WILL WE KNOW OUR LOVED ONES IN HEAVEN?
Charles E. Burch
This question has been asked many times through the years. In God's word nothing is said explicitly about recognizing our loved ones in heaven, but it does reveal some principles to guide us toward that conclusion. The apostle Paul wrote to some Christians who were concerned about their loved ones who had died. "...That ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope...The dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words" (I Thessalonians 4:13-18). This certainly implies that these Christians would recognize their loved ones, else there would not really be any comfort in these words (v 18). When David's son died, David had been fasting and mourning, but he ceased to do so. The servants were astonished at his action. David said, "But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me" (II Samuel 12:23). David expresses his expectation of seeing his son again, and the implication of future recognition. Otherwise the statement makes no sense.
When the unbelieving Sadducees tried to trap Jesus in his teaching about the resurrection, He said, "For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven" (Matthew 23:30). The scriptures indicate that we will know one another. But we may not recognize the same relationship, with our loved ones, that we had here on earth. In Matthew 17:1-8, Jesus took Peter, James and John into a high mountain. When they saw Moses and Elijah they recognized them. Yet, there is no record of any introductions.
The story of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31, enables us to view the scenes of the future. "So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. Then he cried and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame” (Luke 16:22-24).Those in this story were all conscious, they were aware of their surroundings, and they all possessed a memory of the world they had left. Also, they knew one another.
I have heard the statement, "If my loved ones are not there I couldn't enjoy heaven." But this is thinking only with human wisdom here on earth. The Bible reveals that some of God's children will not be there. (Galatians 5:4; I Timothy 4:1-3). If God can be happy knowing that some of His children are not there, then we should be able to do the same. We cannot measure the joys of heaven with our human standards. I believe the scriptures reveal that we will know our loved ones in heaven. We may not miss those who don’t make it. For there will be nothing in heaven to cause sorrow.