Often at funerals you will hear the pastor say: “There are no tears in heaven.”
- This is one of those statements we make without any biblical justification because we are not careful with biblical promises.
- This takes a biblical promise out of its historical context and applies it erroneously.
WHAT’S THE BIBLICAL TRUTH?
The biblical truth is that there WILL BE no tears in heaven someday, but that day is not today.
- Rev. 21:4 is a future event after the judgment. Notice the time context. Revelation 21:4 happens after 20:11-15 (the Great White Throne Judgment). That judgment has not happened yet, so neither has 21:4. Revelation 21:1 speaks of a new heaven and new earth. That reality has not happened yet, so neither has 21:4. You can’t get to 21:4 without going through all the events that come before it.
- Technically, most of chapter 21 has to do with the New Jerusalem, not heaven, but that’s another sermon.
- Actually, because 21:4 says that at that point God will wipe away tears means the passage is actually an indication that there will have been tears leading up to that point.
WHY NOT "NO TEARS" IMMEDIATELY?
- There are two reasons in particular why there will be tears before Revelation 21:4.
1. There will be tears because of our lost opportunities as Christians.
- As we stand before Christ someday to be judged as Christians (2 Corinthians 5:9-10), for many there will be regrets over not having lived for Christ as we should have. We do not know the specific timing of this judgment, although we do know that it comes before the Great White Throne Judgment, so that all that was said earlier about the time context applies to this judgment.
- We know that not all Christians will be rewarded (1 Corinthians 3:11-15). The reality of standing before Jesus and realizing that we have not lived for Him as we could have or should have is sure to bring tears of regret.
2. There will be tears because of those we love that are lost.
- Revelation 20:11-15 speaks of the judgment of those who are lost. As those who we love are judged still in their sins, how could there not be tears of sadness for their lifelong refusal?
- We can be thankful that that sadness is not our eternal condition, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be a horrible moment.
- To a certain extent, we have the choice between tears of burden now or tears of regret later.
- Again, notice that this happens before Revelation 21:4. It only makes sense that there would be tears in our eyes as we see those we love who refused to accept the Lord cast into the lake of fire.
- In fact, the fact that Revelation 21:4 says that God will wipe away our tears is indication that we had tears leading up to that moment.
- See also: Matthew 8:12; Matthew 13:42; Matthew 22:13; Matthew 24:51.