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Also see 30+ Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing in your church. As others have contributed ideas, this wonderful resource has grown to over 80 items now. And, for more than three dozen reasons why congregations should still use hymn books rather than merely projecting words on the wall, see The Value of Hymn Books.
Note: Mr. Arnold was the cousin of country-western legend Eddie Arnold. Robert Arnold sang in quartets, taught piano and voice, and wrote songs, sometimes working with Albert Brumley (who gave us I’ll Fly Away). Arnold’s best known selection, No Tears in Heaven, has been recorded by many country-western artists.
We have a word for it: banned. For something to be officially or legally banned means it is prohibited or excluded in some way.
When a ban is announced, it is bound to raise the ire of some. They see it as an assault on their personal rights. The implication seems to be that we should have the right to do or say whatever we please, anywhere, any time. But of course this is nonsense. Swinging your arms may be fine when you’re exercising at home, but not when you’re in a crowded elevator.
What may be acceptable for an individual in isolation and in privacy isn’t always fitting when we are in a group. Living in a community places certain restrictions on us, usually in consideration of the welfare of others. Because of the health hazards of smoking, it has been banned from public places. And there are signs in hospitals and elsewhere warning they have “a zero tolerance for violence or abusive language.”
The early Christians faced wave after wave of deadly persecution. Their church services were banned, and their preaching. When brought before the Jewish Sanhedrin and told not to preach the gospel of salvation in Christ, Peter and the others said, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). And, having been beaten (vs. 40), “they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name” (vs. 41).
Later, Christians were threatened with death from the Roman government. But there was a way individuals could avoid imprisonment and possible death. If he or she offered a sacrifice to a false god–specifically to Caesar himself–they were given an official certificate indicating they were not followers of Christ. But multitudes refused the option, and were cruelly tortured and slain.
Nor is this kind of persecution unknown today. The Bible is a totally and absolutely banned book in North Korea. Citizens are to worship leader Kim Jong-un, rather than God. Anyone caught with a Bible in his possession can be imprisoned, tortured, and killed. And this cruel punishment can extend to three generations of the convicted person’s family.
But what if we examine another area where certain things are banned: heaven. Usually, when we think of heaven, what comes to mind is what is there. The throne of God is there; Christ, the Lamb of God, is there; the holy angels are there; and the glorified saints are there.
But what will definitely be excluded? The “beast” (the Antichrist of prophecy) and his false prophet will not be there (Rev. 19:20). Nor will the devil, and his demon army (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20: 10). And anyone whose name is not found in the Book of Life, anyone who has not accepted God’s way of salvation, will not be admitted (Rev. 20:15; 21:7). Then, there is this wonderful promise:
“God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4).
Death and sorrow will be banned, and “crying” too. That word translates a Greek term with a wider application. It applies not only to shedding tears, but to wails of distress and woe, and cries for vengeance. None of that will be there.
Which brings us to the song by Robert Arnold.
And first, let’s address what’s perhaps a minor quibble, though the song asserts it more than two dozen times. The Bible never says there will be no tears in heaven. It says the Lord will wipe away the tears that are shed there (Rev. 7:17; 21:4). Perhaps these will be tears of sorrow for those who are not with us, or tears of regret that we could have loved God more deeply, or served Him more faithfully. But there will indeed be tears, at least in the beginning.
Even so, the basic sentiment of the song is valid. Heaven will be a place of abundant joy, not of sorrow and sadness.
1) No tears in heaven, no sorrows given,
All will be glory in that land;
There’ll be no sadness, all will be gladness,
When we shall join that happy band.
No tears in heaven fair,
No tears, no tears up there;
Sorrow and pain will all have flown;
No tears in heaven fair,
No tears, no tears up there,
No tears in heaven will be known.
1) What things give you sorrow here for which God may have to wipe away tears in heaven?
2) What hymns do you know that speak of heaven as a place of joy?