Reunited And It Feels So Good?

Maybe, maybe not.

Posted by David Wyatt on August 25, 2021 · 8 mins read
Then I saw a great white throne and Him who was seated on it. From His presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:11-15

Someone asked me the other day if we would be reunited with loved ones in heaven. That can be a tough question because the answer centers around what we understand reunited to mean.

I believe we will if reunited means we’ll know those we know here on earth and remember the relationship and moments we’ve shared. In 1 Corinthians, Paul writes, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” This passage and others seem to say that the perfection promised to the child of God is not only a perfection of body and soul but also a perfection of knowledge. God knows who our friends and loved ones are. There’s no reason to think that, having perfect, Godly understanding, we wouldn’t.

If by reunited we mean that we’ll resume the same earthly relationship status we have here on earth, I don’t think so. In Matthew 22, Jesus says to the Sadducees, “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage.” I take that to mean that all our earthly relationship status will end. Or be so trivial as to be unimportant.

There are other passages, though, that would indicate something different. Especially where marriage is concerned. When talking to Peter in Matthew 16, Jesus tells him, ”[W]hatever you bind on Earth shall have been bound in heaven.” Many New Testament scholars take this to mean that marriage is eternal and carries over into heaven.

The Bible tells us that the bond of marriage is sacred and permanent. It is at least as strong as the bond between parent and child.

He answered, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

It is no coincidence that God uses the analogy of marriage as the relationship between Christ and the redeemed. At the moment of salvation, every believer becomes one with Christ through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. What a glorious, eternal honeymoon awaits us when He comes to call His bride home!

Regardless of whether our earthly relationships follow us into heaven, one thing I can say for sure. We will rejoice in the salvation of all our brothers and sisters in Christ. And we will rejoice with them, happy in the knowledge that they are among the redeemed.

Now for the Bad News

But before that honeymoon begins, there will be a time when that reunion with friends and loved ones will be almost unbearably painful. You see, I believe we will not only know who is going to heaven with us, but we’ll also know who isn’t.

Before the new heaven and new earth come down, before we enter into the Glory of God forever, we will stand and witness the judgment of the lost before the great white throne. Where those whose name is “not found written in the book of life” will be “thrown into the lake of fire.” We will remember every sleepless night spent calling their name out before God. We will also remember every missed opportunity we had to tell them about the cross of Jesus and the need for salvation.

Worse is that the recognition, the brief reunion, will not be one-sided. I can’t imagine the anguish and fear, mine and theirs, as a friend or family member turns to look at me, saying, “Why didn’t you tell me? Why didn’t you warn me?” Will we hear those words cried over and over as they descend into hell? I believe it is all too possible, inwardly if not literally.

It is the certainty of this final reunion I dread. I keep it in mind as I hear Jesus say, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” Going first to, as our pastor says, “Those who are close to you but far from God.”

He Will Wipe Away Every Tear

Even in all the pain that we will experience at the reunion before the great white throne, we have hope in the promise of Jesus Christ. After Satan and the unbelievers are cast into the lake of fire, Revelation 21:4 says:

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

How is this possible after witnessing loved ones lose an eternity in heaven? I don’t know. But I believe it because God’s Word says it. Maybe God will wipe that memory away, as far as the east is from the west; forgotten as He’s forgotten our sins that were covered by the blood of the Lamb.

Maybe in the fullness of understanding, we will see God’s justice and mercy in it and feel no sorrow. This boggles my mind, but remember Paul’s words when he said we only “know in part.” We do not have to understand it … we cannot understand it … we just need to believe it and praise God for it.

The Reunion That Will “Feel So Good”

The Bible isn’t crystal clear on how we will be reunited with family and friends in the afterlife. It isn’t an issue that affects the Gospel message. We can wonder about it and discuss it, but different opinions about it shouldn’t divide us.

But there is a reunion that the Bible is clear about and one that should bring us unending joy. The reunion of Christ and His Bride! As a sinner saved by the grace of God, we will one day be with the One who purchased us with His own blood. “Good” doesn’t begin to describe it. The Bible says, “… no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.” In all of human history, not even the most creative or most inventive among us has scratched the service of what heaven will be. Oh, what glory and joy await us!

In Closing

So, will we be reunited with loved ones in heaven? Almost certainly, but I’m not sure how or to what extent.

There is one thing I can say without a doubt, though. We won’t be reunited eternally with a single person who isn’t there.

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