To Recognize Friends

20131215ikonkaPolska wersja jest tutaj.

 “I do not want to be some kind of an invisible apparition, sitting on some fluffy cloud, strumming a harp day and night.”  This is how some people describe the resurrection of spirit bodies to uphold the idea that after the resurrection, people will have exactly the same bodies as Adam and Eve had.

Others however, fear that if they receive different bodies than what they have now, they themselves would not know how they would look, not to mention those that they would like to recognize.  Will we be able to recognize, in some ways, our friends and loved ones?

In fact, the Bible does not say much about it. But we can gather some information here and there, which will explain a number of issues and provide us with answers to the question: “After we are transformed at Jesus’s second coming, will we recognize our relatives and friends?”

The Apostle Paul tries to explain what bodies we will receive at the second coming of Jesus.  He starts from the initial observation noting that not only are fish and animal bodies different from each other, but even the heavenly bodies differ in brightness. (It just so happens that in Polish and in English the word ‘body’ refers not only to a living organisms but also to planets and stars.) Hence, it seems quite natural that the planets are bodies or have bodies, in spite that we are talking about two different entities.  Can anyone compare a planet or star to a fish, animal or human? It appears to me that without further analysing Paul’s contemporary knowledge about the structure of the world, it is sufficient to note that different creatures receives the appropriate type of body.[1]

Paul is aware of the fact that our incorruptible bodies will look differently than the ones we have today. He writes that the difference between our existing bodies and those after they are transformed is colossal. It can be compared to the differences of a seed and the plant that will grow from it. So we know that this is a big difference.

When the Sadducees intended to corner Jesus about His teachings of the resurrection, they presented Him with the story of a woman who had seven husbands.  Jesus told them that after the transformation there would be no marriages, therefore they should not worry about which of the seven husbands would be her husband in heaven.[2]  So we learn that in God’s kingdom there will be no husbands, wives, or children. Perhaps this concept will seem a little strange to us, but that’s another matter. The Sadducees were most likely surprised with this teaching as well.

The Bible teaches that new bodies will be incorruptible and immortal. We know that the immortal (in itself) is only God; it is impossible that He should no longer exist. Speaking about the immortal human, Paul actually passed on the concept that in the Kingdom of God, people will live on forever. Now we can see the difference between ‘not dying’ and immortality, and express the concepts more specifically than Paul.  The saved ones will live forever but will not become immortal. The saved will also be indestructible, so they will not wear out or age.

At the same time, Jesus taught that the saved ones will not die because they will be equal to the angels.[3]  It is impossible to deduce in what respect they will be equal to angels, but there must be at least one feature of angels that we will possess at the resurrection.  It is also possible that we will possess more than one of the angelic features and most likely there will be more than previously discussed features ie. no more marriages, births and children.

When angels appear to people, they sometimes take the form of a luminous, supernatural body, and this appearance could even cause trained soldiers to fall (at Jesus’s grave)[4] Another example could have been someone that cannot be distinguished from a common person. Gideon suspecting that he spoke with the messenger of God (an angel) asked him for a sign to be convinced that he spoke not with a man.[5]    It is worth mentioning that the angels, assuming the form of a man not only looked like humans, but also functioned as people —i.e. ate food, cast shadows, left their footprints in the sand, touched people, moved away stones, etc.. Looking at them, one may not tell they were not real people.

When Jesus will soon come to take his children to heaven, He will come in the company of trillions of angels.[6]    If we would not be able to see them, Jesus would not have spoken of this because these words would be misleading us. And if we are to tell others that Jesus will come along with the angels, the others would also have to see angels, or nobody would perceive the event as the second coming of Jesus.

When Jesus arrives with His children to the earth after the millennium,[7]  He will not take them there to keep them invisible to those who will be resurrected in the second resurrection.  Therefore I believe that as angels could appear to people in the past, so God’s children will appear to the people resurrected after millennium.  To answer the question “Why resurrected people after the millennium must see God’s children” can be found here (in Polish).

Before I answer the question on how people will recognize themselves in the future, let us consider how we recognize ourselves today. Each of us changes from birth to old age. We change constantly and not only over the years but also with every change of emotions. Let’s look at Charlotte Church who looks different on each of the images below in spite the fact that all the photographs were taken in one day and with the same clothes and hairdo. We are used to it and we can say with confidence that every picture is of the same person, but in reality, each image is different (on the first picture, Charlotte has her eyes closed; on the second she shows her tongue, on the third we can hardly see the teeth, and on the fourth she has a charming smile).

