A FUNERAL, TWO DEATHS, AND THREE POINTS ABOUT DEATH
This past month, I spoke at a funeral of the father of a long-time friend and saw two of my friends pass into the presence of the Lord. My message at the funeral had three main points.
My first point was that death is inevitable. There is still a one-to-one ratio (so far) of deaths to births. Hebrews 9:27 says that “man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” There is no such thing as reincarnation. No getting angel wings. Just death and then judgment.
My second point was that death is always a loss. Even when death is expected due to old age, it is a loss. Even when it might end a long bout of suffering, it is a loss. Even when the person who had died lived a selfish, even an evil life, it is a loss…it is a loss of a life that could have been different…it is a loss in the sense that it was a wasted life.
My third point was that death is not the end. There is life after death. Jesus said in John 11:25-26,
“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.”
In John 14:1-3 Jesus said,
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
Then he added in John 14:6,
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
So death is not the end for those who have placed their trust in Jesus…but it’s not the end for those who have not placed their trust in Jesus either. Jesus spoke of those who would “be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:12).
No one will be forced to live in God’s presence in the life to come…only those who want to…those who have turned to God and received the forgiveness and new life that Jesus came to provide through his death and resurrection. Those who think they can make it some other way won’t be forced to be in the presence of God, where Jesus sits at His right hand as the writer of Hebrews says:
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
Because death is inevitable (so far), one day each of will be gone. It is as though we are running in a race and suddenly, Whoosh, we are gone. And so my friend Gary Edmonds, who I wrote about last month, was running along side us when on July 6th, Whoosh, he was gone.
Then, just a week ago (July 26th), Whoosh, my dear friend Merrill Ruge was gone. Both Gary and Merrill had put their trust in Jesus (as have their wives). They lived generously and faithfully in their marriages (Merrill and Carol just short of 65 years), families, and service in following Jesus.
I will miss Merrill’s jokes (his corny ones were the best), his laugh, his positiveness, His heart-felt singing, his encouragement, his sharing of Scripture, and his friendship. But one day, Whoosh, Trisha will be with Gary, and Whoosh, Carole will be with Merrill…in the presence of the Lord forever.
One day, Whoosh, family members and friends will join them. One day, Whoosh, Sharon and I will be with them…and with all those who in ages gone by have placed their trust in Jesus…there are millions and millions of them. One day, Whoosh, there will be no more crying…no more death…no more deceit…no more loss…no more genocide…no more arrogance…no more….
Sharon’s mom once summed up the “one day” when we were talking about heaven and — with arms raised and hands waving — she excitedly exclaimed,
“I can hardly wait!”
And so can we…but until then…
Until then, Sharon and I shall keep running the race with a desire to honor and lift up Jesus. Until then, we shall keep loving and pointing our family members to Jesus. Until then we shall keep boldly sharing with everyone we can the Good News that is found in Jesus. Until then, we shall keep training leaders around the globe. Until then, we shall keep probing the depths of Scripture and claiming the promises of God therein, because, drawing upon the words of the great missionary J. Hudson Taylor,
We believe in the living God.
We believe that God has spoken in His Holy Word.
We believe that God meant what He said, and will do all that He has promised.
Looking to Jesus both now and forever,
Linus and Sharon
P.S. A special thanks to Gary’s and my good friend Chris Hall who gave me the Whoosh image as we laughed and cried together.