Wednesday, March 12, 2008

the importance of the gospel in death

Today was the funeral for the good Beth Karn. She was 87. She loved Jesus. She died a death that pointed people to the greatest news that has ever been told.

There is never an inopportune time for the sharing of the Gospel, but there are few that are as appropriate as a funeral. Death is part of the curse that came when Adam and Eve disobeyed the command not to eat. Death is a fearful thing for many people. Death keeps us from experiencing eternal life.

Ah, but death met its maker when Jesus came and died. And, to the praise of the glorious God in heaven, it was not victorious. Death could not hold Jesus in the grave, it had no power over God. And now, because of Jesus glorious resurrection we have the same hope.

We no longer have anything to fear by death. We have no longer any reason to wonder at what happens after we die. We don't need to mourn the inevitable. But, if we don't believe in Christ, we have much to fear.

There is life after death. It can either be one of great joy, surpassing joy, overwhelming, unending, soul-quenching joy. Or, it can be one of pain, torment, anguish, guilt, fear and unceasing loneliness. It is death that leads to these things.

And so, the appropriateness of the Gospel at a funeral is seen. There is no hope without the Gospel. There is no good that comes aside from the Gospel. And as we mourn the death of a person, we see in them our own selves awaiting the day of our own lifelessness. But, with the Gospel we have hope. We can live our last days filled with joy because, truly, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

The first few verses of Hebrews 12 give us a picture of life with an end. We are called to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangle and run the race set before us looking, only, to Jesus for he looked to the joy set before him and was able to endure the cross. His life had an end. Our lives will end. But how great is the knowledge and truth that if we look to Him and believe we will also have a great joy awaiting us that we can fix our eyes on and endure all things.

If death is sure, then Christ is the guarantee of a better life to come. Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus.


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