Are the deceased looking in on us?

Pastor Bob Russell’s latest blog article provides an answer to a question that has puzzled me and perhaps you too. Well, here is what he wrote in his article that appeared at: bobrussell.org as: ASK BOB: Are people in Heaven aware of what is happening on earth? RMF

ASK BOB: Are people in Heaven aware of what is happening on earth?
Bob Russell

Occasionally people ask my opinion on various personal or church issues. I recently received the following question which I have reprinted below, followed by my response.

QUESTION:

Bob,

When you have a moment, I was hoping that you could answer a question for me. I was listening to a sermon online about the “Temporary Heaven” and wanted to clarify with you what the minister said. He said that if a Christian died today, he/she would go to what is called the “Temporary Heaven” until the Lord returns. He said that according to the Bible, when we are in the Temporary Heaven, we will know what is going on in the world, like with our family, etc.

Is that true? I thought even in the Temporary Heaven we wouldn’t know of any sadness or pain that our family was experiencing. Thank you for taking the time to read this and respond to me when you get the chance!

MY ANSWER:

Pastor Bob Russell

I’ll try to answer your question according to my understanding of the Bible’s teaching on this subject. Second Corinthians 5:8 says, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” The Bible teaches when we die our spirit departs the body, and we go immediately to be with God.

Jesus told the thief on the cross, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” But we are not given our immortal, eternal bodies at that time. The Bible says, in 1 Thessalonians 4:14, that when Jesus returns He will bring with him the spirits of Christians who have died and at that point “the dead in Christ will rise” (1 Thess. 4:16). I take that to mean that the departed saints will be given new glorified bodies when Christ returns. The second coming of Jesus will be glorious for those in heaven as well as for believers on earth.

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so we will always be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

First Corinthians 15:51-54 reads, “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed… When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 

The Bible says Jesus’ death and resurrection is the example of what will happen to us. “But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then when he comes, those who belong to him” (1 Cor. 15:23). When Jesus died on the cross, He said, “Father into your hands I commit my spirit.” His body died, but His Spirit went to be with the Father. Three days later His spirit re-inhabited His body, and He was given a new glorified body. The same thing will happen to us. Second Corinthians 5:3 says, ‘We will not be found naked (without a body), but we will be “clothed with our heavenly dwelling.”

If someone wants to define that period between their death and Christ’s return as a “Temporary heaven,” I have no problem with that. I don’t, however, find evidence in Scripture that those who are with the Lord now have any awareness of what is going on with those who are still alive on earth. When the rich man died and crossed over to the other side, (Luke 16), he asked the Lord to send someone to warn his brothers of the eternal consequences of their behavior, but he was not permitted any communication with them.

Hebrews 12:1 says we are, “…surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.”  My understanding of the context of that passage is that it means we have a great number of inspirational examples, not a great cloud of onlookers. Like you, I don’t see how those in heaven could rejoice and be without pain if they were aware of what was happening with loved ones on earth.
Hope this helps your study. God bless!

– Bob

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About ronfurg

Former naval officer, federal investigator, forensic scientist, senior executive service member and pastor. In retirement serves as volunteer and life group leader at New Life Christian Church (www.newlife4me.com). Devoted to beautiful wife, kids and grandkids. Looking forward to the time when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord of all and that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
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