How Will We Be Known in Heaven?
It’s a common question. When I get to heaven, will I be able to recognize my loved ones? Will they know me?
First of all, let me begin by emphasizing that the first person we will want to see will be Jesus! In regards to the others who will be gathered around the throne worshipping the Lord, I believe that the answer is yes.
When we unpack the narrative about the transfiguration, we find Moses and Elijah meeting with Jesus discussing His “departure.” But, how did Peter recognize Moses and Elijah? It’d be one thing to recognize an old friend, but Moses and Elijah walked the earth generations before Peter was born.
Peter was confused about how to respond to their presence, but not about who they were. He had no image of their likeness, and neither do we (save artistic interpretations which are merely guesses at best).
1 Corinthians 15:51-57 states:
51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
And so we see that all believers will be changed, have a new body. A body that is not subject to the penalties of this sinful world and nature. 53 “For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality…” (ESV)
I think about my grandfather, my “Papa.” I’ll see him again some glad day. We will both be worshiping the Lamb who was slain. I might not call him “Papa,” but I’ll know that he was the one who poured so much into my early discipleship. I’ll remember him as the one who taught me how to study the Bible. Being with him again will be great.
He won’t have a perishable body stricken by age and illness. The Bible says that believers will be changed! It will be wonderful to behold the victory of Jesus Christ in my “Papa’s” resurrection and change, as it will be in my own. None of that will even compare, though, to what I’ll experience when I see the Lord face to face!
Peter was a little confused when he saw Jesus with Moses and Elijah. Peter offered to set up some tents for the three of them to just stay on the mountaintop with the disciples, prolonging their meeting together. Peter seemingly would have been satisfied with such a gathering. However, as was made evident by the Father through the cloud, Jesus is greater than Moses and Elijah. He, the Chosen One, is the Son of God and must be listened to.
When Peter caught a glimpse of Jesus’ glory, he understandably wanted to prolong it. What he was yet to understand was that Jesus would have to suffer and die first, in order to enter into His glory. Without the suffering, there would be no glory.
One of these days…
“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 1 Thess. 4:16-17
Oh that we would experience this now! But, our work on earth is not done. We must not hasten to experience the glory before the mission is accomplished. But, even glimpse of God’s glory through the Scriptures about the transfiguration can encourage and embolden us to serve the Lord until that day.
I believe that I will be known in heaven and I will recognize others. But, most importantly, we will be changed so that we can be with Jesus eternally. All believers (whether alive at the time or having already fallen asleep) will experience this joyful fellowship with the King of Kings, throughout eternity!
“Therefore encourage one another with these words.” 1 Thess. 4:18