Summary: This message is for a funeral of a godly young man who died after a long battle with cancer. It highlights four ways that death is gain for the believer.
Philippians 1: 19-23
To Die Is Gain
"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."
Death is not extinguishing the light from the Christian. It is putting out the lamp because the bright new glorious dawn has come. Our hearts grieve deeply over losing a champion of the faith, yet we are undeniably grateful for the life of Ronnie Pitts & the completion of his earthly journey. Therefore we gather today to support each other in our loss & to celebrate his home-going to be with the precious Lord Jesus Ronnie loved and served so faithfully.
Ronnie was a son, a brother, a husband, a father, a preacher, a teacher, a prayer partner, and a friend. He was a hunter, a fisherman, a painter, a body man & a writer. To Ronnie family was important. So he was always there for his beloved children; Johnnie & Kelley. He not only made sure they knew Christ, he discipled them in Christ & prepared them to live & enjoy life.
Ronnie loved people, & each of us here could attest to that point, because he loved each of us. He also loved things like fishing polls, guns, tools books, but mostly he loved the Bible. He gave a Bible to those he loved best & even to those hardly knew. Why? Because he loved God’s Word and knew what it did for him, how it brought him closer to the God he loved with all his heart, mind, soul and strength. Ronnie was an inspiration to us all and the full impact of his life and ministry will not be comprehended or calculated this side of heaven. His life and ministry brought high honor, praise, and glory to the Lord he loved so deeply and served so admirably.
Ronnie taught me many things, (particularly concerning living by faith). In his last year here he taught me that the power of CANCER is limited. Cancer cannot kill love. It cannot shatter faith. It cannot eat away hope. It cannot corrode peace. It cannot destroy confidence. It cannot cripple friendships. It cannot shut out memories. It cannot silence courage. It cannot invade the soul. It cannot reduce eternal life. It cannot quench the Spirit. It cannot lessen the power of the resurrection.
Ronnie found the enabling to face such trying days from His Lord Jesus and His Word. We can find great comfort and understanding in the Bible so that we might face such days in faith, like Ronnie did. Philippians 1:19-23 states,... "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain...."
If "for me to live is Christ," then to die is gain." If for me to live is money, then to die is a loss. If for me to live is pleasure, then to die is a loss. If for me to live is self, then to die is a loss. If for me to live is ambition, then to die is a loss. If for me to live is sin, then to die is a loss. If for me to live is worldliness, then to die is a loss. But if for me to live is Christ, then to die is a gain. For Ronnie to live was Christ.
Let me share with you Four ways that for the Christian death is gain.
1st, We gain a better body.
Christians receive a glorified, immortal, eternal resurrected body. In this present body of clay we are subject to all the sorrows and tears that earthy life brings our way. Age, sickness, and finally death are the inevitable companions of this tent made out of the dust of the ground. But in death and in the resurrection of the dead we gain a new body, a better body, one that can never grow old, never know disease, never suffer pain, and can never die. We gain a better body.
The 2nd way for the Christian that death is gain is: WE GAIN A BETTER HOME.
The experience of dying, especially if suffering is involved, is not pleasant to contemplate. Even so, for the Christian, death means going Home. It means being ushered into the presence of our Savior! It means a departure from this world, with all its trials and heartaches, to the blessings and joys of heaven. Paul spoke about his "desire to depart and be with Christ," which which he promised would be "far better" than remaining on earth (Phil. 1:23).
The Greek word translated "departure" is significant. "It was used metaphorically as a nautical term for when a vessel pulls up anchor and loosens its moorings so it can set sail. The word was used in a military terminology when an army broke encampment to move on. In the ancient Greek world this term was used also for freeing someone from chains and for the severing of a woven piece from its loom.