Will We Recognize Friends and Family in Heaven?

by Jack Wellman on August 10, 2012 · Print Print · Email Email

When believers finally reach heaven, will we know our family members?  Will we remember our friends?  What about those with whom we shared the gospel with?  What does the Bible say about who we will know once we get to heaven?

Will We Remember Others in Hell?

One of Jesus’ most powerful stories is that of Lazarus and the Rich Man.  Let’s read the account to see if this gives us any help as to whether we will recognize people on the other side of eternity, even in hell.  It is found in Luke 16:19-31:

“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.  And he called out, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’  But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’  And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house — for I have five brothers so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’  But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’  And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’  He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.

Will we recognize friends and family in heaven?

Oh! What a Heavenly family reunion it will be.

Notice that the rich man had memories of his family as he wanted them to know that there truly is a hell but Abraham told Lazarus that he could not return from the dead to go back and warn his family.  Abraham told him that they have Moses and the prophets, which means that they had the Old Testament — the bulk of the Old Testament is contained in Moses’ writing’s in the first five books and then the major and Minor Prophets.  Not only will those who spend eternity in hell have memories of their friends, family, and acquaintances, they seem to have a passionate desire to warn others of the impending doom of hell.

The Transfiguration

When Jesus revealed his glory to Peter, James, and John, they immediately recognized Moses and Elijah even though they had never even met them.  They knew enough about them that they recognized them. Jesus never introduced them or told the disciples who these men were…the disciples already knew them.  Let’s read the account of the Transfiguration in Matthew 1:1-8:

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.  And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.”  He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified.  But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.”  And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.

When the Scripture said there appeared to them Moses and Elijah there was no mention of confusion as to whom these men were.  Peter said,Lord, it is good that we are here.  If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and Elijah.”  So Peter named them by their own given names.  There is no doubt Peter, James, and John knew who these men were, even after these men were on the other side of eternity.

The God of the Still Living: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

Jesus spoke of these men as still being alive for He said in Matthew 8:11,I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.” God also told Moses that “”I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob” (Ex 3:6).  We could put it this way and still be correct: He is the God of the still living somewhere Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  One day theSadducees (who say there is no resurrection) came to Jesus and questioned Him, asking, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother as next of kin shall marry his wife, and raise up children for his brother.’  Now there were seven brothers with us; and the first married and died, and having no children left his wife to his brother; so also the second, and the third, down to the seventh.  Last of all, the woman died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had married her.” But Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God.  For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God: ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living” (Matt 22:23-32).  Once again, Jesus spoke of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as still being alive and known by name. The Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection but Jesus said of those who had been married that they would neither be married nor be given in marriage.  This indicates that those who are married today will know each other in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Jesus Calls Them by Name in Heaven

Notice that Jesus called Lazarus’ name, also Abraham’s, Isaac’s, Jacob’s, and also Moses (Matt 19:8) and Elijah in His reference to John the Baptist coming in the spirit of Elijah (Matt 11:13-14).  Jesus even mentions the first two humans who were created (Matt 19:4).  In Revelation 2:17 is says,Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.” The important verses here are that we will be given a new name which indicates that we will be known by our old names too.  In fact, our names are written in heaven in the Book of Life and our names are already registered in heaven as we read in Hebrews 12:23 which was written to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven.”

Notice that Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people (his ancestors)” (Gen 25:8).  Also, Ishmael lived a hundred and thirty-seven years. He breathed his last and died, and he was gathered to his people” (Gen 25:17). Jacob was explicit in his instructions about his burial in Genesis 49:29-33, Then he gave them these instructions: “I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite, the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan, which Abraham bought as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite, along with the field. There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried, and there I buried Leah. The field and the cave in it were bought from the Hittites.” When Jacob had finished giving instructions to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people.”  Clearly, Jacob knew that he was going to be buried with his fathers and his relatives.

Numbers 27:12-13 says much the same thing, The Lord said to Moses, “Go up into this mountain of Abarim and see the land that I have given to the people of Israel.  When you have seen it, you also shall be gathered to your people, as your brother Aaron was.”  So both Aaron and Moses will be gathered to their people…and these must be the people who are going to be in the Kingdom of Heaven; those Old Testament saints that are also mentioned in the so-called “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews.  These are named by name:  Moses, Enoch, Noah, Abel, and many others.  They had not at death received the promises but were longing for a better country—a heavenly one in which they would join the other saints (Heb 11:16a) because God has prepared a city for them (Heb 11:16b).  David also knew for sure he would recognize his son who died in infancy when he would see him again some day saying, But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me” (2 Sam 12:23). There is no doubt David will recognize his own son for he spoke expectantly of seeing him again and “going” to him.  This “going to him” is where the child is now.  In 1 Cor 13:12 Paul says, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”  Here Paul says that when we see God face to face, we will know even as we are known!  I had never read that before and it just struck me that Paul would not only know but also be known.

