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A Funeral Message

(Selected Scriptures)
Copyright 2000 by

John F. MacArthur, Jr.


All rights reserved. Well, these are always such times of mixed emotion when we lose someone so precious as Don (Last name omitted). This is a wonderful testimony to his life to see such a congregation here on a Sunday afternoon; elie!e me. "nd all of us who #new him could do nothing ut lo!e him ecause of the character of the man and the warmth of his personality. "nd $ ha!e learned through the years to put a high grade on faithfulness, and his was %" plus% in terms of faithfulness. "nd right on down to the last that he could do would e to ser!e at &race To 'ou in the wonderful way that he did. "nd we(re so greatly inde ted to really all the family who ha!e meant so much to this church and to me personally through these many years. "nd, of course, we all feel the loss. )ut on the other hand, no ody should ha!e to endure life in this world for any longer than necessary, especially if we(re headed to eternal glory, right* So we re+oice in the reality of the fact that Don is with the Lord. "nd that was the plan from efore time egan anyway; that he should e rought to eternal glory; that he might praise the Lord ,esus -hrist fore!er. ,ust a few thoughts from the word of &od. Those of you who ha!e een a part of &race -hurch #now that for a long time $ ha!e een teaching in .-orinthians. We ha!e since completed that. )ut in going ac# to .-orinthians, one of the things that comes through that letter is /aul continually refers to the fact that he was on the edge of death all the time; he #new that e!ery day could e the last day that he would li!e. 0e said, %$ die daily.% What he meant y that was not anything mystical, ut e!ery morning when $ wa#e up $ reali1e that etween the plots of the &entiles and the plots of the ,ews, this could e it. "nd so he li!ed with the imminent reality of death constantly in his life. "nd he refers to it repeatedly in .-orinthians. )ut he sums up his perspecti!e in the fourth chapter in 2erse 34 y saying5 %Therefore ... we do not lose heart.% $f there(s anything that should cause you to ecome ultimately discouraged or to lose heart, it would e to face death e!ery day; to reali1e that e!en though you may ha!e een healthy, that this could e your last day; e!en though you had great plans and you felt li#e there were things to do and there was some measure of necessity for you eing around, and there was the possi ility of some pain and some suffering and the infliction of some 66 some se!ere wounds, et cetera, that could cause your death 66 to e a le to loo# death in the face and say, %We do not lose heart,% is to ha!e ultimately con7uered the greatest enemy. The )i le tells us in 0e rews . that Satan holds men ondage to the %fear of death% all their life long. $t is the greatest fear. $t is the ultimate fear. "nd when you come to the place where you ha!e con7uered that fear, you ha!e con7uered the ultimate enemy. "nd the apostle /aul could say that5 %We do not lose heart.%

"nd the reason he could say that is !ery important. $t(s important for us today. 0e said this5 %We loo# not at the things which are seen; ut at the things which are not seen, for the things which are seen are temporal, ut the things which are not seen are eternal.% 8ow, the way you ultimately con7uer death, the way you ultimately triumph in the face of death, the way you ultimately do not lose heart in facing death is to see it not from a physical perspecti!e, ut from a spiritual one. 9ight* $t(s to see eyond what is !isi le to the eye and percei!e the great spiritual reality. . !ternal "lory We do not lose heart in the death of Don ecause we do not loo# at what is temporal. We do not loo# at what can e o !iously seen; age, illness, the progressi!e illness that finally ta#es a life. $ went to the hospital to see Don. "nd, you #now, :and; $ #now the family :was; there for many, many hours and many, many days :and; would pro a ly comment often how he didn(t loo# li#e the Don that we #now. /rogressi!ely, that egins to change. )ut you can loo# at death from the physical side, as most people do. )ut all you see is what /aul says the %outer man decaying.% So he says, %We do not lose heart,% though our outer man is decaying. "nd the reason we don(t lose heart is ecause we(re really loo#ing past that. "nd that is the great reality of the -hristian faith, isn(t it* We loo# death in the face, and we see right through its facade to the spiritual reality ehind it. That is why his family could actually pray that he would die; that the Lord would +ust ta#e him. )ecause death holds no fear, it holds no sting, when you see eyond it. "nd what causes us to not lose heart* "nd what do we see when we loo# ehind the face of death* We see what is eternal. "nd /aul says the first thing we see is eternal glory, for momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far eyond all comparison. <ne of the great things that the )i le teaches us is that when you ecome a -hristian, a process egins in your life, what we call the process of sanctification. $n fact, /aul refers to it in the same passage as the5 %$nner man eing renewed day y day.% $t is a process that is guaranteed. $t is a process that actually happens. We do contri ute to the speed with which it occurs y our o edience or diso edience. )ut it(s the promise of &od that when you(re sa!ed, the sanctification process egins. There is a continual wor#ing of the 0oly Spirit in the life of a elie!er that renews that elie!er from one le!el of glory to the next to the next to the next, e!er more eing conformed to the image of ,esus -hrist. "nd as that process goes on, concurrent with that process is an accumulati!e weight of eternal glory. The more you grow as a -hristian, the more you honor the Lord with your life, the more -hrist6li#e you ecome, the more you increase that eternal weight of glory which is proportionate to the process of sanctification. "nd also affliction in this life 66 difficulties, challenges, the onslaught of temptation, trials, struggles, disappointments and the triumph that you en+oy in the midst of those, contri utes to that ecause all of that is a part of that sanctifying process. "nd it(s safe to say, ecause it(s )i lical to say, the tougher it is down here, the more your eternal glory is going to weigh up there. $n fact, when ,ames and ,ohn came to ,esus and as#ed whether they could sit on the right hand of the =ather in the #ingdom, you remem er the answer was, ,esus said, it(s %not mine to gi!e,% ut the =ather is going to gi!e it, and 0e(s going to gi!e it to the ones who suffer the greatest.

