Summary: Death once was something people seemed afraid to discuss. But times have changed, & books about death & out of body experiences are best sellers, indicating that fear of death still holds many in its grip.
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
Musical Prelude & Pictures of Deceased
Welcome & Appreciation of the Family to those Present
Scripture Reading & Prayer
Obituary, followed by Memories of the Deceased
Not so many years ago, death was a subject many people seemed almost afraid to talk about. But times have changed, & now books about life after death & out of body experiences are among the best sellers.
Both extremes - nervous silence about death, or obsession with the subject, are indications that the fear of death still holds many people in its grip. And that is nothing new, for Hebrews 2:15 speaks of "those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death."
So let's consider that subject from God's vantage point. And in 2 Corinthians 5:1 10 the apostle Paul tells us how the fear of death is defeated & what happens when we die.
I. The first thing we need to realize is that, as Christians, oftentimes the longer we live here the more difficult our existence seems to be, & the less attractive this world really is to us.
Twice in this passage Paul compares our lives to a tent. In vs. 1, he calls our body "the earthly tent we live in." And in vs. 4 he says, “While we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened…”
A. In my mind, two words describe living in a tent. One is the word "insecure." A tent is not a very good fortress. You can't bolt the door against intruders, & canvas isn't a good protection against wild animals.
And if you've ever spent the night in a tent during a storm with rain & wind & lightning, you know how uncertain a shelter it can be.
Paul was a tentmaker. When he compared this life to a tent, he knew what he was talking about. This life is uncertain, & it can be destroyed in a second. No matter how much we have, or how much we try to protect ourselves, we're still living in an insecure tent.
B. The second word that describes living in a tent is the word "uncomfortable." When I bed down for the night with a sleeping bag on the ground inside a tent, it's humid, mosquitoes are biting, & the ground is hard. The longer I toss & turn, the more uncomfortable it gets.
But spiritually, the longer we serve the Lord, the sweeter He grows. Yet physically, as those of us who are older have learned, the longer we're in this world the more uncomfortable we are.
No wonder Paul says in vs. 4, "While we are in this tent, we groan & are burdened."
ILL. Katherine Hepburn, the actress, once said, "I think we've finally learned to see death with a sense of humor.
“When you're my age, it's as if you're a car - first a tire blows, so you get that fixed. Next a headlight goes & you get that fixed. Then one day you drive into the shop & the mechanic says, ‘Sorry, Miss Hepburn, you just can't get parts for this model anymore.’"
Revelation 14:13 says, "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord...for they will rest from their labor." The longer we live in this world, the less attraction it holds for us.
II. Secondly, the longer we live as Christians, the more attraction Heaven should have for us.
ILL. Vance Havner, a crusty old Baptist preacher, once said, "I am homesick for Heaven. It is the hope of dying that has kept me alive this long."
Paul must have felt the same way. In 2 Corinthians 5:2 he says, “We groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling...”
In vs. 4 he says, “We do not wish to be unclothed, but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling...” And again, in vs. 8 he says, “We...would prefer to be away from the body & at home with the Lord."
A. If you're a Christian, your sins were taken care of at the cross. And the Bible tells us that when Christians die, they go to be with the Lord.
In telling about the rich man & Lazarus - the beggar (Luke 16:19-31), Jesus says that when Lazarus died he was immediately comforted at Abraham's side; & that when the rich man died, he was immediately in torment in Hades.
ILL. A great preacher I knew when I was a college student, Lee Carter Maynard, was in his 90's when he died. His secretary sat by his bed & wrote down his last words. He said, "I see it. It's beautiful. Do you see it?" And he died.