Charlotte4 Charlotte3

Charlotte2 Charlotte1

Now let’s look at the same person for a number of years and in different situations. How do we know it’s the same person? Do we check an ID card, or maybe it would be enough for us if someone could tell us? And by the way, can any of these pictures not be Charlotte?  How do we know?

Char01 Char02 Glamour Women Of The Year Awards 2006 - Arrivals Char13 Char12 Char11 Char10 Char09 Char08 Char07 Char06 Char05 131church1p2_20010626_08413.jpg Char03

There are those that change less over the years, and some more. How do we know that on both photographs below is the same person?

ElisaDaniel  ElisaBaby

If we had not seen the DVD boxes of who plays the role of the babysitter (Adventures in Babysitting) and Ali (Karate Kid 1) we would have doubts as to whether in both cases they were the same actress, Elisabeth Shue.  But were producers of both movies unsure of who the actress was?  Probably not, and they would not check the identity card of Elisabeth Shue. In the same manner, we would not checked her ID card either; we would just believe what others say.

Elisabeth compare

Is this the same person? If you did not know that it was the same person, could you guarantee that in both cases it is Elisabeth Shue?

I once heard of a person who had a car accident and had to have face surgery. Later on she had several plastic surgeries, and each time she looked worse. When I saw a picture of her before the accident and after her last operation, I could not believe it was the same person! But had the husband of the woman known better than me? Not only him but her family, friends, doctors, nurses… also knew better than I. So I accept the idea that my perception in this situation does not make much sense, and agree with those who know better.

Sometimes it happens, that we see a person for the first time in their life and yet we recognize the characteristics of someone whom we know. This happens quite often in cases when we look at children and see in them not only the similarity in facial features, but in gestures or even posture to their parents. Our mind is very smart and maybe we cannot explain why we see the similarities, but we are certain that similarities exist and we recognise them.

I spoke recently with Sophie (a friend) who told me that a stranger once stopped her on the street. He came from another town, and for the first time in his life visited the town in which he met Sophie. He stopped her on the street and asked if she was the daughter of … (and here he mentioned the name of Sophie’s father). So one can see that God has given us brilliant minds that can recognize things that we previously do not know.  So, it is possible for us to sometimes figure out relatives of those whom we know.

The other day, a friend of mine, Mary, brought me a greeting from Kate (a friend from Poland), gave me her current photograph, and told me some things about her.  I looked at the photograph and unfortunately could not figure out who she was. However, when she sent me her old photo, I immediately remembered everything. Such a trick our memory may do to us now, but at the resurrection or transformation, we will get the memory that will never fail us. I give this example so that we do not worry about being able to recognize our friends in heaven, although we may not be able to recognise our neighbours now.

Ever wondered how long someone could pretend to be someone they’re not? Let’s say you would know a person very well and wanted to pretend you were her among people who had forgotten her. I asked a few people for their opinion and they all answered without hesitation that it is simply impossible. You could pretend to a certain extent, but after a while the cat will come out of the bag. I also think that it is very difficult to pretend to be a stranger to a person that you are familiar with. Thus, I conclude that it is much easier to recognize friends in heaven than we think.

After the millennium, we will all recognize God as righteous[8]  (every knee shall bow to[9]). How can I do that if I were to lose my identity and did not know who I was, what I was doing, and what God means to me? When I recognize God as fair, it is not only because I take into account the events concerning me, but all the people I have known in my life as well. Thus, a simple conclusion — I will remember many, many events not only from my own life but also the lives of many people. And all memories of all these people contains all the events that took place since the creation of the world until now, and at the end of the millennium, it will also contain all the events that are now still in the future.

Well, some will say, but we do not know whether in heaven we will figure out who we are by the appearance of our faces, and whether our faces in some way will reflect our current face. If so, which face?  The older ones, or those from our weddings? Let us consider then how we will recognize our friends whom we do not see often, or whose faces we would not be able to recognize.

We know that in heaven we will certainly communicate in some way and that we will have an excellent memory. Let’s say that we will not hear people’s voices, but we are allowed to use a computer keyboard to type messages and read other people’s messages from the monitor.  Will we be able to recognise our friends in such a way? It seems to me that it will be easy to do so.

Each of us has at present some favourite words or expressions that other people are well familiar with.  And even when these words and expressions are insufficient to remember who used them in the past, we may remember the times spent together.  If anyone is unable to recognize their friends by the spoken method of above, they may be able to recognize their friends by remembering events from the past.