Conclusion

There is so much Scriptural support that we can conclude that we will know our family, our friends, our co-workers, and those who we have shared the gospel within the Kingdom of Heaven.  Oh! What a heavenly family reunion that will be.  What joy to be reunited with our loved ones. We will know them by name and they will know us by name.  The only ones that will be missing are those who have not placed their faith and trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.  So why not share the good news with them…and tell them that they will see them again someday and know them by name in heaven.  There is only one other place that they could possibly go if not to heaven.  Try to take with you as many as you can to heaven by telling them about the only way to get there.  That is Jesus Christ and by Him alone (Acts 4:12).

Do you like these kind of articles?

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Sources:

New International Version Bible (NIV)
THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide

YouTube video “When We All Get to Heaven” by the Bellamy Brothers


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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael August 10, 2012 at 9:44 am

Another Great Article Jack. To know that I will once again see my deceased relatives and friends and know them is quite a beautiful thing. God truely is working through you in your writings.

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Jack Wellman August 10, 2012 at 9:56 pm

Michael, thank you so very much my friend. Just yesterday I heard a Scripture, 1 Cor 13:12 and amazingly, this article came out the same day. It says, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” Doesn’t God have an awesome sense of humor and timing?

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Derek Hill August 10, 2012 at 10:33 am

This was a wonderful article Jack. I have always had doubts and concerns on this issue, but the scriptures you have used cleared this up for me. I can’t thank you enough for this article. The biggest family reunion of all time is going to be a joyful one. Especially with God, our heavenly Father, seated on His throne enjoying the celebration of eternity! You have such a great knowledge of the Bible and God bless you for using it to help others!

In His Name Always,
Derek

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Jack Wellman August 10, 2012 at 9:57 pm

Derek, I’ve got to tell you the same thing that I told Michael. I wish I had included this verse, 1 Cor 13:12 and amazingly, this article came out the same day. It says, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” Doesn’t God have an awesome sense of humor and timing?

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Vhinz August 10, 2012 at 12:16 pm

Just want to ask if this is a Catholic Believer? Thanks

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Jack Wellman August 10, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Hello Vhinz. Thank you for your question. Do you mean was the writer a Catholic believer? No, I am not, although I respect their beliefs. I wondered what does that have to do with whether we will know each other my friend? Just asking with all due respect Vhinz. Thank you for visiting us.

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Pam August 10, 2012 at 7:23 pm

I have read so many your articles and they are all interesting and informing. I am glad I found this because I always wondered whether we would know are mothers or fathers. I was never sure. That makes me feel so wonderful to know that I’ll see everyone again. Thank you

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Jack Wellman August 10, 2012 at 9:59 pm

Pam and Robert, I’ve got to tell you the same thing that I told Michael and Dereck. I wish I had included this Scripture in this article, 1 Cor 13:12 because amazingly, this article came out the same day. It says, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” Doesn’t God have an awesome sense of humor and timing?

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Robert Driskell August 10, 2012 at 9:26 pm

Jack,
This article is an answer from God. Just last night, my wife and I were discussing this exact question: Will we know our friends and family in heaven? Then I come to the WCWTK site today and you have written an article answering our questions. I have never sat down and worked out what the Bible says about this topic, but you’ve answered the lingering questions that I had. I sincerely thank you for this article, Jack. It was God’s perfect timing and your perfect obedience to Him that brought about a huge amount of peace in this family. We’ve lost several loved ones in the past couple of years. Your article has made that loss a whole lot more bearable. God bless you, brother.
Yours in Christ,
Robert

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Jack Wellman August 10, 2012 at 10:02 pm

Very interesting Robert because just yesterday, I heard this Scripture, 1 Cor 13:12 and so wished I had included it in the article because it says, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” Thanks so much brother. I know I will recognize you! Ultimately, Jesus is glorified in the timing of this because this was just asked of me as well at work. Praise God. I also can’t wait to meet our many readers there too: Phishingformen, Cat, Dereck, Chris, Michael..and so many, many more.

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Patti August 10, 2012 at 10:07 pm

I agree with Robert. Thank you for the article and the peace it gave me. What perfect timing.

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Jack Wellman August 10, 2012 at 10:14 pm

Thank you so much Patti. I can’t wait to meet my beloved lost ones and even our readers like you! God bless you my friend.

