This sermon is number 5 in a series of 8
Glimpses Of Glory - Part 5
"Will We Know One Another In Heaven?"
by David Legge | Copyright © 2007 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com
Two portions of Scripture this evening, and we've got a lot to get through tonight, and I want to achieve my goal so that by the end of this evening we'll be able to say that we've covered substantial ground to show - as I hope to prove from the Scriptures - that we will know one another in heaven. But we're turning first of all to Matthew's gospel chapter 22, and let's grapple with the difficult passages right away and not avoid them. Of course, this is probably the text of Scripture that is most to the forefront of people's minds when we think of this particular subject - Matthew 22, and we are beginning to read at verse 23. Our second passage will be from 1 Thessalonians chapter 4.
"The same day came to him", that is to the Lord Jesus, "the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him, Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother: Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. And last of all the woman died also. Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her. 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 the angels of God 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 multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine".
Then to Paul's first epistle to the church at Thessalonica, 1 Thessalonians chapter 4, beginning to read at verse 13, and Paul says: "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and 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".
'Will We Know One Another in Heaven?'. You're here tonight, and you're either anxious to know the answer to that question, or perhaps you're anxious not to know the answer! Those who are wanting to know an answer probably want to know because they have loved ones in heaven, and you're hoping that you one day will meet them, will recognize them, and enjoy something of the relationship that you cherished with them here on earth. As for those who, perhaps, don't want to know the answer, that may be because you are afraid that when you get to heaven you won't know your loved ones - and you're afraid at the possibility, perhaps, at least, that you will not relate to them as you once did when you were here on the earth. Now this question, 'Will we know one another in heaven?', has caused both great curiosity to many, but also, it has to be said, has caused fearful apprehension to others - the prospect of, perhaps, not recognizing, or not being able to relate to those who we love who have fallen asleep in Christ.
Now let me say that I believe that uncertainty about the answer to this question, 'Will we know one another in heaven?', has robbed many a believer of the joy of anticipation of meeting our loved ones in heaven, and what heaven really will be for us. I hope you agree with me that the thought of heaven without our loved ones doesn't seem all, at least, that it could be, if we were with them, we recognize them, and relate to them. Perhaps some damage has been done by some over-pious souls who often, and I've heard it said myself, infer that it's unspiritual to want to meet our loved ones in heaven, or to look forward to meeting them and relating to them once again. These people often reason that we should be so taken up with the Lord Jesus Christ, and being in the presence of God, that we ought really not to need to look forward to this. Christ will be everything, and He will be enough, and we should be satisfied with that. Now that sounds very good, and very spiritual, but we need to consider the question: what if God Himself intends that we should have the joyful anticipation of reunion with our loved ones? Surely that should make a difference?
I believe that that is the sentiment of 1 Thessalonians 4 that we'll look at in a little bit more detail later on. It is, I believe, God's declared intention within the revelation of Scripture that we will know one another in heaven, and we will relate to one another. After all, we are relational beings. God created us as social creatures. You will recall that before the fall of man - and that, incidentally, is important - before man fell into sin in Genesis 2 and verse 18, God said: 'It is not good that the man should be alone, I will make him a helper fit for him'. Indeed, God not only made woman, but he made mankind in His own image - that is, again, in the Genesis record, this time chapter 1 verse 26: 'Then God said', and note the plurality of God, speaking of Himself, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness'. Could I suggest that, as we are made in the image of God, and God Himself in His Godhead is a plurality - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - that God's intention in making us after His image is to be sociable, to be relational to others - that was God's original intention in the book of Genesis, in the original creation. From widely studying scripture on this subject, I have no indication for you tonight that God has had a change of plan, that somehow we should cease to be relational to other human beings, other spiritual entities, and only relate to God and His Christ.
Therefore, in implication, as J. H. Bavink (sp?) has said: 'The hope to see one another in heaven is entirely natural, genuinely human, and in harmony with Scripture. That ought to enhance our anticipation of heaven, because we know we will meet others who have gone before us'. Richard Baxter, one of the great puritans who some believe wrote the greatest treatise on the subject of heaven entitled 'The Saint's Everlasting Rest', said this: 'I know that Christ is all in all, and that it is the presence of God that makes heaven to be heaven, but yet it much sweetens the thought of that place to me that there are there such a multitude of my most dear and precious friends in Christ'.
