Shall We Know One Another In Heaven?

1 Corinthians 15:35-44


Shall we know one another in heaven? This is a question that preachers are frequently asked, and one often discussed among people, especially Christian people.


Every  generation carries on its quest, to know more about both life and death. Each generation has utilized to the fullest every possible effort to solve the riddles of the life and death.  But death remains a dark and obscure to those seeking to unravel its mysteries aside from the revelations given us in God's holy word.


Biologists give to us scientific explanations, philosophy its rational views, and  our poets  seek to soften the  effects of death, but history continues to testify to the words of Solomon   Ecclesiastes 2:14  “there is one event happens to us all” namely:

27….it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.                               Hebrews 9:27


Let us begin by asking "What is death"?

The terms "life" - "death"  are not easily defined to our complete satisfaction. Though we are  in possession of  life, and shall eventually experience death, and despite the fact that both are manifested all around us, Still it is not easy to define these terms to our satisfaction.


Life as defined in our dictionaries tell us is "a vital force",  an existence", "a way or manner of life". Death is defined as  "a state of being dead", "cessation of existence: "loss of life". So clearly our  dictionaries do not satisfy our desires regarding the meanings of  life and death, they are inadequate, falling far short or our expectations for them.


Thus on this matter as well as all matters relevant to mans origin and destiny, we must turn to the only source “The Bible”. From this source, the most humble and obscure person may learn more regarding both life and death than from biology, philosophy or reading poetry.


Turning to the true Source the word of God, James in a simple but wonder statement, James 2:26 states:


26For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.        


By deduction we discover from this that "Life" is a state or  condition that exists while the "Body and the spirit" are united.  "Death is that state or that results when this condition no longer exists. Death then is the separation of "bodies and the spirits"


Death resulted from Adam's sin. Gen 1:15-17. The penalty of Adam's sin was death. First spiritual death, consisting in the separation from God, which he suffered as soon as he transgressed. Then physical death which occurred as a consequence of being separated from the tree of life.


In view of the fact that death is a  separation, one may die in any sense that he is joined to something then separated.  Death is not a cessation of existence, it is not annihilation, but a separation of body and spirit.


It is said of Abraham  in Genesis 25:8 

8And Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years, and was gathered to his people.


Rachel’s death is recorded in Genesis 35:18-19

18And it came to pass, as her soul was departing (for she died)….  


Regarding the dead son of the widow whom Elijah raised we read:  1 Kings 17:22

22 And the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived. 


Psalms 90:9-10 we read

9For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: We bring our years to an end as a sigh. 10The days of our years are threescore years and ten, Or even by reason of strength fourscore years; Yet is their pride but labor and sorrow; For it is soon gone, and we fly away.


The word "we", is not in the original Hebrew, but would read, " For it is soon gone, and flies away". It, that which is immortal the soul.  At the death of Stephen he utter:  "Lord Jesus, receive my  spirit" Acts 7:59. 


In summary then, in giving up the (ghost) spirit Abraham died.   The departing of Rachel's soul from her body resulted in her death. The child from whom Elijah prayed was dead but revived  only as the soul  of the child returned to it body. Stephen expired as his spirit left, and the days of our years are terminated when that which is immortal flies away.

Pain, suffering, death are all the results of sin. But, many assign a wrong cause to suffering and death in this day, but this is no new problem. While it is true that death, suffering, and all its sorrows entered the world thru sin.... It is not true that all affliction and death are a result of a  particular sin.


The friends of Job were sure that his sufferings were the results of some sin of which they were ignorant. The Jews were particularly obsessed with this idea: In Luke chapter 13:1 they offered this idea to Christ, hear His answer: beginning verse 2


2And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? 3I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.  


With reference to the blind man whose eyes the LORD opened, the disciples inquired: John 9:2,3


Lord who did sin, this man or his parents, that this man should be born blind?Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents:  


So, Jesus answers this question once for all, infirmity and death are not always the consequences of one's personal actions. We must recognize and distinguish the difference  between "the guilt of"  and "the consequences of sin". We suffer the consequences of Adam's sin, but not the guilt thereof.  The apostle Paul writes in Romans 5:12-14


12Therefore, as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death passed unto all men, for that all sinned:-- 13for until the law sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the likeness of Adam’s transgression, who is a figure of him that was to come


Often one asks at some point in our lifetime  "Lord why do these things afflicts me so?" We need to realize  that man's days are filled with troubles. 


