Shall We Know One Another

by John Yoder on April 18, 2017

This past Sunday, we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ which guarantees the bodily resurrection of believers.  Our text was 1 Corinthians 15:35-49 in which Paul seeks to explain the nature of the resurrection body.  One application of this doctrine is the hope that we will know Christ and other believers.  I quoted from J. C. Ryle’s classic paper, “Shall We Know One Another”.  The following is an extended excerpt to encourage you all…

There is something to my mind unspeakably glorious in this prospect: few things so strike me in looking forward to the good things yet to come. Heaven will be no strange place to us when we get there. We shall not be oppressed by the cold, shy, chilly feeling that we know nothing of our companions. We shall feel at home. We shall see all of whom we have read in Scripture, and know them all, and mark the peculiar graces of each one. We shall look upon Noah, and remember his witness for God in ungodly times. We shall look on Abraham, and remember his faith; on Isaac, and remember his meekness; on Moses, and remember his patience; on David, and remember all his troubles. We shall sit down with Peter, and James, and John, and Paul, and remember all their toil when they laid the foundations of the Church. Blessed and glorious will that knowledge and communion be! If it is pleasant to know one or two saints, and meet them occasionally now, what will it be to know them all, and to dwell with them forever!

There is something unspeakably comforting, moreover, as well as glorious in this prospect. It lights up the valley of the shadow of death. It strips the sick-bed and the grave of half their terrors. Our beloved friends who have fallen asleep in Christ are not lost, but only gone before. The children of the same God and partakers of the same grace can never be separated very long. They are sure to come together again when this world has passed away. Our pleasant communion with our kind Christian friends is only broken off for a small moment, and is soon to be eternally resumed. These eyes of ours shall once more look upon their faces, and these ears of ours shall once more hear them speak. Blessed and happy indeed will that meeting be!—better a thou- sand times than the parting! We parted in sorrow, and we shall meet in joy; we parted in stormy weather, and we shall meet in a calm harbour; we parted amidst pains and aches, and groans, and infirmities: we shall meet with glorious bodies, able to serve our Lord for ever without distraction. And, best of all, we shall meet never to be parted, never to shed one more tear, never to put on mourning, never to say good-bye and farewell again. Oh! it is a blessed thought, that saints will know one another in heaven!

How much there will be to talk about! What wondrous wisdom will appear in everything that we had to go through in the days of our flesh! We shall remember all the way by which we were led, and say, “Wisdom and mercy followed me all the days of my life. In my sicknesses and pains, in my losses and crosses, in my poverty and tribulations, in my bereavements and separation, in every bitter cup I had to drink, in every burden I had to carry, in all these was perfect wisdom.” We shall see it at last, if we never saw it before, and we shall all see it together, and all unite in praising Him that “led us by the right way to a city of habitation.” Surely, next to the thought of seeing Christ in heaven, there is no more blessed and happy thought than that of seeing one another.

Shall we get to heaven at all? This, after all, is the grand question which the subject should force on our attention, and which we should resolve, like men, to look in the face. What shall it profit you and me to study theories about a future state, if we know not on which side we shall be found at the last day? Let us arouse our sleepy minds to a consideration of this momentous question. Heaven, we must always remember, is not a place where all sorts and kinds of persons will go as a matter of course. The inhabitants of heaven are not such a discordant, heterogeneous rabble as some men seem to suppose. Heaven, it cannot be too often remembered, is a prepared place for a prepared people. The dwellers in heaven will be all of one heart and one mind, one faith and one character. They will be ready for mutual recognition. But, are we ready for it? are we in tune? Shall we ourselves get to heaven?

Why should we not get to heaven? Let us set that question also before us, and fairly look it in the face. There sits at the right hand of God One who is able to save to the uttermost all them that come unto God by him, and One who is as willing to save as he is able. The Lord Jesus Christ has died for us on the cross, and paid our mighty debt with his own blood. He is sitting at God’s right hand, to be the Advocate and Friend of all who desire to be saved. He is waiting at this moment to be gracious. Surely if we do not get to heaven the fault will be all our own. Let us arise and lay hold on the hand that is held out to us from heaven. Let us never forget that promise, “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John i. 9). The prison doors are set wide open; let us go forth and be free. The lifeboat is alongside; let us embark in it and be safe. The bread of life is before us; let us eat and live. The Physician stands before us; let us hear his voice, believe, and make sure our interest in heaven.

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