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When we are in heaven, will we be aware of our loved ones that are not?


The Bible seems to be pretty clear that we will retain full knowledge of who we are, who are families were, and who other people were when we get to heaven (Luke 16:19ff).

As well, it does not seem logical or in keeping with God’s character, that He would “wipe” our memories of either all or part of what makes us who we are; and our relationships and knowing other people are certainly a major factor in that.

There is NO Biblical hint, implication or story that teaches “who we are” will “erased” (except for our sin nature). So given that, I think that it is hard not to conclude that we will know the family and friends in our lifetime that are not in heaven with us.

Having said that, God promises us that we will not cry, or sorrow, or have pain. I believe we will be aware of who did not make it to heaven, but because of God’s comfort and fuller understanding that is not clouded by our sin nature, we will not “sorrow” over it, in the sense that we understand sorrow in this life. It is not possible for us to understand this reality on this side of heaven, but that does not diminish the faithfulness of God’s promise.

The Bible tells us that every person who ends up separated from God will be without excuse, clearly implying that every person had the opportunity at some point to respond to God either through the Gospel, or through the clear revelation of God in creation (Rom 1.20). I don’t see how knowing that those in hell “deserve” to be in hell would alleviate our sorrow, but it does not change the clear teaching of Scripture. Whoever ends up in hell, chose their destiny.

I do not know how it will be possible to not grieve our lost family and friends. I do not believe that God will remove that knowledge from our memories or consciousness; there is no implication in Scripture that God will “wash” our minds of our previous life or knowledge (although the sin nature will be removed).

Apparently, we will be aware (Luke 16:19ff) of family and friends who are not in heaven. But NO, we will not suffer sorrow, tears or pain.

I don’t understand it, but God has promised it and God never fails to keep a promise.

Consider some things about heaven:

  • Most everything we truly love is either in Heaven, or will end up there: our Christian brothers and sisters, our saved family members, Jesus, our Father, the Spirit. (Heb 12:23, 1Pet 1:4, Phil 3:20, Matt 5:12)
  • No tears, no sorrow, no pain, no regret, no sin, no temptation, no unending struggling with your flesh – the battle with sin will be over. You will live in perfect holiness, pure and sin-free for all of eternity and it won’t be a desperate battle to win, it will be the simple nature of our existence (Rev 22:3-5)
  • An eternity of never ending blessing and enjoyment in God’s presence where everyday will be a new day of discovering God’s goodness
  • After a million million million years we won’t be one day closer to the end or closer to exhausting God’s capacity to surprise us with His greatness, creativity or love
  • We will eat and drink for pleasure, not for sustenance (Rev 2:7)
  • Unimaginable beauty and experiences beyond anything we could ever begin to dream of (“no mind has conceived”)
  • We will experience and explore God’s new Heaven and new earth, all remade to perfection by God. If you think there are beautiful scenes on this earth, they won’t compare with God’s recreated Heaven and earth (2Pet 3:11–12)
  • We will be in the direct presence of God the Father and Jesus our Savior… we won’t have to be insecure about our relationship with Him anymore
  • We will have a perfect body that never grows old, is never sick, is never injured or in pain (1John 3:2)
  • It will be a place of perfection, unimaginable beauty and untainted holiness:
    1 Corinthians 13:10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
    Psalm 50:2 Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God will shine forth.
    Revelation 21:27 But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
  • There will be no tears, no pain, no sorrow, no death, no sickness, no hunger or thirst, no tears:
    Revelation 7:17 for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
    Revelation 21:4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
    1 Corinthians 15:26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.
    Revelation 22:2 In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
    Revelation 7:15-16 Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat;
  • Luke 16:19 is the closest thing in Scripture that tells us we may know or “see” those who are lost but the Bible promises of “no pain” and “no tears” are concrete.

So if you find yourself scared or worried about someone who is already deceased and you think they were not saved – don’t be scared or worried, there is no reason to. You can’t change the past, and God will take care of the future.

If you find yourself scared or worried about someone who is still living who might not be saved, then now is the time to do whatever necessary to share the truth about sin and the Gospel with them.