What saith the word?
This is a question that has been asked by many people for thousands of years. There is not one specific passage of Scripture that answers it directly. However, there are many passages that help us to understand and infer the answer. For instance: The rich man in the account Jesus told in Luke 16, knew Lazarus after his death, and he knew Abraham -- even though he had never met him during his life. The Rich man also remembered that he had brothers while alive. Maybe that is the key to understanding this matter. I just cannot conceive of people in heaven going around introducing themselves to each other. We obviously will know Jesus, and we can infer that we will also know Moses, Peter, Paul, and the rest of the faithful in heaven
Jesus was asked a question by those who did not believe in a resurrection (Sadducees). They proposed to him the case of a woman whose husband had died, she married his next oldest brother, and he died. She continued to marry the brothers for a total of seven. They then asked Jesus, "Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her (Matt 22:28)”? Like today, many men think they can outthink God. They were trying to trap Jesus in the same manner seen in Matt 22:15. They must have thought Jesus would be confused due to her being married to all seven brothers. Jesus replied to their question by saying: "Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, not the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as angels in heaven" (Matthew 22:29-30). Jesus made it clear, without physical bodies, why one would need the bounds of a physical matrimonial relationship in heaven. Therefore, as the angels, we will be concerned with spiritual things and worshipping God, not physical things and physical relationships. I don’t struggle with the concern that my wife and I will not have a continued marriage relationship in heaven, I just want my spouse to be there.
We will not have physical bodies in heaven as Paul shows: "So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption: it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: it is sown a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So also it is written, 'The first man Adam became a living soul. The last Adam (Christ) became a life-giving spirit. Howbeit that is not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural, then that which is spiritual'" (I Corinthians 15:42-46). It is clear that the "natural body" in this passage is talking about the physical body. But if we don't have physical bodies, then how will we recognize one another? I don't know the answer to that one either, but I know I will know the faithful in heaven. I am convinced that we will recognize each other, including people who we never knew in this life.
The apostle Peter tells the listening Jews on Pentecost, Acts 2:16-17 (KJV) 16 “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:” What was occurring in Acts chapter 2 was the beginning of the last days. We read in Hebrews 1:1-2 (KJV) 1 “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;” The point is this: We are living in the last days or the last dispensation of time. The phrase “last days does not refer to the time of a “1,000 year physical kingdom” as taught by some today.
The first dispensation was the "Patriarchal" dispensation, which was from Adam to Moses’ generation, and lasted about 3500 years. The second dispensation of time was the "Mosaical" dispensation, which began when Moses was given the Law. The Mosaical dispensation lasted until the death of Christ, and lasted about 1500 years. We are now living in the last dispensation “(the last days”) or the "Christian" dispensation, which started on the day of Pentecost and will last until the end of time. The "Christian" dispensation has lasted about 2,000 years. There will be no more dispensations. No one knows how long the "Christian" dispensation will last. It could end today or it could last for another few thousand years. Man does not know when the end will come, but only God knows that day. Jesus says in Mark 13:31-32 (KJV) 31 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. 32 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. When this dispensation does end, 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 (KJV) 7 “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;” At the end of the last days the Judgment will occur when Christ appears(2 Timothy 4:1). No one knows when the Lord will come back because he will come as a thief in the night (1 Thes 5:2). Yet, we do know that when he comes back the earth will be burned up and there will not be a literal kingdom set up as taught by many religious groups today (2 Peter 3:10-12).
The Gospel writer, Luke, tells us that the mother of Jesus, Mary “kept all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). Following her search for Him, when Jesus was left behind in Jerusalem, Luke states Jesus’ mother “kept all these sayings in her heart” (v. 51). We have two inspired accounts of Jesus’ birth, one in Matthew and the other in Luke. The other two gospel writers do not tell us about the birth of our Savior. John touches on it in one verse, when he continues his argument that Jesus was God, and was from the beginning. This is seen when he stated, “And the Word became flesh” (John. 1:14). Mary played a role in His life until His death on the cross and His subsequent resurrection and ascension. Mary is mentioned by all four of the gospel writers and the writer of Acts.
