Summary: Asked to preach a "born again" message for the benefit of her family and others, I have done my best to honor her desire. She took every opportunity to give testimony to the truth of God's Plan of Salvation and her funeral was to be both joyous and a tes
Joan often spoke to me of her desire that I speak truthfully and forthrightly on this day about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Today I will do my best to find words to honor that request. In honoring her request, perhaps the words I speak are something of a last testament of her faith. Here desire is that each you be offered the Gospel again and again. For that to happen someone must witness to the truth of the Gospel. She is no longer able to do that, but I can today on her behalf.
Its difficult for a third person, in this case myself, to give testimony of another’s faith. Faith is always based upon a combination of having heard the Word of God rightly explained, and then various experiences pointing to the truth of that Word fitted together in our understanding by the influence of the Holy Spirit. In this sense faith is very much a gift of God. True faith is also very much experiential in nature. No one comes to faith intellectually. No one can be argued into truly believing a religious doctrine. But the heart can be strangely warmed through the influence of the Holy Spirit, and it is this experience which is the true fountainhead of the type of faith to which Joan so urgently testified at each and every opportunity. She did so because it was real. As with all faith, it was real and convincing to her because it was based on experience interpreted through the kindly light we know as the Holy Spirit. Those experiences were gifts of God interpreted through the regenerative power of the Holy Spirit. I know this to be true because I share the same faith.
I’ve not experienced everything that Joan experienced. And she has not experienced everything that I have experienced. But we both have experienced enough so that we appreciated the faith of the other. There are many spiritual gifts, each providing a type of experience that leads to convincing faith. I have been told that some drive out demons, really and truly, so that often those cleansed from evil addictions believe and become members of the Church. I have been told that some have foreknowledge of the future, visions and prophetic utterances. I have been told that some speak in tongues of mercy interpreted through the influence of the Holy Spirit. I have been told there are many more such gifts. I have been told that in fact, it is impossible to enumerate the gifts which throughout the world the Church has received from God and in the name of Jesus Christ, and which the Holy Spirit every day puts to effectual use for the benefit of the advancement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What I have experienced is somewhat limited in comparison and stretches over a period of many years. I have experienced healing and being healed. I have experienced the Holy Spirit quicken my heart when words from the Lord meant for me are spoken by others. And as a child before hearing the Word yet alone understanding it, I have looked up at the stars and felt inexplicable awe because of what I lie before me. No, I have not experienced it all, but I have been given a few such experiences, experiences sufficient to establish with in me a convincing faith.
There is a song that all of you have heard. Inadvertently perhaps, this song tells of the importance of the experience of the Holy Spirit which is the fountainhead of true and convincing faith. It goes like this:
I believe for every drop of rain that falls, a flower grows
And I believe that somewhere in the darkest night a candle glows
I believe for everyone who goes astray
Someone will come to show the way. Yes I believe, oh I believe.
I believe above the storm the smallest prayer will still be heard
I believe that someone in the great somewhere hears every word
Every time I hear a newborn baby cry
Or touch a leaf or see the sky
Then I know why I believe
Have you not had such experiences? Have you never looked up into the starry night sky and felt an inexplicable fascination, a harmonious melody being played on the heart strings of your soul? In sincerely hope that you have, and I would encourage you to heed these experience and to allow thier testimony to more fully enter your consciousness rather than repressing or dismissing them. I would encourage you to allow yourself to be convinced, to allow the Holy Spirit to convince you of God’s great love for you and of the truth, and the wonder of God’s Plan of Redemption.
As I stated earlier, I cannot argue you into faith. The fountainhead of faith is Holy Spirit, freely given as a gift of God though often rejected. Do not harden your hearts to the Holy Spirit which guides you into an understanding of life experiences and ultimately into sufficient understanding of the word of God for you to find the blessed assurance of convincing faith. I don’t think it will come overnight. But given half a chance you too can and will find this great and wondrous happiness, convincing faith.