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Rossa August 13, 2012 at 2:39 am

Nice one indeed Jack, i was not aware of that. Thank you for adding this usefull information. God bless.

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Jack Wellman August 13, 2012 at 2:34 pm

Rossa, thank you so kindly my friend. I wish I had included 1 Cor 13:12 which says, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” Here Paul says that when we see God face to face, we will know even as we are known! I had never read that before and it just struck me as what this article is about. God bless you too.

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paula saldana August 13, 2012 at 1:59 pm

thanks for your beautiful article. My son,23, dead my 2001 was inconverse shall I see him. According to is it possible. thanks for your answer

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Jack Wellman August 13, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Paula, what a touching comment. I am so sorry for such grief you have had to endure. As I told Rossa, I wish I had included 1 Cor 13:12 which says, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” Here Paul says that when we see God face to face, we will know even as we are known! I had never read that before and it just struck me as what this article is about. God bless you too.

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Mr A Cotton August 15, 2012 at 12:21 pm

I am sorry but i always look on the Black side.
I have always wanted to know the answer to this question,but if your brother or sister did not go to heaven,and went to Hell would you be very sad about this. If you are in Heaven you would feel really good,no depression,and know worries thats the way i see Heaven. When you get know that your brother or sister is in Hell what would you feel like. Unless God has created something to stop this?

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Jack Wellman August 15, 2012 at 3:02 pm

I believe that it will be like this. I have had the privilege of performing weddings and then we had the wedding feast or banquet. When we had such a joyful event, not one of us thought of all of the people who are homeless or hungry or destitute, poor, without a job, etc. because of the joy that was set before us. The amazing joy we will have in heaven will leave no room for thinking of others in heaven. But today, this is all the more reason we must share the gospel with those who are perishing. We need to be rescuing the perishing because Jesus gave us the imperative command of the Great Commission (i.e. in Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8) but sadly, only 4% of Christians share their faith actively. It is up to you and I to stop these from perishing and tell others about Christ’s offer of eternal life. When I was young in the Catholic church, not one time did I ever hear or see someone witness to the lost. Not that some Catholics don’t witness, but most evangelicals do not either. How said.

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Chris August 16, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Please pray for my family. Many of them want nothing to do with God. My son, who once loved God when he was young, now says that he doesn’t even believe if God exists. We are going through so many problems, but none are as important as their salvation. I don’t want them to go to hell.

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Jack Wellman August 16, 2012 at 3:50 pm

I will Chris. What a good thing that you care enough to save them. You son may not believe in God but God believes in him. Ask your son if he can prove that God does NOT exist. This is impossible to do. But most of all, pray for the Holy Spirit to open his eyes to the reality of God and Jesus Christ. I will join with you my friend. In the Search Box you can search for an article that, I believe, is called “How to Witness to Family” and this will show you how you can share your faith using the Bible and praying in the Holy Spirit for God to save them for only God can change the heart (Prov 21:1) and there is power in the Word of God (Acts 1:8).

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Mr A Cotton August 16, 2012 at 1:24 pm

I have read that story up above before,i think it was when i was at school. Your answer has left me depressed,and i know i might get rebuked off God, by saying this,but God could of had all that erased from us. About the part when you said we should try and help other`s. I have tried this on my Son, and his Wife,but my Son said it`s not my scene,and my Daughter-in-Law said you just be good,then you die that`s it.
The two of them seem to wrapped up in worldly thing`s.
I will try again,that`s all i can do. What you said when you see someone witness to lost. I have never heard of this,and i was brought up a strict Catholic. In today`s world nobody want`s to know. Church attendance`s of most religions are down,and you mention religion and that`s not on,they think you are an alien. Not that you have to attend to a church. I don`t, that`s why i am on this sight. God brought me here? I find this very hard that God would allow this,but God know`s best.

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Jack Wellman August 16, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Anthony, we have an article on how to share your faith with your family at the link below. Only God can change their heart (Prov 21:1) so don’t give up and pray for them. There is power in the Word (the Bible). It takes the Word of God, the Holy Spirit of God, and a man (or woman) of God to help bring people to the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Don’t give up. One lady prayed 28 years for her son and he finally came to saving faith in Christ. Leave this all in God’s capable hands. It is not your responsibility to save them. It is their response to HIS ability but it is our responsibility to tell them.

http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/how-to-share-the-gospel-with-family/

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Dereck August 16, 2012 at 9:51 pm

Hi Jack

Great article!! I have always wondered how this would go. I thought that we would recognize loved ones. What really bothers me is close relatives and friends who are not there.