My desire tonight, my duty of course is to present scriptural truth to you, however it sits with you, but I want to tell you tonight that my goal is to help you and not to distress you. If that is to happen, and be the end result, you're going to have to listen very carefully to what I'm expounding from the word of God so that you will not misunderstand. I fear that in previous weeks people have not listened correctly, not sought, perhaps, clarification; and have gone away distressed, being confused because they have misheard what I have said. Does the Bible answer the question 'Will we know one another in heaven?'? I have said that it does, but we've got to prove it, so we want to first of all consider this issue of recognition - will we know one another in heaven? Will we recognize one another?
This statement that I'm about to make has been attributed to several people, one George MacDonald, one the father of G. Campbell Morgan, and one another Scottish preacher - I don't know who said it, but it is worthy to be said. Being asked the question 'Shall we know one another in heaven?', this preacher, whoever he was, said: 'Shall we be greater fools in paradise than we are here?'. Now that might be a rational assumption, but the question that we must consider tonight is: is it a biblical, reasonable conclusion? Can we prove this from Scripture, that we will recognize one another in heaven? Let me say that I believe that ignorance about heaven in general comes because there is a great ignorance concerning the Scripture, and it is the same in relation to this question 'Will we know one another in heaven?' - many people are ignorant of the texts that relate to this subject, and of the rational and reasonable biblical conclusions that we take from them.
Now, as with any disputed case, we want to call, this evening, some biblical witnesses into the stand, as it were, to submit their testimonial evidence relating to whether or not we will know one another in heaven. The first we will call tonight from the pages of Scripture is none other than our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. I don't need you to turn to all these passages, you can if you wish but there's a lot of them to go through. The first I want you to recollect at least is Matthew's account in chapter 17 of the Transfiguration of the Lord Jesus Christ. He Himself was transfigured before Peter, James and John on the Mount of Transfiguration, and the record states that Moses and Elijah appeared beside the Lord Jesus. We saw last week that Moses and Elijah, or at least Moses, died centuries before, and Elijah was translated to heaven without death in his physical body. But the thing I want to emphasise tonight in relation to whether or not we will recognize each other in heaven is that both Moses and Elijah maintained their physical, human identity - to such an extent that the disciples who were with Jesus on the Mount recognized who they were.
Now the obvious question is: how did they recognize them, because they had never seen them in the flesh before? Well, I don't think it's unreasonable to think that it was possible for them to recognize them without seeing them - after all, Elijah was the foremost prophet in the history of Israel, he wore distinctive garb like John the Baptist, and Moses himself was the lawgiver, that great patriarch of Judaism. So to a Jew, these two characters were from their history, religiously and culturally, and it was obvious to them who they were right away. But the thing that we need to note is: they recognized them.
Then there is the teaching of the Lord Jesus, and we don't have time to go into all of it, but we looked in a little detail at Luke chapter 16 - which is, incidentally, not a parable, because in Jesus' parables He never names people as He does in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. Just to look at that for a moment, what that account tells us is simply that the rich man looked up and saw Lazarus in heaven, in paradise with the patriarch Abraham. Now that necessitates that the rich man in hell recognized Lazarus, the beggar who used to lie at his gate, and Abraham, the father of Judaism. That's the only point I want to emphasise: there was recognition.
Then when we look at the Lord Jesus personally in His resurrection, we see that He was also recognizable as who He was. For instance, Luke 24 verse 39, He said after His resurrection: 'It is I myself', implying that they ought to recognize that it was the Jesus that walked with them for three years. Indeed, we go on to read in the gospel account that Christ's disciples recognized Him countless times after resurrection: on the shore as He cooked breakfast for them in John 21; when He appeared to a sceptical, doubting Thomas in John 20; and then as 1 Corinthians 15 records, when He appeared to over 500 disciples at one time. Now sometimes people throw up objections to why the disciples may not have recognized Christ after the resurrection. Sometimes they cite John chapter 20, where Mary in the garden where the tomb was immediately did not realise that the One who spoke to her in the garden was Jesus, and not the gardener as she presupposed, and so people say: 'Well, Mary didn't recognize Him, therefore He was unrecognizable' - but I believe there are reasonable explanations why, at first, in a tearful traumatic state, realising that Jesus had actually died and gone from them, why she didn't assume immediately that this was Jesus who spoke to her. One thing is certain: when the One she thought was the gardener spoke her name, she replied to Him in Aramaic: 'Rabboni', realising in the tone of His voice, and the way He spoke her name, that it was her Lord Jesus.
