Imagine for a moment that you’ve died in a tragic accident, but to your relief, you awaken at the pearly gates. Saint Peter is there to greet you. He gives you a key to your room in heaven, and then he hands you a white robe, a golden crown, and a ticket. Now, you understand the robe and the crown, but you ask, “What’s this ticket for?”

Peter says, “It’s for the movie tonight. You won’t want to miss it. The film is about you. It costars your family members and friends, and the climactic scene is your funeral. I think you’re really going to like it. But you better get there early—it’s a sold-out crowd.”

I’m pretty sure in heaven there won’t be feature-length presentations about our lives, but many people wonder, Do people in heaven know what is happening on earth?

Hebrews 12: The Cloud of Witnesses

First, we have to consider Hebrews 12:1, a passage that is often used to say people in heaven are aware of what’s happening on earth. The writer of Hebrews said, “Since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

Who are these “witnesses”? The writer was referring to the men and women of faith mentioned in chapter 11: Noah, Abraham, Rahab, and so on. Some people interpret this verse to mean that these men and women are like fans in the bleachers watching us live our lives. But do you really want Solomon, who wrote a book on the intimacies of marital love, critiquing what goes on in your bedroom? Do you want your grandmother in heaven watching every move you make?

I don’t think that’s what this passage is teaching. I think this is one passage that does not say people in heaven are aware of what is happening on earth. The writer was simply saying, “Considering these great men and women, we ought to demonstrate the same kind of faith.”

However, at least three other passages in the Bible clearly indicate that people in heaven know what is happening on earth.

Revelation 6: The Tribulation Saints

First, let’s look at an example from the tribulation. At the rapture of the church, all Christians on earth will immediately be taken to be with the Lord; only unbelievers will be left on earth for the tribulation. Yet during that seven-year period, some people will be saved, and they will give their lives as martyrs.

Look at what the apostle John said he saw in heaven during the tribulation: “When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained” (Revelation 6:9). Who are these souls? They are the Christians who were slain during the tribulation. In Revelation 6:10 John said these tribulation saints “cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’”

The tribulation saints could look down from heaven and see that those who had killed them were still running unchecked throughout the world. They were saying, “God, when are You going to bring judgment against those who rebel against You?” They couldn’t say that unless they were aware of what was happening on earth.

Revelation 19: God’s Judgment on Babylon

John gave us another instance in Revelation 19. God has just poured out His judgment on Babylon, the world system opposed to Him. Look at how the saints in heaven respond: “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God; because His judgments are true and righteous; for He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality, and He has avenged the blood of His bond-servants on her” (vv. 1–2). In this passage, the tribulation saints are able to see God pouring out His judgment because they are aware of what is happening on earth.

Luke 15: The Salvation of the Unsaved

Let’s look at one final example. In Luke 15, Jesus told three parables: the stories of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. The point of each story is the same: when you lose something of value, you don’t hate it; instead, you search for it diligently and rejoice when you find it. Jesus was saying God is like that. He doesn’t hate lost people. He searches for them, and He rejoices when they find Him. Jesus said in verse 7, “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” In verse 10, He added, “There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Who rejoices in heaven when the unsaved are saved? We know God rejoices. And I’ve always heard that the angels rejoice, but that’s not what Jesus said here. He said, “There is joy in the presence of the angels of God” when a sinner repents. Who is rejoicing in the presence of angels? The residents of heaven—people who were saved by God’s grace through faith and went to heaven when they died. When you and I get to heaven, we will rejoice whenever another lost person is saved.

The Bible is clear that in heaven we will be aware of events on earth. But no matter what is happening on earth, it will not compare to the unending joy of being in the presence of God.

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