Shortly after the iron curtain fell and the old communist USSR became accessible to westerners, I traveled there with a group of other missionaries. We carried the best story that has ever been shared. We told the Russian people that Jesus, the sinless Son of God, had died a sacrificial death to pay the penalty for our sin, that He had overcome death and the grave, and that we can live eternally through grace alone, by faith alone, in Jesus alone.
Day after day, in rural southwestern Russia, we preached the Gospel to the Russian people. In one communist meeting hall, with the portraits of Lenin and Stalin emblazoned on the walls, a crowd of Russian people packed in to hear what the young American preacher would say. Through my interpreter, I shared the Gospel straight out of Bill Bright’s Four Spiritual Laws.
Young and old... men, women and children. All poor. All anxious to hear good news. Not a single person could understand my English words, but that day, everyone heard about Jesus’ mission to seek and save. When I invited them to come forward to pray for salvation, they responded to the Gospel. They flooded to the front.
I don’t remember their names. I never learned the details of their lives. I didn’t learn about their siblings or their children, about their education or their vocation. As the eternally new day dawns in Heaven, as I sit on the banks of the River of life or as I stroll down the golden boulevards, will I recognize them?
In Heaven, believers from “every tribe and language and people and nation” will gather around the throne of God to sing a “new song.” My Russian friends will be there. In perfect harmony, in a common language, we’ll sing, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing!”(Revelation 5:9–13, CSB).
Paul wrote, “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, as I am fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12, CSB). In Heaven, when we see Jesus “face to face,” our faith will become sight and we’ll know one-another. In Heaven, I’ll know my grandparents. I’ll know Abraham and Isaac. And I’ll know my Russian brothers and sisters.
If you are a Christian, you were made for Heaven! We are not at home. “Our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly wait for a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of his glorious body” (Philippians 3:20–21, CSB). “Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when he appears, we will be like him because we will see him as he is” (1 John 3:2, CSB).
In our eternal home, we will have bodies like the glorified Jesus, and we’ll know as we are known. When we meet over yonder, I’ll introduce you to my Russian friends.