a foretaste of our fellowship in heaven.


I mentioned a few weeks ago that the celebration of Pastor Tappero’s home going was like a great reunion, where hundreds of people, living in dispersed areas today, came back together.


Here, I believe, is a very important point.  There is absolutely no evidence in the Bible that the spirit of a human being is altered by death.  At the death of the body, the spirit simply passes from one mode of existence to another.  That spirit, however, is just as conscious, just as capable of recognition, as before death.  If anything, the awareness or alertness of the spirit after death will be enhanced due to its release from the limitation of the flesh.  There is nothing in the Bible to suggest that God’s rational creatures would be unable to recognize one another after the demise of the body.  The evidence is quite to the contrary.  Let’s now consider the evidence.  Is there recognition in Heaven?


I want to present to you 7 reasons for believing that we will recognize each other in heaven.


                   1.      The Word of God definitely implies it.


                   2.      The story of the rich man and Lazarus confirms it.


                   3.      The transfiguration scene illustrates it.


                   4.      The Apostle Paul anticipates it.


                   5.      The blessed hope of Christ’s return ensures it.


                  6.      The nature of heaven requires it.


                  7.      The recognition of Christ settles it.


1.      The Word of God definitely implies recognition in heaven.


1 Corinthians 13:12  (NKJV) says;


12     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.


In this verse, there is a very strong implication that we shall know one another in Heaven.  Paul compares the present with the future, and reminds us that in this life our knowledge is limited.  But he goes on to say that when we enter the fuller life in Heaven, those limitation will be removed.  And for sure, this verse says our knowledge will not be less, but more in heaven.


How does God know us?  He knows us completely, intimately, thoroughly, inside and out, with nothing hidden but everything seen as it really is.  If we are going to know like He knows us, we will know each other much more fully in heaven than we do now.


When John Evans, the Scotch minister, was asked by his wife, “Do you think we will know each other in Heaven” he responded, “My dear, do you think we shall be bigger fools in heaven than we are here?”


The verse we just read says we will not be dumber in heaven, but smarter.  I don’t see any Scriptures that says or implies that there will be a “memory wipe,” that will cause us to not recognize our loved ones and others we have known.  It would be no consolation to anyone, if, when we arrive in heaven, we are all total strangers.


Bill Graham was asked, in a letter: 


“Do you think we will recognize each other in Heaven?  My husband died last year, and it would horrify me to think that we might not know each other because God had given us different appearances or something.”


Billy Graham answered it this way:


         “While the Bible doesn’t answer all our questions about Heaven, I have no doubt we will recognize each other there.  In fact, the Bible indicates we will know each other more fully than we do now.  The Apostle Paul declared, ‘Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.’ ”  (1 Corinthians 15:52)


In Philippians 4:4, Paul speaks of our names being in the “Book of Life.”  In Revelation 3:5, Jesus proclaims to the Church at Sardis:


         “He who overcomes shall thus be clothed in white garments; and I shall not erase his name from the Book of Life, and I shall confess his name before My Father, and before the angels.”


My name, your name, and all of those who have professed their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, are in the Book of Life.  Though our bodies will be changed some (1 Corinthians 15), I still will carry my name throughout all eternity.


Yes, I believe that we shall know each other in heaven, and I am looking forward to spending all eternity with my Christian friends.


2.      The story of the rich man and Lazarus confirms there will be recognition in heaven.


Personal recognition beyond this world is also true about wicked people.  Perhaps one of the best evidences come from Luke 16.  Jesus is conveying to us the true account of a rich man, a beggar named Lazarus, and Abraham.  Lazarus always begged for food, but the rich man denied it.


Luke 16:22-24 (NIV)


22     The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried.

23     In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.

24     So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.'


The rich man was in the place of torment, but, looking across a great divide, he instantly recognized Lazarus, the beggar.  He also somehow knows who Abraham is.  Now, Hades is not heaven, but if a wicked man recognizes people after he dies, so also will people in heaven know people they had known on the earth.  If lost souls in hell have the power of recognition, how much more will the saved be able to recognize each other.  People in the next world – both the unsaved in hell and the save in heaven –  retain all their senses and recognition.


Certainly, in Heaven, we will see as well as the man in Hell (Hades) did.  And we will remember our life as the still knew about his five brothers and wanted them saved.


3.      The transfiguration scene illustrates recognition in heaven.


In Matthew 17, we find the story of the Transfiguration of our Lord  Jesus took Peter, James and John up the mountain, where He was transformed before their eyes.  Before them, Christ showed his glory and deity.  This scene is generally accepted as strong evidence of Heavenly recognition, because of who else was there.


I mentioned Matthew 17.  Let’s read the same account from the gospel of Luke.


Luke 9:28-36  (NIV)


28     About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray.

29     As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.

30     Two men, Moses and Elijah,

31     appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.

