Wednesday I had the privilege of preaching the funeral of a dear lady from our church. It definitely wasn’t my first funeral, and I’m sure it won’t be my last.
I enjoy preaching funerals, especially when I know the person and I am confident of their faith in Jesus. I’ve preached funerals for non-believers before, and that’s hard, but it’s always an opportunity to share the gospel, and so I always enjoy the privilege.
Here’s the basic content of my funeral message:
Though the person has died, we will see them again because they are a believer:
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. -1John 5:13
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. -John 6:47
Eternal life is guaranteed, but not automatic (cf. John 3 – “you must be born again…”)
No one is perfect:
all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God -Rom 3:23
Our lack of perfection earns us death, but God’s gift to us is eternal life.
The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord -Rom 6:23
Just like any gift, eternal life through Jesus must be accepted. We accept this gift, and are “born again/from above” when we confess and believe in Jesus.
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. -Rom 10:9
Becoming a Christian is as simple as ABC
A: Admit that you’re a sinner and can’t save yourself
B: Believe in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation/Eternal Life
C: Commit your life to Him as best you know how
Here is the hope of the believer, nothing, not even death, can separate us from God’s love.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. -Rom 8:31-39
For the believer, if/when we die, there is a guarantee of a future presence with the Lord (cf. Phil 1:23; 2 Cor. 5:8)
Our greatest promise is the resurrection.
I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. -1Cor 15:50-58
This is our hope, we close our eyes in this life, and open them in the next:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 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 21:1-4
Though we have tears, and experience death, mourning, and pain now, all of that has passed for the Christian who has died. Because of their trust in Jesus, they have nothing but joy and abundant life for all of eternity. For that we should all be incredibly grateful, and look expectantly to the future when our Lord returns.