I've been struggling with the thought of not knowing my family/friends/etc. after I die. I'm depressed when I read Ecclesiastes 9: 5-10 and Revelation 21:3-7 which all suggest that the Lord will take away our memory of life on this earth and that I'll never know my family/friends/etc. ever again. I should be looking at it as my whole purpose on this earth is to serve the Lord and do His will and be excited (which I am) about seeing Him when I get to Heaven, which I am. I just want to know if I'll know my family/friends/etc. there in Heaven as well. And I know that I'm not doing a good job at "not worrying" but it has been consuming my thoughts and I just need an answer. Will I know my family/friends/etc. in Heaven or will I not know them because everything on earth will be forgotten (meaningless, in vain)? Thanks.
Please review Class: Questions, Lesson 14, which addresses the issue of whether we shall know one another in Heaven. Your question seems to go beyond that issue and asks if Ecclesiastes 9:5-10 or Revelation 21:3-7 is to the contrary because you think that they may teach that the Lord will take away all of our memory of life on this earth. They do not.
Ecclesiastes is written concerning matters that are “under the sun,” a phrase that occurs some 29 times in the book. It is written from the perspective of earth, which is under the sun; it is not written from the perspective of Heaven. Ecclesiastes 9:5-10 is a good example of that. The dead know nothing about what is going on under the sun (v. 5). Their earthly emotions are gone because they perish when the living die (v.6). Those who remain alive should go about their daily tasks because, while living, God accepts their works (v.7). They should live a good live (white garments) and enjoys the things that God has provided (head lack no ointment) (v. 8). Enjoy and live with the wife that God has given on earth or “under the sun” (v. 9 – remember that in Heaven there shall be no marrying or giving in marriage in heaven but we shall be as the angels (Matthew 22:20)). Verse 9 closes: “for that is they portion in this life, and in thy labor which thou takest under the sun. Verse 10 closes with the admonition to do that which we do with might because there is not work nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave wither thou goest. This lack of knowledge, wisdom, and work describes that which is true of the grave. This is where the Christian can say “Thank God”! It does not end there. Christ has risen and come forth from the grave as the first fruit and a guarantee of our resurrection. It does not end with the grave, and that is where Lesson 14 takes up.
Revelation 21:3-7 is not different. In fact, there is nothing in the passage that can reasonably be construed to wipe out our memory of this life. The closet seems to be that He will make all things new. Many believe that this language relates to the church on the earth in this life and not to heaven. In this same context we learn that the gates are not shut (v. 27). Could that be true of Heaven? While Luke 16 speaks of the Hadean realm and not of Heaven, it describes a great gulf between the saved and the lost. Is there any reason to believe that there is not a great gulf between Heaven and Hell? The truth is that there is reason to believe that there is. “10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. 11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. 12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. 13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” Matthew 25:10-13.
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)