Similarly, people often quote the two on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24 as not recognizing the Lord Jesus, and assuming, therefore, that He was unrecognizable. But if you look for a moment at Luke chapter 24, you will see there that Luke actually tells us why they did not recognize the Lord. In verse 15 of Luke 24 it reads that while they were talking and discussing together: 'Jesus himself drew near and went with them', but their eyes were kept from recognizing Him, 'their eyes were holden'. There was a purpose in them not understanding that this was the Lord, and if you look down at verse 31 we see that Luke records: 'their eyes were opened', and then they recognized Him, and He vanished from their sight. Something supernatural was going on for divine purposes, but when their eyes were opened to see, they recognized who He was because He was recognizable. So we believe, clearly, that Jesus was recognized in His resurrection body. If we are going to ever conclude that we will not recognize one another in heaven, we're going to also I believe, by inference, have to conclude that, therefore, if that's the case, we'll not recognize Christ either. That is absolutely unthinkable, that the Christian should enter heaven and not recognize Jesus Christ his Lord!
Now we want to bring Paul to the witness stand for a moment or two, and ask him: 'Will we know one another in heaven?'. I believe he gives us the answer in many places, but we'll look first of all at 1 Thessalonians chapter 2 and verse 19. So if you turn with me, not the passage we read but two chapters before it, Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 2:19: 'For 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? For ye are our glory and joy'. Paul also, in 2 Thessalonians 2:1, speaks in the same sentiment, and says: 'Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand'. He speaks of our gathering together unto Christ, and in 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 surely Paul is inferring, meaning that he hoped to recognize his converts from Thessalonica? That was his hope, his joy, his rejoicing: that he would be gathered with those he had led to Christ, with Christ, in glory.
Now 1 Thessalonians 4, that we read together from verse 13, also speaks of a gathering together in verse 17: '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' - to be caught up together, for us to be ever with the Lord, it implies the knowledge of being with one another in heaven. Let me remind you of the context of 1 Thessalonians chapter 4. The background to it is the perplexity and distress of these believers. They were concerned about their dead loved ones, and what would happen to them if they died before Christ came again - is that the end? Paul is saying: 'No, it's not the end, for when Christ comes the dead shall rise first, and then we that are alive and remain will be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air'. Now let me ask you: what comfort would that truth be if these words didn't mean that these troubled believers would recognize their loved ones who had died in Christ? I mean: how would they know if they were OK if they are unrecognizable at the second coming of Jesus?
Of course, it makes a nonsense of the passage to infer such a thing. Paul's point is not: 'Do not sorrow hopelessly as others because your loved ones are at rest', or, 'Your loved ones are free from pain', or, 'Your loved ones are in glory with Christ' - no, that's not his point! His point is: 'Do not sorrow hopelessly because you're not parted forever, you will see them again when Christ brings them with Him at His return'. That's his point! That's why he says in verse 18: 'Wherefore comfort one another with these words', and comfort comes from the prospect of reunion. The comfort of reunion is nonsensical without mutual recognition! So here is the truth, it's found in Christ, it's found in Paul: that the moment we meet our loved ones who have gone to glory before, we shall at once know them, and they at once will know us.
Now that ought to increase our anticipation of heaven! Let me say tonight - and I want to release you, in a spiritual sense, from any feeling of guilt, or that it's wrong to look forward to meeting your loved ones in glory, that is pious nonsense! For God has made us relational creatures, to love each other, and God has given us in His word this hope of meeting, a reunion, a recognition in glory that would put heaven in our hearts because our loved ones are already there. Don't despise that, it's a gift from God.
Graham Scroggie put it well when he said: 'If I knew that never again would I recognize that beloved one with whom I spent more than 39 years on the earth, my anticipation of heaven would much abate. To say that we shall be with Christ and that that will be enough is to claim that there we shall be without social instincts and affections which mean so much to us here. Life beyond cannot mean impoverishment, but the enhancement and enrichment of life as we have known it here at its best'.
