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Will We Know Each Other In Heaven

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I Corinthians 13:9-12

            The pastor bringing the message entitled:  SHALL WE KNOW ONE ANOTHER IN HEAVEN? 

            Our background text is I Corinthians 13, Verse 12, next to the last verse. 

            I Corinthians 13, Verse 12:  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. 

            Now, we see through a looking glass.  Except they didn't have any looking glasses then.  They were polished metallic mirrors.  And he uses that as a description with the Greek word enigma.  That we pull bodily and spelled exactly into our English language. 

            For, now we see in a metallic mirror.  Enigmatically.  The Greek word enigma refers to a dark saying.  One that lacked full understanding.  Until we came to know its full meaning. 

            That's the way we look and we understand now.  Just dimly, inconclusively, partly, partially. 

            But then face to face, as we might see an image in a metallic mirror, obscured, imperfect.  Someday it will be actually face to face. 

            Now, I epiganoseo, epiganoseo means to know clearly, to know experientially.  Now, I know experientially, clearly, just in part. 

            But then shall I epiganoseo.  Shall I know even as -- and he changes the tense of the verb.  He puts it in the past tense. 

            Then shall I epiganoseo:  Even as also God hath in the past.  Epiganoseo me. 

            I presume what he's speaking of there is primarily the beginning of his Christian ministry when the Lord met him on the road to Damascus and called him by name:  Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 

            Then shall I know even as God has known me.  Shall we know each other in heaven?  The sermon is divided like this. 

            First, an avowal, an affirmation.  Second, the substantiation and verification of that avowal.  And it will be from scripture, from philosophy and from experience.  It will be scripturally, philosophically and experientially defended. 

            Now, the avowal.  The avowal is this.  That resurrection means recognition.  That they are synonymous terms.  They are equally true.  And if one is not true, the other is not true. 

            That whatever substantiates the one, substantiates the other.  Whatever proves the one, proves the other.  Whatever could disproves of the one, could disprove of the other. 

            If I am to have any identity beyond the grave, in the days of my purported resurrection, then it must be I who am raised from the grave. 

            You have to be you.  We have to be we.  I have to be I.  Otherwise, resurrection has no pertinence, no meaning.  It is actually annihilation.  It is cessation of the being. 

            If I am to have an identity beyond the grave, it has to be I.  Whatever personality I have, whatever being I am, it must be I, recognizable I.  Raised from the dead. 

            As Paul said in II Thessalonians, Chapter 2 Verse 1:  We beseech you Brethren, by the coming of our Lord and by the coming of our Lord and by our gathering unto him.  It will be we who are gathered unto him. 

            If I lose my identity in death, if it is buried in the grave, then what is resurrected is somebody else or something else. 

            And whatever that heap of matter is, that is brought to life in resurrection, if it is not identifiable and recognizable, I then it has no meaning whatsoever. 

            That resurrection and recognition are synonymous terms.  That is the avowal.  And if they are not synonymous, there is no meaning to resurrection.  That is the affirmation. 

            Now, for its substantiation.  First, from the word of God.  In the Old Testament scriptures which we will take first, then the New Testament. 

            In the Old Testament scriptures, there is a descriptive word that identifies death, that speaks of the death of those old patriarchs who lived so long ago.  And the descriptive word is this.  That he was gathered to his Father's or he was gathered to his people. 

            That is the Old Testament terminology, nomenclature for death.  He is gathered to his Father's.  He is gathered to his people. 

            Now, in a strange turning around of argument, that is it's strange to me.  When the Sadducees in the 22nd Chapter of the book of Matthew. 

            When the Sadducees accosted the Lord Jesus concerning the resurrection of the dead, for the Sadducees were materialists, they were humanists.  They were secularists.  They didn't believe in any resurrection of the dead. 

            When you died, you died.  And that was the end of life and living and existence and being.  That was the Sadducean doctrine. 

            When they accosted Jesus who believed in the resurrection of the dead concerning the doctrine of it, our Lord turned it around.             

            I am seeking to affirm and to substantiate that in the resurrection we are recognizable, that we know each other.  The Lord turned it around.  And he substantiated the resurrection by recognition. 

            And he said this:  In the old Bible it says:  I am the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. 

            Then the conclusion:  God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.  By the fact that they were recognizable, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Lord concluded that there was resurrection of the dead. 

            Now, when I turn it around in the way I am affirming it, that if Abraham and Isaac and Jacob were living by name and recognizable, then in the resurrection, in the life to come, we are we. 