So light affliction and the process of sanctification in this life is consistently day y day, contri uting to an eternal weight of glory. "nd $(m not sure that $ can explain exactly what that means. )ut what it does mean is that the more faithful you are, and the more you endure triumphantly in the cause of -hrist, and the more the Spirit of &od conforms you into the image of -hrist, the greater will e your eternal glory. So we loo# at the death of Don. "nd we see on the temporal side the flesh decaying; on the eternal side, we see an increasing weight of eternal glory into which he has now entered. 2. !ternal #ody We also %do not lose heart% ecause we not only see eternal glory, ut we see an eternal ody. 0e says in the next !erses eginning in -hapter >5 %We #now that $f the earthly tent which is our house,% this ody, %...is torn down, we ha!e a uilding from &od, a house not made with hands,% that is, not in the normal human way, %...eternal in the hea!ens.% %$n this house,% this ody, %... we groan, longing to e clothed with our dwelling from hea!en.% "nd, fol#s, $ can loo# across and see a lot of gray hair here. "nd the longer we li!e, the more we groan. $s this not true* This is true. We groan more fre7uently now than we ha!e e!er groaned. $n fact, we hardly ma#e a mo!e in any direction without groaning. "nd we are all experiencing the increased groanings of life in this ody. "nd they(re not +ust physical 66 we chuc#le at that 66 and there is a physical groaning. )ut there is that weight of sin, that weight of li!ing in a fallen world for a long time. $t(s the many urdens that you carry. 'ou #now, you thought when you got married all your pro lems had ended, and then you found they didn(t. "nd you 66 you +ust married some ody else with a whole pile of pro lems, and you inherited two sets. "nd then you thought your life would e complete liss when you had your children. "nd then you reali1ed that you had to worry a out your #ids and pray for your #ids. "nd then you thought5 Wouldn(t it e wonderful when they got married and went away* Then they came ac# with grandchildren, and your prayer list got multiplied in increments of fi!e, or whate!er. "nd as you grow older, the weight of all of this is also, $ thin#, part of the groaning that goes on in life. "nd you loo# at a world ahead, and you wonder what #ind of world is left for your children, don(t you, and what #ind of world is going to e there for your grandchildren. "nd you wonder a out what it(s going to e li#e in the future e!en for the purposes of &od and the #ingdom and the church. "nd there(s a groaning in this life, and a longing to e deli!ered from sin and the de ilitating power of temptation and fallenness. "nd so, /aul says5 %We groan, longing to e clothed with our dwelling from hea!en.% )ut we 66 as long as we(re in this tent, %groaned% eing urdened. "nd there are all #inds of urdens; the physical urdens, the urdens of age, the urdens of illness, the urdens of disappointment and unfulfillment and uncon!erted children and grandchildren, and all the issues of life. There are all those urdens. "nd it(s not that we want to e unclothed, /aul says, ut we want to e %clothed% in order that what is mortal may e swallowed up y life. We want that immortality. We want that glorified ody, that glorified en!ironment. "nd that(s the second reason we can loo# at the passing of Don and not lose heart. )ecause what we see is not the end of life, ut the eginning of life as we would really li#e to li!e it, right* "nd what awaits Don, of course, at the great resurrection awaits all of us who #now -hrist. "nd that is a glorious ody li#e unto the ody of -hrist, the same as his resurrection ody; a ody free from sin, a ody that can eternally li!e and tra!erse the glories of the eternal hea!ens and earth as they will e recreated in the