Now that leads on well to our second question that evolves out of the first. In the answering of this second question we'll find more evidence, I believe, for why we will know one another in heaven as we consider 'How will we know one another in heaven?'. Now the first question was the issue of recognition, the second of 'How we will know one another' is the issue of relation - how will we relate? What relationship will we have with those we recognize from this earth? Now is Graham Scroggie correct in what he said? Let me remind you of his last statement, he says: 'Life beyond cannot mean impoverishment, but the enhancement and enrichment of life as we have known it here at its best'. I believe he is right, this is the reason why - let me remind you of something very important that we learned in previous weeks. We learnt that God has prepared for us a new heaven and a new earth that will not be realised until the Lord Jesus comes, it's accounted in Revelation 21 and 22. But we saw that God, in bringing the new heaven and the new earth to reality, does not erase history as we have known it. He doesn't wipe the slate clean and destroy His old creation, but we found that it's important to realise that God is redeeming the old, it has all been bought in the shed blood of Christ. But this is my point: the old is not destroyed, but the word of God says the old is made new, it is redeemed.
I think I said in previous weeks that heaven is not a place of unfamiliar things, but heaven is a place of familiar things made new. We saw the physical description of heaven, and how God has given us some clues around in our own creation as to what heaven will be like. Now here is the big issue: does this apply to our friends and our family who have gone before us? Is history erased as far as it is concerned with how we knew them down here on earth? Now let me say that we're going to seek to answer, biblically, some of these questions, and as we answer each one we will find that a new question arises, or questions arise, out of each answer, and we'll seek to answer them as we go along.
The first question is: what happens to marriage and the marriage relationship that we have known on the earth? If we say that we will recognize our loved ones in heaven, then we will recognize those who we were in marriage partnership with on the earth. Now, that may cause problems in many folks' minds, and it certainly did in the minds of the Sadducees. If you turn with me back to Matthew 22, in verse 23 and following they cite a principle that Moses spoke of in Deuteronomy 25, which was the Levirate marriage: that was that if your brother died and was married, you had to marry your brother's wife - this is Old Testament law - and raise up a seed to his name, a family. That was the Levirate marriage, and the Sadducees presented this hypothetical scenario to the Lord Jesus of a woman who had been married many, many times. They asked: 'In the resurrection, whose wife shall she be, for they all had her?'.
Now let's see what Christ does teach in this passage. First of all, He does teach that men here, in gender sense, those who were men on the earth will still be men in heaven. He also teaches that women who were women here on the earth will be women in heaven. What He definitely does teach, without any dispute, in a negative sense is: there will be no marrying nor giving in marriage in heaven. He says that in that way we will be like the angels, as they were from the creation, they did not procreate, and they did not give and take in marriage. Now we must answer the question: if there is continuity between the old earth and the new earth, the old heaven and the new heaven, and God does not erase history, and God does not bring unfamiliar things to bear in heaven that we have not known on earth, and He doesn't do away with the old but renews the old to make all things new, why is there no marriage in heaven? Now let me answer it very simply, and then I will explain my answer. The reason why there will be no marriage in heaven is: there is no need for it. There's no need for it!
Now bear with me tonight: remember that in previous weeks we pointed out that earth is the shadow of heaven, not vice versa, earth is the shadow of heaven. So the Tabernacle and the Temple that God gave to mankind, the plans were based on heaven - OK? That's where the idea came from and was given to earth, the same with the family relationship of father and son - it's not given to the Godhead after creation so that we can understand something of how they relate to one another, but they're not really a Father and a Son; no, we found that the fact of the matter is this: they were Father and Son first, and we derive our family relationship from that image that is the Godhead. We saw it tonight again in how we are made in God's image: our understanding of God does not come from how we are here.
So that is a principle we have laid down: many of the things around us like trees and rivers and meadows, we read about the fact that these will be in heaven - but the real thing is not so much here, this is only the shadow, but the real, the truth is in glory and will be in the new heaven and the new earth. Now that's important - why? Turn with me to Ephesians 5, we find that marriage falls into the same category as these things - what am I talking about? Shadows, figures of the true. Paul tells us in Ephesians 5 and verse 31 and 32: 'For this cause', speaking of marriage, 'shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church'. So right away Paul is telling us that God's purpose in instituting the marriage relationship at the very beginning of creation was that we would understand the relationship between Christ and His redeemed church. In other words, marriage was a shadow, or if you like a signpost, relating to a greater relationship which is the relationship of the Christian, the church, with their Bridegroom, Christ Jesus.
