Will We Recognize Family and Friends In The Kingdom Of Heaven?

Will We Recognize Family and Friends In The Kingdom Of Heaven? June 18, 2018

When believers finally reach heaven, will they know family members and friends?

Lazarus and the Rich Man

Does the Bible tell us that we can know our lost family members and friends once we enter the kingdom of heaven? Not exactly, but there are strong indications that we will know those we’ve lost once we see them again and they will now us. One of Jesus’ most powerful stories is that of Lazarus and the Rich Man. Let’s read the account to see if this gives us any help as to whether we will recognize people on the other side of eternity. It is found in Luke 16:19-31 where Jesus said, “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores” (Luke 6:19-21), then “The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side” (Luke 16:22-23). Abraham responded by saying, “’Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house — for I have five brothers so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment’” (Luke 16:25-28). The point to all this is that after death, we will still have feelings, we will be aware of our surroundings, and we will remember those who are still living after we’ve been judged, but we’ll have no place of escape from hell. The rich man wanted his family to know that there truly is a hell. He wanted to go back to warn them, so after death, the rich man (as with all of us) had memories, recollection, feelings, love for his family, and senses (he thirsted), so there is an awareness after death, but the thing is, there is no possible escape for those who’ve rejected Christ.

Mount of Transfiguration

When Jesus revealed his glory to Peter, James, and John, they immediately recognized Moses and Elijah even though they had never seen them before. How did they know them by sight? Did they know enough about them that they recognized them? Jesus never introduced them or told the disciples who these men were, but the disciples already knew them. Let’s read the account of the Transfiguration in Matthew 17:4 where Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” We don’t know how Peter, James, and John knew who Elijah and Moses were by seeing them for the very first time…we only know they knew them, and I believe that gives us some indication that we will know others in the kingdom whom we’ve never met, particularly the heroes and heroines of the faith. Jesus spoke to these men after they had died, indicating that there is life after death. For example, Jesus said in Matthew 8:11, “I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.” Even in ancient times, God told Moses that “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob” (Ex 3:6), meaning these men still existed beyond this life.

After Death

Notice that “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” (Gen 25:8). Also, “Ishmael lived a hundred and thirty-seven years. He breathed his last and died, and he was gathered to his people” (Gen 25:17). Jacob was explicit in his instructions about his burial in Genesis 49:29-33, saying, “I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite, the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan, which Abraham bought as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite, along with the field. There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried, and there I buried Leah. When Jacob had finished giving instructions to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people.” Clearly, Jacob knew that he was going to be buried with his fathers and his relatives and “gathered to his people.” David also knew he would recognize his son who died in infancy when he sees him again someday, saying, “But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me” (2 Sam 12:23). There is no doubt David will recognize his own son for he spoke expectantly of seeing him again and “going” to him. This “going to him” is obviously where the child is at now. In 1 Corinthians 13:12, Paul says, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” Think about those you’ve shared the gospel with who are no longer here. Surely they’ll recognize you when they see you and they’ll rejoice with you, no doubt.

Cloud of Witnesses

Some believe that the “cloud of witnesses” is those saints who are now with the Lord and are watching us. The “cloud of witnesses” is mentioned in Hebrew 12:1, but these are witnesses left for us, not spectators. There is no Scriptural evidence that our lost loved ones can see us from heaven. By the way, Hebrews 12:1 is a conclusion of what was just said in Hebrews 11:39-40 that “all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” Jesus said that “in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven” (Matt 22:30), which some misconstrue to mean that we’ll be like or become angels. I don’t know why or where this myth ever got started, but in fact, someday, we are to judge the angels (1 Cor 6:3) but not become angels.

Conclusion

The very next moment after you die, you are with the Lord; that is if you are saved. Paul wrote that “to be absent from the body [is] to be present with the Lord” (2 Cor 5:8), which also means that “while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord” (2 Cor 5:9). When Paul says “in the body,” he means here on earth and when he speaks of “with the Lord,” we know that He means present with Christ. Jesus is presently seated at the right hand of the Father, because after His death and resurrection, the Scriptures say that God “seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places” (Eph 1:20). This is where He directs His own church today as He gathers a people unto Himself. He is coming again for those who’re repented and trusted in Christ. Then, we’ll be with those we’ve lost and recognize them immediately. Again, that is only if they have trusted in Christ. That is the hope of the resurrection…and the hope of every believer in Christ.

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • pud

    Clearly one of your most infantile essays.

    “The very next moment after you die, you are with the Lord; that is if you are saved.”…..Prove this claim

    “Then, we’ll be with those we’ve lost and recognize them immediately. Again, that is only if they have trusted in Christ. That is the hope of the resurrection…and the hope of every believer in Christ.”