1Man, that is born of woman, Is of few days, and full of trouble. 2He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: He fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not. Job 14:1-2


 But that our spirits survives the bodies at death, in a remarkable testimony of this fact again from the pen of the great apostle Paul  these words:   2 Corinthians 5:6-8

12Therefore, as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death passed unto all men, for that all sinned:-- 13for until the law sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the likeness of Adam’s transgression, who is a figure of him that was to come


Brethren this should be our chief aim in life. “to be well-pleasing unto him.


Shall We Know One Another In Heaven?  Is a question far more than just one mere curiosity. Death has or will touch all of our lives. Death, the "impartial grim reaper" invades all our homes and communities taking the lives of husbands, wives, mothers or fathers, brothers, sisters,  and others most dear to us. 


It is no wonder that we yearn for answers and  assurances, of glad reunions with our loved ones after live is over. We know that we shall see them no more in this land  of the living. They have passed beyond this life to return no more.


If there is no future recognition, the moment of parting at the grave site, death becomes the  final hour of separation, for loved ones and families, and on the resurrection day we shall rise, to stand before Christ in judgment, and hear our final destiny pronounced.  If there is no recognition, we shall stand there among strangers, with our memories obliterated, much like a formatted hard drive on our computer, no knowledge at all. Our memories of any earthy ties, shall be obliterated, and we shall stand there and as strangers we shall enter heaven and so live forever and ever.   Our hearts shrink away from this idea, 


Brother Guy N. Woods in a sermon on this very topic  points out     If a careful study of the scriptures should lead to such a conclusion, it would greatly altar our conception of heaven. We are unwilling to accept the conclusion that heaven will be a place peopled with utter strangers, that  all memory will  be gone and that we shall never again be privileged to  see and know those we loved a while and lost”.

(Questions and Answers volume II pg 287-289)


Beloved, our ties of affection go beyond  the grave. The granite stones, the flowers that cover the graves testify to our love and memory of those gone before. The doctrine of Incarnation, it seems to me attests to the fact that  we  are unwilling to believe that the grave is final regarding  recognition and memory. But that we will finally be raised to join our family and friends


Beloved it is not an empty dream, and we are not left without comfort or hope in this matter, for comfort and  hope both abound for us in the sacred word of God. We may confidently  expect to see and converse again with those we love, where friendships and handclasps, will be warmer, and sweeter than any we've ever experienced, where sorrow, and death and separations are unknown.


Do  the Scriptures give any  evidence of future recognition of our loved ones?   Yes…. The evidence are so abundant, and the references are numerous. Therefore we must pick and choose for this time  allotted. 


By this I do not meant that there is  a formal announcement or a  direct statement. We must depend on logical conclusions a necessary inference based upon what is stated in the scriptures,  but is no less credible.


First, Paul expected to experience impending joy in life to come because of faithfulness of those whom among whom he had labored to and  preached to  (Philippians 4:1).  They were his joy, his crown those whom he fondly and confidently expected to afford him with the occasion for rejoicing..... in the day of the Lord Jesus  (2 Corinthians 1:14). He asked in 2 Thessalonians 2:19-20


19For 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? 20For ye are our glory and joy. 


But what would be the cause of such rejoicing? Again he answers: 2 Corinthians 4:14

14knowing that he that raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also with Jesus, and shall present us with you.


 Who among us could believe that these who were to be raised and presented with Paul, would be total strangers to Him? That there would  have no recollection of Paul, and what he had done for them.  Surely the words "and shall present us with you" must imply more than a gathering of total strangers.


In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 Paul writes:

13 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. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 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. 16 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: 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. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.


In this passage Christians are encouraged to find hope and comfort in knowing our loved ones gone on,  will return with Christ. How could there be hope, or comfort in knowing  that we would be that knowing we would have no memory of those coming with the Lord in the clouds.  How may I find hope in this passage if there is no memory of loved ones, and I will be spending eternity with  total strangers?  No comfort beloved in that.


The doctrine of rewards and punishments in the scriptures are taught so clearly, it implies a conclusion of future recognition. In the field of criminology one is regarded worthy of punishment for crimes committed, if he is proven to be mentally competent of the crimes committed. But if incompetent, the  processes are immediately stopped, and he is committed to a home  for the insane.


Are we to assume the Father will disregard our competency  and administer punishment to a person who has no recollection of acts committed? The scriptures clearly teach that we will be in possession of our memories..   & Matt 7:22


22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy by thy name, and by thy name cast out demons, and by thy name do many mighty works?  


