Will there be emotions in heaven?
The simple answer is yes, but this needs qualification and explanation because, in our present condition as sinners, emotions tend to cause a lot of trouble.
We are made up of spirit, soul, and body (1 Th. 5:23). The spirit is the “highest” part of our being and gives the capability of communion and fellowship with other men and God (1 Cor. 2:11). The spirit is the seat of rational thought. The first part of Isaiah 1:18 is particularly interesting in this respect. It reads, “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord.” The fact that we can reason together with the Lord shows that we have this thought process in common with the Lord. I believe this is a consequence of being created in the image of God; but sound reasoning requires a proper context or set of assumptions. The remainder of Isaiah 1:18 gives the necessary context for us to reason with the Lord. To forget this basis leads to merely human reasoning, which leaves God out.
The soul provides the emotional part of our being, and the body provides the outward expression of the person. “Soul” (Heb. nephesh; Gk. psuche) is used in Scripture to refer to the person; for example, “Out of the anguish of his soul” (Isa. 53:11) and “there were added that day about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41).
In the Fall, the relationship between these elements of our being was damaged. Thus, the term “flesh” becomes the symbol of the governing of a person by their body and soul rather than their spirit. When properly reconstituted in resurrection to have a body like “His glorious body” (Phil. 3:21) the spirit, soul, and body will once again be in their proper relation to one another.
In this regard, it is worth noticing the contrast between “the fool says in his heart there is no God” (Ps. 53:1) and “Come now, let us reason together” (Isa. 1:18). A man who is not born-again (Jn 3:3-6; 5:24; etc.) is not governed by reason (regardless of pretense) but by his heart (or “desires”), which is more connected with the soul. In contrast, the basis of God’s appeal to us is rational. Regardless of how much emotion may be expressed in a gospel appeal, the basis of the appeal is always rational. Notice also the frequent reference to “truth” in John’s gospel particularly. Truth is grasped by the spirit of a man—his reasoning faculties. Nevertheless, it is the soul (the “emotions”) that makes us human.
With regard to heaven, or the eternal state, our circumstances will be quite different. There will no longer be internal and external strife. Not only will the “flesh” as we experience it now be gone, but we also will be free of the external aggravations that trouble us now. For example, there will not be the occasion for, say, anger—an emotion which in our present state can be both properly and improperly displayed. These changes will contribute greatly to our experience of peace and joy, both of which are closely connected with our emotional nature. For example, Ps 16:11 reads, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” So, again, yes there will be emotions in the eternal state.
 For a detailed discussion of the relationship between the spirit and the soul, see F. W. Grant, Facts and Theories as to a Future State (New York: Loizeaux Brothers, 1886).
Excellent, concise treatment of this topic. It makes me wonder how the overt appeal to emotion in the so-called “contemporary church” and its focus on pop cultural methods in evangelizing (seen in its music, teachers, and forms of worship) actually inhibits the reception of the gospel.
Thanks for the comment. Yes, I think it is a hindrance because it reinforces the “NOMA” (non-overlapping magisteria proposed by Steven Jay Gould) view that reason and faith are separate domains of experience.
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