    Make up your delusional mind…is it for sure or is it “hope”? The FACT is you believe the few words of a religious lunatic from 2000 years ago and you KNOW nothing of the sort about anything you peddle.

    Will you look down in glee at those you know who are burning in the lake of fire? How will you be able to enjoy an eternity of kissing jesus butt while your “unsaved” friends are being tormented for eternity?

    Will you be transported to be with the “lord” as the stupid old man you are now or some Nordic stud? Tell everyone how you know.

    LOL…lunatic

    • Pamela Beverage

      Why are you so angry? It could be because you have no hope! I feel sorry for you.

      • pud

        Why would you assume that I’m angry? Oh, right…for the same reason you believe in superstitious nonsense, make believe and pretend.

      • kyuss

        why don’t you have a try at answering even 1 of pud’s questions instead of, irrelevantly, commenting on the tone of the post. I feel sorry for your intellectual vacuity.

      • Jack Wellman

        Poor Pud. She is so lost. Let’s continue to pray for her. I too feel sorry for her. Thank you for your compassion for the lost.

        • Questioning54

          Bet you don’t pray for half the people you say you will pray for. You have probably forgotten them, or you have a huge memory and many hours in a day to just pray for people.
          I know how christians use this “I will pray for you” thing as an insult. It really means I am better than you, and rather than do something concrete to help I will fob you off with an empty promise of prayer. Does God answer your prayers? If he does you should br praying for the starving and abused of this world rather than using prayer as a substitute for an insult.
          Jesus seemed to favour not praying in public and not praying self-righteously. Don’t tell people you will pray for them as a put down, and watch yourself in your self-righteousness for you may not be as right as you think.

          • Lark62

            Yes. If prayer ever made one ounce of a difference, nobody would ever need to tell someone they are praying for them.

            Saying “I will pray for you” is an admission that prayer has no effect.

          • Raymond

            I believe that Pastor Jack is 100% sincere in his concern for others and his remembrance in his prayers. One certainly doesn’t have to pray for each person individually, or for a set period of time. I have great respect for Jack.

            I am an atheist. I agree with next to nothing of what he teaches, but I have no doubt of his sincerity. He could have removed pud’s ability to post on his page long ago, but didn’t.

          • Questioning54

            I have known a lot of Christians who say they will pray for a person to merely dismiss them, to look down on them and pity them for not being as spiritually right before God, to show how gracious and spititual they are themselves or to simply avoid the other person’s pain and as an excuse to do nothing else.
            The prayer is often something that makes no real difference in the other person’s life. Couldn’t Jack pray for people without saying it and expect to produce the same result? Jesus seemed to favour private prayer.
            I am sorry if I have mis-judged you, Jack, by other experience with many other Christians. Just the “poor pud” bit seemed demeaning.

          • Raymond

            My wife, who is an evangelical (don’t ask) tells people she will pray for then sincerely. Some people wouldn’t care, or would sneer at the comment, but she hopes that it will mean something to someone sometime.

            So “poor pud” is demeaning but “infantile”, “delusional”, “religious lunatic” and “stupid old man” are OK?

          • Jack Wellman

            I am praying for Pud and others too. Why not say it if I am? I do pray in private so you can you can pray for others and do it in public. I think it is the least we can do for but by God’s grace,there go we!

          • Questioning54

            It is the least you can do but wouldn’t it be better to do the most you can do and actually give some meaningful answers?

          • Questioning54

            Because jesus said not to pray in public and saying that you pray for someone on a public forum is dangerously close to praying in public. The temptation to glory in your own piety instead of really caring for the person will always be there. I just got suspicious when you prayed for “poor pud” but did not answer what was said.

          • Questioning54

            So God picked you out for grace and denied those for whom there but for the grace of God go you.

          • Jack Wellman

            John 3:16 is whomever, not “hand picked.” You must not understand grace.

          • Questioning54

            “But by God’s grace there go we.”
            This clearly infers that you have God’s grace but pud does not. Grace is God’s unmerited favour. It is necessary for salvation but available only to some. It says “whomever” but qualifies that by saying “whomever believes”. You don’t choose to believe but only believe by God’s grace. So some are hand picked….. Actually I will ask you straight out – are you a “Calvinist” (any variation of his teaching) or do you believe everybody is given the grace to believe, which leads logically to universalism because grace leads to faith without any works including conscious choice of the believer.

          • Questioning54

            Is Mulvane Brethren Church related to open or Plymouth Brethren, or Exclusive Brethren or is it some offshoot of these? Just curious.

          • Questioning54

            Hmm. No comment eh? Don’t want to answer hard questions that reveal your true beliefs.