32     Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.

33     As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, "Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters-one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah." (He did not know what he was saying.)

34     While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud.

35     A voice came from the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him."

36     When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves, and told no one at that time what they had seen.


As Jesus was being transformed, suddenly Moses and Elijah show up.  The disciples immediately recognize them as Moses and Elijah.  It has been nearly 1500 years since Moses had died, and about 900 years since Elijah left the earth in a chariot of fire.


There is no indication that there were any introductions.  Here we find a very strong suggestion that when you and I, redeemed sinners, get to Glory, we will immediately have the power to recognize everyone there without being told who they are.  I doubt there will be any need for name tags in heaven.


The point is this: if this context teaches that those whom we have not personally known on earth can be recognized after death, then surely it must imply that those whom we have known on earth will be recognized.


Let me add a post script with regard to Moses and Elijah. In the Old Testament, there is mention of Elijah being taken into heaven (see 2 Kings 2:11-12).  There is, however, no mention given at all concerning Moses being in heaven.  That is, not until Jude 9, where Michael the archangel is in conflict with Satan over the body of Moses.


By this, I am saying that it is not surprising that Elijah is seen in his body.  But, the body of Moses has not yet been resurrected, and won’t be until after the end of the 7-year Tribulation.  So Moses is either in a spirit form, or has been given a temporary body until the resurrection.


The interesting thing to me, beyond the fact that the disciples knew it was Moses and Elijah, without any apparent introductions, is that Peter was not startled by the fact that Moses was in heaven.  The appearance of Moses seemed to Peter to be completely biblical to him.


One more thought about recognition of those who we have never met.  On the mountain, we have recognition of Moses and Elijah, and, earlier, there was recognition of Abraham.  If we are not able to recognize each other, the recognition of O.T. saints could not occur.


4.      The Apostle Paul anticipates recognition in heaven.


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


1 Thessalonians 2:19 NKJV


19     For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?


                   We will see in heaven the results of our work on earth.


Compare that with 2 Corinthians 1:14 (NIV):


14     As you have understood us in part, you will come to understand fully that you can boast of us just as we will boast of you in the day of the Lord Jesus.


Paul looked forward to his arrival in heaven.  Among other reasons, one is because he would see his beloved Thessalonians.  In 1 Thessalonians 2:19, Paul acknowledges that in Heaven, he will have extra joy and rejoicing by meeting those Christians which he won to Christ.  This indicates that Paul would have to recognize those who he had won, in order for him to rejoice over them and with them.


How could Paul write these things if he did not firmly believe that there would be a mutual recognition in Heaven?  Paul was filled with glad anticipation of being reunited with those who sat under his ministry.


5.      The blessed hope of Christ’s return ensures recognition in heaven.


1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 is a very familiar passage to us.


13     Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.

14     We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.

15     According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.

16    For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.

17    Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the airAnd thus we shall always be with the Lord.


Paul wrote his first letter to the Thessalonian Christians because some of them had died, and those still living were concerned about their welfare when Christ returned.  And he writes this letter to comfort them, by letting them know their loved ones will not be left behind.  Paul assures them by telling the exact sequence of events that would occur at the Rapture.


He tells them that the godly dead will rise first, then those still living will be caught up to the clouds.  But he makes a point of saying that those living will be caught up together with those who had died.  They and their deceased loved ones will meet again in the clouds, and from that moment on, they will   be together with each other and with the Lord.  Then, in verse 18, he tells them to comfort each other with this teaching.  Yes, they shall be together with their loved ones.


Christians have always believed in family reunion in heaven because the alternative would rob heaven of it’s joy, and would fail to satisfy the universal longing of the human heart.


There would be little comfort in their anticipation if it meant that being together we would not know or recognize our loved ones.  In this passage, 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 this is a wonderful description of heaven.  But, for it to be 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.


6.      The nature of Heaven requires recognition in heaven.


Heaven is revealed in the Bible as a social place – and we are social creatures.  Mankind is the only part of God’s creation that was made in the likeness of its Creator.  One of those likenesses is that we, like God, can love and enjoy others.  We were created to be social, interrelating people.


Consider 7 things about the nature of heaven that requires heaven to be a place where we will recognize each other.


A.      Heaven is the Christian’s home


Can you conceive of a home where those who live there do not know each other?


2 Corinthians 5:6  (NIV)


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.


As the song says, “I’ve a home prepared where the saints abide, just over in the Glory Land.”  And those living there will be at home there, and know all the rest of their extended family.


B.      Heaven is the Father’s House.


John 14:2 says:


         “In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I am going there to prepare a place for you.”


Can you imagine the children in the Father’s house not being able to recognize and know each other?  No, we will most assuredly know each other in our Father’s home.


C.     Heaven is spoken of as a Family Circle.


Ephesians 3:14-15  (NIV)


14     For this reason I kneel before the Father,

15     from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.


