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Ask A Pastor: will I remember life on earth in heaven?

Question:

Do you believe that we will remember everyone and everything that happened during our time on Earth in Heaven? I have been told that we won’t because it would cause us too much sorrow and there is no sorrow in Heaven. I believe that we will because the Bible says that He will wipe away every tear. That means we must have been sad. I’m sure that sadness will come from knowing what we did wrong and how many opportunities we missed. But also, from realizing that loved ones are not with us. However, I think He will change those painful memories into history. In other words, we will know that information but He will take away its power to hurt us. What do you believe?


Answer:

The various mental faculties that we now possess will go with us to heaven, and this includes our memory. In this regard, I offer the following guidelines as to the role memory will play in our eternal state:


1. Revelation 6:9 – 11 depicts the slain martyrs in the intermediate state remembering all that had happened to them on earth including their great suffering. This experience was not erased because they were now in heaven. The rich man in the parable (Lk.16:28) remembered that he had five brothers still on earth. The Lord Jesus Christ’s resurrection body still bears the scars in His hands and feet and seeing those scars in heaven will always remind us that it was our sins that nailed Jesus to the cross to the eternal praise of God’s glorious grace in the gift of His Son.

2. We need also to recognise that memory, now purified from every defilement and pollution of sin, but nevertheless, memory with reference to the past, naturally goes with us to heaven. This means that our minds will now be able to think back clearly about the grace and justice of God and what all it entailed. As the apostles teach us, “For now we see through a glass, darkly … now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1Cor.13:12). In other words, as God now knows me fully, savingly, personally and everlastingly, so I will know God as my Father and understand fully His dealings with me at all times.

3. Revelation 21:4 states that in heaven, God (Himself) will wipe away all tears from their eyes, meaning that there will be no sorrow. We may well ask, how can there be tears in heaven in the first place. Will the Lord Himself wipe our tears away with a handkerchief? Possibly, but John is rather pointing us to the deeper reality that God will give an explanation for the sorrow we experienced on earth so that we will not have to cry anymore. If that were not so, then the tears might return after He has wiped them away. But being able to view the tearful events of earth from the perspective of heaven will dry up our tears forever (Erwin Lutzer).

4. Then there is the vexing question about loved ones of ours who are missing in heaven. If God will wipe away every tear from our eyes how then can we enjoy heaven knowing that some of our loved ones are in hell? Some have suggested that God will blank out all memory of our loved ones, but this is unlikely because it means that we will know less in heaven than we knew on earth. God does not resolve a problem by increasing our ignorance of certain things. In heaven all of our mental faculties will be vastly expanded and we will know far more than we did on earth. More likely, He will wipe away our tears by explaining His ultimate purposes. We will look at heaven and hell from His perspective and thus know that He did all things well. The Bible assures us that the blessed condition of God’s redeemed will not be clouded in heaven by grief over lost loved ones. Here in this life we labor in prayer for them and through witness to them to be delivered from destruction, but in heaven we will all bow before the sovereignty of God’s will knowing that it is GOOD (Maurice Roberts).


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