future. So we 66 we see the decay of one ody. )ody goes into the ground; dust to dust, as scripture says. )ut at the same time, we see a glorious new ody; without illness, without sorrow, without sadness, without tears, without crying, without sin, without temptation; a ody suited to praise and honor &od fore!er and e!er. "nd that has een prepared for all those who lo!e -hrist. $. !ternal %urpose There(s a third element in loo#ing at the death of an indi!idual eternally, and that comes in 2erse > of .nd -orinthians >. 0e says5 %8ow 0e who prepared us for this !ery purpose is &od, who ga!e to us the Spirit as a pledge.% Sometimes people 66 and $ thin# typically in the world 66 they thin# that when you die, that(s the end of any meaning in your life; that you(!e got to cram this temporal life with e!erything (cause this is all there is, right* That is the typical humanistic perspecti!e. Well, we #now etter than that. =ran#ly, the human part of our life, life in this world for a elie!er, is incidental. $t really is incidental. $t isn(t the purpose of &od. "nd that(s what /aul is saying. %0e who prepared us% for this immortality, for this new ody, for this eternal glory, %...is &od.% 0e prepared us for this !ery purpose. So that we can say that when a elie!er dies, they ha!e achie!ed the end for which they were originally created. We can e!en go ac# further than that. We can say that they ha!e reached the goal for which they were originally chosen y &od efore time egan, and had their names written in the Lam (s oo# of life. When &od wrote Don (last name omitted) in the Lam (s oo# of life efore the foundation of the world, he wrote not that Don would li!e ?@ 66 how many 66 ?4 years on earth, ut he wrote that Don would li!e eternally in the presence of -hrist, didn(t he* "nd that this was only incidental, this was only the moment in time when &od would call him and grant him that eternal life. So when we loo# at the death of a elie!er, we don(t see the end of 0is purpose. We see the eginning of 0im fulfilling that eternal purpose for which &od chose him at the !ery start. That(s the eternal perspecti!e. =rom the !antage point of the world, it loo#s li#e the end. )ut from our !antage point, it(s +ust the eginning; eternal glory and eternal ody and eternal purpose. &. !ternal Fello'ship There(s another eternal perspecti!e here, and it(s eternal fellowship. $t says in 2erse 45 %Therefore, eing always of good courage, #nowing that while we are at home in the ody we are a sent from the Lord.% "nd further, he #inds of turns it around and says he prefers, rather %to e a sent from the ody and to e at home with the Lord.% 8ow, there is the perspecti!e of a -hristian. We(re not at home here. We(re really a sent from home here. We ma#e a home here. We ha!e a family; we ha!e marriage; we ha!e children and grandchildren, and friends and associates, and we en+oy a certain measure, particularly -hristian people, a certain measure of what hea!enly fellowship will e li#e. )ut we are a sent from the Lord. We are a sent from 0is presence, and from our eternal home which, as you heard ,ohn read a little it ago, is eing prepared for us e!en now. ,ohn 3A. So this is not where our home is. We are +ust passing through, as the old psalm said. <ur home is there; our =ather is there; our Sa!ior is there. <ur name is there; our inheritance is there. B!erything that is ours eternally in the purposes of &od is there.

