Shall We Know Each Other in Heaven? The Editor's Column

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We are constrained to consider a subject this month which differs from our usual form, but one about which there seems to be considerable misapprehension and confusion among Christians at large. Briefly stated, it is whether or not we shall know each other in heaven. It may astonish some of our readers to know that there is any confusion about it, but if they were asked to set forth from Scripture a solid explanation of the matter, they might be hard pressed to do it.
First, let us have it clearly before us that we are speaking of the time when all the saints will be at home in the Father's house, all in bodies of glory like unto Christ's. The subject of the knowledge of the souls and spirits of those who have already departed from this life to be with Christ is another matter, but the topic which we have chosen concerns not the unclothed state but the clothed state (spoken of in 2 Cor. 5), when we shall have our house which is from heaven—glorified saints in the glory with Christ.
There are not many express statements in Scripture on this subject, but there are enough that bear on it that we should be in no doubt. Perhaps one of the causes of lack of understanding is the supposition that the saints in glorified bodies will be lost in one indistinguishable throng, that all the redeemed will look alike and be alike. A little consideration will dissolve this misconception, for even in this world (which we all recognize as greatly inferior to the heavenly scene) there is an infinite variety without duplication. No two people look or act exactly alike; no fingerprints are alike, not even in all the millions that the United States Bureau of Investigation has on file, no, not in "identical twins." Some such cases have been claimed to exist, but when examined carefully they were shown to differ. Those who have studied the blades of grass, the leaves of the trees, and the snowflakes, tell us the same variation is true. When man makes pins, needles, or other objects, they come out uniformly the same.
Since, then, this creation is stamped by such infinite variety and lack of duplication, why should one suppose that the heavenly scene, "that which is perfect," will be otherwise. The deduction is unavoidable that there will be the same distinctions and personalities evidenced when we in bodies of glory will be with Christ. The "spiritual body" is not going to lack the distinctive individuality that has been in the "natural body." The chapter from which this last is quoted calls attention to various glories, even to saying "one star differeth from another star in glory" (1 Cor. 15:4141There 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. (1 Corinthians 15:41)). How could we suppose that the glorified body—the "spiritual body"—will lack personal identity which this body of our humiliation has possessed?
Were not Moses and Elijah distinguishable when displayed in the glory with Christ on the transfiguration mount? Was this only a mirage? an illusion? No, for Peter says, "we... were eyewitnesses of His majesty" (2 Pet. 1:1616For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. (2 Peter 1:16)), whereby we had the Old Testament prophecy confirmed to us. Moses and Elijah were not phantoms, but the actual men who talked with Jesus and "spake of His decease which He should accomplish at Jerusalem" (Luke 9:3131Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. (Luke 9:31)). They represent the heavenly side of the coming glory, just as Peter, James, and John in natural bodies portrayed the earthly side of the kingdom. Furthermore, Moses and Elijah were not angels, nor did they appear as angels, for "there talked with Him two men, which were Moses and Elias." Another point to discover here is that even those in natural bodies-Peter, James, and John -needed no introduction to those in glorified bodies, although they had never seen them on earth.
Another scripture that deals with this subject and is irrefutable in combating the idea that we will not know one another in heaven is found in 1 Thess. 2 "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." vv. 19, 20. Not only will the Apostle Paul know those Thessalonian believers in the glory, and they know him, but they are to be manifestly his joy and crown of rejoicing. They will be there as the evident trophies of Paul's labors at Thessalonica. And if this is true of the saints at Thessalonica, is it not to be true of all the saints who were saved through Paul's labors? Why should only the saints in one locality be singled out for this place? Surely it will be so in all of Paul's labors, and if of Paul, why not of all the saints who have labored and seen souls saved through their ministry? Is there not a similar thought in John's second epistle, where he says, "Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward"? v. 8. John is speaking of his labors, and he hoped this "elect lady" would go on in the truth as he had taught her, so that he might have a full reward.
This brings us to another point: What about the judgment seat of Christ where all the saints in glory will have their works reviewed by Him who knew and understood all the thoughts, motives, and deeds. We are very poor judges of our own doings, but there is One who knows the thoughts and intents of the hearts. We are to be manifested before Him when we are with and like Christ. The Lord whom we serve is going to reward each one of us according to His perfect wisdom and love. If there is no distinct personality of the saints, who is there to reward? and what is there to reward? Furthermore, there will be rewards that will be bestowed in common with other believers. This would necessitate the knowledge of each other.
There will be rewards that will be distinctly personal and individual, as with the stone in which there will be a new name which no one will know but the one receiving it (Rev. 2:1717He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it. (Revelation 2:17)). This will be for some personal devotedness to Christ that no one else knew of, and it will receive His private commendation-a beautiful thing to anticipate as of something personal between the individual and the Lord. But then there are those who will be made pillars in that day; that is, something that stands out for all to see. Surely the rewards will be commensurate, with the devotedness to the Lord, and according to the trials that made it difficult. And in Rev. 3:99Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. (Revelation 3:9) the Lord commends some who in great weakness held fast to His Word and did not deny His name. He says to these, "I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee." Has this taken place yet? Will there not be a public acknowledgment of His approval of those who were faithful in the "day of small things," even though they were despised at the time by others? He is to make it plainly evident that they had His approval. There is a similar thought in the last book of the Old Testament—Malachi. The Lord had a special record made of those who feared Him and thought upon His name in the day of ruin. He says of them, "They shall be Mine... in that day when I make up My jewels." Then it will be seen who pleased God and who did not.
Another side to the judgment seat of Christ must also be considered. There are, sad to say, injustices and evil acts of Christians toward Christians now in this world, many of which have never been cleared or settled, nor will they be short of the coming judgment seat when all of our deeds pass in review before Him. Will there be no redress of such injuries? Will the Lord not make it manifest what He saw and what He knew of the motives which were at work? We will all be happy to have these things cleared away then, for there will be no flesh in any of us. But how could all this take place if the saints in glory were one indistinguishable throng? After the rapture, and, we take it, before the marriage of the Lamb, everything that could possibly sully one atom of glory will have been judged and cleared in His presence. In the light of this, how important it is to judge ourselves now before Him, and to walk with a pure conscience day by clay!
It is sad to witness some Christians being involved in altercations and quarrels with other Christians, and being willing to say, This will have to go to the judgment seat of Christ. Should we not judge it before the Lord NOW and, where necessary, before our brethren too; and, if it should be done, make restitution now? It is a solemn thing for Christians to allow difficulties with other Christians which remain unresolved until the day of Christ.
Was it only for the Israelites that God said, as the end of the wilderness came into view: "Thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness"? Deut. 8:22And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. (Deuteronomy 8:2). Is there not an application for us as we too near the end of the wilderness journey? Shall we not review all His ways with us? and shall they not magnify His grace and His goodness? Cannot we sing with the poet:
"I'll bless the hand that guided,
I'll bless the heart that planned,
When throned where glory dwelleth,
In Immanuel's land"?
When we behold how His grace cared for us, and brought us safely to Himself, amid all our failures, we shall praise Him as we should.
The story has been told of the eccentric preacher of old, Rowland Hill (of "The Three Bidders" fame), who was one day asked by his wife, "Rowland, do you think we will know each other in heaven?" He replied tersely, "Do you think we will be bigger fools there than we are here?"
Surely we await the coming of "that which is perfect."
"We look to meet our brethren,
From ev'ry distant shore;
Not one will seem a stranger,
Though never seen before.
With angel hosts attending,
In myriads, through the sky;
Yet 'midst them all, Thou only,
O Lord, wilt fix the eye!"