ANSWER: Interestingly, though many believe upon death we will all be taken to heaven to be with the ones we loved, the truth is it will come down to us! Revelation 21 states that a new universe and a new earth will be created by the Eternal. He will also miraculously make a new version of Jerusalem that He will personally lower from his spiritual throne and place directly on the earth itself! Our Father will then place his presence, his throne, within the new city that is on the earth!
|1. Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. . . 2. And I, John, saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem (the place where we will be, with our converted loved ones, forever), coming down from God out of heaven . . . Behold, THE TABERNACLE OF GOD IS WITH MEN (on the earth!); AND HE SHALL DWELL WITH THEM . . . (Revelation 21:1 - 3, HBFV)|
For those faithful converted Christians who die before the Lord's Second Coming, they will be resurrected at his return and live with him for a 1,000 years (known as the millennium). Since Jesus is coming back to rule and reign on the earth, we (along with any converted loved ones who were also raised from the dead in the first resurrection) will also live on the earth (not heaven) and recognize each other.
. . . and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years . . . This is the first resurrection. 6. Blessed and holy is the one who has part in the first resurrection . . . (Revelation 20:4 - 6, HBFV)
Although they were a bit confused at first, and no doubt startled, the disciples (except for Thomas) recognized Jesus on the first day after he was resurrected from the dead (he was brought back to life on a Saturday but saw his disciples on Sunday, April 9 in 30 A.D.). As they huddled together, hiding from the Jewish authorities, he appeared.
Then Jesus came and stood among them . . . (he miraculously appeared and greeted them after going to heaven) 20 After saying this, he showed them his hands and his side (John 20:20, see also Acts 1:3).
The best proof that we will know our loved ones in the afterlife was given by the Apostle Paul in his first letter to the church in Corinth. In chapter 15 he is responding to questions regarding what kind or type of body Christians will possess after they are resurrected from their graves and given eternal life. His answer is that a seed planted in the ground does not sprout unless it 'dies' first. He also states that what is planted does not initially look anything like what it will later produce.
35. Nevertheless, someone will say, "How are the dead raised? And with what body do they come?" 36. Fool! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37. And what you sow is not the body that shall be; rather, it is bare grain - it may be of wheat, or one of the other grains; 38. And God gives it a body according to His will, and to each of the seeds its own body (1Corinthians 15:35 - 38, HBFV)
Paul goes on to state that our earthly, weak and mortal physical bodies that are 'sown' or put in the grave will be replaced with an immortal, strong and beautiful spiritual body (verses 42 - 44).
Paul's analogy comparing the body to a seed is meaningful to me. If you plant a seed of corn, you will recognize what grows from that to be corn; plant a rose, and you will recognize what grows from that to be a rose. It follows that if a person is "planted" in the ground then what will come from it, after a resurrection, will be recognizable. The apostle tells us plainly that first a natural body has to be sown before a spiritual one can exist (verse 44). There is every reason to believe that spiritual bodies will be recognized by those who knew the physical. Those who knew the physical body will be able, perhaps after some confusion, to recognize the spiritual bodies of loved ones.