Now a signpost becomes unnecessary when we reach our destination. You see, marriage, as we have known it down here on earth is a copy, it is an echo of the true, ultimate marriage that will take place at the marriage supper of the Lamb when Christ, the Bridegroom, is wed to His bride, the church. The purpose of earthly human marriage for us down here is in order to point us to that day, and even prepare us for that day in heaven. Now, listen carefully to what I'm saying tonight, because perhaps that truth bothers you? I can understand why that might be the case, but perhaps the reason why it bothers you is that from this fact that marriage won't be needed any more, a lot of Christians make wrong conclusions from that fact. You must listen to this if you're not going to misunderstand what I'm saying tonight. You're sitting here saying: 'I love my wife', and, 'I love my husband' - maybe they are deceased and gone to heaven. When people hear and read Matthew 22, they get distressed, and they make the false assumption that this must mean that we will be more distant in heaven than we were on earth with our loved ones, husband and wife. Now listen to me: there is nothing in Scripture that infers such a thing, in fact the opposite is taught - that we will be closer to one another in glory! There is nothing that takes away from the fact that in this lifetime, in this earth, you and your spouse were married, and you invested so much of your lives in each other. Just because Jesus says the institution of marriage will end, having served its purpose, it does not mean that you will lose that deep relationship in glory. Far from it: Christ, nor the Apostles, nor any New Testament Scripture hints that the deep relationships between married people on the earth would end. Marriage might end, but the deep relationships do not, I believe.
Now let me illustrate this for you, and it was illustrated for me in a book - not that this relationship will end, but rather think of it like this: you will gain a fuller, more meaningful relationship in heaven. Here's how this chap illustrates it: in our lives here on earth two people can be business partners, or perhaps golf partners, or any kind of partner you like. But perhaps the day comes when they're no longer business partners, they go their separate ways, or they join different golf clubs, or move house and can no longer meet together on a regular basis. Just because those two individuals are no longer business or sporting partners, does that mean the friendship ends? Does it? Far from it, indeed the relationship that was built on that partnership might even develop, and may even carry into a permanent friendship and partnership that goes on and on into a deeper sense, more than they could have imagined. Now I do admit that it is unusual for God to replace what was His original creation, but there's one thing from Scripture I believe that is absolutely certain: when God does replace something from His original creation, He always replaces it with something far better! Always!
Listen, there are a lot of questions, and I mightn't answer them all for you tonight, but there's one thing that I want you always to keep in your mind when you are seeking to find answers from the scriptures regarding heaven, and it's enshrined in Psalm 17 verse 15 where David says: 'As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake in your likeness'. You will be satisfied - listen now - with how you relate to your husband or your wife in heaven, even though marriage as an institution, as we have known it, will be dissolved. In other words, listen: there is nothing to worry about, nothing. Don't let the devil hammer you, or stupid Christians who don't know any scripture related to it cast doubt on your mind. Hang on to that verse: 'We will be satisfied'.
What about someone who has had several spouses - let's not avoid the question from Matthew chapter 22. Now listen: you won't have several spouses in heaven, though the relationship that we have had with one another it continues, the marriage does not. That means that that relationship will be retained in eternity, but what we always have to keep in our mind is that we will be perfect, all of us will be perfect in how we relate to one another - whether they were a spouse, or spouses, how they relate to each other - indeed the implication of heaven is we will relate with an ever deepening relationship to everybody in heaven. Now listen to what I'm saying: that doesn't erase everything that you have known in your lifetime with your loved one - far from it, it makes it deeper, it makes it more meaningful. Indeed, it is more fulfilled, it is going to be fuller than ever! Those words of Paul should help anyone here tonight: it will be very much 'far better'. So if you're worried you'll lose anything that you knew when down here on earth with your loved one, forget it! You ain't seen nothing yet! What you will know with them and enjoy with them through all eternity in ever deepening relationship, that's ahead of you.
Now, what about difficult relationships on earth? I'm not so naive, and I hope you're not either, to think that everybody wants to relate as they did on earth to those who are in heaven. We laugh, but there are many broken hearts, lifetimes of twisted family relationships even in Christian marriages. Now listen to this, this is wonderful: for in heaven, neither we nor our family members will ever cause us any pain again! Our relationship will be harmonious! What we've longed for, as Jonathan Edwards put it: 'No inhabitant of that blessed world will ever be grieved with the thought that they are slighted by those they love, or that their love is not fully and fondly returned' - better by far! Isn't that wonderful?