          • Questioning54

            No they are not ok. But neither is it ok for a Christian to have their own subtle way of insulting people

          • Raymond

            Oh, so you’re trying to ding Pastor Jack for civility? Quite the poliitcal correctness there.

            Jesus called Samaritans “dogs” at one point, and he called Pharisees and Sadducees “whitewashed sepulchers”.

          • Questioning54

            They were the religious ones who made a show of being righteous but were hypocrites. Don’t know Jack well enough to assume I could apply those descriptions to him. As you say he does seem sincere but it is possible to be sincerely wrong. As for political correctness, I am not sure how that applies. Jesus did say to pray in private Matthew 6:6. See James 2 15-16 where I see a parallel with saying I will pray for you then making no attempt to answer a person’s questions.

          • Raymond

            The Samaritans were a group that were looked down upon because the Jews disagreed with their methods of worship. Nothing hypocritical about them – just Jesus following along with the attitudes of the day.

            Political correctness is dinging someone for how they say something when you disagree with what they say. Which is exactly what you did. You didnt say anything about pud’s language until I pointed it out. Much as one group in America today is complaining about “civility” when they also engage in the most horrible descriptions of their opponents.

          • Questioning54

            I was talking about the Pharisees and sadducees. As for Samaritans, I would have thought Jesus would not have followed along with the attitudes of the day. I thought he came to show a better way than the attitudes of the day. So you are engaging in political correctness when you ding pud for how it was said because you disagree with what was said?

          • Raymond

            You’ve already agreed that what pud said was demeaning.

          • Questioning54

            Yes. But by your definition it is using political correctness to say so instead of focusing on the content of pud’s message. Not sure where you want to go with this. You did not respond to my comment where I quoted the bible.
            I told you my experience of many people who say they will pray for someone instead of answering questions or getting involved in any way. Your experience may be different so we really can’t invalidate one another’s observations.

          • Raymond

            Where I am going with the political correctness thing is that you were criticizing HOW Pastor Jack responded to pud – an odd comment considering how pud responded to the OP. I think we have covered that enough.

            Now as to your Bible verses. Christian churches regularly engage in public communal prayer. Should they repent of such behavior?

            Secondly, the verses in Matthew are directed toward ostentatious displays of public prayer. Jesus also commends the tax collector who prays humbly and publicly in the back of the synagogue in Luke 18:13. Praying in public is not Jesus’ concern – it’s HOW you pray in public.

            And looking at James, the concern there is making obnoxious comments to the poor rather than helping them, much as the “get a job” comment to homeless people today. Many/most Christians believe that praying for others IS the best thing you can do for them – that the efficacy of prayer is greater than any offering of food or money or whatever.

            And finally, so said above that “I will pray for you” was “dangerously close” to praying in public. That is an opinion I do not share.

          • Questioning54

            Matthew 6 Jesus was talking to his disciples, not to the Pharisees. (see previous verses in Matthew 5). How do you know the tax collector prayed publicly? He was in the back of the synagogue but there is nothing to say he prayed out loud. I still maintain that saying publicly you will pray for someone can be showing off one’s own piety, can be done instead of meeting someone’s needs (including answering their questions) or done as a Christian put down to someone (the implication that one is better than the person being prayed for). So public prayer is fraught with danger. People don’t have to be told you are praying for them for the prayer to be heard, do they? Prayer is only the best thing to do if the prayer is answered. (Do they think it moves a reluctant God into action?) Sometimes you are meant to be the answer to the prayer by doing something.

          • Raymond

            What makes you think that asking a question entitles you to an answer?
            Is “no comment” a valid answer to a question?
            Does everyone have to specifically say “no comment” if they don’t intend to answer a question?
            What’s your point about who Jesus was talking to in Matthew 6?
            Why doesn’t praying in a group of people constitute public prayer, even if you are praying silently?
            If a Catholic is praying the Rosary during Mass, and you can clearly see the person is praying the Rosary, is that public prayer or private prayer?
            What sort of danger is posed by public prayer?
            Why do you assume that Pastor Jack was showing off his piety or putting down pud?
            Why are you attacking Pastor Jack so aggressively for his one word while giving pud a pass for his lengthy list of put downs?
            Do you think that there are instances in which God fails to answer prayers?
            Is someone being the answer to a prayer the only way in which God answers prayers?
            Why do you think Pastor Jack writes his blog posts? Is he showing off his piety, or can he be sincerely trying to teach people about Jesus?
            Do you think pud is a better person than Pastor Jack? Why or why not?

