2. Death: A Terrifying Reality (death from cancer, became believer in final days)
Background: This gentleman was my friend and neighbor for over 20 years. He had no spiritual interest until after he learned that he was dying of cancer. He made a profession of faith in his last days and began to speak openly with me about his relationship with God. He was not only reading the Scriptures I printed out for him, he was trying to memorize them. The words which I will share with you in my funeral message in just a few moments, are the words of hope which I shared with him, and in which he found comfort. I pray that they will bring comfort to you as well. The funeral was a presentation of the gospel.
The Bible makes it clear that death is a certainty for us all:
And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment (Hebrews 9:27).
If this text of Scripture is true, death is especially frightening, because it does not end it all, it precedes judgment. Death is a terrifying reality for those who are outside the Christian faith:
14 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; 15 and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives (Hebrews 2:14-15).
When I was growing up, my grandparents lived near a cemetery. This meant that whenever we went to visit them, we had to pass by that cemetery. As a child, I did not want to see that cemetery or to think about death. I tried to look the other way, and to pretend it wasn't there. Death is a reality we cannot ignore. Both funerals and cemeteries are here to remind us that we all face death as a certainty.
Why is death such a dreaded thing (Hebrews 2)?
1. Death is our enemy. In 1 Corinthians 15:26, Paul calls it Athe last enemy.
2. Death is appointed to all men (Hebrews 9:27).
3. Death holds men in fear (Hebrews 2:14-15).
How can a God who is good allow men to die?
1. He is a good God, who because He is righteous, hates sin.
2. He is a good God who must take sin seriously, but punishing it. Death tells us how seriously God takes sin. Death tells us how seriously we should take our own sin.
3. He is a God whose Word is always true, and this God has told us that the wages of sin is death (see Genesis 2:16-17; Romans 6:23).
4. He is a good God, who has not only made death a curse, but a cure for sin.
Who would want to live eternally as a sinner?
For Joe, death became a solution to his suffering and pain.
God provided the cure for sin by the death of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Eve's seed (Jesus) will crush the head of Satan; Satan to bruise His heel.
Sacrificial animals died for the sins of Israelites.
Isaiah spoke of Him who would die to save His people (Isaiah 52:13-53:12).
John the Baptist--ABehold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.
Jesus spoke often of His death, much to the distress of the disciples.
5. He is a good God, who not only sent His Son to die on the cross for sinners; He raised Him from the dead.
6. God is good, and He has given us His Word, the Bible, and Christians who proclaim the good news that death can be defeated through faith in Jesus Christ. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus died for sinners, bearing their penalty for sin. And not only did He die for sin, He was raised from the dead, so that He and all who have trusted in Him may live forever in the joy of His salvation (Romans 3:21-26).
21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Romans 3:21-26).
For our Scripture reading, I read a portion from the 3rd chapter of the Gospel of John. There, John tells us about a conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus. Jesus tells this man that he must be born again. And this man is a very well known teacher of the Old Testament. He is a very religious man. We are not shocked in the next chapter (4) that Jesus would tell a Samaritan woman (who was living immorally) that she needed to be saved. But Jesus also told this religious man that he, too, must be Aborn again. Being born again is what happens when we confess that we are sinners, deserving of death, but trusting in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins and eternal life.
Faith in the Lord Jesus takes away the fear of death. Death is our last enemy, but a defeated enemy. It is my prayer that you will trust in Him for the forgiveness of your sins, for victory over death and the grave, and for eternal life.
I close with these words of triumph, in which everyone who trusts in Jesus Christ for salvation can rejoice (Romans 8:31-39):
31 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).
Related Topics: Funerals