Shall we know each other in Heaven?
Alan H. Linton, Bristol, England
Various points of view have been taught during recent days suggesting that we shall not know each other in heaven. For instance, some teach that Galatians 3. 28 suggests that in Christ we lose our individuality; others take the comment of the Saviour on the believer's state in resurrection, Matt. 22. 30, to infer that, being like the angels, we shall not be distinguished as male and female.
If we cannot be certain of the answer to this question then much of the joy and anticipation of our future home is taken from us. Surely the Christian's hope of being together with Christ can only bring fulness of joy and true comfort if we know that we shall not only be with, but also able to recognize our loved ones who have preceded us into His Presence, 1 Thess. 4. 13-18. This question is therefore vital to our present peace and happiness.
No single passage of Scripture gives a direct answer to our question. Nevertheless, many references very strongly suggest that we shall know one another in that future day. For instance, the Saviour said 'Ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God', Luke 13. 28. This clearly indicates recognition of the Old Testament patriarchs and prophets. We are also informed that Saul and the witch of Endor recognized and spoke with Samuel after his death, 1 Sam. 28. 7-25. In the account of the rich man and Lazarus, Luke 16. 23-31, the former is stated to have seen Abraham afar off with Lazarus in his bosom. Possibly one of the most remark-able references tells how Peter, James and John recognized Moses and Elijah as they appeared in glory with the Saviour on the Holy Mount. We must remember that they had no previous physical contact with these men but perhaps by their knowledge of Old Testament descriptions of them or by oral traditions handed down, they instinctively knew them.
We can, therefore, have every confidence that we shall recognize each other in that coming day. There may be many unanswered problems, such as the nature of the characteristics by which we shall recognize one another in the glorified state or the fact that men of different generations recognize the same individual by quite different features. For example, my own recollection of men of God, now with the Lord, is that of aged men, white of hair and physically frail, whereas others of a former generation would remember them as active, young men. Possibly we shall recognize one another by characteristics other than physical features when our bodies are fashioned like His body of glory. Such questions arc, however, of secondary importance.
Let us with confidence hope for that great day when together we shall behold our beloved Lord. May it be that with Paul we shall then be able to say 'What is our hope, or joy or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?', 1 Thess. 2. 19. Surely this implies recognition of those who, through our labours, will be there in that day.