            You're you.  I am I.  Abraham is Abraham.  Isaac is Isaac.  Jacob is Jacob.  And those that were gathered to their Father's, each one is he or she as you are going to be you. 

            This is the Old Testament premise of all of the meaning of life. 

            When you go through the Old Testament, the story which is an amazing one at Endor, when Samuel is raised up from the dead.  Saul recognizes him immediately. 

            In the story, the sad one of the death of the baby in the household of David.  David says:  He will not come to me.  But I shall go to him. 

            Beyond the grave, David will see that little boy again.  And the little boy will be given back to David.  David is David and the child is the child.  And they recognize each other.     

            In the New Testament, in the passage that you just read of the transfiguration of our Lord, Moses has been dead fourteen hundred years.  Elijah has been dead nine hundred years. 

            But when they appear before and with the Lord, Peter, James and John recognize Moses and Elijah immediately.  How did they do that?  Because there is intuitive knowledge as well as experiential knowledge. 

            There is a knowledge that I learn.  I learned to speak English.  They have learned to speak Japanese.  We can learn to read Greek.  We learn those things. 

            But there are intuitive things that we don't learn.  We just know them.  If you've ever been out in west Texas where I grew up and looked at those vast herds of cattle sometimes. 

            There will be a multitude of mother cows and a multitude of baby cows, little calves.  How is it that every calf knows its mother and every mother knows its calf even though they're mixed up in a great herd? 

            Who teaches that?  That is intuitive knowledge.  That's knowledge that comes with the gift of life.  That's the kind of knowledge that we will have in heaven.  It is intuitive.  It is heavenly. 

            And all of that affirmation is found in the New Testament.  When we have the story of Diveese and Lazarus.  Diveese recognizes Lazarus.  In the story of the death of the brother of Mary and Martha, also named Lazarus, our Lord says to those two sisters:  Your brother shall rise again. 

            And when Lazarus was raised from the dead, it was he.  It was their brother.  It was Lazarus raised from the dead. 

            And in the death of our Lord, the man on his right hand repenting said:  Master, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. 

            And the Lord turns to him and says:  Samaron.  Samaron.  This very day.  This very day, thou shalt be with me in paradise.  That presupposes that they could recognize one another in heaven, in paradise. 

            If there is no recognition, the word of our Lord is without meaning.  In fact, it's a mockery.  It presupposes that in paradise he will recognize the Lord Jesus and the Lord Jesus will recognize him. 

            Samaron, this very day thou shalt be with me in paradise.  But of course the most majestic and marvelous of all of the affirmations of our recognition in heaven is the resurrection and the cognition of Jesus Christ. 

            His recognitions were altogether human.  When John came to the tomb and saw the lining -- the linen wrapping lying in one place and the napkin carefully folded up lying in another place. 

            The Bible says:  When John, the beloved disciple saw that, he believed that Jesus was raised from the dead, because Jesus apparently had a idiosyncratic personality trait of folding up his napkin in just a certain way. 

            And when John saw that napkin folded up in just a certain way, lying by itself, he believed that Jesus, Jesus, the living Jesus had done it. 

            Take again.  Mary talking in the garden after the Lord was raised.  Mary supposed she was speaking to the gardener about the empty tomb. 

            And while her head was down and her heart broken in grief, why, the risen Lord spoke her name:  Mary.  And he had an intuition, an intonation. 

            He had a certain way of speaking her name.  That when he spoke it, immediately she looked and recognized it was he, just by the way he pronounced her name.  His recognitions were human. 

            Or take again.  Our Lord in the 24th Chapter of the book of Luke, our Lord was not known, was not revealed, risen to the two disciples in Emmaus. 

            The Holy Spirit, the power of God it says:  Their eyes were holden.  God made it that they did not recognize him immediately.       

            But when he said the blessing, Jesus had a certain way of saying the blessing, saying grace at the table.  And when he said it, they recognized him.  It was he.  His recognitions were human.        

            Take once again the climactic story in the 20th Chapter of the book of John.  Thomas, one of the apostles, who's a very typical modern humanists. 

            Thomas says:  I don't believe that men rise from the dead.  Dead men don't rise.  They don't live again. 

            And Thomas said:  I won't believe unless I put my fingers in the scars in his hands and put my hand and thrust it into the scar in his side.  I won't believe. 

            And when the Lord appeared to the apostles in the upper room on the following Sunday night, he turned first to Thomas and said to him:  Thomas, reach thither your finger.  And thrust it into the scar in my hand. 

