Anyone who has lost a loved one to death is interested in knowing the answer to this question. Every man will one day face death and needs assurance of heaven. All of us hope to be reunited with loved ones who have gone on before, but if we will not know each other in heaven, then the bonds made on earth are forever severed in death.
The idea that we will know each other in heaven is sometimes called the doctrine of 'future recognition.' It is both reasonable and scriptural. If we know anything in heaven, we will surely know that we are in heaven. We must know ourselves, unless we lose all personal identity and recognition in death. Surely we will know Christ, and that He has redeemed us of our sins, thus allowing us to enjoy the rewards of heaven. If we will know we are in heaven, know who we are, know Christ, and know that He rewards us for our faithfulness, surely we will know one another.
Revelation 6:9-10 describes a scene under the altar of God. The souls of the martyrs, 'slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held,' cried out for vengeance. These martyrs retained their personalities in the death state, were conscious of where they were and why they were there. They knew that they had been murdered and were conscious that their murderers had not been punished. Surely they knew each other.
David, stricken with grief over the death of his son, said, 'Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me' (2 Samuel 12:23). It is significant that David said he would 'go to' his son. If he would not recognize or know his son, he would feel no comfort.
The story we know as the 'rich man and Lazarus' is told in Luke 16:19-31. Whether this is a parable or not, it still indicates much about the state of the dead. The characters were all conscious and aware of their surroundings, and all possessed a memory of the world they had left. Abraham told the rich man to 'remember.' He could remember because he was conscious of who he was, where he was, and who the others were. We also have the example of Moses and Elijah at the Mount of Transfiguration. The apostles recognized them, so they had not lost their identity in death.
There will be no giving and taking in marriage in heaven as there is on earth (Luke 20:35-36), and many other things will be changed in heaven. But we will know one another, and heaven will be much better than we can imagine. The key is to be prepared to go to heaven by obeying the will of God because heaven is a prepared place for prepared people (John 14:1-3).
-Bob Prichard, P. O. Box 3071, Oxford, AL 36203