My maternal grandmother who just turned 95 and I had a conversation one time and I told her that I looked forward to having a conversation with my grandfather who died when my mother was 9 years old and my maternal great-grandfather who I never knew either.

There are so many other people who I would love to see also. Great to know.

Keep the faith

Peace and Love

Dereck

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Jack Wellman August 17, 2012 at 8:43 pm

Thank you Dereck…always the encourager…I truly look forward to meeting you so much my friend in the Kingdom.

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Sabrina November 15, 2012 at 12:11 am

Thank U so much for this Artical May God bless U.. I have been so troubled with death and why out if all things God chose physical death as a punishment for Adam & Eves sin that passed to us!! It has been on my mind for soo long that I thought it would never get out my mind :(( but reading this and finding out we will remember people we knew family and the are life gives me hope.. even tho I feel weak that I couldn’t just trust in Jesus and put my faith in him I had to keep searching to bring comfert and it has helped to a point but God forgive me to say I don’t think I will ever get over death :/ As a Chaldean Catholic I love all my Christians who cone in the name of Jesus~ Ameen

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Phanice December 23, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Thank you so much for this article! I was just asking my mother about if I would recognize any of my family in Heaven. My cousin told me that we wouldn’t be able to recognize anyone and my heart sunk. I couldn’t imagine a wonderful place like Heaven without my family there. This just made my day! Thank you so much for the clarification.

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Jack Wellman December 23, 2012 at 9:51 pm

Thank you Phanice. I believe that will be part of the joy in the Kingdom of Heaven…to be reunited with all those dearly departed believers including family. Oh what a day that will be!

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Bethany January 11, 2013 at 2:19 pm

Thank you for the information. It helps me. I commented on another post of yours. One last question though. I have heard we will love everyone the same. So my mom would love everyone how she loves me. Everyone will love each other the same amount. Is this true? Or will we still have a little more love for those we were closed to on earth such as mothers an husbands?

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Jack Wellman January 11, 2013 at 2:33 pm

Hello again Bethany. I have not heard this that we will love everyone the same. That is not in the Bible. My only source of truth is in the Bible alone and “I have heard” being a human source, can not be trusted. In heaven, I believe we will love even more those who are our family but Christ most of all.

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Michael January 12, 2013 at 10:40 am

I read a lot of your emails on the website beautiful to understand more about the Bible! Is the Catholic religion pure the way it preaches? My mother was sick for along time with Huntingtons disease no able to talk or do anything on her own
we’ll God have mercy on her soul!

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Michael January 12, 2013 at 5:48 pm

I may not be the one you wanted to answer you but your last question caught my attention. the answer is yes in my opinion atleast I mean how can he not have mercy on her soul I’m assuming that she is a believer and follower of christ. hope you find comfort with my answer.

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Jack Wellman January 12, 2013 at 6:52 pm

I agree Michael. No one is perfect but He became sin for us so that God see us (and see’s your blessed mother) as having Jesus’ righteousness. I believe that is so. I found comfort in your answer Michael. Thank you sir.

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Jack Wellman January 12, 2013 at 6:54 pm

As the other Michael said, yes I feel certain that God will have mercy on her. Catholics can be saved just as Protestants. No religion is 100% perfect, because humans are involved, but God’s makes us perfect in Christ.

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linda May 28, 2013 at 1:57 pm

will we remember our loved ones who do not make it to Heaven

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sinner 77874383146907 July 29, 2014 at 3:24 pm

A christian once told me that we will recognize our friends and family but we won’t remember anything maybe so that we won’t feel bad (assuming we are in heaven looking down on loved ones in hell) about them because there wont be pain in heaven. I’m not sure if that’s alright. I hope someone can answer this question.

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Jack Wellman July 30, 2014 at 4:57 pm

I do not know any Bible verse that says that we will be able to look down into hell and see those who are there. If you are not sure that this is alright, the point is that you are not sure and know one precisely knows this. I doubt very much that our time in heaven will be spent looking down at hell at those who are there…instead, we will be kings and priests serving the Lord Jesus Christ and ruling with Him so this wouldn’t seem to fit into what this Christian said.

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Observer January 29, 2014 at 3:54 pm

Colton Burpo met family members of his in Heaven. He met his great grandfather (who died about 30 years before Colton was even born) in Heaven, and he also met his miscarried sister in Heaven.

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Tenille, July 27, 2014 at 9:14 pm

Thank you for this article. I don’t know how I came across it but I did. My son died as an infant, and I have faith that I will one day see him again, and that he will know who I am. The scriptural references are appreciated!

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