            And reach thither your hand and thrust it into my side.  And be not faithless but believing. 

            And then the great avowal Thomas:  My Lord, he said and my God.  His recognitions are human.  It is the Lord Jesus himself raised from the dead, recognizable human. 

            Take again in the story of the resurrection of our Lord in the latter part of the 24th Chapter of Luke.  It says:  That when the Lord appeared, they couldn't believe it for joy.  It was too good to be true. 

            Like the sermon I'm trying to preach this morning.  It's too good to be factual, to be real, to be true. 

            And they suppose they were looking at a ghost, at a specter, at a spirit. 

            And the Lord said:  Handle me and see.  For a spirit, a specter, a ghost hath not flesh and bone such as ye see me have. 

            And he said:  Children, have you here anything to eat?  And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish and of a honeycomb.  And he did eat before them.  It is the same Lord Jesus. 

            And lest there be any mistake.  Affirmation is supported by reiteration, which is supported by emphasis.  When the Lord was taken up into glory, they were standing there looking up into heaven. 

            And there came angels and said to them:  Ye men of Galilee, why stare ye up into heaven?  This same Jesus, this same Jesus shall so come in the same manner as you've seen him go away. 

            It is Jesus we're looking for.  The same Jesus.  The one who was nailed to the cross, who has scars in his hands and in his side.  His gracious voice, his dear compassionate face, and his loving hands and presence.  It is the same Jesus, recognizable. 

            Now, let's lift up our eyes and our hearts to heaven.  They are people with recognizable beings in heaven.  The angels have names. 

            Gabriel says in the New Testament in the story of Elizabeth and Mary.  Gabriel says:  I am Gabriel who stands in the presence of God.  He's God's messenger.  I am Gabriel. 

            Michael announces himself to Daniel and to us in the Revelation.  And in Jude, Michael is God's warrior.  He's God's commander and chief.  But he's Michael.  He has a name.  He is an entity, a being, a personality. 

            They have names up there in heaven.  And above all and most preciously beautiful of all, is the mutualness of their interrelatedness in glory. 

            In the 10th Chapter of the gospel of John, the Lord says:  The Father knoweth me even so know I the Father. 

            And then he says:  He calleth his own sheep by name.  There's a mutualness.  There's an interrelatedness in that, that is precious beyond compare.  They know each other in heaven. 

            And the Lord God knows us.  And he calls us by our names.  That's what it says.  He calleth his own sheep by name.  God recognizes us.  And we recognize God.  And we recognize one another. 

            If I recognize God, and he doesn't recognize me, then there's no such thing as a me to be resurrected from the dead.  If I am not a living being known to God, resurrection has no pertinence and no meaning.  I had as well be annihilated. 

            It maybe that somebody else is resurrected or some heap of matter is resurrected.  But it has nothing to do with me if I am not known to God. 

            I repeat, there is a mutualness in this.  There is an interrelatedness in this.  There's a warm knowingness in this that is precious and meaningful beyond compare. 

            It's the same kind of a mutualness and interrelatedness that you find in a mother and her child.  That you find in a husband and his wife.  That you find between the pastor and his people.  That you find between a friend and a friend. 

            It is a mutual interrelatedness of knowing, of being together, cognition and recognition.  And without it, it has no meaning at all. 

            I think of that story that I have spoken of so many times, of the little girl.  And she wanted to sleep with her mother. 

            And the mother said, "No.  Now you go to bed here." 

            And she put the little girl in bed. 

            And the little child said, "But Mother, I want to sleep with you." 

            And the mother said, "Now, you just lie here in your bed and you go to sleep here in your bed.  And here's your teddy bear.  And you just cuddle up to your teddy bear." 

            And the little girl replies, "But Mother, this little teddy bear doesn't cuddle back to me." 

            That's what we want in life.  We want a cuddling back. 

            We want a recognition.  We want a mutualness and an interrelatedness and intimacy of knowing and understanding. It isn't life without it. 

            Look at this.  A naturalist, a naturalist, say a great scientist.  A naturalist can study the earth and the rocks and the hills and the mountains and the streams and the prairies and the hills.  

            And he can study it all.  And he can study it all forever.  But they don't study him.  They don't know him.  He can know them.  But they don't respond.  His life and viable intelligence is met with an absolute passive, indifference on the part of the whole creation that he studies. 

            He doesn't get an answer back.  They don't respond.  They're not alive.  They don't recognize him however much he may recognize them.  There has to be a mutual recognition if it has meaning in life. 

