WILL WE KNOW EACH OTHER IN HEAVEN?
This passage of scripture raises a question that many people have asked over the years. Will people know each other in heaven? Will we have the same bodies that we've had here on earth? If so, what about those who have lost fingers, arms and legs? How will we relate to each other, for example a young father who dies in his thirties and his child who ultimately lives to be eighty? Of all the billions on earth whose physical bodies have returned to the dust, how will those bodies be affected by the resurrection? So puzzling and unreal is the thought of the spiritual to come
that sometim es we fi nd it d ifficult to put into words the questions that come to our minds.
In the Bible reading of the morning, the Sadducees tested Jesus with a hard question about a teaching in the law of Moses. They asked Him whose wife would a woman be in the resurrection who had been married to seven brothers. This was called the law of Levirate marriage. It was the law of God under the law of Moses that if a married man died without a son, his brother or the next of kin should marry the widow, and the firstborn son of this union should be regarded and registered as the son of the deceased to keep his name alive.
If people can recognize these three great leaders as friends they knew on earth, then will not people be able also to recognize other friends they knew when they lived on earth? It seems to me a reasonable assumption that they will.
We are raising the question, "Shall we recognize our friends and loved ones in heaven?" There lives not; there has never lived a child of God who has not who has not asked this question. In this life we have had dear friends and loved ones, but they shall leave us. Shall we meet them again? Who has not asked these questions?God's people have always taken for granted that there will be a future recognition in heaven. It appears to be a fact perfectly known to the inspired writers with no need to formerly prove it. If this doctrine is not true, many of the hymns in our song book are unscriptural. We sing, "Shall we gather at the river? Yes, we'll gather at the river that flows by the throne of God." We sing, "Ill meet you in the morning by the bright riverside." We sing, "In the sweet by and by we shall meet on that beautiful shore." Our hymns are full of such sentiments. I believe what Jesus said abut Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in Matthew 8 and Matthew 22 sheds much light on this subject. It has ben revealed Abraham has been dead over 3800 years, but He is still alive because God is the God of the living. And it has been revealed that the faithful will sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the world to come. What a future awaits God's people!
The Lord's words raises some fascinating questions. Will Gentile Christians who come from the East and West be able to identify these three men when they sit down with them? Will Hebrews who personally knew these three men when they lived on earth be able to identify them in heaven as the same men they knew on earth? I certainly would like to think so. If people will not be able to recognize the men they once knew on earth, how could they know they were sitting down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?
"But Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as angels in heaven. But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. And when the multitudes heard it, they were astonished at his teaching (Matthew 22:29-33).
Sadducees, who were open opponents of Christ while he was on earth and who believed that there was no resurrection and no life beyond the grave, framed this hypothetical situation in order to disprove Jesus' teaching that there will be a general resurrection of the dead. I am speaking today on the answer of Jesus to the Sadducees in Matt. 22:29-32, "You are mistaken, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are
like the angels of God in heaven. But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.
In answering their question Christ taught at least three truths quite clearly: First, there will be a general resurrection of all mankind. . Second, in heaven physical relationships of husband and wife will no longer exist, for "they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as angels in heaven." Third, people do, however, retain their identity in the world to come.
The first thing we learn from the interview of Jesus with the Sadducees is that a general resurrection of the dead is clearly proven by the death of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But how does the death of these three men prove the resurrection of the dead? Jesus referred them to thi statement God made to Moses, "I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Abraham had been dead 300 years when Moses lived; he had been dead 1800 when Jesus was alive. He has been dead over 3800 years since our day and time. But Jesus informed those Sadducees, "But God is not the God of the dead; He is the God of the living." What God means is Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are still alive and have been now for centuries since they lost their bodies. .
