Friday, January 22, 2010

"Will We See Each Other in Heaven?" Yes (General Resurrection and Glorified Bodies)

By Dave Armstrong (1-22-10)

A person on the CHNI forum asked the following questions, and I did my best to provide some sort of answer:

I was reading C. S. Lewis' book A Grief Observed, and he said this (my emphasis):
Unless of course, you can literally believe all that stuff about family reunions 'on the further shore,' pictured in entirely earthly terms. But that is all unscriptural, all out of bad hymns and lithographs. There's not a word of it in the Bible. And it rings false. We know it couldn't be like that. Reality never repeats. The exact same thing is never taken away and given back. How well the spiritualists bait their hook! 'Things on this side are not so different after all.' There are cigars in heaven. For that is what we should all like. The happy past restored.
It came back to my mind when I attended a recent funeral, how odd it is that we talk so much about seeing each other in heaven, but Lewis believed that nowhere in Scripture is that made absolutely crystal clear. The closest I could come to was when David's son died and he said, "I will go to him."

Is there any passage of Scripture that makes it clear that we will see and know each other in heaven?
(I can't believe I have to ask this as it's just so assumed that we will, but I'm also surprised that I can't come up with a verse that makes it sure.) I'm not doubting that we will see and know each other in heaven; it's just that I find it something we have to, in a sense, assume to be true, infer from Scripture, rather than be able to point to a specific verse and see clearly that it's true.

Perhaps there's something in Psalms?
Or... Might there be a theological reason that God did not share this with us in a clear way so that we don't put our hope in seeing each other rather than in seeing Him?

A few thoughts . . .

As I recall, Lewis saw his wife (many folks have probably seen the movie[s] Shadowlands) after she died, returned as a ghost (Catholics are permitted to believe in ghosts). I wrote a paper about ghosts and dreams. It included Lewis' description of that extraordinary experience. It has some relevance to this thread and what heaven will be like, I think:

It's the quality of last night's experience - not what it proves but what it was - that makes it worth putting down. It was quite incredibly unemotional. Just the impression of her mind momentarily facing my own. Mind, not "soul" as we tend to think of soul. Certainly the reverse of what is called "soulful." Not at all like a rapturous reunion of lovers. Much more like getting a telephone call or a wire from her about some practical arrangement. Not that there was any "message" - just intelligence and attention. No sense of joy or sorrow. No love even, in our ordinary sense. No un-love. I had never in any mood imagined the dead as being so - well, so business-like. Yet there was an extreme and cheerful intimacy. An intimacy that had not passed through the senses or the emotions at all.

. . . A Greek philosopher wouldn't have been surprised at an experience like mine. He would have expected that if anything of us remained after death it would be just that. Up to now this always seemed to me a most arid and chilling idea. The absence of emotion repelled me. But in this contact (whether real or apparent) it didn't do anything of the sort. One didn't need emotion. The intimacy was complete - sharply bracing and restorative too - without it.

. . . Once very near the end I said, "If you can - if it is allowed - come to me when I too am on my death bed." "Allowed!" she said. "Heaven would have a job to hold me; and as for Hell, I'd break it into bits." She knew she was speaking a kind of mythological language, with even an element of comedy in it. There was a twinkle as well as a tear in her eye. But there was no myth and no joke about the will, deeper than any feeling, that flashed through her.

(A Grief Observed, Toronto: Bantam Books edition, 1961, 85-88)

On seeing each other in heaven, I would say, "sure!" We are to be resurrected and have glorified bodies:

Isaiah 26:19 Thy dead shall live, their bodies shall rise. O dwellers in the dust, awake and sing for joy! . . .

Matthew 22:29-30
But Jesus answered them, "You are wrong, because you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God. [30] For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven."

Matthew 27:52-53
the tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, [53] and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

Luke 14:14 . . . You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.

Luke 20:35-36 but those who are accounted worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, [36] for they cannot die any more, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.

John 5:21, 25 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. . . . [25] "Truly, truly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live."

John 5:28-29 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice [29] and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.

John 6:39-40 and this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day. [40] For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 11:24 Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day."

