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Will there be recognition in heaven?
pp. 34 - 37
When one has received a fair number of problems and questions, it becomes possible
to sort them out into groups, and while such grouping may be far from scientific in its
accuracy, it gives a rough and ready gauge whereby to work. Some problems will be
purely dispensational, and the most vital help will be to lead the troubled believer to face
the application of "right division". Other problems will arise out of unscriptural or
inadequate conceptions of the finished work of Christ. Yet others will result from
confusing things that differ, like the dangerous misconception that uses the running for
the prize of Phil. 3: to urge believers to run and to win a place in the church of the One
Body. Many problems arise from ambiguous or inaccurate translation; some can be
solved by exhibiting the structure of the passage which contains the problem. None of
these categories however seen to cover the question at present before us. This one seems
to be the problem of certain temperaments, associated generally with a loose idea as to
what actually is involved in recognition. Let us try to help any who are perplexed over
First let us face that matter squarely in the light we have of the character of God. It
would be conceivable if our God were the cold, abstract, remote God of the philosopher,
that He would arrange a heaven made up of perfect strangers, but our God is "Love", and
not only so, His love has been manifested both in the gift of His Son to be the Redeemer,
and by the revelation of Himself as Father. Now the redeemed are called by very
homely titles; they are called "the Family" (Eph. 3: 15); they constitute a "Household"
(Eph. 2: 19); the anticipation of glory is expressed by the prayer, that Christ may "dwell"
(or "be at home") in our hearts by faith (Eph. 3: 17). Resurrection glory is expressed by
the word "endemeo", translated in II Cor. 5: 6, 8 "at home" and "to be present", a word
that means literally "among one's people". Here in this most blessed cluster of homely
terms, we may surely discover an answer to our question. A family that did not recognize
one another, would cease to be a family. A Father whose family were utter strangers to
one another would cease to be a father except in name. Further, it was the office of the
Son to make the Father known, and He has assured us that He did nothing but what He
saw the Father do. He is therefore in Himself and in His teaching a faithful
Representative of the Father. The parable of the Prodigal Son was not given with the
object of answering the question "Will there be recognition in heaven?", but if the Lord
knew that there would be no recognitions in heaven, has He not given us too happy a
picture of the prodigal's reception? The elder brother evidently "recognized" the
prodigal, even if it were only to complain about him.
It is very probable that those who are troubled about this question of `recognition' do
not really understand all that `recognition' involves. Shall we put the matter this way:
Can I "recognize" others without "recognizing" myself? The answer obviously is "No".
Now put it the other way round. Will anyone "recognize" themselves in resurrection
glory? Lazarus died, Lazarus was buried, Lazarus was raised again, and there is not the
slightest hint that Lazarus did not recognize Mary and Martha and the rest of his friends.