What a strange family it would be if we had no power to recognize and converse with one another.


John says in 3 John 1:4,


         “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”


Does that mean then that when John died and went to heaven, the joy he attained on this earth was to be forever forgotten?


D.     Heaven is described as a city.


If you are a Christian, you are not currently residing in your real home.  All Christians are citizens of another city.


Philippians 3:20  (NKJV) says:


20     For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,


We will one day be taken to our real home, but while we are here, we are to be ambassadors of Christ in a foreign land.  Like many of you who have traveled to Haiti, South Africa, Philippines, where you helped churches and missionaries after a disaster hit them, we are here on a MAPS (Missions Abroad and Placements Service) trip, helping others expand the Kingdom of God.


Abraham understood this.


Hebrews 11:10 tells us that Abraham looked for a city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.


Hebrews 12:22 (NIV)


22     But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly,


Will the citizens of this heavenly city be strangers one to another?  No!  I think the nature of Heaven requires us to know each other.


This last verse also speaks of angels.  Don’t you think the angels know each other by name (see Daniel 10:13).  Certainly God’s children will also know each other.  And we will be called by the name we have now.


E.      Heaven is a kingdom.


The King – Jesus Himself – will be there, and we shall see and recognize Him in all His beauty.


Isaiah 33:17  (NIV)


17     Your eyes will see the king in his beauty and view a land that stretches afar.


In fact, we shall be like Him.


1 John 3:2 (NIV)


2       Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.


As his subject, we will recognize the King.  Will we not also recognize other subjects of this King?


F.      Our names are written in Heaven.


Luke 10:20  (NIV)


20     However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."


In the Bible, names represent personality and character traits.  If our names are in Heaven, we must already be known there.  If we are already known, will we not also know others when we arrive there.


G.     Heaven is spoken of as gathering with our families.


There is an oft repeated phrase in the Old Testament.  It shows up first with reference to Abraham.


Genesis 25:7-9  (NIV)


7       Altogether, Abraham lived a hundred and seventy-five years.

8       Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people.

9       His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah near Mamre,…


The phrase, “he was gathered to his people,” is mentioned several times in the Old Testament.  Abraham died when he was 175 years old.  He had purchased his burial plot for himself and his wife Sarah.  It was located near Mamre, which was close to Hebron.  It also happens to be the same place where 3 men visited Abraham and Sarah, one of which was no doubt Jesus Christ, with the other two being angels.


Notice the sequence of events mentioned here.  Abraham dies, and is “gathered to his people,” and then his body is buried.  He was gathered to his people before his body was buried.  So, being gathered to his people, is not speaking of the body.  Another reason why the phrase “he was gathered to his people,” is not talking of his body is the fact that his body was buried nowhere near his ancestral site of Ur of the Chadeas.


So, the phrase “and they were gathered to their people,” meant more than merely being buried with them.  They were gathered to their loved ones in the abode of departed spirits.  That phrase was a source of comfort when the prophetess Huldah told Josiah he would be “gathered to his fathers” (Judges 2:10)But what comfort would it be if he could not recognize his “fathers?”  Was he to dwell in eternity, among his own family, as a total stranger?  I don’t think so.


Consider what is said at the death of Jacob.  Remember that Jacob had been deceived by his sons into believing that his son, Joseph, had been devoured by wild beasts.  He lamented – “I will go down to Sheol to my son mourning” (Genesis 37:35).  He certainly was not anticipating joining Joseph in some common grave.  Joseph had no grave – at least from his point of view at the time.  He expected to be united with his son in Sheol, hence, recognition is implied.


So we have looked at 7 characteristics of the nature of Heaven, each of which adds to the fact that we will recognize each other when we arrive there.


7.      The recognition of Christ settles our being recognized in heaven.


When we receive our glorified bodies, they will be like that of Christ following his resurrection.  This suggests that despite some outward appearance changes, the inner identity of the person will shine through.


The fact that the Lord rose from the dead, and was then recognized, absolutely guarantees that we shall be recognized and we will recognize others in our new bodies.


1 Corinthians 15:6 (NIV) tells us:


6       After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.


Even before it was revealed that we would have resurrected bodies like that of Christ (Phil. 3:21) people in the Old Testament still understood they would recognize each other in heaven.  When the son of David and Bathsheba grew ill and then died, David mourned until his death.  But when he received word that his child had died, David wiped the tears away from his eyes, and found comfort in a hope that he expressed in the words: “He cannot come to me, but I will go to him”  (2 Samuel 12:23).  David’s words tell us that he knew without a doubt that he would see his child again.


Most definitely, we will recognize each other in Heaven.  I think we have seen a great deal in biblical information, which lead to the conclusion that we will in fact recognize and know others in heaven.


