Summary: Christian Hope vs Death. A brief funeral message for a Christian. Change the name and you are good to go.
Scripture tells us many things about the death of a Christian. Scripture does not gloss over the fact that death is a painful reality for us, nor does it tells us to pretend to be happy about the death of a loved one. We are expected to cry, have times of great sadness, mourn, and be at a loss when a loved one dies.
We don’t deny it, we hurt when a loved one dies.
Yet, though we mourn for our dear sister Erma, we have in Jesus Christ a great hope. 1Peter chapter 1 calls it a living hope. This is a hope that lives and breaths; This is a hope that can never perish, spoil or fade - in fact, St Peter tells us - it is kept in heaven for us. In other words, there’s no touching this hope.
We tend to think of death as the end. We think of death as the culmination of all that we know. It’s like an abyss, an endless void, darkness that never ends, the end of all hope. Ahh, but we are mistaken, and to our detriment, we believe a lie.
Scripture tells us about reality of death, the reality of death is a far cry from the fiction we believe about death.
Psalm 116:15 says, "Precious in the sight of God is the death of His saints."
In the last hours, the last minutes, the last moments, our Lord Jesus was with our sister Erma in powerful presence. Erma Marie Webster, a child of the covenant, a woman who gave her heart over to our Lord Jesus, I dare say, one of the elect, saved not by any good works on her part, but saved by the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ; This woman is precious to the Lord, her death was precious also.
Look, you and I, we are spiritual beings. We are not merely flesh and blood, we are much more. As spiritual beings, we are created for so much more. We look forward to things eternal, we look forward to things unseen, but even though not seen, they are very, very real.
Erma, bless her heart, had more than her share of pain and heartache. Some days were very difficult for Erma, still, Erma had a joy in her life that went beyond her circumstances. Every difficulty that should have made her lose hope, every difficulty that should have peeled away that joy instead, made her more steadfast in her hope.
How could that be?
Erma’s hope, our hope, the Christian hope, is not a literary tradition, or romantic poetry we recite to reassure ourselves, see, it is bound to each Christian by the Holy Spirit who comes upon us when we give our life over to Jesus Christ. The moment Erma said YES to Jesus Christ, was the moment this hope was bound to her spirit.
Now once you have that hope, it cannot be taken from you. Pain, heartache, not even death can take this hope away.
What is this hope?
It is not a hope that I may accomplish what I set out to do, “Here’s…..hoping.”
It is not a hope where I guess what might happen next, “I hope the Oakland Raiders will win the Superbowl this year.”
It is not a hope based upon my ability, my intellect, or my good graces, “I hope I’ve got it together enough to make this happen.”
This hope is the fact that we who are Christians will, without a doubt, without any hesitation, without a even second thought, we who are Christians will be in the presence of Jesus Christ the very moment life ends here on earth for us.
We will, you and I, we will see Erma again. We will laugh, we will cry in delight, we will sing with great joy, for this hope that we have been given is secure, by the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Finally, let me end with 2Timothy 1:9-10, which we read earlier: This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,
10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus,
who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
Praise be to our Lord Jesus Christ, death has been destroyed, life does not end here, we will be together with Erma in celebration in the presence of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.