What about family then? Will it continue? Well, let me turn you to Ephesians 3 - and I may have to go over time here tonight, I hope you'll not mind - Ephesians 3:14, Paul says: 'For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named', another version puts it like this, 'From whom every family in heaven and on earth is named'. Now, Christians here in this verse are called a family, the reason being that God is their Father, and they relate to one another as brothers and sisters, and true believers in Christ, by faith alone, are the children of God - that's why we pray: 'Our Father, who art in heaven'. Now we have already learned, and I want you to carry this with you in everything we look at: earth is the shadow, heaven is the substance, and the family that we know down here is a shadow of the great family of God that we are going to know up in glory. We will know our families, and we will relate to them as we've related to them down here, but it will be in fulfilment that is far greater - not so much separate families dotted all over the place, but one great family of God! So we are not losing anything, but we are gaining everything!
Now, in saying that, when we die, one of the few things that we can carry into heaven is our friendships and our relationships with people down here on the earth. Randy Alcorn puts it like this: 'Nothing will negate or minimise the fact that we were members of families on the old earth'. I don't know whether it's good news or bad news for you, but your relatives are always going to be there - but the blessing is: we're all going to be one family. We're all going to be perfect, and we're going to be satisfied, and it's going to be better by far - now hold on a minute! You're missing something. What about the loved ones who won't be there? I haven't got time to go into that one, but one thing is sure - and I want you to hold on to this if you have loved ones without Christ - hell will never have power over heaven. None of hell's miseries will ever veto any of heaven's joys. Whatever we can know, or will know, or will remember, that will not happen!
So often we focus on unanswered questions, and they are often the ones that are negative in nature, but if we only started to think about the immensely positive implications of the fact that we will recognize one another in heaven, and we will relate to the whole family of the redeemed in heaven! It's mind blowing, because part of the enjoyment of heaven is having company to enjoy it with! That's why nobody ever goes to Disney World on their own - having said that, I do know one person who went on their own! - most people want to go and see the smile on the kid's faces, and to say: 'Did you see that? Did you hear that? Did you experience that?'. Why? Why do we want company when we have a wonderful experience? Because it enhances it when it is shared with another! That's what heaven will be like! Jesus said it, listen to Matthew 8:11: 'I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven'.
Now that's implying that they'll sit down to dinner together. Why do people sit down at dinner tables? Well, in the Middle East culture dinner was not only about good food and good drink, but it was also a time to build relationships, it was a time to talk together, to tell stories with one another. Who will we be talking with and relating with? Imagine this! Abraham! Isaac! Jacob! The great patriarchs, the prophets, the apostles, the great saints of the ages, the martyrs, the reformers - we will relate to them! Who's your favourite read? Is it Spurgeon or Tozer? I'm looking forward to striking up a bit of a friendship, maybe, with old C.H. or A. W. - this is what heaven will be like! Developing friendships with them, asking them questions: 'Paul, see that verse, I've spent a lifetime over that, what do you mean?'. We will relate, but it's something more precious than this: who else will we relate to? We will develop old relationships that were underdeveloped. Did you hear that? Old relationships that were underdeveloped, and even undeveloped, maybe in family - remember David, his child that he conceived with Bathsheba in adultery was very ill. David went to prayer and fasting, and then it died, and we read that David said in 2 Samuel 12:23: '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'. Now some people say he was talking about the grave, but I beg to differ because whatever this hope was that David had of going to this child, it cheered him! It dried his tears! It caused him to stop fasting! Because he knew he would meet him again!
Some of you have had infants who have died, and young children, and I believe the Bible indicates that they are in glory - not because they are innocent, they were sinners, but because of the mercy and grace towards children that we find in the Bible and in the ministry and life of our Lord Jesus Christ. Perhaps what it will be, I don't know what age they will be now, but what will it be perhaps to get to glory, and children you have never known will take you by the hand and show you round the premises? Old relationships that were undeveloped, or maybe you will develop new relationships in heaven that you never had. What am I talking about? Imagine how glorious it will be for grandchildren and grandparents, or great-grandchildren and great-grandparents, who never knew each other to enjoy the youth of heaven around the cities, and the fields, and the hillsides, and the waters of the new heaven and the new earth. This is what it's going to be!