Our Family Reunion


For the rest of our time today, I want to take the conclusion that we will indeed recognize each other in heaven, and discuss what will be the biggest family reunion in human history.


According to the web site www.reuniontips.com, “The primary driving force behind all reunions is our ability to remember the past.  This remembrance is the basis of our stories – personal stories, family stories.  Family reunions are a vehicle for telling the family story.”


One of the great joys of eternity will be the great reunion with our long departed friends and family who have passed on before us to await us in the eternal city.  The joy of parents at the birth of their firstborn is just a small foretaste of the happiness we shall experience when we begin to discover the things which Christ has prepared for His children.


Not only is there going to be many 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.”


If merely meeting an earthly author produces excitement down here, try to imagine the stimulation 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.


We’ll have a chance to talk with some of the great preachers and theologians of generations ago and see how the great variances in their theologies have merged into one complete picture after they now fully understand that which on earth could only be partially seen.


We will again meet those who witnessed to us briefly but never saw us again.  We will meet converted spouses, though we weren’t married to them anymore.  We will recognize each other, even in our perfected bodies.  We will share happy memories and testimonies of God’s grace.  And, if we have guardian angels, we will meet them as well.


And while we are still here, we can also comfort the families of those who have gone on ahead, with the hope of a great reunion.  Heaven will be a very happy place because we will meet those who in the past were part of our church family.  People like, Pastor Tappero, Art Peterson, Pearl Gentry, Joan Krasser.


Pastor Richard Baxter, back in the 1600’s wrote,


“I must confess, as the experience of my soul, that the expectation of loving my friends in heaven kindles my love to them on earth.  If I thought that I should never know them, and, consequently, never love them, after this life is ended, I should in reason number them as temporal things here and love them as such.”


Dr. William Graham Scroggie said,


         “We cannot possibly exaggerate the blessedness of heaven, nor can our imagination stretch to the full measure of its wonder.”


The world often has a negative view of heaven.  They see it as a perpetual prayer meeting, or a playing of a harp on a cloud, and they conclude it is perpetual boredom.  Christians need to convey that Heaven will really be the fulfillment of all the joys we only taste here.  Recognition and reunion are aspects of heaven that even the world can appreciate.


When D. L. Moody was dying, it appeared that his spirit had departed, and so everyone left the room.  When they heard a noise they returned and found him with his eye open.  One of them began to pray for him, but Moody asked him to refrain and said, “do not pray that I may live.  I have seen Dwight and Irene (2 of his grandchildren who had died);  I have seen the face of Jesus, and I am satisfied.  Earth is receding; heaven is opening; God is calling me; this is my coronation day.”


If something like this (seeing into heaven) happened only once, we could dismiss it, but it has happened to numerous saints of God on their death beds.


John R. Rice tells us standing around the bed of his mother as she was dying.  He states she said, “I can see Jesus and my baby now.”


Martin Luther lost his girl, Magdalena, and he wrote:


         “As Adam, when he awoke from sleep, recognized the newly created Eve at once as flesh of his flesh….even so and far better shall we, who have been renewed in Christ, recognize one another there.”


Raymond Shaffer, in his book After the Rapture, asks if there will be families in heaven or will the Rapture be the great divorce, alienating life-long marriage partners and splitting happy families.


For me, there is absolutely no doubt.  We will all recognize our families and loved ones in heaven.  I believe we will also know those we have not known in this life.  Fellowship in churches on earth, around Christ, is but a foretaste of fellowship in heaven.


We also, however, need to keep in mind the words of William Barclay (1907 – 1978) who produced a popular New Testament commentary set.  He expressed the conviction that reunion and recognition would happen in heaven.  But he adds a curious twist to the heavenly meeting.


He wrote in his spiritual autobiography:


         “I have never been able to see in this only the joy of meeting again those whom we have loved and lost awhile.  We shall have to meet again those whom we have wronged; those to whom we have been disloyal; those whom we have hurt; those whom we have deceived.  There will be no doubt the reuniting of love, but there will also be confrontation with truth.  The one thing that haunted Paul long after he had become an apostle was that he had been a persecutor  (Gal. 1:13);  1 Cor. 5:9; 1 Tim. 1:13). When they were put to death, he said of the Christians, “I cast my vote against them”  (Acts 26:10). 

F. W. B. Meyer makes Paul think of this in his poem “Saint Paul,” as he remembers the death of the saints for which he was responsible:


                   “Saints, did I say? With your remembered faces,

                            Dear men and women whom I sought and slew

                   Ah, when we mingle in the heavenly places,

                            How will I weep to Stephen and to you.”


Yes, we will see and recognize our friends and family members.  I don’t think there is any doubt of that.  But we will also encounter those whom we may not have liked so well.  We may meet again some of those we have wronged, or have wronged us.


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 us forever.


Although we 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?  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.