People often say, “We don’t understand now, but in Heaven we’ll know everything.”
Is this true? Definitely not.
God alone is omniscient. When we die, we’ll see things far more clearly, and we’ll know much more than we do now, but we’ll never know everything. (If we did, we’d be God!)
The apostle Paul writes, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).
To “know fully” doesn’t mean that we’ll be omniscient but that we will know without error and misconception. We’ll “get it.” We’ll see God’s face and therefore truly know him. But he will remain infinite and we will remain finite. We will know accurately, but not comprehensively.
In Heaven we’ll be flawless, but not knowing everything isn’t a flaw. It’s just part of being finite. Angels don’t know everything, and they long to know more (1 Peter 1:12). They’re flawless, but finite. We should expect to long for greater knowledge, as angels do. And we’ll spend eternity gaining the greater knowledge we seek.
One poll indicated that less than one in five people believe we will grow intellectually once we’re in Heaven. I heard a pastor say on the radio, “There will be no more learning in Heaven.” One writer says that in Heaven, “Activities such as investigation, comprehending, and probing will never be necessary. Our understanding will be complete.”
But that’s not what Scripture says.
Paul, in Ephesians 2:6-7, writes, “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace.” The word translated show means “to reveal.” The phrase in the coming ages clearly indicates that this will be a progressive, ongoing revelation, in which we learn more and more about God’s grace.
I often learn new things about my daughters, grandsons, and closest friends, even though I’ve known them for many years. If I can always be learning something new about finite, limited human beings, how much more will I be learning about Jesus in the ages to come? None of us will ever begin to exhaust His depths.
Jesus said to His disciples, “Learn from me” (Matthew 11:29). On the New Earth we’ll have the privilege of sitting at Jesus’ feet as Mary did, walking with Him over the countryside as His disciples did, and always learning from Him. In Heaven, we’ll continually learn new things about God, going ever deeper in our understanding.
Occasionally we hear stories that provide a small taste of what we’ll learn in eternity. One morning when I was speaking at a church, a young woman came up to me and said, “Do you remember a young man headed to college sitting next to you on a plane? You gave him your novel Deadline.”
I give away a lot of my books on planes, but after some prompting, I remembered him. He was an unbeliever. We talked about Jesus, and I gave him the book and prayed for him as we got off the plane.
I was amazed when the young woman said, “He told me he never contacted you, so you wouldn’t know what happened. He got to college, checked into the dorm, sat down, and read your book. When he was done, he confessed his sins and gave his life to Jesus. And I can honestly tell you, he’s the most dynamic Christian I’ve ever met.”
All I did was talk to a college student on an airplane, give him a book, and pray for him. But if the young woman hadn’t told me what happened later, I wouldn’t have had a clue. This made me think about how many great stories await us in Heaven, and how many we may not hear until we’ve been there a long time. We won’t ever know everything, and even what we know, we won’t know all at once. We’ll be learners forever. Few things excite me more than that.
Jonathan Edwards maintained that we will continually become happier in Heaven in “a never-ending, ever-increasing discovery of more and more of God’s glory with greater and greater joy in him.” He said there will never be a time when there is “no more glory for the redeemed to discover and enjoy.”
When we enter Heaven, we’ll presumably begin with the knowledge we had at the time of death. God may enhance our knowledge and will correct countless wrong perceptions. I imagine He’ll reveal many new things to us and then set us on a course of continual learning like that of Adam and Eve in the Garden. Perhaps angels or loved ones already in Heaven will be assigned to tutor us.
Think of what it will be like to discuss science with Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday, and Thomas Edison, or to discuss mathematics with Blaise Pascal. Imagine long talks with Malcolm Muggeridge or Francis Schaeffer. Think about discussing the writings of C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, G. K. Chesterton, or Dorothy Sayers with the authors themselves. How would you like to talk about the power of fiction at a roundtable with John Milton, Daniel Defoe, Victor Hugo, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Leo Tolstoy, and Flannery O’Connor?
Imagine discussing the sermons of George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Finney, or Charles Spurgeon with the preachers themselves. Or talking about faith with George Mueller or Bill Bright and hearing their stories firsthand. You might cover the Civil War era with Abraham Lincoln and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Or the history of missions with William Carey, Amy Carmichael, Lottie Moon, or Hudson and Maria Taylor.
Consider how exciting intellectual development will be. Father Boudreau writes in The Happiness of Heaven, “The life of Heaven is one of intellectual pleasure. . . . There the intellect of man receives a supernatural light. . . . It is purified, strengthened, enlarged, and enabled to see God as He is in His very essence. It is enabled to contemplate, face to face, Him who is the first essential Truth. Who can fathom the exquisite pleasures of the human intellect when it thus sees all truth as it is in itself!”
Imagine what Heaven will be like for those who never had the benefits of literacy and education. What joy they will have in drawing truths ever deeper and ever more from their God, the Well who will never run dry.