1. Comfort and Hope in the Face of Death (death from AIDS)
Background: This funeral was for the brother of one of our church members. He had lived a wild life, and none of the family even knew where he had been living for some time. Then he re-appeared with a wife and family, and shortly thereafter learned that his lifestyle had resulted in his infection with AIDS. I did not meet Bill until a couple days before his death. He had believed in God since his childhood, but expressed his need and desire to be saved. I spoke to Bill from the Scriptures about the hope of eternal life. When I finished, he said, "Then I don't need to be afraid to die." I told him that was exactly right. He then prayed a very brief prayer, expressing his response to the offer of salvation. I then conducted this service a few days later, which was attended by many young people, for whom he was a soccer coach.
This message is the hope of salvation and eternal life which I shared with Bill. It is not only the message which he received, and in which he found hope and comfort; it is the only message which can give each of you comfort and hope in the face of death.
1. There is no righteousness any man can produce which is good enough to obtain God's approval and eternal life.
- Matthew 5:20 "Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven."
- John 3:3 "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again. He cannot see the kingdom of God."
- Romans 3:10-11, 20 "THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD; ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE. . . . By the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin (Romans 3:10-11, 20).
2. There is no sinner so bad that God's grace in Christ cannot forgive him and make him righteous in Christ.
- Luke 7:37-50 -- the woman with a sinful past and a bad reputation
- Luke 23:39-43 -- the thief on the cross
- John 4:3-42 -- the Samaritan Woman
- John 8:1-11 -- the woman caught in the act of adultery, who was condemned to death by the Law
- Acts 8:1-3; 9:1-22; Philippians 3:1-11; 1 Timothy 1:12-16.
- The apostle Paul, who before his conversion persecuted the church, who imprisoned and put Christians to death.
3. There is but one way by which God has made it possible for men to be forgiven, and to have the assurance of eternal life -- Jesus Christ.
- John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life."
- John 14:6 "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by Me."
- Romans 10:9-10 ". . . if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, 'WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED."
Because Bill expressed His need for salvation, and his faith in Jesus Christ, I shared these verses with him, which give great comfort to the Christian as he faces the reality of death:
- Hebrews 2:14-15 Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.
- 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
- 2 Corinthians 5:6-9 Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord -- for we walk by faith, not by sight -- we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. Therefore also we have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.
As we come here this morning, to honor the memory of Bill Smith, we come face to face with the ugly reality of death. The words of comfort, which I shared with Bill, can also be the basis of your comfort as well. I urge you to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the remedy for your sin, and as the only basis for righteousness and eternal life.