Background: This older gentleman was one of the founders of a Bible church we planted in Texas. He died of cancer after an 18-month illness. He left behind his new wife of two years and three grown children.
Thank you for coming this afternoon. This is a sad occasion for all of us and our hearts are full of mixed emotions. Our loss is great. We have lost a father, a husband, a grandfather, and a very good friend. After every service at church I would ask Bob how he was doing, and he would nearly always answer, “tip top.” We are going to miss him. But we must also remember that Bob has gone home to be with the Lord. His physical death represents a glorious event in that he is even now in glory, in the presence of His Savior.
As we face this loss and the fact of death, we need to recognize that if we are to find endurance, encouragement and comfort amidst the pressures, losses, and tragedies of life, we must turn to the Bible, the Word of God. This Book, God has graciously authenticated with tremendous evidence as not merely the Word of men, but as God’s Word to man, God-breathed and accurate, and thus our means of hope.
Bob did just this. A few days before his death I was alone with Bob and asked him if he was afraid of death or if he was worried about anything. Though talking was hard for him, he replied, “No, I believe in Jesus Christ. I know my sins are forgiven. I am thankful I know the Savior.”
Let’s remember that the Bible, the Word of God, is the revelation of a sovereign God and the planner of the universe. It is He who cares for us, who is in control of all the affairs of our lives, and who has not left us to ourselves but has reached out to us in Christ and in the Bible. As the word of such a God, the Bible alone can give us an adequate understanding, meaning, and hope in the face of the realities of life with it complexities, trials, and losses as with sickness and death.
In John 11:25 Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” Then He asked, “ Do you believe this?”
It is the Christian’s belief in Christ as the Resurrection and the Life and its strong validation by Christ’s own death and resurrection from the grave that so encourages our hearts as we face the loss of our loved ones and face death ourselves.
Romans 8:31-39 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 Just as it is written, “For Thy sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:31-39).
Writing of the believer’s ultimate source of encouragement through the Bible, the Apostle Paul wrote,
Romans 15:4-5 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus.”
In the light of these promises of God in His Word and because it has pleased the Lord in His divine wisdom and purpose to take from our midst one whom we have loved, we commit the body of Bob to its final resting place to await the fulfillment of another marvelous and comforting promise of the Bible, one that was written to the Thessalonians Christians. And, this passage is tremendously significant in view of an pagan inscription that existed in the city of Thessalonica that demonstrates man’s lack of hope without Christ. The inscription read: “After death no reviving; After the grave, no meeting again.”
But based on the fact of the resurrection of Christ and His promises to the church, Paul wrote these words:
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope.14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep.16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first.17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord.18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
Heavenly Father, we thank you for revealing to us what lies beyond death, for giving to us the Holy Scriptures, and for authenticating them through many wonderful evidences and making them sure through the incontrovertible evidence of Christ’s resurrection. Thank you, therefore,
And now for the family, for the loved ones and friends we ask that:
These things we ask in the name of the King of kings and Lord of lords, even Jesus Christ our Savior who is coming again.