Will We Know Each Other in Heaven?
Do people interact in heaven the same as they do on Earth? Will we know our loved ones there?

Katie asks: Hello, I was wondering, there are many people out there writing books and claiming to know what the Bible says. I know not all of these people can be wrong, but I want to know how to be discerning in my decisions about what is true. I know some that claim to be telling the truth could be false. Yet I still wonder about this. I am 22 years old and a couple months ago I went through a depression and became very afraid of death and not knowing if in heaven we would still know, love, and spend time with people we love dearly from earth. I found that reading the Bible confused me and I became more and more afraid. I leaned heavily on my family as they are strong Christians and they told me to read / listen to things by the Bible Answer Man I also found out about the book Heaven by Randy Alcorn. I have been reading these along with studying the bible and going to church but I still feel confused about the truth.
Question about A Personal Question: I need help
Motivation - Interest in religion: Interest in Christianity; Fear, anxiety, worry: Depression
Bible view - The Word of God - [question 86, Thursday, 15-Mar-2012]

Hello Katie -- Thanks for writing. You are ok. You are seeking answers in the right places. Don't forget that God is for you. He is not against you. He loves you deeply. In fact, God is crazy in love with you! He won't hurt you, and He won't disappoint you.

Katie asks three questions: (1) what to do about depression, (2) how to discern truth in the Bible, and (3) can we rest assured that we will know our loved ones in heaven? We will look briefly at all three answers.

What to do about Depression

Katie, like millions of other people, has gone through a difficult time of depression and anxiety. This is a tough problem in our world today, and the Bible has much to say about it. Here are some specific, almost mechanical, steps you can take to gain victory over crushing depression. I know from personal experience that they work. And they work fast!

  • See a doctor
  • Praise God
  • Pray
  • Read the Bible
  • Go to church

Another AFTB article on this web site addresses the five steps in detail. To read the article, click to this page.

How to Discern Truth in the Bible

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
- 1 Corinthians 2:14 [KJV]

Reading and studying the Bible is a life-long endeavor. It is the 'God speaks' side of spiritual communication. A committed student spends hours digging in to the Bible, reaping many benefits. But for most people, diligent, heartfelt reading is what we do most.

The verse in the box (I Corinthians 2:14) says that understanding the Bible is impossible without God's help. That is, the Bible must be spiritually discerned to be useful. Spiritual discernment requires that God has access to your heart.

Katie, get alone some place and talk with God. Tell Him that you realize that you have made mistakes (that is, you have sinned) and have not lived up to His holy law, the 10 Commandments. Purpose in your heart to stop sinning as best you can, and give God permission to invade your life personally. On the basis of Jesus' blood, which was shed on the cross for you and for the whole world, God will forgive your sins and create a new life for you and a new heart in you. It is God who supplies the spiritual discernment you desire. Ask Him for it. Even if you have talked to God about this in the past, keep talking. Remember the Apostle Paul tells us to Pray without ceasing [I Thessalonians 5:17], and prayer is talking to God.

communicating with God
Communicating with God involves three things: praising His wonderful attributes, praying to Him about things we understand, and listening to Him by reading the Bible. In all these things God's Spirit communicates with our spirits on a heartfelt level (see Galatians 4:6)

If you are unsure or uneasy about the roles of sin and salvation in your life, we invite you to read one or more of our articles on the subject:

- Gaining Heaven and Avoiding Hell
- Baptism and Salvation
- Pets in Heaven

For more information about exegesis and hermeneutics from a Bible student's perspective, read our articles on interpretation:

- Interpreting the Bible: Who is Right?
- Is the Bible a Pack of Lies?

Knowing Our Loved Ones in Heaven

The Bible has many wonderful things to say about heaven, but it does not say explicitly 'Thou shalt know each other personally in heaven.' You cannot find a single verse that stands by itself and proclaims that everyone will know everyone in heaven, or that you will know your loved ones there. Instead, we have to read and digest several Bible verses and draw this conclusion implicitly.

Yes, Katie, we will know our loved ones in heaven. The Bible says so. Here is how the Bible says it.

First, we realize that we are spiritual beings. We have physical bodies, but we also have God-given spiritual components to our lives. This is clearly seen in one of the foundational passages in Scripture:

Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'
- Genesis 1:26ff [NASB]

Unlike every other creature on earth, mankind is made in the image and likeness of God. This gives us a spiritual component. It is the spiritual component that allows us to fellowship with God Himself, and interact with each other on a level deeper than the physical senses. It is more than mere intelligence and mechanical communication. Godly spirituality rests at the center of our emotions and our thought-life. It gives us moral freedom and will. It gives us the capability to know and love God, and guide our actions and subdue our impulses on the basis of reason, and to rule over nature. It is what distinguishes men and women from animals. Some people believe people and animals are the same, but the Bible -- and common sense -- says otherwise.

In Genesis chapter 1, the Bible presents evidence of our spiritual component by noting our prowess over the animals. In other places, the spiritual aspect of human life is brought out in several other ways, including eternal life.

Second, when we die physically, our spirits live on. In other words, our God-given spiritual component lives forever. This is eternal life. According to the Bible, some people's spirits end up in heaven, while other people's spirits end up in hell. The well-known Bible verse:

We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
- 2 Corinthians 5:8 [KJV]

indicates that when our redeemed spirits leave our bodies they immediately enter into the presence of God.

Third, we know and interact with each other now, on Earth, through our bodies and spirits. Presumably, without bodies, we will not interact with each other in the same way we do now. This is conjecture, but it seems plausible that to know our loved ones in heaven they way we know them on Earth, bodies are required, not just spirits.

Eventually, according to God's timetable which no one can predict, the Bible tells us that our bodies and spirits will be re-united in heaven, giving us the ability to love and be loved the way we do on earth, at least to some extent. While we know from Luke 20:35 that people in heaven do not marry, the same passage gives evidence of a great resurrection of the dead when our bodies come back to life.

Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.
- 1 Corinthians 15:51 [NASB]

1 Corinthians 15 (and other passages) tell of a great Day when a mighty trumpet blast will usher in a change to everyone's body. Whether you are dead at the time, or alive, you get a new body. This new body is imperishable, not like our old perishable bodies, and it is equipped for eternal life in heaven. This is a true resurrection day!

The life of Jesus gives us a glimpse into resurrection day in several places. Remember the account of Mary the mother of Jesus at the tomb on the first resurrection day:

But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.
- John 20:11ff [KJV]

Jesus had His new imperishable body. Mary did not recognize him at first, but after Jesus called her by name, Mary knew it was Jesus. Loved ones were interacting on a personal level in a heavenly realm, and we take this to mean that the same thing will happen to all those in heaven some day.

Mary and Jesus at the tomb.
Mary and Jesus talk at the tomb. This is one example from the Bible of people who know their loved ones after death. There are several other examples in the New Testament, such as the Transfiguration in Matthew 17.

In fact, things in heaven will be even more full and complete than we can imagine today. Praise the Lord!

What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror; then we shall see face-to-face. What I know now is only partial; then it will be complete -- as complete as God's knowledge of me.
- 1 Corinthians 13:12 [GNB]

by Paul Richards

Sun, 20-Apr-2014 08:13:48 GMT, unknown: 213335 ABAV/lzwWzjas
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