Will I recognize my loved ones in heaven? Will my father be however I want to see him?
We continue our series of answers on heaven. If you have a question, send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Let’s start with the second question, “will my father be however I want to see him?”
I’m not really sure what that means. Every person in heaven will be as GOD wants you to be seen, AS YOU, in your glorified new body when all is said and done.
As a common thread, we continue (in this series of “heaven” questions) to fight the myth that heaven will be something unimaginable, other-worldly and completely foreign to our understanding when the Bible simply does not not paint that picture.
Heaven will be YOU and ME (assuming salvation) as the persons we are – MINUS SIN – in new, incorruptible, eternal, physical bodies (1Cor 5:1-8; Phil 3:20-21) existing forever in the newly re-created heaven and earth, which God will choose to abide in with us in perfect fellowship (Rev 21; 2Pet 3:13; Isa 66:22).
It is a destructive myth that “heaven will be a state of mind where whatever I imagine as heavenly will become so”. No, your father will not be however YOU want to see him. If he is saved, and in heaven, he will be HIM (excuse the grammar) however God wants him to be seen: in his new, perfect, eternal body.
If you are speaking of “personality”, then again, no. We will be who we are, minus the sin nature. Brent will be Brent in perfect holiness, but still Brent. You will be you, your father will be whoever he is – all of us free from sin forever.
God is preparing heaven for US. Not some robot version of us, or some memory-wiped, unrecognizable, changed version of you, me or your father.
Christianity suffers terribly from a wide spread misunderstanding of heaven primarily from poor teaching, and un-confronted myths. Heaven is our final home, when God will rid creation of sin and its corruption by destroying it once for all, and recreating everything touched by sin: the heavens and earth, and our bodies.
So given that, yes, it is both natural, logical and Biblical that you will recognize your loved ones in heaven. Jesus makes that clear in Luke 16:19-31. Here, Jesus specifically names names and tells of actual events. Likewise in Revelation 6, martyrs know who other marytrs are. In Rev 11, 14 and 19 we have groups of people belong to identifiable groups: elders, the 144,000, those not defiled with sexual immorality.
As well, when the final Judgments occur, each person is judged by who they were, and by the works that identify them. It would be illogical to think that we live as one person, get judged for that, and then exist for all eternity as some unrecognizable, or generic “being”.
This whole idea that we will all be white-washed, generic, memory-scraped, spirits attending church for all eternity is a devilish lie that has caused countless Christians to dread heaven, rather than long for it.
Satan has done a masterful job at destroying the joy and the hope we should have in heaven by making it something boring, unimaginable and void of fun and adventure.
If you can imagine people, then you can imagine people in heaven, MINUS SIN. If you can imagine the heavens (stars, space) and the earth, then you can imagine the NEW heavens and earth, perfectly recreated without sin or corruption. If you can imagine beauty, adventure, work, love, joy, relationships… then you can imagine all those things, ONLY PERFECT, with no sin, no pain, no tears, no disappointment.
Throw off the myths and disappointments of this mystical, unknowable, ghostly, boring, tedious “eternal church” version of heaven. I’ve known countless people who have thought “I hope I get to [fill in the blank with some earthly joy] before I go to heaven because then I will have missed out on the best things in life.”
That type of response comes from a TOTAL misunderstanding of what God has prepared for us.
You will be you. I will be me. Your friends, family and every other person there will be THEM – personality, looks, memories, etc. Physically, God will give us all a perfect body and perfect health. Our physical, eternal bodies will be devoid of defect or flaw. Our personalities will be our recognizable personalities, minus sin, minus weakness, minus character flaws.
You will be you, only perfect (not to be confused with all-knowing or all-powerful). You will be you in a perfect, incorruptible body, minus all sin, and it’s effects.
Given that, I will “recognize” everyone that know now, and everyone that I get to know after arriving in heaven. We’ll have all eternity to make as many friends and develop as many relationships as we want!
The REAL, Biblical version of heaven is utterly exciting and when you understand heaven as God presents it, you can’t help but long to get there! The real heaven of Scripture is EVERYTHING WE HAVE EVER LONGED FOR THIS LIFE TO BE THAT SIN HAS RUINED: perfect health, perfect provision, perfect relationships, perfect love.