Summary: Things we know for sure following the death of a friend, family member, or loved one.
Based in part on sermons by Rev. John Hamby and Rev. Robert Marsh
References: 2 Cor. 5:6-8
Psalm 23 (International Children’s Bible)
a. How many of you remember the old TV ads for the “Shell Answer Man?”
(1) As Christians we are a lot like the “Shell Answer Man.”
(2) Unlike him, where questions were focused on concepts that were designed and easily understood by man, we are frequently asked questions about things we take by faith. How do you answer those questions?
b. Yesterday, I conducted a funeral service for a little baby, a baby taken from us before we had the opportunity to get to know her.
c. It was a day of mixed emotions, a day when a family and friends asked some difficult questions that family members have probably been asking themselves over and over again throughout time. “How could God let this happen?” “Why did it happen to us?” Sadly, those are questions for which there are few, if any answers.
d. It was a day of mixed emotions. We grieved with parents who had lost a child before they were given the opportunity to know her, to watch her grow, to watch her fulfill their dreams and aspirations for her.
e. And, while we were there to mourn and to grieve, we were also there to celebrate what we, as Christians, know to be a wonderful ending to an unhappy beginning—the knowledge that that child was safely folded in the loving arms of God.
f. So while there are questions we cannot answer and won’t know the answers until we meet God face to face, there are some questions that, just like the “Shell Answer Man,” we can answer. They not only give us comfort and help prepare us for that inevitable day each of us will have to face with friends and family, but they can also help sustain family, friends, and strangers alike in their time of need.
g. None of this is new information, but we sometimes need refresher training. In the Navy, we had refresher training on a recurring basis; not because we had forgotten the information from the last time we received the training, but rather to help keep it fresh in our minds so we could use it in a moment’s notice.
h. So, I begin with this question, what are these simple questions we can answer certainty?
2. Assurance Revisited
Assurance is (according to Webster):
a. The act of assuring, or of making a declaration in terms that furnish ground of confidence; or the act of furnishing any ground of full confidence.
b. Firm persuasion; full confidence or trust; freedom from doubt; certain expectation; the utmost certainty.
c. Firmness of mind; undoubting steadiness; intrepidity.
3. Four Questions We Can Answer
Our greatest fear can usually be summed up as the fear of the unknown, but there are some things we do know.
a. One — Where are they today?
(1) We are assured by God’s word that the moment we draw our last breath; we awaken in the presence of God.
(2) Paul tells us in 2 Cor. 5:6-8:
Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
b. Two — Will we be a stranger where we go?
(1) We have assurance we will not be a stranger or be unknown where we go.
(2) The scripture gives us proof positive of this. David tells us in Psalms 139:13-18
Or you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.
(3) How can we be a stranger in the presence of God when He knew us before we were?
(4) Verse 16 is especially important. It reads “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before I lived the first one.” We often see death as untimely, or early – but God is in control. We are surprised, He is not. We grieve the loss, but heaven welcomes us home.