The Lord's teaching of the Rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) … whether parable or not, supplies us with a glimpse of  the state of the dead, it lifts the curtain of the future, and enables us to look for a moment on the  scenes beyond death.


The consciousness which each of the characters possessed, their awareness, of  their surroundings, and the memory that they retained. All couched in the words "Son Remember",  and  is  a necessary inference for all for which we contend.

A phrase of special significance, and relevant to our  study from a passage noted Genesis 25:8


8And Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years, and was gathered to his people.


This phrase, "was gathered to his people", occurs with slight variation in the chronicle of the death of Ishmael Genesis 25:17) of Isaac (Genesis 35:29) of Jacob (Genesis 49:29-33)  Moses and Aaron (Deuteronomy 32:50)


This phrase cannot properly be understood as referring to the burial of their bodies. Moses, for an example was buried in a secret place, "In the valley in the land of Moab," far from the sepulchers of his fathers.. And this was said of Jacob while in Egypt many days before Joseph and sons carried him back into Canaan to be buried with Abraham ,Sarah Isaac, Rebecca; and Leah:  The reference therefore must be to their reunited spirits with their people. 


David grief stricken with the body of his child  unburied said.... "Can I bring him back again?" I  shall go to him, but he shall not return to me" (2 Sam 12:23) David realized he could not bring the child back. The comfort          therefore was the journey he could make one day to the child.


There are  those who objection  to this thought. It is said by them that we will lose our physical characteristics , and recognizable  distinctions. All will be gone and nothing but  our spirits will remain therefore there will  be nothing to recognize.


In response it must be noted that the scriptures certainly teach “a resurrected body”, one that I believe will be recognizable.  


Notice our text for this study, 1 Corinthians 15:35-44


35But some one will say, How are the dead raised? and with what manner of body do they come? 36Thou foolish one, that which thou thyself sowest is not quickened except it die: 37and that which thou sowest, thou sowest not the body that shall be, but a bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other kind; 38but God giveth it a body even as it pleased him, and to each seed a body of its own. 39All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fishes. 40There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory. 42So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: 43it is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: 44it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.


What is the antecedent of the word "it is" in the entire passage? What corruptible and mortal? Not or spirits for they  are neither mortal, or corruptible. Our bodies are all we possess that is both corruptible and mortal, The reference therefore is to the body. Our bodies will be raised therefore and God will give us a body equipped  for eternity as it pleases Him.    


Job gives us this evidence, (Job 19:25-27)

"For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall  stand at the         latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms shall destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God, whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another". Job believed that he as (Job) would see God, that  he would see God in his flesh, (with change implied)  and that it would be Job who would experience this  with his own eyes.


But to set the matter to rest, consider the resurrection of  the Lord's body. "He was the first fruits of them that are asleep." (1 Cor 15:20)  He is the pledge and the token of the resurrection of all the rest of us, and “When he shall appear, we shall be like him” (1 John 3:2).


The body in which Jesus came forth possessed the same distinctive features as the one that was buried. They thrilled to look upon Him, hear His familiar voice. In John 20:15-18 Mary Magdalene recognized Jesus at the tomb after hearing Him speak..  We read this account concerning on of Jesus' appearances to His disciples: 


26And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them. Jesus cometh, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. 27Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and see my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and put it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. 28Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. 29Jesus saith unto him, Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.  (John 20:26-29

Thomas was able to recognize and believe by seeing the nail scarred palms, and by touching the Lord's side. Jesus' resurrected body bore the same distinctive features as the one which was buried.


If then his resurrection is indeed a pledge and the first fruits, a demonstration of the certainty of ours; if we are truly to be as he is does it not follow, that those who knew us before will see us in the same recognized characteristics?


But some see difficulty in accepting recognition on  the grounds, we would know if loved ones. We would know if loved ones were  not there? But what would be the case if we were unable to recognize any of our loved ones in heaven? Would we not spend  our eternity wondering if any of our loved ones were in heaven? Heaven would be a place of anxiety and worry, instead of joy and peace, would it not? Beloved, when the mists are cleared, all imperfections gone  we shall be able to see if one is not there, he did  not want to be there, didn't strive to be there, therefore  doesn't deserve to be there, and we shall be able to accept the decisions of the Righteous Judge, "who doeth all things well".


 This sermon was based upon comments gleaned from Guy N. Woods.