I attended a funeral yesterday and my heart was saddened because of the hurt and suffering I saw. Death is like that…it brings with it pain and sorrow, loss and grief. I saw this on the faces of family and friends and my heart went out to them as I prayed in the pew during the service. There were those that were weeping openly and there were those that were stone-faced and solemn. We all handle things in different ways, based on our temperament and emotional make-up.
As I sat there during the funeral, these thoughts came to my mind about death.
#1 Death is coming to all unless Jesus returns and raptures us off the earth first. Death is unescapable. The Bible says it is appointed unto man once to die and then the judgment. My fear is that we forget that last part. Judgment. Somehow we have come to believe, I’m afraid, as a culture that death entitles you to heaven no matter how you have lived your life. That just because you die you get to go to heaven no matter what? This is certainly not a Biblical viewpoint and I’m sorry to say I don’t ascribe to a Universalist Salvation viewpoint. What is that? It is the belief that more or less everyone goes to heaven and that we’ll just have different levels of enjoyment based on our works. Again…totally un-Scriptural. The bottom line is that I will enter heaven simply because I’ve given my life to Jesus Christ. He does the work. Salvation is not of my doing…but, His. So, death does not usher me into heaven…but, the blood of Jesus that covers my sin. I will bear the sign. Just as blood covered the door posts and lintel of the homes of the Israelites in Egypt prior to their exodus on the night of passover (when the death angel passed over the homes marked by the blood),
…so does Christ’s blood mark me that I may pass over from this life to the next. I don’t do so simply because I die…but, because Jesus died…so that I would not have to die a spiritual death. Praise His Name!
#2 As I sat there yesterday, I was struck by the fact that so many in our younger generation have many warped views of what life is all about. Now I want to be careful here…because I do not know about all who read this blog…but, as I listened to a couple of the testimonies about the one that had departed and their exploits of going to concerts and chasing women and then in the next sentence “I’ll see you again,” my spirit…actually I believe the Spirit of God, bore witness with my spirit and “checked” inside of me. I wanted to stand up and say “NO!! You’ve got it all wrong! You can’t live a life like that and then just because death comes somehow automatically pass from that kind of living to the presence of a Holy and Righteous God.” But, of course I didn’t. Why? Because it would have been disrespectful and dishonoring and I wouldn’t do something like that for nothing in the world. But, I left disheartened. Why? Because there were so many 20-somethings in that room that believe that somehow it will all just “work out” when they die and in the meantime…just live and love and be happy.
Folks that’s just not how it works. This life is not about you and it’s not about me. It’s about glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ through my life. I’ve died to myself. I don’t own my life. Jesus does. I’m bought and paid for by the blood of the Lamb of God…His righteousness covering my sinfulness. I don’t live how I choose. I live how HE chooses.
#3 Lastly, as I went to my car and sat down in the driver’s seat…before I even cranked the car…the Holy Spirit said to me, “Kevin, in order to teach your children how to live, you must teach them how to die.” As I sat there with the keys in my hand the Lord said, “Kevin, your children are counting on you to point them to me and me only. You can give them a good education. You can give them plenty of things in this world. You can make sure they are fed with a roof over their head…but, if you don’t teach them about me and how they are to ‘live’ through me…then, they will NOT be prepared to die.”
Jesus Christ is THE life. He said it. “I am the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). We do not get to go to heaven just because we die. We get to go to heaven because we have LIFE. We have Jesus…because He is THE LIFE! Do you see that? Jesus is THE life! Not what we find in partying or money or friends or love or success or popularity or having a good time. Jesus Christ showed us how to live by His death. He surrendered His life to the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Jesus chose death in the garden…not at the cross. I’m teaching my children to choose to “die to themselves daily” so that when physical death comes it will be simply an easy passage-way from this life to the next. Our Gethsemane (choosing to die) must take place daily…and in so doing…we gain life…to the full…not just in eternity, but here and now. I must worship the Lord Jesus with my life…as a sacrifice before Him…
Paul taught the church at Corinth what I’m trying to say. Take a look at these sections of 1 Corinthians 15:
20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
If the dead are not raised,
“Let us eat and drink,
for tomorrow we die.”
33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 34 Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.
“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
Oh how I grieve and hurt for families each time I attend or conduct a funeral (and I go to many as a pastor). My heart grieves for our young generation that needs to know how to die…so that they may really live. If you have a young person in your life, or even for you…the reader of this post…make sure you and they understand this before it’s everlasting and eternally too late.