When we are in heaven, we will be able to be identified to only a relatively small group of people. Wherever we live now, and how far we travel, we would not know all the people even in a closest neighbourhood! I’m not talking about not knowing entire towns or nations, and not even to mention thousands of years before we were born and the world existed. However, it seems to me that, given the knowledge of all persons taken into heaven, a large part of people will be recognised by every single person. Of course there will be some people that no one has known before.

Even now we know of cases when children are either raised by animals from childhood, or children get lost for a few years. In the world there are many records of people who were lost.  Some people are found, others not. The book “Quack” tells the story of a reputable surgeon who suffered amnesia and had lost contact with people whom he ever knew.  However, in some cases, people return to the communities where there are people who recognize them.

jungle womanRecently in late 2009, a Cambodian “jungle woman” who was lost in 1989 was found. She went missing when as an eight-year old girl was looking after a herd of water buffalos. They found her, 18 years later, when she wanted to steal food from one of the farmers. She could not speak, jump through the trees like a monkey and made animal noises. After a short stay in the hospital, she live at home with her father who later said that his daughter no longer wanted to flee into the jungle. She began to recall fragments of her native language, and after further trips to the jungle in the company of friends, she willingly came back home. More on this topic can be found here  (in English).

What will happen with people like the Cambodian jungle woman if they were never found, and later taken to heaven? Angels and demons know of every person who ever lived or will live on earth, including children that have been lost and were raised by animals. Therefore there is no point in worrying about someone having escaped God’s attention without anyone noticing it. Before all the people, all the demons, and all the angels will declare that God is absolutely fair, all will be fully aware of the fact that God has not forgotten to resurrect some people or did it on purpose.

When we arrive on Earth, after the Millennium, with the symbolic New Jerusalem,[10]  we will see our loved ones and recognize them. Maybe we’ll also talk with some of them and our voices will also be recognized, although it will be very melodic and full of love (not so harsh that we have now). Other children of God and the angels will hear our voice, and would be very surprised if our voices would not be recognized. Thus, I conclude that our voices after the transformation, will be similar to those that we have now and not just all the saved will be able to recognise them but also the unsaved who knew us from before the Millennium.

Many times I’ve heard speakers talking about the resurrection who described angels that will bring small children to their mothers. But has anyone thought that at the time of the resurrection the mothers will be much older than they were when the child died, and they will not be able to feed them? In addition, many children are not able to understand love and to distinguish right from wrong when they die; therefore will such children be taken to heaven, even if many of their mothers will not be saved. Did God think about this issue?

Yes, God thought of unborn children. One of the biggest surprises in heaven will be the presence of many people that even the angels would not know, but God alone. They are children who have not yet been born, and according to the laws of God they are persons from the time of fertilization[11] and contrary to what many educated people say, abortion is equal to killing humans. In the world of spirits, there are no children or births, and the spirits after being created are completely self-supporting as Adam and Eve. These new beings will have to be given names, and living among the redeemed and the angels they will learn enough about evil to keep them away from anything that was invented by Lucifer.

There will be many people in heaven who on Earth were blind, deaf, without limbs… from birth.  But during the transformation or resurrection, they will be given the same bodies as other children of God, and will be able to do everything that others will be able to do.  There will also be many people who will take part in the second resurrection because they refused friendship with God.  They will also be resurrected in their perfect bodies and will be able to do everything as Adam and Eve even though they have been born crippled or with various disabilities. To God nothing is impossible.

It would seem that those taking part in the second resurrection will not need to have great health, and their illnesses and disability will just prove their evil activities. But many of these people do not deserve what they suffer, and perhaps have become crippled at the hands of those who will partake in the first resurrection and have enjoyed heaven for a 1000 year.  In addition, the recognition of the justice of God from the lips of those who do not know fully what they are doing cannot be taken seriously by all creatures in the universe, after all it is extremely important that everyone makes their confession on that matter. Only serious statements of people with a perfect memory of their entire life on Earth, not only their lives but all people with whom they were associated, can be taken to account. This is why God will raise all the unsaved in full health.

The Apostle Paul describes the differences between the bodies that we now have and the bodies after the transformation, comparing them to the seed and the plant that grows out of them.[12]  We now know that the seed contains all the code of mature plants, but the seeds can be eaten while the wood can’t, because it is completely different to the seed and cannot be digested.  According to the statement of Paul, the new body will be completely different than the ones we have now, as the plant is different from seed from which it grows. It should be added that Paul does not teach that people with new bodies will not be able to take such a form that, after coming to Earth after the Millennium, would be seen by the unsaved.

