Title: Preaching Your Funeral
I was supposed to preach a funeral this past week, but the plans were changed a couple days before and that did not take place. Since I had a funeral message mostly prepared, I thought I'd share it with you today.
The story is told of a pastor - who said this Sunday morning we will be having a funeral service at our church. The person in the casket is the most proud person in our community. We will begin with a viewing at 10. (Everyone was there early to find out who that proud and arrogant dearly departed was.) There were muffled cries of suprise as each one passed by the coffin to see a mirror reflecting their proud face. IT WAS THEIR FUNERAL.
I guarantee you today that I know of one person who will not attend your funeral. YOU
ill. Foolish Question -
Now then there's this fella who meets you on your way
And asks you why your all dressed up and listens while you say
That you just been returning from the funeral of poor old Uncle Ned
As soon as you have told him, he will say, "Is Ned dead?"
Foolish questions! You might as well reply
"No, he thought he'd have the funeral now. Then later on he'd die
You know Ned was always so original, he wanted it that way"
Now wasn't that a Foolish Question? You'll hear 'em ev'ry day!
You won't be there - HOWEVER, THIS MORNING I WANT TO PRETEND THAT YOU ARE AT YOUR FUNERAL.
How ready this morning is your soul to pass out of this world and into eternity.
ill. I've shared before - speaking to the boys at the viaduct - if the end of the bridge was eternity how long would you take to cross over and how carefully would you consider what I have just shared with you?
Ecc 7:2 It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.
Exp. As a BIBLE PREACHING minister a funeral can be an awkward thing at times if as best you know that person was an unbeliever.
note: Praise God there is always the hope that the soul of the person whose earthly tabernacle is in the casket trusted Christ outwith your knowledge or a profession. You also have the comfort at times of knowing that they knew the truth of the Gospel.
By God's grace, let's take some time to think about the day of our death today. What if this was your funeral this morning? I'M GOING TO PREACH THIS MESSAGE AS IF YOU WERE SAVED.
(Stewards - ask everyone to stand - cover the casket and invite the congregation to be seated as the minister rises.)
Your Name Here
On behalf of the family, we thank you for your attendance today. Let us begin with prayer.
We are gathered here this morning to Remember ________________________. (READ BIO)
I know _______________ . I praise God that _____________ had a testimony of knowing Jesus as His Saviour.
ill. I like what a friend of mine recently said to me, "He doesn't call it a funeral when a believer dies. He calls it a memorial service."
To an unbeliever - death is entering into the unknown and outwith anyone's control. They fear death. Jesus came to deliver men from a fear of death.
Hebrews 2:14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
TO A BELIEVER - We know that death is at an appointed time and completely under God's control.
Heb 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die,...
Exp. We were suprised by _________________'s death and yet God was not.
Ecc 3:2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
WE ALSO KNOW THAT TO DIE PHYSICALLY IS TO BE GIVEN IMMORTALITY.
ill. Lazarus's grieving sister came to the Lord with words that must have touched the Saviour's heart,
Joh 11:21 Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
22 But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.
23 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.
24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.
25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
note: The hope of resurrections has been held by believers of ALL AGES.
JOB - Job 19:25 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:
26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:
27 Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.
app. Friend, do you today have the confidence in your heart that you will rise to be with God for all eternity? IF SO DEATH IS JUST THE DOOR INTO THE EVERLASTING PRESENCE OF GOD.
- That is why a believer's death is called "sleep" in the Word of God.
I Thesallonians 4:13
3 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
ill. Nobody this morning is afraid of sleep who experiences good and sweet sleep. Some perhaps are afraid of not sleeping - THAT SHOULD BE YOU IF YOUR SOUL IS NOT RIGHT WITH GOD.
ill. Attending the funeral for a friend of ours, Jeff Smitth. I had been with Jeff just 36 hours before he died. I had sung to him that day. The last hymn I sang was, "He the pearly gates will open - so that I may enter in" The last verse is "In life's eventide at twilight, at his door I'll knock and wait. By the precious blood of Jesus, I shall enter heaven's gate." I said to Jeff.....
app. Friend, he could smile because HE WAS READY TO SLEEP IN JESUS. Are you?
ALTHOUGH THAT BODILY RESURRECTION WILL TAKE PLACE - notice that "them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him" - The believer is immediately in the presence of Jesus at death.
ill. The thief on the cross who accepted God's grace by faith in Jesus in the 11th hour of his life went from the suffering of sin on earth THROUGH DEATH'S DOORWAY into paradise with Jesus "This day thou shalt be with me in paradise."
Ill. The Apostle Paul longed for that day WHEN FAITH BECOMES SIGHT.
2Co 5:7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)
2 Corinthians 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
Exp. He anticipated that day as he said in....
1Co 13:12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
ill. My wife and I were engaged for 375 days. She had promised me that she would marry me as she answered my engagement question affirmatively. I loved and trusted her promise - but I couldn't wait for the day that she walked down the aisle and put my ring upon her finger BECOMING MY WIFE.
app. Believer's don't dread being MARRIED TO JESUS FOR ALL ETERNITY - THEY DON'T FEAR SEEING THE HEAVENLY BRIDE GROOM OF THE CHURCH.
note: At this point in the funeral could we rejoice as a congregation and say....
