In Heaven, Will You Remember Unsaved Loved Ones?

Posted on May 12, 2022


By David Ettinger

A Painful Truth
Perhaps the most painful truth for believers to absorb is that some of those they love most either are not now, or will not when this life is over, be in Heaven.

Heaven is the abode for those who during their earthly existences gave their lives to Jesus Christ. Hell is the destination of those who refuse Christ. You may wish this not to be true, but the Bible is clear; there is no escape clause.

This matter is extremely personal to me. In 1986, my mother died of breast cancer at age 53. One year later, my father succumbed to heart disease at age 58. I strongly believe that neither gave their lives to Christ. Furthermore, in my almost 36 years as a Christian, I have not seen a single member of my Jewish family come to Christ. It is a mournful thing indeed.

Of course I am not alone. Undoubtedly, like me, you have wondered: “I have given my life to Christ and trust Him that when this life is over, I will be spending eternity in with Him in Heaven. But how can I enjoy Heaven knowing that people I love dearly will never be there?”


Truths of Great Comfort
So, when you get to Heaven, what will be your memory of loved ones not there?

The Book of Isaiah is immensely useful. In a clear “end-of-the-age” passage, the prophet declares: “He will swallow up death for all time, And the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces, And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; For the LORD has spoken” (25:8, italic added).

The message is clear: Tears – which represent sadness and mourning – will be dried by God Himself. The tears are not what is in view here, but that which causes tears: grief, lament, heartache, physical and emotional suffering, and misery. Such things are banished in Heaven, including that which ignites the most grief in believers: loved ones who die without knowing Christ.

Let’s look at another encouraging passage from Isaiah, 65:17, which again is clearly future: “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind.” What exactly is it that will “not be remembered or come to mind?”

Logic dictates that if this verse is speaking of “new heavens and a new earth,” what does not “come … to mind” is anything related to the old heavens and earth. “Anything” may be a general term, but it is all-inclusive. Think of anything bad associated with this world – from a stubbed toe to the death of an unsaved loved one – and you have “everything” that will “not be remembered or come to mind.”

Here is one more towering verse, Revelation 21:4: “and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

This echoes the two Isaiah verses. There is really no need for me to analyze this verse for you; simply read it for yourself – several times – and soak up the divine glory and promise of it.


Summing It Up
I’m not sure how this all works. After all, like you, I am made of flesh and blood, and we are speaking of a time when we have cast our flesh and blood aside and have taken up residence in spiritual bodies (1 Corinthians 15:35-49). We also know this is a time when tears, death, mourning, crying, and pain are removed.

Will God simply erase your memory so that you will no longer even remember your unsaved loved ones? It’s quite possible; after all, Isaiah 65:17 does say, “And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind.” Conversely, some hold that believers in Heaven will remember their lives on Earth, but not be adversely affected by them.

Regarding the issue of your loved ones who will not be in Heaven, you need to take God at His Word and trust that when the time comes for you to join Him, He will see to it that you are filled with an eternity’s worth of inexpressible joy. Until then, be faithful in praying for your loved ones!

Though this is a very difficult topic to consider, my hope is that this brief study brings you peace and encouragement.

David Ettinger is a writer/editor at Zion’s Hope, Inc., and has written for Zion’s Fire magazine since its inception in 1990.