Background: Death of an older man who had trusted in Christ.
For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done (Matt, 16:26- 27). If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (I John 1:8-9). For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23), and the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 6:23).
God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8). By grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God--not because of works, lest any man should boast (Eph. 2:8-9). Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes Him who sent me, has eternal life; he will not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life (John 5:24).
In the Book of Proverbs we read: “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children”(13:22).
One of the purposes of this service is to remember the heritage which Alan Smith has left behind. The goodness of a man as a husband and a father will always be remembered by those he has left behind in death. His goodness is also the cause of great sorrow at the time of his death, for now only the memories remain.
This service also provides us with the occasion to reflect on the goodness of God. At a time of personal sorrow and grief, thoughts of the goodness of God may be doubted by some. After all, we may reason, how is it that a God who is good can allow a good man to die and his family to be deprived of his presence in life? The character of God thus seems to be challenged by the fact of sickness, suffering, and death.
The matter of the goodness of God is of even greater urgency, for not only is the character of God at stake, so also is our hope of eternal life. The Bible is very clear that no man by his own good deeds can merit the forgiveness of sins and God's gift of eternal life. The Bible teaches us that it is only through the goodness of God that any man can hope for heaven.
How, then, can we see the goodness of God in the grief of death?
The Goodness of God is Revealed in Death as the Response of His Righteousness to Evil
When God created Adam and Eve, He placed them in a garden and gave them freedom to eat freely of every tree, save one--the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God warned them that to disobey would result in death--and so it did.
When you and I see what is clearly evil, we expect it to be punished. When an innocent victim is robbed or killed, we expect the guilty to be punished. For government to fail to punish the guilty would be intolerable--indeed, it would be evil. So, too, the goodness of God is to be seen in the fact that He has prescribed death as the punishment for sin.
The Goodness of God is Revealed by the Fact that Death is not only the Consequence of Sin, but can also be its Cure.
1. Death prevented Adam and Eve from living forever in their sinful condition and under the curse of God.
Remember that because of their sin, both Adam and Eve had to live under God's curse. Had God allowed them to live forever, they would have lived as sinners, under a curse. The curse which was pronounced on this couple did not include death. Death was the warning of God which accompanied the command not to eat of the forbidden fruit. God banned Adam and Eve from the garden and guarded it so that they could not eat of the tree of life and life forever, under the curse.
We evidence our agreement that God is good in using death to terminate life which is lived under the curse. While we struggle with the death of those who are healthy and well, we are relieved when one dies whose body has been racked with pain, or whose facilities have been lost due to age or illness.
Death is therefore an evidence of the goodness of God toward those who trust in Him because it terminates living under the curse of sin and its consequences. Death provides men with the opportunity to lay aside the flesh, dominated by sin, and by faith in Christ, to live in the freedom of God's salvation.
2. Death is also the means by which God has dealt with sin and made eternal life possible.
While the death of men terminates life under the curse, it does not make provision for the restoration of man into fellowship with God and the hope of eternal life. Adam's death merely kept him from living forever in a fallen state, it did not offer him the hope of restoration.
The good news of the gospel and the goodness of God are seen in the death of His Son, Jesus Christ, which has made restoration possible for all men. The Bible tells us that due to sin man lives under the curse of God, unable by his own deeds or even his own death to be reconciled with God. But the goodness of God was evidenced in His Son, Jesus Christ, who came to the earth to die in our place, to bear our punishment, and by His death, burial, and resurrection, to make us righteous and to assure us of eternal life.
By what our Lord said and did, we can see that He was the sinless Son of God. By faith in His death, burial, and resurrection our sins are forgiven. Because of His resurrection, those who are in Christ by personal faith are raised to newness of life now, and will be raised to live with Him forever when He returns.
Because of the goodness of Alan Smith, we can look back on the days of his life with deep gratitude and fond memories.
Because of the goodness of God in the person of Christ, we can experience the forgiveness of sins, we need not fear death, and we can look forward to eternal life in the presence of God.
This hope in the face of death is only found by a personal faith in Jesus Christ. It is my prayer that each of you will come to experience this hope as you personally accept the gift of God's salvation through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, who died for your sins and who was raised for your justification.>