I was up in Michigan for my mother-in-laws funeral this past week and I had the opportunity to preach at her funeral. The hard part was determining what to talk about that would lead up to presenting the Gospel, but the Gospel is easy to talk about because it's the only hope we have for this life and the life yet to come.
I'd like to share with you the excerpt from my sermon today, as we should consider our standing with God before it's too late.
Take a moment to grieve
It’s ok to grieve. In the face of the death of one of our Lord’s best friends here on earth, Lazarus, our own Lord wept. Jesus wept not because he didn’t know where Lazarus was, and not because He didn’t have the power to raise Lazarus, but because death is wrong.
Death was never part of the perfect plan of God, but because of the sin of our progenitors, Adam and Eve, and their search for knowledge outside of the parameters that God set out for us, death became necessary.
To live in a cursed world, in a cursed body, with a cursed mind, never being able to fulfill our original design to its fullest and having no escape from this cursed life would be cruel. Yet, death and separation from our family and friends is a bitter thing to endure.
All of the things we wanted to say and never found the time, all the things we would have liked to do together and never did, all of the what if’s and wish I could have’s and I’ll never be able to’s will plague our minds for many days and years to come.
Grief is a way to let go of someone who we should never have had to let go of. My Grandfather, who I miss dearly to this day, told me that grief is a way of preparing us for our own death. He said that every time a friend or a loved one dies, their soul moves from the side of the scales of this life to the side of the scales on the life to come, and once there are more souls gone from this life over to the next, it makes our own death easier to face. He told me this after my five year old brother died in a farm accident many years ago.
There are many griefs in this life that only God can help us get through and I pray that the comfort of God, that peace that passes all understanding will guide your hearts through this difficult time.
Funerals also give us time to reflect on our own life and our own mortality because none of us are going to get out of this life alive. What will happen to us when our expiration date comes due?
We are all born into this life with a problem, and that problem is sin, the rebellious actions that make us different than what God designed us to be, the things that make us fall short of God’s glory.
We are inheritors of sin from Adam and Eve, and we are active participants with our own sin. Romans 6:23 says that the wages of these sins is death. Not the death of this physical body, but the separation of our soul from the presence of God and the eternal reality of hell. That same passage in Romans goes on to tell us however, that the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, not an eternal life in this world the way it is, but an eternal life with him, and seeing his judgement on this world one day and the restoration of it and his kingdom here on earth.
You might be saying right now, I don’t like the sound of that eternal death, but I would like to be part of that eternal life? What would I have to do to get that? The key to getting that eternal life is in that little statement “through Jesus Christ”. The payment for our sins to purchase our eternal life was made by Jesus, God’s own son, who came down here to earth and lived a sinless life and died as a perfect sacrifice for us on the cross, and not only that but after he died he rose again three days later. Jesus, he has to power over sin, over death, and over all of life.
When Peter preached this gospel in Jerusalem, he quoted the Old Testament prophet Joel and told the people, “in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
It says that the people were “cut to the heart” by these words and they asked “what must we do to be saved”. Peter’s response was simple, he told them to “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
This idea of repenting isn’t just being sorry for your sins although that very well is a part, but it’s seeing the direction you are going, the chasing after your own desires without a care for what God wants you to do that sees you on that broad highway bound for hell, and then you stop and turn away from all that and start following Jesus on the narrow path that leads to everlasting life.
I could preach about salvation all day, and if you have questions about salvation, I’d love to spend as much time with you as you need if you want to find me later, we can talk. Just know that no one in here knows when their time to respond to Jesus gospel of peace and his kingdom will be at an end.
How much time do you have left?
That's a question that nobody can answer. Some little kid, like my brother, plays with some farm equipment and is killed suddenly at the tender age of 5 while some old blasphemous sinner lives to the ripe old age of 91. A guy falls out of an airplane and bounces off the ground and survives with broken bones and internal bleeding while another guy slips on a pencil in the parking lot, cracks his head and never wakes up again.
We don't know how much time we have, but today is the day to repent. If you hear the offer of peace from Jesus then today is the day to accept it because you are not guaranteed another day to consider peace with God before it's too late.