Christians who set their minds on things above often think about heaven itself. That sounds like a natural thing to do for folks who understand that (1) they are merely sojourners and pilgrims on earth and (2) they will have a wonderful inheritance in heaven (1 Peter 2:11; 1:3,4). I recently have been asked by sincere saints about a few heaven-related matters. Let us take a brief look at them one at a time.
Are those who have left this world “looking down on us,” aware of what is transpiring on earth, and do earth’s activities influence the deceased people’s emotions?
It is not uncommon to hear people remark that as they were facing a particular trial in life, they could feel the presence of a deceased loved one with them. Or, one might attribute his/her success to a loved one looking down on them from heaven and helping them through their endeavor. Maybe someone wants to encourage and comfort a friend who has lost a loved one, so they say, “I am sure that ________ is looking down from heaven right now and smiling when he sees how strong you are.”
In reality, there is nothing in the Bible which would indicate that what you and I do on earth influences the emotions of a person who has left this world. There is nothing in the Scriptures which shows that the dead are aware of what is going on among the living this very day.
When Jesus died, He went to Hades, not directly to heaven (Acts 2:27-31). In Jesus’ story of the Rich Man and Lazarus, those men went to Hades after they left this world, not directly to hell and heaven (Luke 16:19-31). “Yes, but did not the rich man know that he had five brothers on earth who needed to hear a warning about the torment that the unrighteous receive already in Hades?” He was aware that he had five brothers still on earth when he himself died (Luke 16:27,28), but there is no indication that he was aware of their daily routines and doings after he passed away. Lazarus and the rich fellow were conscience after death and could remember their earthly experiences (Luke 16:22- 25), but there is no hint in the Bible that they have knowledge of what is going on “down here” in their absence or that they in any way can influence what takes place on earth.
Consider these thoughts: “For the living know that they will die. But the dead know nothing. And they have no more reward. For the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished. Nevermore will they have a share in anything done under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 9:5,6). While the dead are remembered for a time, and while they can have some influence on earthly affairs via what they did when they were still living on the earth, it is clear that they know nothing about present-day activities on earth and do not have a direct share in what is going on in the world after they leave it.
Why kind of body will we have in heaven? We simply could say that we will have the type of body that the Lord wants us to have, do you not agree?
The Bible says, “So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption . . . It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15:42,44). So, the resurrected child of God will have a body, and the Scriptures say it will be a “spiritual” one.
Our resurrected, heaven-bound body will be a changed one – it will be different from our current, bones-and-blood body. As Paul said in the same letter which we just quoted, “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed . . . and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51,52). Furthermore, our resurrected, heavenly body will be incorruptible and immortal (1 Corinthians 15:53,54). Heaven is an environment that is both eternal and free from corruption, so our God will give us a suitable body for such a place.
Whatever kind of body Jesus now has in heaven, that is the same kind which we will have there. Read these powerful words of encouragement: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body . . .” (Philippians 3:20,21). We will have a glorious body that will be like our Lord’s. Yes, “. . . when He is revealed, we shall be like Him” (1 John 3:2). I cannot wait! How about you?!
Will we recognize one another in heaven? They were not in heaven, but on the Mount of Transfiguration Peter could identity whom Moses and Elijah were, even though those latter two came back from the realm of the departed (Mark 9:5). Again, though it was in Hades and not in heaven, the rich man could recognize Abraham after both of them had left this world (Luke 16:23,24). Jesus said that many will sit down in the kingdom of heaven with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Matthew 8:10). Would that not indicate being able to recognize those three?
After David’s baby boy died, the king stated, “Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me” (2 Samuel 12:23). That sure sounds like David would know his son when he saw him.
— Roger D. Campbell