"nd so when a elie!er lea!es this world to go into glory, they enter into an eternal fellowship. "nd that fellowship is mar#ed particularly y the presence of the Lord, %at home with the Lord.% <ften, $ ha!e een as#ed5 When we get to hea!en, are we going to #now our spouse* "re we going to #now our family* "re we going to #now our friends* <f course. 'ou(re going to #now e!ery ody. "nd people sometimes get focused on reunions in hea!en. )ut the greatest fellowship of hea!en isn(t going to e with elie!ers. The greatest fellowship in hea!en is going to e with the Sa!ior, right* That(s the great hope of hea!en5 That we(ll commune with 0im; we(ll sit down and ha!e our eternal fellowship with 0im. So that experience Don has entered into, an experience which all of us should cherish and long for and hope for in -hrist. (. !ternal Ful)ill*ent There(s another eternal element as you loo# at the death of a elie!er. Bternal glory, an eternal ody, eternal purpose eing fulfilled, eternal fellowship eing entered into, there is also eternal fulfillment. $n 2erse C /aul says5 %We ha!e as our am ition, whether at home or a sent, to e pleasing to 0im.% $ don(t #now how 66 if you(!e thought a out that other and that applies to you. )ut it(s a !ery profound statement to me. Dy am ition as a -hristian is to please the Lord. That(s a pretty simple, straightforward statement, right* That would define any of us; that our am ition would e to please the Lord. The real struggle comes when you recogni1e that you can(t do that. $ am the greatest disappointment in my own life, ecause $ had much higher hopes for myself than $ am a le to deli!er. $f you as#ed me what(s my purpose in life, $ will tell you5 To glorify &od is my purpose. $f you as# me what is your o +ecti!e, what do you want to do, $ could say with the apostle /aul, my %am ition, whether at home or a sent, is to e pleasing to 0im.% Dy am ition is not to e successful in the world, or to uild a reputation, or to uild a great institution or whate!er. Dy goal in life is to e pleasing to 0im. That is a goal that is always out there and ne!er is achie!ed, ecause you always fall short. "nd one, of course, of the great realities of death and entrance into hea!en is now you can achie!e that goal. 'ou ha!e achie!ed that goal. So we can say that there is eternal fulfillment. That which was in the heart of Don and any true elie!er is a desire to please the Lord. "nd now, fore!er and e!er, he will do nothing ut please the Lord. That means there(s no more guilt; there(s no more disappointment; there(s no more anxiety; there(s no more fear; there(s no more sense of failure. )ecause he will do what it is in his heart to do fore!er, and that is to fully and completely please the Lord. +. !ternal ,e'ard "nd then there(s one final thing that /aul tal#s a out in the eternal scale. 0e says, 2erse 3@5 %We must all appear efore the +udgment seat of -hrist, that each one may e recompensed for his deeds in the ody, according to what he has done, whether it is good% or worthless. Then he goes on to descri e those #inds of things. There are things we(!e done in this life that are worthless. 0e(s not tal#ing a out sin; sin(s een dealt with. )ut there are things that don(t ha!e any eternal !alue. 8ow, you #now what those things are. $ mean they don(t ma#e any difference in the #ingdom ultimately. They(re not wrong; they(re are +ust there. )ut there are some things that ha!e eternal !alue. They ha!e a direct impact on the #ingdom. They ha!e an indirect impact on the #ingdom. "nd in the end, those things are going to e e!aluated. "nd whate!er we did throughout our life that was sinful has already een paid for. Whate!er we did that(s sort of in the gray category of not ha!ing any real impact on eternal things +ust goes way away and

disappears. "nd what is left is what directly impacted the #ingdom. "nd on the merit and asis of that wor# wrought in our li!es y the power of the Spirit of &od, we will recei!e an eternal reward. "nd $ dare say that only &od #nows the reality of that. )ecause praise is part of that; faithful prayer is part of that; a pure heart in terms of moti!ation is part of that. "nd who #nows that ut &od* That(s why /aul said in the prior chapter you can(t really #now how you(re going to e e!aluated, ecause only &od #nows the %secrets of the heart.% So when we loo# at someone(s death, we don(t feel li#e we ha!e to 66 you noticed that, $ am sure, this morning 66 we don(t feel li#e we ha!e to muster up some great, long parade of e!ery achie!ement they e!er did. 0a!e you e!er noticed that at a -hristian funeral* 2ery little is said a out a litany of achie!ement. -ompare that, when you loo# at the funeral of a non6 elie!er, and watch people almost frantically trying to put meaning into that life y pic#ing out all the myriad of milestones, and gi!ing some ody some #ind of accolade for e!erything they achie!ed in this life. The only real reward that matters is that which we did for the Eing in his #ingdom. "nd 0e(s the one who #nows that, and eternity will re!eal that, and that(s the reward that elie!ers loo# for. $t(s enough, really, it(s all that e!er would need to e said a out Don to say he was faithful. 9ight* )ecause it(s5 %9e7uired of stewards, that a man e found faithful.% "nd we(ll lea!e the eternal reward to &od, who #new his moti!es and #new his heart far etter than e!en we do. We ha!e a pretty good in#ling. We are certainly on the right trac#, ecause we #now the sweetness of his soul and the faithfulness of his life. That &od will gi!e him his reward. So we come to an occasion li#e this and we don(t lose heart, ecause we see what is eternal. We see what can(t e seen with the eye, ut it can only e percei!ed through an understanding of the word of &od. We see eternal glory, an eternal ody, eternal purpose, eternal fellowship, eternal fulfillment and an eternal reward. "nd we do not lose heart. $n fact, +ust the opposite. We re+oice and we than# &od for this wonderful life, and for &od ringing this life to its great coronation, ecause that is what has happened in hea!en. This has een the coronation of Don. < !iously, there is loss, and no ody li!es that long and that well without capturing a huge part of the hearts of the people around him. "nd we feel that loss greatly. )ut we are not without hope, right* We ha!e great hope. "nd we #now there is reunion yet to come. "nd at the pace life is going during these years, it doesn(t seem far away for any of us, does it* =ather, we than# you for your word. We pray that you would you press to our hearts these great truths that gi!e us +oy in the midst of sadness. We pray in -hrist(s name. "men. -opyright ,ohn Dac"rthur .@@@, "ll 9ights 9eser!ed. -ranscribed by #onnie Fran.)urt o) "race Co**unity Church and added to #ible #ulletin #oard/s 0MacArthur/s Collection0 by1