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Recognition in Heaven Based on Luke 16:19-31

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RECOGNITION IN HEAVEN based on Luke 16:19-31

By Glenn Pease

F. W. Borham tells the story of the English cricket player who lost his sight in his old age. This was a cause for great grief, because he could not watch his own boy play the game in which he excelled. His son became the crack bat on his school team, but the father got small satisfaction from it. One day he suddenly died. The following Saturday and important match was to be played, and the team took it for granted that their best bat would be absent. But to their surprise, he was not only there, he batted like never before. He played with magnificent judgment, and rattled up a fantastic score that lead his team to victory. When it was all over, they asked him what motivated him to play the game of his life. He explained by telling them, "This was the first game where my father could see me at bat." Here was a young man who took literally the picture presented to us in Heb. 12:1. It says there, we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses as we run the race of life. Many Christians through the ages have believed that the dead in Christ go on observing those left behind. They know what is happening to us and have a greater understanding of the future than we do.

Some feel this is only wishful thinking and is really to good to be true. Others respond by saying, nothing is to good to be true where God is concerned, and they go on to answer all objections. One of the strongest objections is that if the dead in heaven know what happens on earth, then they cannot be very happy, for they would know of all the sin, war, and sorrow. They would be conscious of the failing even of their own loved ones. This sounds like a powerful argument against it, but John R. Rice, who has a strong conviction on the subject says, this argument proves nothing. Jesus Christ and God the Father know the reality of sin and evil completely, yet they are not unhappy, nor is heaven robbed of it's joy because of their knowledge. The bliss of heaven is not the bliss of ignorance, but bliss that comes with the knowledge that victory is certain in Christ.

The saints in heaven with Christ have a far greater knowledge than the saints on earth. This is a matter of clear revelation. Our text, for example, reveals some interesting things about the knowledge of those who have passed into the world beyond. One of the most striking facts about this passage is the knowledge and concern of the rich man in hell. He not only recognized Abraham, a man from the distant past, but Lazarus, the man he neglected in his own lifetime. He also recognized his folly, and he had compassion on those he left behind. Here is a lost sinner, asking that help be sent to his five brothers, lest they end up in the same place with him. Death seems to be very educational, even for the lost. He learned immediately about what really matters in life.

The point is, if a lost man can be concerned about the state of the living, and offer a prayer on their behalf, who would even think of denying that same concern to the saved? J. Patterson Smyth in, The Gospel Of The Hereafter, writes, "Can you imagine your mother, who never went to bed here without earnest prayer for her boy, going into that life with full consciousness and full memory of the dear old home on earth, and never a prayer for her boy rising to the altar of God?" I certainly cannot imagine a Christian mother forgetting her children when a godless man remembered his brothers, who were also apparently godless. Are we to conclude that even though Scripture reveals that the lost are concerned for the lost, that the saved are concerned for neither the saved nor the lost? Angels rejoice over every sinner who repents. Can you imagine a son becoming a Christian after his mother has died, and the angels rejoicing, but never sharing this good news with his mother?

This is a sufficient argument for believing the dead go on in their knowledge of this world. There is more, however. Abraham in verse 31 refers to Moses and the prophets, as if he was familiar with them. But Abraham lived many centuries before Moses and the prophets. We can only conclude, that in the heavenly realm of the redeemed, there is a keeping up of what goes on in history. Abraham was not sleeping, or in some state of oblivion concerning the people he fathered. Abraham kept current on history, and even knew the contemporary state of men's hearts. He said the brothers of the rich man were hardened to Moses and the prophets. He knew they would not listen to one from the dead. If he was up to date on what was happening in that day, many centuries after his death, it is logical to assume that he knows what is happening in our day. He no doubt, knows about Billy Graham and the New International Version of the Bible and anything he desires to know about contemporary events in the kingdom of God and in the world. Contemporary events are a part of the heavenly experience, if we believe what we see in the revelation God has given us.

Some might be a little leery of taking too strong a stand on what can be inferred from a parable, but there are other clear passages that back up the conviction that the dead go on learning of what happens on earth. In John 8:56 we read, "You father Abraham rejoiced that he was to see my day; he saw it and was glad." In Luke 9:30-31, we read concerning the event of Christ's transfiguration, "And behold, two men talked with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem." The impressive thing is not only that they appeared, but that they were fully informed as to what was going to happen. Had they merely appeared it would be of no comfort to Christ, but the fact that they could talk intelligently about His death on the cross was a tremendous release. His own disciples could not understand him when he spoke of dying. But these two, from the realm of the dead, had understanding of God's plan. Their knowledge was superior to that of the living on earth. We see also, that with centuries separating Moses and Elijah, in the realm of the dead they are companions and share a common knowledge of contemporary history. The limitations of time are over. In eternity you can be friends with people from all ages of time. People in eternity know of all ages of time, including the present.

In I. Sam.28, we see Samuel returning from the realm of the dead to inform Saul of what the future held. There is no evidence to deny it, and much to support it, that the dead have knowledge of what happens on earth. The whole doctrine



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