Only their bodies are dead. They are in Paradise in the Hadean world and their souls are still alive. God is not the God of dead, decayed, corrupted bodies, but the God of living souls. You might say, "Well I can believe they are still alive in paradise, but I don't see how that proves there will be a resurrection of dead bodies. Here is the proof. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob have no bodies in paradise. Human beings are not complete without a body. Are they going to be alive without bodies forever? The very fact that they are still alive without bodies is evidence that there will be resurrection of their bodies that will be changed, glorified and reunited with their souls. Since Abraham, Isaac and Jacob continue to exist they must receive a new body. God cannot fulfill His promise to mankind without a general resurrection. These men are not to remain alive forever without bodies.
Furthermore, there is no more fundamental principle in the Christian religion than the f act of Christ's resurrection from the dead. He was the first human being to rise from the dead never to die again. It was declared everywhere by the apostles and other preachers of the early
church. Jesus was only the first-fruits of the resurrection. The entire resurrection of all mankind is to follow when He comes.
Secondly, we learn from the Lord's talk with the Sadducees that life in heaven will be different from life on earth. Jesus was asked whose wife a woman would be in heaven because she had been lawfully married seven times. In our day we find people talking and joking about physical activities in heaven. There are even jokes about these activities which, although very funny, fortify the misconception that heaven will be a physical place. Golf , fishing and the like are portrayed as heavenly activities. Some religious organizations actually teach that family relationships will be extended to heaven. John Wooden said he wanted to die so he could be with his wife. I don't know what Wooden's conception was of heaven, but the relationship of husbands and wives will be different than it was on earth. People have all kinds of concerns how they might be in heaven if some of their loved ones are not there, and such like worries.
Listen to what Jesus said about the after-life.
"You are mistaken, not knowing the scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven." We do not know much about how lving is among the angels, so we cannot speculate. However we do know that heaven is not a second earth. Jesus said something to people who have worries that they may not be happy in heaven. Jesus said, "You are mistaken, , not knowing the scriptures nor the power of God." Those who wonder about being happy in heaven don't know the power of God. No negative physical emotions or feelings will exist in heaven–neither sorrow, no pain, nor tears, nor crying , nor death. People in heaven will not be aware of anything which would bring them pain of any kind. Our peace and joy will be so complete that earth's joys and pleasures will be non-existent. If it should be that we will recognize loved ones in heaven, our relationship to them will not carry the same meaning that they have on earth. We will be united with our God, not reunited in the physical states we experienced on earth. Many people think of heaven as a literal city of gold, floating in
the sky. Revelation 21 and 22 presents a
physical description of heaven for the benefit of physical beings. However these physical symbols represent spiritual qualities or aspects. There will be nothing physical about heaven.
Thirdly, the discussion between Christ and the Sadducees revealed another wonderful truth. In the resurrection of the dead all people will retain their identity. After the resurrection I and you will be the same persons we are here. Jesus revealed this great truth in another reference to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in Matthew 8:5-13.
A Roman centurion, an idolater, a military man came to Jesus and requested that he heal his servant who was paralyzed and dreadfully tormented. He was not sent to Gentiles but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Jesus made an exception and said, "I will come and heal him. Take me to your house." No Lord, I'm not worthy for you to come under my roof. Just speak the word and my servant will be healed. I am a man of authority and no one disobeys me and I know you are a man of authority. Jesus marveled and said, "I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel. But before He said, "Go your way, and as you have believed, so let it be done for you," he said
something else to this Gentile that gives all Gentile Christians great hope ad comfort. Listen to these words, "And I say to you, many will come from the east and west and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven." This is a prediction that all saved Gentile Christians will sit down in heaven with Abraham,, Isaac and Jacob, three of the most famous men in the Bible, and three of the most famous men who ever lived on earth..
This promise of Jesus raises some fascinating questions about what life will be like in heaven. Jesus has clearly revealed that many Gentile Christians who never knew Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in this life, who only read about them in the Bible, nevertheless, they shall sit down with these great men in the world to come. It is necessarily implied that all Jews who served God faithfully will also sit down with these
great men, who are the fathers of
all promises that God has made to the human race, both Jews and Gentiles.