          • Questioning54

            “What makes you think that asking a question entitles you to an answer? ”
            Christians should be willing to answer people’s questions in the hopes of winning them over. Saying I will pray for you is the easy way out. 
            “Is “no comment” a valid answer to a question?
            Does everyone have to specifically say “no comment” if they don’t intend to answer a question?” 
            That is up to them. But sometimes “no comment” really means “can’t answer the question” or “can’t be bothered trying”. 
            “What’s your point about who Jesus was talking to in Matthew 6?”
            He was talking to his followers when he said Matthew 6 6. He didn’t add “sometimes” or outline exceptions to the instruction. 
            “Why doesn’t praying in a group of people constitute public prayer, even if you are praying silently?”
            Because nobody can read your mind to know if you are praying. 
            “If a Catholic is praying the Rosary during Mass, and you can clearly see the person is praying the Rosary, is that public prayer or private prayer?” 
            Public. Go into your room and shut the door….
            “What sort of danger is posed by public prayer?”
            Jesus said not to do it. I already outlined the dangers (showing off piety, putting people down by trying to seem better than them, using it as a substitute for doing something to help meet a person’s needs) 
            “Why do you assume that Pastor Jack was showing off his piety or putting down pud?” 
            Don’t know what are his motives really (I did apologise if I misjudged him) but he made no attempt to answer her questions. 
            “Why are you attacking Pastor Jack so aggressively for his one word while giving pud a pass for his lengthy list of put downs?” 
            Not attacking Jack aggressively. Just pointing out Jesus’s stance on public prayer. Jack is the Christian, not pud, so the onus is on him. 
            “Do you think that there are instances in which God fails to answer prayers?” 
            Definitely yes. 
            “Is someone being the answer to a prayer the only way in which God answers prayers?” 
            Never said it was the only way. But it’s always good to do something practical to help people rather than say you are praying and do nothing. 
            “Why do you think Pastor Jack writes his blog posts? Is he showing off his piety, or can he be sincerely trying to teach people about Jesus?”
            That is up to him to know his motives. 
            “Do you think pud is a better person than Pastor Jack? Why or why not?” 
            Strange question. I prefer not to see anybody as better than anyone else, be it pud or Jack.

          • Questioning54

            See, I answered your questions.

          • Raymond

            Yes. Thanks.

          • I’m the King by appointment of the Queen of the Universe – I am the Pharaoh – All Abarahamics are outlaws and terrorists – including Samaritans.

            More likely I’m in hell because I am the King of this planet but absolutely nobody here seems literate enough to pay attention to my very serious claims under a very serious name like “The Imperial Cult.”

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_i3NEjXiGO8

          • Raymond

            I for one welcome our Imperial Cult overlords. 😉

          • That’s who Jesus is. Your Bible is a fraud so God is just going to keep telling you forever that Jesus is Pharaoh of the Jews.

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/73199e716331b65b70794d5728c5908636031394e96c6889516a34f066a73619.png

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2TKu326bVM

          • Questioning54

            Do you realise YOU are going to burn for eternity according to what Jack believes and your wife will be perfectly happy in heaven without you. Doesn’t that disturb you even a little?

          • Raymond

            It disturbs my wife a great deal and the members of her church. I expect my experience after death to be the same as my experience before birth.

        • Brianna LaPoint

          Not all who wander are lost.

      • Roger Morris

        What’s worse. Infantile false hope or an honest admission of the true state of existence? Perhaps for you, infantile false hope is preferable? That’s okay to admit. We all have to decide for ourselves how much reality we can bear.

      • Brianna LaPoint

        perhaps because his parents lied to him. dont assume that someone is angry because they do not share your convictions of this usurper jesus.

  • Questioning54

    Great “hope” for the believer? People who teach that we will know our families and friends but only care about the Christian ones are selfish and heartless. They sit up there all happy and saved and watch the suffering of people whom they supposedly loved. And watch the suffering of those from other countries where access to the bible or Christian teaching is non-existent. I would prefer not to know loved ones in heaven than to think I have to watch the suffering of a loved one not there with me.
    I believe the point of the Lazarus story was not a treatise on hell etc but an allegory about ignoring the Lazarus at the gate, like wealthy Christian nations do all the time. Focusing on the hell thing is missing the point entirely.

  • Roger Morris

    At what stage do Christians grow up and grow out of Sunday school level anxieties about an afterlife? Another prime example of the infantilizing and stultifying effects of Christian beliefs on humans desperately avoiding growing up into independent and autonomous adulthood.

  • Brianna LaPoint

    One wont know what happens after you die until you die. that being said, The Egyptian book of the dead, which predates the christian bible, probably has a bit more insight than christianity itself. Or, you can always have an out of body experience, provided that you are aware that i have a sneaking suspicion christians are not welcome with open arms the way they assume they will be.