By Whitney Hopler, Crosswalk.com
We all wonder about what heaven is like and what our deceased loved ones are doing there. As God’s Word, the Bible serves as the primary source of guidance and assurance on what happens to our loved ones after they pass away. The Bible doesn’t provide every detail about heaven and the state of our loved ones there. But it does offer valuable insights that provide important glimpses of the divine plan for believers in heaven. It also assures us in 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 that, “‘What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived’ – the things God has prepared for those who love him – these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.” Even though we can’t personally see or hear what our loved ones are doing in heaven right now, God has revealed many wonderful realities about heaven in the Bible. Here are 7 things the Bible says about our loved ones in heaven.
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1. Eternal Life and the Promise of Heaven
The Bible offers a profound promise of eternal life in heaven for those who have faith in Jesus Christ. It assures us in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” This is a source of great comfort for us while we grieve loved ones who have passed away. All the people we’re grieving who have put their trust in Jesus for salvation have the promise of eternal life. This foundational belief also gives us hope as fellow believers for reuniting with our loved ones in heaven when our own earthly lives have concluded.
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2. Absent from the Body, but Present With the Lord
2 Corinthians 5:8 offers insight into the state of believers when their earthly lives are over: “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” This verse suggests that when believers die, we are immediately in the presence of Jesus. It gives us confidence that our loved ones’ absence from this world means they are with God in heaven. While their absence creates a painful void in our lives, we can be encouraged by the fact that they are enjoying God’s presence. We can also let that inspire us to look for the wonder of God’s presence with us day by day.
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3. A Place Prepared for Us
Jesus provides comforting words about heaven in John 14:2-3: “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” I read that verse in my dying mother’s hospital room, and it gave me a strong sense of Jesus’ personal care for all of us in relationships with him. Jesus knows what we each need, and he carefully prepares a place for each of us in heaven. We can trust that our loved ones have the very best heavenly homes. When we visit their graves or other final resting places for their bodies (such as cremation urns), it can be inspiring to think about where their souls are in heaven right now.
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4. A Real Hope
In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, the Bible points out: “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.” This passage highlights the reality of the hope that those who trust Jesus have of resurrection to eternal life. Many people who haven’t trusted Jesus don’t have any hope of a good future after their earthly lives are over. But those of us who do trust Jesus do truly have the hope of heaven to look forward to one day. The Bible teaches the resurrection of believers, which is the hope that one day, both the living and the deceased will be raised to new life in Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:52-53 describes being reunited one day with our loved ones in a glorified state: “For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.” This passage highlights the transformation of believers at the resurrection, emphasizing our victory over death and the celebration of God’s glorious gift of eternal life.
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5. The Communion of Saints
The Bible teaches the concept of the communion of saints, which refers to the fellowship and connection among all believers – both those who are living on earth and those who are living in heaven. The communion of saints is based on the idea that believers in heaven and on earth are part of the same spiritual family. Hebrews 12:1 reveals: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” The “great cloud of witnesses” includes all believers who have gone before us, including our loved ones. Revelation chapters 5 and 8 both describe how our loved ones and other saints in heaven pray for us. However, we need to be cautious to avoid praying to them but to direct our prayers for them only to God. It’s encouraging to know that our loved ones are supporting us from heaven as we continue our lives on earth.
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6. Joy and No More Tears
Revelation 21:4 paints an inspiring picture of the eternal state of believers in heaven, describing a future where pain and sorrow no longer exist, and revealing about God: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” This verse assures us that in heaven, there will be no more sorrow – including the sorrow of missing loved ones. It helps us look forward to experiencing joy with our loved ones in God’s presence together. Revelation 19:9 refers to a great heavenly banquet: “Then the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ And he added, ‘These are the true words of God.’” This imagery conveys a sense of celebration and joy in heaven, where believers will gather with Jesus, experiencing fellowship together.
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7. Eternal Fellowship Unity
The Bible emphasizes the concept of eternal fellowship and unity among believers in heaven. It speaks to the idea that not only will we be with God, but we will also be together with our loved ones in perfect harmony. 1 Thessalonians 4:17 declares: “... we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” This verse reinforces the hope of being united together with loved ones for eternity. Revelation 7:9-10 describes a vast multitude in heaven, worshiping God and the Lamb (Jesus). “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’” This multitude includes people from every nation and tribe, pointing out the inclusivity and diversity of those in the presence of God. It will be a glorious scene in heaven, where a multitude of people from all walks of life worships God together. Our loved ones, along with countless others, are part of this heavenly assembly.
The Bible provides numerous insights and promises about loved ones in heaven, offering profound comfort and hope to us when we’re grieving. As we reflect on what the Bible says about loved ones in heaven, we find a rich tapestry of biblical teachings that affirm the reality of heaven as a place of unity, celebration, and everlasting communion with God and our loved ones. These biblical truths provide comfort and assurance after our beloved family and friends pass away. It reminds us of the profound hope that awaits us in the presence of our Creator. Heaven is not just a distant and mysterious realm, but a real place where we can enjoy reunion and eternal communion with both God and our loved ones!
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