Acts 23:6, 8
But when Paul perceived that one part were Sad'ducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, "Brethren, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees; with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead I am on trial.". . . [8] For the Sad'ducees say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit; but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.

Acts 24:15 having a hope in God which these themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.

Romans 4:17 . . . God . . . who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.

Romans 6:5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

Romans 8:11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you.

Romans 8:16-17
it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, [17] and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (cf. 8:30)

Romans 8:21-23 because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. [22] We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; [23] and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

1 Corinthians 6:14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.

1 Corinthians 15:12-13, 16 Now if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? [13] But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; . . . [16] For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised.

1 Corinthians 15:22-23, 26, 32 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. [23] But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. . . . [26] The last enemy to be destroyed is death. . . . [32] What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." (cf. 15:29, 35-36)

1 Corinthians 15:37-55 And what you sow is not the body which is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. [38] But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. [39] For not all flesh is alike, but there is one kind for men, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. [40] There are celestial bodies and there are terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. [41] There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. [42] So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. [43] It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. [44] It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. [45] Thus it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. [46] But it is not the spiritual which is first but the physical, and then the spiritual. [47] The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. [48] As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. [49] Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. [50] I tell you this, brethren: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. [51] Lo! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, [52] 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 shall be changed. [53] For this perishable nature must put on the imperishable, and this mortal nature must put on immortality.
[54] When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." [55] "O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?"

2 Corinthians 4:14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.

2 Corinthians 5:1-4 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. [2] Here indeed we groan, and long to put on our heavenly dwelling, [3] so that by putting it on we may not be found naked. [4] For while we are still in this tent, we sigh with anxiety; not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
Philippians 3:10-11 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, [11] that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Philippians 3:20-21
But our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, [21] who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself.

1 Thessalonians 4:14-16 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. [15] For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. [16] For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel's call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first;

2 Timothy 2:18 who have swerved from the truth by holding that the resurrection is past already. They are upsetting the faith of some.

Hebrews 6:1-2 Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, [2] with instruction about ablutions, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.

Hebrews 11:35 Women received their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, that they might rise again to a better life.

1 John 3:2 Beloved, we are God's children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

Revelation 20:5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection.

We know something about glorified and resurrected bodies from Jesus' post-resurrection appearances. He was seen by men, who could touch Him (Doubting Thomas) and even ate fish. The Transfiguration is also a related manifestation.

The Book of Revelation is set mostly in heaven, and is filled with visual things:

Revelation 1:17-18 (RSV) When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand upon me, saying, "Fear not, I am the first and the last, [18] and the living one; I died, and behold I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.

Revelation 4:10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever; they cast their crowns before the throne, [these "elders" are considered by most commentators, I believe, to be human beings. John saw them doing things; cf. 4:4; 5:6, 8]

Revelation 5:2 and I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?"

Revelation 5:11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, (cf. 5:14; 7:11; 11:16; 14:3; 19:4)

Revelation 6:9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne; [human beings]

Revelation 7:9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,

Revelation 8:2 Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.

Revelation 20:4 Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom judgment was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony to Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life, and reigned with Christ a thousand years. [human beings again]

Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done. [human beings being judged]

Revelation 21:2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband;

[the fact that heaven itself -- the new Jerusalem -- is described in such strikingly visual terms: see also 21:10-22, suggests that its inhabitants will also be fully visible. They will have glorified bodies. There is no reason I can think of, that these bodies and persons would not be able to be seen by others. Scripture says we will be like the angels and like Jesus in heaven; they are portrayed as being seen there; therefore, by analogy, so will we. And we've already seen proof above, of dead human beings visible to St. John's eye]


Dave Armstrong said...

Very cool. You continue your trademark of providing superb citations. You should put a book of all these together some day!

Amanda said...

Great Blog but I wanted to share some additional passages that I feel can help with the conclusion that yes we will see each other again in heaven and know eachother...

“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side." Luke 16:22-23

"3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus." Matthew 17:3

"17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." 1 Thess. 4:17

Dave Armstrong said...

Thanks Amanda. A blessed Easter to you.