            Or could I say it like this?  A long time ago, there was a Negro play called Green Pastures.  And it's the Negro's idea of the created God, the God of creation and all of his wonderful works. 

            So, in the play, God makes the moon and the sun and the stars and all of the planets.  And he makes the mountains and the oceans and the seas.  And all of the wonderful works of God's omnipotent hand.  God makes it all. 

            And God looks at it all.  Everything that he's made.  God looks at it all.  Wonderful, wonderful. 

            Then it says:  God sits down on the side of a grassy hill. 

            And God says:  I'm lonesome.  I'm lonesome. 

            How is it God is lonesome when he's got his oceans and he's got his seas and he's got his mountains and he's got his stars.  And he's got his planets.  And he's got his whole creation. 

            Yet God says:  I'm lonesome. 

            And according to the Negro play, God created the man for fellowship.  That he might talk to him.  That the man might talk to him.  That the man might know him and love him and respond to him

            That is life.  And without it, there's no life.  That's the meaning of resurrection.  It is recognition.  And if there's no recognition, if there's no response, resurrection has no meaning whatsoever. 

            Now, may I speak of it so briefly, because our time is gone.  May I speak of it just for a moment philosophically and then experientially? 

            Philosophically.  Just looking at it.  If all of the meaning of life is that we dig graves for these who die forever us and finally fall into the grave ourselves. 

            If that is the meaning of life, of all the emptiness and sterility and meaningless that mind could imagine, our lives are the most meaningless and empty and void. 

            Think of the stupendous wealth of music and of art and of literature and of drama and of human culture.  And think of the stately marching columns of intellectual cognition.  All of it reaching out for nothing. 

            And it is doubly tragedy because of our cognizance of it, our knowledge of it, that we can see it.  There is an infinite capacity of the human soul.  It is absolutely infinite. 

            What I see now is but a harbinger of what I yet shall see.  What I feel now is but an earnest of what I yet shall feel.  What I know now, what I hear now is but the beginning of what someday I shall know and someday I shall hear. 

            As Paul writes:  Now we see through a metallic mirror dimly.  But then face to face.  Now, I epigainoseco, just in part.  But then shall I know even as God has known me. 

            The capacity of our growth in God is infinite.  It's forever and ever and ever and ever.  The songs we sing here, how beautiful they are.  They're just the beginning of the glorious songs we'll sing in heaven. 

            All that we know here and sense here is but a harbinger, an earnest, a down payment of promise of what we shall grow to be in glory. 

            Experientially.  This affirmation of recognition in the resurrection, in the life to come.  Will we know each other in heaven?  Human experience. 

            Sometime in these years past, I was in Kobe, Japan.  In Kobe, Japan.  And I was the guest of a missionary there, a southern Baptist missionary, he and his wife in Kobe, Japan. 

            And their home was about half way up the mountainside that reaches down to the harbor in Kobe. 

            And I said to the precious missionary couple.  I said, "If you don't mind, just let me stay by myself on the porch here in Kobe.   Just let me stay on the porch and just be alone for a while." 

            So, they were happy to acquiesce.  And I set there on the porch look down into the harbor in Kobe.  When Lottie Moon came back from China, she died in the harbor, in Kobe.          

            And as she lay dying on the ship, at anchor in Kobe, right down there.  She folded and unfolded and bowed her head greeting Christians that she had known in Ping Tue years and years and years before. 

            Greeting them in glory.  Greeting them in heaven.  By name, Ping Tue Christians who'd been dead years and years and years. 

            Or once again, I set by the bedside of my dying mother.  And she said to me, "Son, have you seen my mother and my father and my brother, Joe?" 

            And I replied, "Mother, no.  Where are they?" 

            And she said, "Son, they were just here.  They were just here.  And you must see them." 

            Well, I said, "Mother, I would be happy to see them.  Where are they now?" 

            And she said, "They're just over there.  And son, you must see my father and my mother and my brother, Joe." 

            And I put my hand upon her face.  And I said, "Mother, I will see them.  I will see them.  I will see them." 

            Shall we draw a black line across the charis testimonies of these saints?  Shall we deny them?  Shall we mock them?  Shall we ridicule them? 

            These are the precious promises of God.  We shall see him and one another again. 

            I will sing you a song

            Of that beautiful land,

            The far away home

Of the soul.

            Where no storms ever beat

            On the glittering strand

Copyright © 2008 The W. A. Criswell Foundation. All Rights Reserved.

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