What does the Bible teach about the present condition awareness, and occupation of believers who have died?
Although the Bible does not take up this subject in detail, we can draw a number of conclusions:
- Believers in heaven are very happy (Revelation 14:13).
- They are with Christ, beholding the One who loved them and gave Himself for them; they are far better off in such a wonderful place (Philippians 1:21, 23). They no longer have the flesh and the trial of suffering that so troubled them on earth (Romans 7:24, 25a).
- They rest from their labors until the Rapture when they receive glorified bodies in which they will commence their eternal service for God (Revelation 14:13; 22:3, 4).
- They recognize others and converse with one another (Luke 13:28; Matthew 17:4; Luke 16:24).
Will we ever know more of truth than the Bible reveals?
We must state clearly that in this life, no further truth will ever be known than what is revealed in Scripture.
However, we would have to say that additional truth will be unfolded while endless ages roll.
As to the present, the Bible indicates that God’s total mind and will have already been revealed. 1 Corinthians 13:10 shows that “sign gifts” were only required until the canon of Scripture, “that which is perfect,” was complete. Thus when John, the last writer of the New Testament, completed his part of the inspired writings, God had no further message to give to this world.
Regarding the coming world (Ephesians 2:7), the writer shows “that in the ages to come” fresh manifestations of our Lord Jesus Christ will ever be unfolded and never be exhausted. Another has well said, “When we arrive at our desired haven, we will never graduate from heaven’s university.”
What is the difference in our knowledge now and when the Lord comes?
When the Lord comes, our knowledge will not necessarily be different. Truth is as unchangeable as God Himself. “I am the Lord, I change not” (Malachi 3:6). Any true knowledge we have now will always be true whether on earth or in Heaven. In “The Dawn of World Redemption,” Eric Sauer says of God, “His eternal thoughts are in no wise mere ‘ideas’ floating far above the course of all earthly affairs, but are creative deeds, which at one and the same time directly incorporate themselves within all history, interweave themselves closely and deeply with it, and manifest themselves effectively ‘in, with, and beneath’ it all. ‘The history of the ages is the history of mankind, and the history of mankind is the history — of God’.” He adds, “As the eternal ‘Word’ the Son is the center and sun of all Divine revelation in the entire universe.”
Colossians 1:16 states, “all things visible and invisible … were created by him, and for him.” There is a unity of all knowledge in the universe and one goal of all — the revelation of God.
What do departed loved ones know of life on earth, particularly about the lives of those they have left?
Departed believers are fully conscious (Luke 16:24-26; 2 Corinthians 12:2). In the Revelation, the redeemed in heaven (apart from John, the prophet) seem only to be aware of events on earth through what takes place in heaven (Revelation 7:11, 13; 11:15, 16; 19:1-4) In chapter 11: 17, they hear that God has taken the kingdoms of this world. From Scripture they know the accompanying events (verse 18). They are aware of what God is doing. The same is true of Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration discussing with the Lord “His decease…” They were not present however when Peter blundered. In Luke 15:7, 10 the Lord teaches that those in the presence of God share in the joy of sinners’ being saved.
These passages suggest that departed loved ones are fully occupied with events in heaven. Although they don’t know the daily events transpiring on earth, they are aware of what God is doing, what brings glory to Christ, and what brings joy to the heart of God. That includes many events in our lives – and excludes many, as well.
Will our knowledge of our life on earth change when we are with the Lord?
The Lord Jesus in Luke 16:25 quotes Abraham, “Son, remember…” The rich man knew personal events from his life. He also knew events in the life of Lazarus. In Revelation 6:10, those who had been slain remember the manner of their death and appeal that their death be avenged.
At the Judgment Seat (Romans 14:10-12; 1 Corinthians 3:13-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10), the Lord will review service and motives in our life. We then will know His assessment, when He gives rewards. Colossians 3:25 is a solemn passage to consider. We conclude that our knowledge of the past will not be less, but will expand through what we learn from Him about our life.