4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying,nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4, ESV
Today’s Q & A with John MacArthur over at his Bible commentary website dealt with a pervasive idea that we often see in secular and even Christian songwriting. The question was, “Will Earthly Memories Exist in Heaven?” MacArthur makes several very interesting, and I believe accurate quotes. If you are thinking culturally, it may ruffle your feathers a little. If you are thinking from a biblical perspective (as we should), He’s right on. Here are a couple quotes from the two-minute audio clip. The clip and his Revelation 21 commentary can be found here.
“Nobody in heaven knows about anything going on, on earth. Nobody in heaven cares about what’s going on, on earth.”
“There is no preoccupation in heaven with anything other than the joy of being in the presence of the Trinity.”
For as long as I can remember, I’ve heard people say things like “Uncle Johnny’s looking down on us” or “Grandpa helped us win the game today.” Where does that line of thinking come from? Here’s a song I sang as a teenager at a talent contest…
One day shy of eight years old Grandma passed away
I was a broken-hearted little boy, blowing out that birthday cake
How I cried when the sky let go with a cold and lonesome rain
Momma smiled said don’t be sad child Grandma’s watchin you today
‘Cause there’s holes in the floor of Heaven and her tears are pourin’ down
That’s how you know she’s watchin’, wishin’ she could be here now
And sometimes if you’re lonely just remember she can see
There’s holes in the floor of Heaven and she’s watchin’ over you and me
Clearly society and culture seek to develop their own comforting mechanisms for times of grief. I had no idea that “Holes in the Floor of Heaven” was unhelpful or unbiblical when I sang it. It was just part of the accepted cultural landscape. At the time, I didn’t know any better. We must help our people to have discernment when it comes to song lyrics. As worship leaders, we want them to know better.
Some of the most unhelpful songs I have ever heard have been played or sung at funerals. Obviously, I won’t get into that but I know several ministry friends who’ve had similar experiences. We must teach / educate our people on what the BIBLE has to say about such issues. True comfort comes from knowing, trusting, and resting in /on Christ alone! When someone is grieving over a “lost” loved one, the most loving thing we can do is to give them the Gospel. We can’t sing or preach their loved one into heaven. In a gentle way, we must warn the hearers so that they may not experience the same fate. When someone is grieving over a “saved” loved one, we must remind them of the hope that the Gospel brings to each of us that have trusted in its saving power!
I don’t think MacArthur is saying we won’t remember anything at all in heaven, he is just reminding us that none of those things will matter when we see Jesus!
I’d love to hear your feedback about unbiblical song lyrics you’ve heard and why they are considered “culturally” acceptable.