Summary: Funeral for a Christian Lady
Funeral Service for
“How To Face Death With Confidence”
“For I am now ready to be offered, the time of my departure is at hand. (7) I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. (8) Finally there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (NKJV)
Paul says that the time of his departure is at hand. He uses a word that takes its meaning from the idea of a ship in the harbor…and the time has come to cast off the lines and set sail for parts unknown. If Paul were writing this today instead of ships he would probably use airplanes to illustrate his meaning. It is as if Paul were saying “the time has come to catch my plane.” He uses the same word in Philippians 1:23 but lets back up to Phil 1:21 to get the context of what he was saying. There he said, “For to me, living is for Christ and dying is even better. (22) Yet if I live, that means fruitful service for Christ. I really don’t know which is better! (23) I’m torn between two desires: Sometimes I want to live, and sometimes I want to go and be with Christ. That would be far better for me….” (NLT). Paul says that death for the Christian is like a departure. We are cutting loose from this life and setting sail for the next.
Paul begins by saying, “I have fought the good fight.” The language Paul uses means “to contend for a prize or to struggle.” Paul is saying that life has been a real struggle at times. And I think that each of us understands what that means. Paul reminds each of us that although life can be a real struggle at times, it is worth the struggle.
Paul gives us some powerful reasons why he is able to face his departure from this life with such confidence.
First, Paul is able to face his departure from this life with confidence because he knew where he was headed. His departure from here means his arrival in heaven. Paul knew without a shadow of a doubt where he was headed in eternity. Do you? Paul says in his first letter to the Corinthians (5:6,8) “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord… (8) We are confident, yes well pleased rather to absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”
The Bible tells us that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. As with most things in life, you really can’t have it both ways. To be present with the Lord necessities the giving up of this life. Do you realize that the Bible says that you can know for sure where you are headed in eternity. 1 John 5:13, says “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.” (NKJV). Death does not have to be a leap into darkness into the great unknown. The Bible tells us that by placing our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that we can be saved. In a scripture that almost everyone who has ever been in a church has heard, John 3:16 we are told, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”
So if we have placed our faith and trust in Jesus Christ when the time of our departure comes we can face it with confidence knowing that we have been assured of a place in heaven.
“So like a prisoner awaiting his release, like a schoolboy when the end of term is near, like a migratory bird ready to fly south, like a patient in the hospital anxiously scanning the doctor’s face to see whether a discharge may be expected, I long to be gone – extricating myself form the flesh I have too long inhabited, seeing the great doors of eternity swing open …” - such is the prospect of death for a Christian. [George Sweeting. “Can I Die Well.” (Moody Jan/Feb 2003) p.70.]
Secondly, Paul is able to face his departure from this life with confidence because he knew he had successfully “finished his race.” (v. 7). The Bible often uses the image of a footrace to describe the Christian life. But this footrace is not just a hundred yard dash it is marathon.