As we consider what “things” Mary pondered, there were many due to the dramatic changes within the first two years. She would have additional things to ponder over the next 30 years or so as well. Luke tells the story of Mary’s inward and personal experiences as she learned of her pregnancy, how she felt about it, her fears, and ultimate submission and joy in understanding what was happening to her body and that she was to deliver the Savior into the world. Matthew tells us of the outward and more public display of humiliation she at first experienced regarding being pregnant. However, the shame and suspicion which filled her thoughts and life were followed by her ultimate vindication. Her life was much like a roller coaster, with “ups and downs”, but isn’t our life similar in some aspects as we often deal with life’s struggles?
Mary is seen in other events in the life of her Son. She found Jesus in the temple after the family’s trip following a Jerusalem festival. Jesus was both asking and answering questions from the religious leaders (Luke 2:42-52). Mary had an important role in the first public miracle of Jesus at a wedding feast in Cana of Galilee (Jn. 2:1-11). She was seen with Jesus’ brothers during His three-year ministry (Matt. 12:46; Mark 3:31-35) as he disputed with the scribes and Pharisees. Mary was also seen at the foot of the cross on which her Son hung. As it seems all of His disciples, with the exception of John and His other friends, had deserted Him. Mary was at the foot of the cross. The last inspired reported incident of Mary is after Jesus had ascended praying with the apostles, Jesus’ brothers, and some women.
It is apparent from before the birth of Jesus and the establishment of His church, that Mary played an active role in His life. She recognized the importance of her role in the life of her son, the Savior, and fulfilled that role in a way pleasing to God. If you are a mother, know how important your influence and support are upon your children (whether still young or fully grown). If you are a father, acknowledge the mother’s importance in the role of your children, support her influence, and encourage her in her Biblical example for your child.
The claim has been made that God was very direct in communicating to us His will, and therefore inference is not needed. This promotes the idea that if God did not say “don’t do it” then it is o.k. Let’s consider a few things which show this is not the case and that inference is needed, especially in the case of the silence of the scriptures on certain subjects. Notice, Deuteronomy 1:5 (KJV) On this side Jordan, in the land of Moab, began Moses to declare this law, saying,
In Deuteronomy 1:5 we find Moses declaring the Law to the Israelites. The Hebrew word which is translated as “declare” means to “explain”. When you explain the Law, you are explaining the meaning and how it applies. But, you cannot explain how it applies without using reason, inference, and connecting the words to a correct application. That simply cannot be done without using common sense, utilizing other verses to stop contradictions, and then drawing a necessary inference. An application is always an inference that helps us determine how we are to perform and apply those words to ourselves.
The teaching of inference is not limited to the Old Testament, and is also found in our new Testament. An example can be found in Acts 18:26 (KJV) And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. The word “expounded” means to “expose or declare” something. Clearly, this was done due to a lack of understanding.
Declaring and expounding means to draw the inference of both meaning of words and proper application of words. There is never an escape from having to reason through the process of understanding and proper application. To some the term "inference" sounds rather complicated. Some visualize a dark and complicated reasoning method when they hear the phrase “inference” or "necessary inference." Inference is a reasoning process that is necessary for all in studying the Bible. In studying the cases of conversion in the book of Acts we find the apostles commanding the people to repent and be baptized for the remission of their sins (Acts 2:38). Additionally, we find that every account of conversion involved baptism. It is a necessary inference that we, today, are likewise commanded to do the same as part of our conversion process. Inference helps us to understand that baptism was not only for 1st century Christians.
Don't let anyone fool you about the common sense of reasoning through commands and examples for any Biblical topic. To suggest inference of the scriptures is not necessary is to claim that God does not require reasoning upon His words to properly apply the commands requiring obedience.