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  "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." - Mark 16:15 


Bible Facts About Heaven

Dr. John R. RiceBy Dr. John R. Rice


4 - Christians Know Each Other in Heaven    

     Does personality extend beyond the grave?  Do those we love retain those definite, personal characteristics by which we may know them when they go to be with the Lord and leave these bodies of clay?  We answer with perfect assurance: Yes!

    Whatever we have left of human weakness and sin will surely be left behind when at death the soul finds itself in the likeness of Christ.  We shall lose whatever remains of the carnal and sinful nature, while our personalities will remain.  The imperfect will be made perfect.  The incomplete will be completed.  That which is lacking will be supplied.

    Yet those who rejoice in the presence of Christ will be as their loved ones knew them here on earth.  The Abraham who was on earth is still Abraham, but in Heaven! Lazarus, the poor beggar, was sick; now he is well.  he was a beggar; now he is rich.  He was in pain; now he is comforted.  Yet he is the same Lazarus and was instantly recognized by the rich man who looked up from Hell.

    Do the saints in Heaven know each other? Assuredly they do!  In I Corinthians 13:12 the Holy Spirit gives us this inspired statement: "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."
    In Heaven they know each other better than people ever know each other on earth.  On the earth "man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart" (I Sam. 16:7).

    Dear friends and loved ones here often misunderstand us, not knowing the desires and motives of our hearts.  We misjudge because we can see only through a glass darkly.  We may see faces, we may hear words, but how imperfectly these reveal the heart within!

    No one can look at a friend and judge rightly whether he lies or speaks the truth.  Many a time a mother, a father, a wife, a sweetheart, yearns in vain to express the love that is humanly past expressing.  Only in Heaven shall we really know how some people love us.  Only in Heaven shall we know how deep was the penitence of others for sin and how desperately people longed to do right, though they appeared not to try.  Here we see through a glass darkly; then we shall see face to face.

    In Heaven not only shall we know those we knew on earth, but we shall know others.  No one will need to introduce me to Paul, to good Barnabus, to the martyr Stephen or to sweet Mary!

    The disciples recognized Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration.  The rich man in Hell recognized Lazarus and Abraham when he saw them together in Heaven.

    People in the next world - both the saved in Heaven and the lost in Hell - retain all their senses.  Though their bodies are yet in the grave, they see as if they had eyes, hear as if they had ears, speak as if they had tongues and lips.  The rich man in torment SAW Abraham and Lazarus in Paradise.  They HEARD one another speak.  The rich man FELT the torment of Hell.  Lazarus was COMFORTED as sensibly as the man was tormented.

    We ignorantly think that the eye sees.  It does not.  It is the soul that sees, using the eyes for windows.  Human, physical ears do not hear.  They are merely the physical instruments which the soul can use while clothed in these physical bodies.  But the soul can hear without ears.  We say that the tongue speaks: it is not the tongue but the person behind the tongue that speaks.

    These organs of clay in the human body have no senses when their master, the soul, is departed.  God is a Spirit, yet "the EYES of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him" (II Chron. 16:9).  God is a Spirit, yet the voice of God spoke from Mount Sinai "all these words" (Exod. 20:1).

    I say, in Heaven our loved ones who have gone to be with Christ see, hear, speak, sing, rejoice!  Life is fuller, richer, more glorious, more real with the saints in Glory than with the saints on earth. 

    After we have received the witness of the Scriptures, it is sweet to remember the testimony of a multitude of dying saints.  How many times some Spirit-filled Christian on a deathbed has rejoiced, has heard the singing of angels, has seen the Lord Jesus and saints gone on before!  When dying Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, saw Jesus standing on the right hand of God in Heaven, he said, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."  That was not hallucination; that was real.  Before he died, Stephen actually saw Jesus Christ and said so.

    How well I remember when my mother lay dying.  Around the room her husband, children and kin looked on and wept while she urged each to promise to meet her in Heaven.  We did promise we would.  Though less than six years old, I remember how mother asked my cousin to sing and play
How firm a foundation
   Ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith
  In His excellent Word!
     Mother rested wholly on the Rock that day, and it did not tremble beneath her dying feet!  Mother walked through the valley of shadow that day and feared no evil, for Christ was with her!  I remember her happy face, so pale, yet so sweet and beautiful!  I remember the long black braid of hair that lay along her pillow.  Then my mother, filled with the Spirit, looked up and saw clearly what we could not see.  I have never forgotten it:  "I can see Jesus and my baby now!"  Then she closed her eyes, and her body went to sleep; but the angels carried her straight Home to the bosom of God.  She could now hold her dear baby who preceded her, to her heart again!  Mother recognized Jesus.  More than that, she recognized her baby.  I am sure that instantly in Heaven she recognized every saint.

    Multitudes of other dying saints have given their brief testimonies.

    My stepmother's father sang on his deathbed.  He heard the sweet voices of angels and recognized his wife who had preceded him to Glory.  In that brief time when the gates of Glory are left ajar to receive them and before they breathe the last breath, dying saints recognize inhabitants of Glory.

    Thank God, we shall know each other in Heaven!  Heavenly recognition is proved by the Bible and witnessed by the blessed testimonies of those who have looked within the gates.


Contents                                                                                                                                Chapter 5

Published 1940


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