Summary: Funeral sermon presenting the Gospel message to family and friends left behind by one whose spiritual condition is either "unknown" or was known to be "unsaved".
There is no social gathering that tugs at our heartstrings the way that a memorial service does. Something about being left behind stirs our emotions and brings a profound sense of loneliness to our hearts. In the twinkling of an eye, a loved one passed from life to afterlife, from temporal to eternal; leaving friends, family, neighbors and coworkers behind. Left behind indeed. The aftermath of this loneliness simultaneously brings out the best and the worst our emotions have to offer.
On one hand, we reminisce about the good times we enjoyed with our loved one – the experiences we had together, the laughter we shared, the days we thought would never end. We think of the legacy that he (she) leaves for future generations and hope beyond hope that we will one day have something worth passing to those who we leave behind. We consider his (her) life as a series of chapters in a story that until today had no ending.
Which brings us to the other side of our emotional balance sheet. It is irrational to think we would not hold some feelings of contempt in our hearts over the passing of a friend or family member. Some of you are searching for answers this evening. I want you to know that it’s OK to ask questions. It’s natural to wonder why this had to happen. Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do some suffer and not others? What is the purpose of life that is cut short in this fashion? The questions that race through our minds are vital to our understanding of both life and death, and are likely responses from our human nature. Our mourning, questions and tears should not be suppressed as though unreasonable. We have, after all, suffered a loss, and as social beings, we long for friendship, intimacy and the relationships we share with others.
We are here this evening to offer no glib answers. Such an attitude is presumptuous, disrespectful and of no lasting value to those who mourn in their hearts. Rather than address questions we cannot answer with words that do not come, let us turn our thoughts to the things we can have confidence in. The confidence we build in these absolutes will bring us closer to peace and contentment than any speculation we could summon.
With this in mind, let me share with you three things that I am certain of…three absolutes from the word of God that provide great comfort to us in times of sorrow. These three absolutes make up the cornerstone of an unshakable foundation that is found only in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This relationship, what the believer refers to as his or her “salvation”, is a relationship that carries with it eternal benefits, and allows us to face death in a way we cannot understand apart from Jesus.
1) There is only one way to be saved
A) John 14:6 – Jesus said, I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.
01) Christ is our mediator, He speaks on our behalf before His heavenly Father, to bring us salvation and into a right relationship with God. Jesus died on a cross to forgive the sins of the whole world; past, present and future. He was laid in a tomb, and after three days rose from the dead!
02) Because He conquered death, everyone who accepts Him as Lord and Savior conquers it too! This leads us to the second absolute we can be confident in;
2) We can face death without fear
A) Ps. 24 – Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; you rod and your staff, they comfort me.
01) What is there to fear when death has been conquered? Jesus walks with us through the darkest hours of our lives, and promises to stay with us, comfort us and bring us peace.
02) This is a peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil. 4: 7). It’s beyond our comprehension, waiting for us to become part of the family of God
3) Nothing, not even death, can separate us from the love of God
A) Rom. 8: 38-39 - For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
01) Our relationship with Jesus can weather any storm. It is not dependent on our strength, ability, craftiness, worthiness or any other attribute we may think we can offer. It is Jesus and Jesus alone.