Does Scripture teach that we will be reunited with loved ones in the kingdom of heaven? When people say, “Daddy’s happy now. He’s with Mother again,” I just smile. I would dearly love to see my parents again, but I can’t think of where the Bible tells me so. Is there any basis for thinking we will have loving, eternal reunions with anyone but Jesus?
The biblical evidence on this subject may be meager, as you suggest, but it is there — strongly implied, if not directly stated. To begin the case for such, we simply affirm that God’s plan is that His children will maintain their own personal identities into the future life of His eternal kingdom. The Christian concepts of bodily resurrection and judgment to come, with eternal rewards and punishments, fully presume that we will know ourselves then. They also presume that we will be fully aware of the continuity of our personal identity between this present mortal life and our future immortal life with Christ (1 Corinthians 15; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 20-21).
If we will know ourselves in God’s great forever, then it makes total sense that we will also recognize others of faith in Christ whom we have known and loved in the present life. All of that will help to complete a perfect future. And it will provide a certain familiar context for eternity, without which everything then would have a total newness about it, as if our minds were a blank sheet again as they were when we were first born (cf. Revelation 21:24-27).
Most of Christian thought and hymnody assumes that we will recognize our loved ones in the kingdom of heaven. The old gospel song “I’ll Meet You in the Morning,” for example, has a phrase in the chorus that speaks of renewing old acquaintances. And the song’s sentiment of people knowing us by the smile we wear, while not taken directly from the Bible, seems true to the spirit of Scripture and its promise of perfect joy ahead.
With all the biblical thoughts that support your anticipatory smile about seeing your deceased loved ones (in Christ) again, surely we can find it in a single text. Here’s one: “There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out” (Luke 13:28). If patriarchs, apostles, and prophets will be recognized in eternity to come, why not others who will share their eternal glory? The fact that you would love to see your mother and daddy again is an encouraging indication that you will see them, since it is part of God’s promise that He will give those who delight in Him the desires of their heart (Psalm 37:4).
So take comfort in these words from the apostle Paul:
But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. Therefore comfort one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:13, 14, 18).
— Elder Calvin Burrell
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