DEAR FATHER PAUL: I am a sixty-seven year old woman who has a lot of precious relatives and friends who, I know for certain as my fellow believers, are now in Heaven. Are these people able to see and know what is happening now on earth? What does the Bible say? S. M.
DEAR S.M.: Pastors get this question a lot. And unscrupulous charlatans, have over the centuries, made a lot of money by promising to “connect” living people with the dead through séances and the like. All of these activities are, as the saying goes, “as phony as a three dollar bill,” designed only to separate lonely and sometimes grieving people from their money. Shame!
But séances are not the issue in your question. Do the people now living in Heaven know what is happening on earth?
It’s an interesting and intriguing question. Unfortunately, the Bible contains little specific language which directly answers this question per se.
So to me that means that it is probably okay with God for us to make up our own minds on this question based on what little the Bible DOES say. After all, the answer, either way, does not involve any of the essential doctrines of the Christian faith. One thing is certain though, many of us WILL know the answer someday through personal experience … if, and when we ourselves get to Heaven.
In the meantime here are some things to consider.
First … The Bible has a very comforting passage about what happens when a believer dies. The Apostle Paul in II Corinthians 5:6-8 says this: (The New Living Translation) … “So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home (in Heaven) with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies. For then we will be at home (in Heaven) with the Lord.” From this we understand that the Lord Jesus is right now residing in Heaven, and that when a believer dies his / her spirit and soul are instantly in Heaven with Jesus.
Second …In Luke 15 Jesus says these words in verses 7 and 10, “I tell you that ….there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. In the same way, I tell you that there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (The New Living Translation).
Jesus says here that there is rejoicing IN HEAVEN and IN THE PRESENCE OF THE ANGELS (also in Heaven) whenever even one sinner repents. Well where exactly is this rejoicing happening? Its happening in Heaven. So how do those in Heaven who are doing the rejoicing know when to rejoice unless they KNOW that a sinner is now repenting on the earth? Answer: they can’t. Note that the passage doesn’t say that the angels are rejoicing. No, it says those “in the PRESENCE OF THE ANGELS” are rejoicing. Clearly those that are rejoicing in Heaven are those human believers who have died then gone to heaven, and FROM HEAVEN either saw (or were told about) people repenting on the earth and because of what they saw, or were told, they are rejoicing.
Third … Hebrews 12:1 declares that there is a “great cloud of witnesses” (in Heaven) and that these “witnesses” are from among the many men and women mentioned in chapter 11 who are the deceased heroes of our faith now living in Heaven. Many believe that these Heavenly residents (witnesses) are like spectators in a great Heavenly stadium cheering on those of us they see as still in the race for eternal life.
Lastly … In Revelation 6:9-11 the Apostle John was allowed by God to actually visit Heaven. He records that in Heaven he saw and heard the souls of those believers who had been martyred for their faith crying out with a loud voice for God to bring justice upon their murderers. Apparently these martyred saints KNEW while in Heaven that their killers were still alive on the earth and deserved punishment.
To sum up, I believe that those in Heaven now are sometimes allowed by God to see or know things about what is happening on the earth. But only those things that God, for his good purposes, allows them to know. Otherwise their eternal happiness and bliss would often be compromised.
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Now retired from active ministry, Father Paul is available to present “How We Can Know For Sure That The Bible Is Really True” to local civic and church men’s, women’s etc. groups.
Father Paul Massey is Canon to the Bishop of the Mid-South Diocese of the International Communion of the Charismatic Episcopal Church. He is assigned to The Cathedral of Christ The King in Sharpsburg, Georgia.