Paul teaches that everything that God prepared for the redeemed will be so different from what we know that we cannot even imagine how it could be.[13]  Certainly we will recognize some elements from what we know now, or we would be completely lost and cannot make any sense of it all.  But even familiar elements will be very different to what we know now.

Describing our bodies after we are transformed Paul calls them spiritual bodies.  Unfortunately the term spiritual is used to describe the (spiritual) nature of earthly, material reality.  To disambiguate the meaning of ‘spiritual bodies’ as described by Paul, I will use a different term — bodies that are native to spirits (God, angels, demons).  This idea is in agreement with other teachings of the Bible, e.g. that we will be equal to angels, we will become invisible to people (unless we become visible as the angels do it now), we will be able to transverse cosmos without spacesuits, etc.

In addition, Paul teaches that things visible are temporal and things invisible are eternal.  Hence, the invisible universe of spirits will soon become inhabited by us, because we will be granted eternal life.  Those who say sarcastically that they do not want to be some invisible spirits forget the fact that if they become these spirits they would see each other without any problems; it is only now that we cannot see spirits.

Although we will inhabit space-time of which we have no idea, our minds will work a lot better than they do now.  Our memory will work without fail and we will remember all events from the past that we have ever witnessed.  Surgeons have long since discovered that we remember millions of information every day and we do not even realize it. Under the right conditions, for example by touching the nerve, the person subjected to experimentation remember the smallest details of events which they do not remember anything of after the electrodes are removed from contact with nerves.  This shows that our mind remembers everything without the slightest sign of fatigue, and we complain about bad memory because we have a problem with recalling what is accurately and faithfully recorded.

The Bible teaches that in heaven no one will mention the old things, and “they will not come to mind.”[14]   But if we consider that the ancients did not have such a rich vocabulary as we have today, we come to a conclusion that they would use what was known to them.  Furthermore, we analyse everything with a higher precision than they can express.  Therefore, I suggest that the verse quoted above is not about memories being wiped out, or people losing their own identity.  The idea is that thinking about our own past will be boring and depressing; it will be regarded as a waste of time. This concept can be clearly seen in children who refuse to eat their dinner in spite of being hungry because their friends are involved in having fun. We will be in a similar situation — we will not forget who we were and how much Jesus paid for our salvation, but unimaginable joy in heaven prepared by God for those who love Him will attract us so much more that we will cling to it and won’t want to ruin even one second.[15]

What if God has transformed us in such a way that we cannot recognize ourselves? It would seem to be some manipulation on the part of God. It would look as if there were some opinions or events in the life of various people that were difficult to explain and, therefore, would be camouflaged by God. But God wants to make everything as transparent for all beings in the universe as it is only possible. The recognising of friends, both after the first and the second resurrection, is not something insignificant. It is necessary that all beings in the universe of humans and spirits declare with certainty and accept what others declare about God’s righteousness.  Without this event God would not be allowed to annihilate the demons and the unsaved without leaving many shadows and confusion in the minds of the redeemed and the angels.

After taking all the saved to heaven we will recognize all the people whom we have ever known during our entire lives on Earth, or met them through stories or movies. So, for example, we will recognize Eve, Adam, Abraham, and many other biblical figures. We will also meet a lot of people that we had never met, and those whom none of the redeemed or angels knew because they had died before they saw the light of day. But during the thousand years we will meet them all and they will remain our friends forever.

With assistance of Su-Leng Tan

All photographs are taken from the internet.

[1]      1Co15:38nasb  But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own.

[2]      Mt22:30nasb  For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

[3]      Lk20:35,36nasb  but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; for they cannot even die anymore, because they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.

[4]      Mt28:3,4nasb  And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men.

[5]      Jg6:17nasb  If now I have found favor in Your sight, then show me a sign that it is You who speak with me.

[6]      Mt25:31nasb  But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.

[7]      Zc14:5nasb  Then the LORD, my God, will come, and all the holy ones with Him!

[8]      Rv5:13nasb  And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.”

[9]      Ph2:10nasb  so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

[10]     Rv21:2,3nasb  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them,

[11]     Mt1:18nasb  Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.

[12]     1Co15:37nasb  and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else.

[13]     1Co2:9nasb  things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that god has prepared for those who love him

[14]     Is65:17nasb  For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind.

[15]     Is65:18nasb But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing And her people for gladness.

One Response to To Recognize Friends

  1. fantastic put up, very informative. I ponder why the other experts of this sector do not understand this.
    You must continue your writing. I’m confident, you have a huge readers’ base

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