We who remain still have to walk by faith - _________________ is walking by sight. THAT IS FAR BETTER.
The sting of death for _____________________ is forever defeated....
I Cor. 15:54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
exp. The only reason death is so awful - is if after dying phyically - the soul of the departed is condemned by God's law into eternity in Hell. BUT THOSE WHO HAVE THE BLOOD OF JESUS HAVE TAKEN AWAY THE STRENGTH OF THE LAW BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH.
Ill. Unshackled - female prisoner - stolen around 5,000,000 in 4 different States. Got saved by reading in her Bible
Eze 36:26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
exp. Sentenced after that to 20 years - However, that was without the other three States and the potential of a very great sentence - THE OTHER STATES FORGAVE HER. She feared judgment UNTIL SHE WAS FORGIVEN.
App. Are you forgiven this morning - or do you rightly fear judgment.
Separation is what makes death tough for those who remain. Jesus understands the pain of saying the temporary goodbye to those we love.
ill. The longest recorded sermon of Jesus found in John 14-17. It was given to his disciples immediately proceeding his crucifixion. The whole message was to prepare them to endure the separation from Him which would take place.
What he shares about Heaven with Him is of immeasurable comfort to us at this memorial service. (John 14)
I. Jesus wants us to believe in Him without anxiety.
1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
exp. It's as if Jesus has said, "You believe in God. Great. Now believe in me also." Who was he?
He is the Messiah.
He is the Saviour.
He is God in flesh.
He is the very Son of God.
He is the Lamb of God - God's sacrifice for man's sin.
exp. Faith in Him - made lame men walk, blind men see, lepers were cleansed,
app. Belief in God is not enough. What do you believe about Jesus today - ONLY THE FAITH OF JESUS KEEPS YOUR HEART FROM BEING TROUBLED.
II. Jesus wants us to know that there is plenty of room in Heaven for His own.
2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
Exp. Praise God - the disciples of Jesus get to spend eternity with Him IN THE PLACE HE HAS PREPARED FOR THEM IN HEAVEN.
THERE IS LOTS OF ROOM! - In my Father's house are many mansions."
But, is that "you" you this morning? "A place for you."
ill. Katie's children's class - "Jesus is the King in His Father's house, in my father's house, in my father's house." Children - what if you came home tonight and your dad said, "You can't come in here because you aren't my child."
app. The prepared place is for children - Has he gone to prepare a place for you?
III. Jesus wants us to be assured of our reservation in that eternal place.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
ill. Reading biorgraphy of a minister and finding that he apparently thought it spiritual to voice little confidence in his own salvation.
quote: Biorgraphy "But although he enjoyed great peace of mind, he never expressed to others a very high degree of confidence that he was a child of God. He had such a deep and abiding sense of the deceitfulness of the human heart, and of the danger of self-deception, that not only at this period, but ever afterwards, he was exceedingly cautious in speaking about his belief that he was accepted of God. At one time, being asked whether he had any doubts respecting his interest in the promises, he replied: 'I have no doubt that I have religious enjoyment; but the question is, whether it is of the right kind? At another time he said: 'The most that I have ventured to say respecting myself is, that I think it possible I may get to heaven." It was always painful to him to hear person express great confience of their interest in the divine favour.'"
exp. If that were Biblical the disciples should look at one another at this point and Peter should say to John. Praise God John, He should come back for you. But, if I maintain a humility of mind - it is my hope that He will return for me also - although I am unworthy.
app. We don't deserve it - WE POSSESS IT ONLY BECAUSE THE EXCEEDING GREAT GRACE OF A LOVING GOD - BUT IT IS AS SURE AS HEAVEN AND THE LOVE OF GOD. JESUS WANTS US TO BE ASSURED OF OUR INTEREST IN HIS INHERITANCE.
IV. Jesus wants us to know how to gain entry in Heaven.
4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.
5 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?
6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Exp. Expecially at times of great emotion - LIKE A FUNERAL - our world would encourage the rules to be changed and FALSE WORDS OF COMFORT GIVEN denying the exclusivity of the Gospel message.
ill. Imagine a child who was involved in a great spelling competition. This child applied himself immensely and worked labouriously to prepare. With great skill and much personal sacrifice he wins the competition. The parents of the other children are so overwhelmed at the sadness of their children - THEY CONVINCE THE JUDGES TO SAY THAT IT IS OK AND THAT EVERYBODY IS A WINNER.
Exp. What about the glory that was deserved by that child? What about their sacrifice?
exp. Those who diminish the Gospel - DIMINISH THE GLORY OF THE ONE WHO SACRIFICED EVERYTHING TO PURCHASE THE ONLY WAY OF SALVATION FOR US.
app. Friends as we are reminded of death today - the only way to the Father is through the Son - WON'T YOU GIVE GOD GLORY AND TURN ONTO THAT WAY BY FAITH IN JESUS.
CONCLUSION: You won't get to attend your funeral - this is as close to that opportunity as you'll get.
Is your soul ready to depart your body?
Can you rejoice that death has no authority over you because God's grace has forgiven you?
May God help us each to be ready for that day.
Ecc 3:2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;