The subject of life after death has always evoked many questions and fascinated mankind for many years. One of the many questions that arises from the concept of the afterlife is whether the deceased remember their loved ones when they go to heaven. Can they still keep their relationships intact with their loved ones after they are gone? This is a topic that has sparked debates in various walks of life, including cultures, religions, and other belief systems. Each cultural or religious system has its own beliefs about the afterlife.
In Christianity, the idea of our connection with people who have gone to heaven stirs curiosity in the hearts of believers. They are curious about the nature of heaven and the states of the people who go there. Do our relationships with our loved ones end the moment we die or do they continue even in the afterlife? This article seeks to shed light on what happens between the relationships of people with their deceased who are in heaven.
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Before we find out whether we will remember our loved ones when we go to heaven, we must first understand what heaven is. Heaven is the dwelling place of God and it is where believers in Christ will go when the world comes to an end.
“For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
God is already in heaven and when the time comes, faithful believers will be taken by Jesus to go and live with Him forever. It is a place where believers will never experience pain, sorrow, or grief. Rather, they will enjoy everlasting peace and joy.
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”Revelation 21:3-4
This is a place we all long for when we are gone from the face of the earth. The Scriptures paint a very good picture of heaven and how we will enjoy life in the presence of God. However, sometimes it is not easy to leave our loved ones behind even though we are going to heaven.
The memories we created with them, the love we shared, and the bonds between us may make us want to live with them on earth forever. We long to maintain our relationship with them even after we are gone. But can we really remember our loved ones and connect with them when we go to heaven?
Bible scholars view the concept of the afterlife differently. Some emphasize that once a person dies; they cannot remember their loved ones or any activity that takes place on earth. Others argue that family bonds will continue even after we are gone to heaven. Either of these arguments or both could be true. Let’s find out from the Scriptures.
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The Bible gives us an illustration about a rich man who lived a luxurious life while on earth, (Luke 16:19-31). This man never cared about the poor man named Lazarus who fed from the leftovers at his gate. Later on, both of them died and the angels took Lazarus to heaven. The rich man, however, went to hell where he was tormented by fire. He longed that the poor man would have pity on him and give him some water from heaven.
But this was not possible because of the great boundary that prevented anyone from crossing to either side. No one could go from heaven to hell and neither could anyone go from hell to heaven. But what captures our attention is the request that the rich man made to Abraham. The man’s request shows that we can actually remember our loved ones in the afterlife.
“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’”Luke 16:27-28
The rich man felt pity for his loved ones who were still alive. From the request he made, it is clear that he even remembered their way of life and wanted them warned so that they could not end up in hell like him. He still loved them and hoped that they could mend their ways and turn back to God before it was too late.
From this, we can see that when people die, they can still remember their loved ones. If people forgot about their loved ones when they were gone, whether to heaven or hell, this man could not have asked Lazarus to go and warn his people to change their ways.
“No, Father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’”Luke 16:30
This is complete proof that when people die, memories of their loved ones do not fade. Not only that, they can also feel pity for them or be proud of them when they do something great. We can rejoice at the achievements of our loved ones when we are in heaven. We can also feel sorry for them when they go through tough times; the rich man felt pity for his people.
Another Bible illustration that shows we will remember our loved ones when we go to heaven is the story of the martyrs in John’s vision. Martyrs are people who are killed or slain because of their firm stand in their faith. While in heaven, they remembered the cruelty that had been done to them and cried to God to avenge them.
“When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been.”Revelation 6:9-11
The fact that these saints of God could remember what happened to them and the people who killed them shows that we can remember our loved ones too. We can remember all the things they did to us and how close they were to us.
In the story of Saul consulting the spirit of Samuel, we can also conclude that when we go to heaven we will remember our loved ones. Samuel recognized Saul and all his ungodly actions. Even though Samuel was not a relative to Saul, the fact that he could recognize him shows that people who are in heaven can remember the ones they left on earth.
“Samuel said, “Why do you consult me, now that the Lord has departed from you and become your enemy? The Lord has done what he predicted through me. The Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hands and given it to one of your neighbors—to David. Because you did not obey the Lord or carry out his fierce wrath against the Amalekites, the Lord has done this to you today.”1 Samuel 28:16-18
Even after he was gone, Samuel could still remember the things that happened on earth while he was still alive. He remembered the sins that King Saul had committed and told him that God’s wrath was upon him.
From the three Bible illustrations, of the rich man, the saints, and Samuel, we have seen that we can still remember our loved ones when we are gone. However, there is also a possibility that we may not remember anything including our loved ones.
“See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.”Isaiah 65:17
From this Scripture, we can rule out the idea that we will remember our loved ones when we go to heaven. God says that we will forget everything that happened to us and nothing that exists on earth will come to our minds.
Christian denominations that exist in the world today have their different views concerning this topic. Catholics believe that the dead can remember their loved ones and even intercede on their behalf before God.
They even mention the names of the saints who died before them in their prayers asking them to pray for them. However, others believe that since Jesus taught that there will be no marriage in heaven, the dead cannot remember their loved ones.
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All these beliefs may be true as long as we draw their inspiration from the Word of God. What matters most is that if we believe in Jesus, we will go to heaven and enjoy everlasting peace in God’s presence. Whether we will remember our loved ones or not, we have the hope that we will reunite with them and live with them forever and ever.