This is a difficult topic, and in order to answer it we must look at a few Scriptures to get a clear understanding of it. First of all, the main passage in Revelation 21:4 that we generally go to that mentions tears must be taken in its proper context. What this verse is telling us is that in heaven, or in the eternal state, there will be no tears, nor will there be death or mourning or crying or pain. Now the question is, when will these things be wiped away or taken away? Well, it seems logical to me that they will disappear instantly when we are translated into the eternal state…or into heaven.
Another passage that confirms what we are saying is 1 Corinthians 15:52-55. It is the famous Rapture passage. It speaks of our changing into what is “imperishable,” and when we put on “immortality.” Then it says, “Death is swallowed up in victory.” Hence, this Rapture passage confirms that death is wiped away in the instant of our transformation at the Rapture. Now it doesn’t say anything about our tears or crying or pain being taken away, but it is understood.
Now if this is all true, how do we reckon this with what so many are saying about the fact that many will suffer loss at the bema and will be crying over their loss. For as the Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 3:15 and 4:5, God will “bring to light the hidden things” of the heart, and He will see man’s hidden motives. And if any man’s works are not of good quality and are burned up in the fire of His judgment, then they will suffer a great loss. They will be saved, yet they may not have too much of a reward. Therefore, I think they will feel a great regret and may cry over it.
So, this seems to pose a huge problem. Since the bema supposedly takes place just after the Rapture, and the moment of the Rapture we said is when we are transformed, then we are saying that some will cry while they are in their eternal state. But that can’t be. We just said that there won’t be any tears in heaven.
Okay, the way I see it, there are two possible ways we can solve this conundrum. One way to look it is this way: If we are saying that there are no tears in heaven, and the bema is in heaven, then we have to believe that though some will suffer loss and will know of their loss, they will not cry. They will have so much of the joy of the Lord in them that they will not cry. God will keep it from them. In this scenario, we will have to assume that the tears that are wiped away (in Revelation 21:4) are the tears of the former life and will have nothing to do with what happens at the bema. Those tears are wiped away at the moment of our transformation.
But here is a second way to look at it: Let us suppose that the bema does not take place in heaven. Suppose the bema transpires in a timeless state at the same moment as the Rapture and our transformation. Think of it this way: if it happens in a timeless bubble, there won’t be any problem fitting it all in. If we think of the judgments in terms of time, we naturally will think that it will take a great while to judge everyone. But if it all happens in a timeless bubble, no problem. And of course, it can be done…by a miracle of God.
So, in this scenario some will cry at the bema, but since the bema will not take place in the eternal state, but in a timeless bubble just before (in a fraction of a second before) the eternal state, there is no problem saying that the tears He wipes away may be the tears shed at the bema.