Ever since my grandfather passed away, I have had several questions always on my mind. I have looked at a few scriptures that suggest that we (Christians) will not know each other in Heaven. Is this true? Will we know each other in Heaven? Do people who are sent to Hell know each other in Hell and do they know who is not there? When we die, do we go straight to Paradise until Judgement Day and then we go to Heaven? What exactly does the Bible say about where we go after we die? Do people who aren't Christians go straight to Hell or are they just waiting in Paradise for Judgement Day with the ones who are going to Heaven? I've read several scriptures on this issue and I'm a little bit confused. Also, are we judged on Judgement Day for sins that we have asked forgiveness for already?
For answer to the first question, go to Lesson 14 in the Thought Provoking Questions classes. IAs I say in the audio of the class, I believe the minority position to be the Biblical position and I believe that Scripture supports it. The truth is, however, that whether we are in Hadean Paradise or Heavenly Paradise we are blessed. Whether immediate or after resurrection, Heavenly Paradise is our ultimate home as faithful children of God.
As to the second question, the very idea of a personal immortality demands that I as a living, rational human being retain my personality. If I am a different person in eternity Heaven will have no meaning to me. If I cease to be the person who I was then it stands to reason that the person that I was has entirely ceased to be. That would mean that there would be no eternal life for the person that I now am. It is true that the resurrection body will be different, but that present no difficulty. We are the same person now in different bodies as our bodies age from babe to senior. My body as a young man was different from my body as an infant and my body as an old man is different from my body as a young man, but I have been the same person through all of the changes. If I am the same person though in a resurrected body, I retain the same individuality or identity. If my identity persists and your identity persists and if we know each other here we will know each other there.
The scripture bears this out. In Luke 16 the rich man knew Lazarus. In Matthew 7:21, those who were turned away not only knew who they were, they remembered what they had done and were arguing with Jesus that they should have been admitted on the basis of what they had done. 2 Cor. 5:10 tells us that we will be judged based upon the things done in the flesh. If I am not the same person who did the things in the flesh then it would be impossible for me to understand that basis of my judgment. Whoever I had become could only accept what was said as the basis of God’s judgment, but it would have absolutely no meaning to me as an individual because I no longer existed because my identity and individuality were gone.
Many questions can be raised of the nature that you have raised such as whether we can be happy in heaven if some whom we have loved on earth are not present. I would observe first that we seem to have happiness here even though we know some whom we have loved and now love who are outside of Christ. More importantly, whatever problems I may envision, God said he would make me happy and I believe that He is able to do just that.
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)