Maybe you're here tonight and you were robbed of a parent early in your childhood. Listen to me: if you are saved, and they have gone asleep in Jesus, you will have all eternity to catch up! That's what it will be! The tragedy of a father dying before a daughter's wedding - how often has that happened - but there he is in glory, if he's saved and washed in the blood, and he'll have another wedding with you, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb - and he'll not miss it! What it will be to walk together, to marvel together, to praise the Lord together with those who have been close by flesh, but who we have never really known.
What if you weren't able to have children on the earth? This is a taboo subject that we fear to mention, but it's the heartache of many a soul. Do you know what I believe the Bible indicates, because we will be satisfied? The relationships that we have not had on this earth to meet needs that we have had on this earth, whether it's children or whether it is someone to share love with us, we will have an opportunity to invest those emotions and sentiments in a perfect way in heaven with that great family of God's people. I don't know exactly how God is going to do it, but whatever cravings are in your breast for parental care, to fulfil that aching pain, it will be healed - that's what the Bible says - however it will be solved, we shall be satisfied. By-and-by the deepest heartache, the deepest pain will be mended.
Maybe you have never had a parent that you could trust on the earth, well there'll be plenty of trustworthy parents all around heaven that you can look up to. Then there are others who have been separated from children or parents because of the call of the Lord on their life, they've gone to serve the Lord somewhere. A young visiting missionary in Eastern Europe was asked the question: 'Isn't it hard being so far away from your children?', they were grown up at the time, 'You're missing important events in their life, and your grandchildren'. The missionary said: 'Sure, but in heaven we'll have all the time we want together'. Is that how we think? Do you know what heaven is? It is many things, but one thing it is: it's a big wad of eternal compensation, it is time for things to be made up, lost time restored, lost relationships restored, lost desires and fulfilments and satisfactions restored. That's why Jesus said: 'Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets'.
Compensation is ahead, child of God. That's what Paul meant in Romans 8:18: 'I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed in us'. This is how Martin Luther put this compensation: 'I have held many things in my hands and I have lost them all, but whatever I have placed in God's hands, that I still possess'. So it is not true that there'll be no family in heaven, it's not true that we won't recognize them in heaven. It's not true that we won't relate to them in heaven with the same depth of relationship, though marriage will not be there. On the contrary, there will be one great family, and the blessing of it is this: none of us will ever be left out, every one of us will feel at home, and every time we see someone in heaven it will be a great family reunion. Never again should we wonder if we'll see those saved loved ones again in heaven.
Can I finish by quoting to you an excerpt of a sermon J. C. Ryle gave to his own flock on this very subject, and this is what he said: 'Those whom you laid in the grave with many tears are in good keeping. You will yet see them again with joy. Believe it! Think it! Rest on it! It is all true! There is something unspeakably comforting, moreover as well as glorious, in this prospect. It lights up the valley of the shadow of death. It strips the sickbed and the grave of half their terrors. Our beloved friends who have fallen asleep in Christ are not lost, but only gone before. These eyes of ours shall once more look upon their faces. These ears of ours shall once more hear them speak. Blessed and happy indeed will that meeting be, better a thousand times than the parting. We parted in sorrow, and we shall meet in joy. We parted in stormy weather, and we shall meet in a calm harbour. We parted amidst pain and aches and groans and infirmities, we shall meet with glorious bodies, able to serve our Lord forever without distraction - and best of all, we shall meet never to be parted, never to shed one more tear, never to put on mourning, never to say goodbye and farewell again. Oh, it is a blessed thought that the saints will know one another in heaven!'.
Remember, child of God, whatever your question is: we shall be satisfied by-and-by.
Let's bow our heads. Will you be there by-and-by? There are people not saved in our meeting tonight - you won't be there without Christ's righteousness. It comes alone by faith in His blood. It's time you were saved, that you might have this confidence.
Lord, bless us on our homeward way. Thank You for everything that we have in Christ Jesus, and may it put a leap in our step and a smile on our face, even though we sorrow, to know that there is a comfort that one day there will be reunion, recognition and relationship because of Him whom, having not seen, we love. Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the fifth recording in his 'Glimpses Of Glory' series, entitled "Will We Know One Another In Heaven?" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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