Thank you, my dear friend, for this very good question. I believe that there is not really any knowledge of current events or communication between the dead and the living of earth. I fully realize that it is a natural tendency for us to feel that those who have passed away are watching over us, or at least aware of our activities here on the earth. The Scriptures tell us that it is only the bodies of the dead that rest in the grave, but the spirits of true Christians, those saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus, are not in the grave, but with the Lord. For this, I cite II Corinthians 5:8: “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord”. From these words by the Apostle Paul, we see that when a believer dies, their bodies alone rest in the earth, but their spirits are quite alive and are immediately with Christ. From I Thessalonians 4:16-18, we see the order of things for Christians-that when the Lord Jesus returns in the clouds, the bodies of Christians will be raised up and changed, and then will be united with the living spirits which have been with Christ. We will thus be given new bodies, like unto His glorious body (Philippians 3:20-21), and thereafter, with our spirit clothed in this new body, believers will be forever with the Lord. Therefore, I believe that those who have died in Christ are with Christ immediately upon death and are not just sleeping in the grave. The same cannot be said, however, for those who were not saved through faith in Christ during life. It is these which are in the grave awaiting the judgment (Revelation 20).  Their spirits are alive too, but in a place of great sorrow (Luke 16:23).

Now, as to knowledge of or communication between the living and the dead, the reason that I do not feel that the dead are looking down on the living is that for the Christians, they will be with the Lord in a place where there is no more sorrowing. It seems to me that if those who are with Christ were watching events on earth, there might be plenty of events to concern or discourage them. In heaven, there will be no sorrow or crying, as we see in Revelation 21:4. Thus, I believe that those in the glory will not be aware of any words or actions on earth that might bring sorrow or worry. On the other hand, I do believe that in heaven, there must be an awareness of when a sinner comes to Christ (see Luke 15:7).

But now, let’s look to God’s Word for more insight into your question as to Those who have passed on “looking down” on the living. In Hebrews 12:1, we read about a “great cloud of witnesses”, and I have heard some Christians claim that these are those of heaven who are “cheering us on”, as at an athletic event, and thus aware of what we are doing and saying on the earth. But I believe that this cloud of witnesses refers instead to the Old Testament saints described and enumerated in Hebrews 11, who walked in faith in their lives on earth, trusting in the promise of the coming Messiah-they believed in the fulfillment of the promises of God. I believe that the lives of faith of these OT saints would therefore serve as examples for us to follow as we run our earthly race with perseverance. Thus, the dead in Christ would not be spectators of our lives, but rather examples to us of walking in faith in this world. Moving on and looking at a couple other examples that the dead of earth do not communicate with or have knowledge of the daily events of the living, I’d suggest the story of King Saul in his last battle, as described in 1 Samuel 28:3-25. Saul was in a very bad way before the Philistines, and he desperately wanted advice from Samuel; but Samuel was dead. The LORD was no longer responding to Saul, so Saul went to a woman with a familiar spirit in Endor to see if she could communicate with Samuel. In this one case, God actually allowed Samuel to be brought up to hear Saul’s concern and to respond, but this bringing up of Samuel had nothing to do with this woman. You’ll note here, though, that Samuel had to ask why Saul had disturbed him. Thus, I think that Samuel was not aware of the events then current on the earth.

As another example, we might consider the situation of Lazarus and the rich man in the parable of the Lord Jesus found in Luke 16:19-31. Here, after the rich man and Lazarus had both died, with the rich man’s spirit in torment, and the spirit of Lazarus in the bosom of Abraham, we see no evidence that there was any direct communication, in either direction, between the rich man and his family on the earth, nor was there to be any communication from Lazarus to the rich man’s family.

And now, I must ask you, my dear friend, are you saved? If you have repented of your sins and have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, then indeed your spirit will be with the Lord when you die, and you will be caught up to be forever with the Lord when He comes. We read in Romans 10:9, “…if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”  (SF)  (523.3)