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A Christian's Response to Death

Tom Pennington • Selected Scriptures

  • 2012-09-23 AM
  • Sermons


It became clear to me, as Sheila and I were driving home from the hospital last night, that it was not for me to preach the message that I had prepared this week. Lord willing, next Sunday we were return to our study of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, a wonderful journey through our Lord's most famous sermon. But this morning I want us to respond to the circumstances God is brought into our lives, as a church family. I want us to have a kind of family chat, although that's not exactly right because I plan to do all the talking, but a kind of time when we look at how we ought to respond to this tragedy. It's my responsibility this morning to teach the Word of God for all of our comfort, for all of our encouragement, and that's my prayer. What I want us to do is consider how you and I as believers in Jesus Christ should think about Charlie's death, but more importantly, should think about death in general.

You may be new to our church, or maybe even a visitor today, and you never had the chance to meet Charlie Yates, but in your own life you have already encountered the reality of death and you certainly will many more times before this life is done. How do we as Christians respond? You know, most people in this world honestly just want to ignore the reality of death. In fact, our culture does everything it can to insulate itself from that reality. Until just recently, in the advent of home hospice care, the average person rarely had to even deal with death firsthand. We as a culture take heroic measures to postpone death as long as possible. Why? All of this is because mankind's greatest fear is the fear of death. Francis Bacon wrote, "Men fear death like children fear the dark." Scripture puts it like this in Hebrews 2,

Therefore, since the children, [that's us,] share in flesh and blood, [that is, we're human,] He himself, [that is, Christ,] likewise also partook of the same, [that is, of full humanity, of flesh and blood,] that through His death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.

Most people walk around in slavery to the fear of death. In spite of all the bravado that you might hear on the talk programs or in public, deep down in his heart of hearts every person apart from Christ's grace still fears death. But how should we as Christians think about death? What should our perspective be? It's so important that we think about this like Christians. I had a wonderful example in this in my father-in-law who's now with the Lord. My wife's dad, C.W. Smith was a theology professor for fifty years. He taught the Bible. He taught Christianity to his students from the classroom, but he taught most powerfully about our Christian faith as he was dying.

Sheila's dad died of cancer in January of 2003, just months before I came to pastor this church. The previous December, just a month before, in December we were sitting over the breakfast table, Sheila and I one day, and I asked her the awkward question, I said, "So honey, your dad's still going to be here for Christmas, what do we get him for Christmas?" And to my shock, Sheila's response was, "Well, what do you want back in a couple months?" Who are you, what a coldhearted thing to say? That night we had dinner with her dad, who was at that time already confined to a wheelchair, and I asked him what he wanted for Christmas and he said, "Well, what do you want back in a couple of months?" I said, "All right, I'm getting you a new set of golf clubs."

Sadly, there are many families, even Christian families, that refuse to face the reality of death, even the impending death of a family member. They won't talk about it. They ignore it as if it's not happening, or never will happen. Sheila and I now have been through the death of all of our parents, they're all with the Lord and many friends and others that were rich in our lives, and we have found that those times have been some of the richest and fullest times in our entire lives.

It's crucial that we think about death like Christians, and so this morning I want to help us do that in light of Charlie Yates's death, but more than his death, the reality that we will all encounter from this day forward many times, the death of those that we love and care about. So I want us to really look at this from two separate angles. The first angle is to consider the biblical perspective of death. What does the Bible say about death? And secondly, I want us then, in light of that, to look at a biblical response to death. In light of what the Bible teaches about death, how does it command us to respond? So let's do that together.

Let's begin with a biblical perspective of death. The Bible makes a number of affirmations about death, and obviously I don't have time to make them all here with you this morning, but let me give you some foundational ones. First of all, and this is really important to understand, death is an enemy. Death is an enemy. There are those who, out of a sense of hyper spirituality, want to imagine that somehow death is a friend to a Christian. Death is not a friend. The Bible is very clear, death is an enemy. There is of course one sense in which death is a normal part of life, as normal a part of life as birth, but there is another sense in which it is an enemy.

Look at 1 Corinthians with me, 1 Corinthians 15. Paul makes this point as he's dealing with the resurrection. Look at verse 25 of 1 Corinthians 15, he says, "For He," that is, Christ, "must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet." Jesus Christ will ultimately be victorious over everything that exalts itself against Him in the universe. Now notice the next verse. "The last enemy that," He will put under His feet, "The last enemy that will be abolished is," what? "Death." The apostle Paul, and ultimately God Himself, thinks of death not as a friend but as an enemy. Death is not natural to human beings. God did not create man to experience death. It's something out of sorts in God's world, in the created order. It is an enemy, something that Christ will finally destroy.

Now why is it an enemy? Why is death an enemy? Well, there are a number of biblical reasons, let me just give you a couple to think about. First of all, it's an enemy because death is part of the consequences of sin on this planet. It's not that each person dies immediately because of some specific sin in their lives, that's not the point. The point is, there is death on this planet, death is a reality for every one of us, because, ultimately, of human sin. In Romans 5:12, Paul says, "through one man came sin, and death by sin." By Adam's sinful choice came death. Romans 6:23, "the wages of sin," that is, what we earn for our sin, "is death." So, death is an enemy because it's part of the consequences of sin on this planet.

There's another reason it's an enemy, and that's because it separates us from the people that we love here. You understand that we were made in the image of God, and part of that image of God is for relationship. God has eternally enjoyed relationship within the Trinity of His being, and we were made for relationship, and we develop those relationships, and death rips those relationships apart that we have here. For a time anyway, it severs those relationships. It is an enemy.

Another reason death is an enemy is because it does what God never designed us for. It makes us disembodied spirits. You see God made us two part beings. Man is, by design, material and immaterial. You have a soul or spirit, and you have a body, and that's how God designed man to be. But along came sin and along came death as a result of sin, and as a result of that death, the immaterial part of us is separated from the material part of us. Death separates us from what Paul calls, in 2 Corinthians 5, our "earthly tent." The good news, of course, is God didn't make us to be eternally separate, our sort of free-floating souls floating on clouds, playing harps. That's not how God designed human beings, He designed us to be body and soul, and someday, Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5, He's going to give us, not a new tent, but a new house, made by God Himself, a glorified body, and we will live on a new earth forever, according to the end of Revelation, not floating around in some cloud somewhere. So death is an enemy, for those reasons and others.

There's another affirmation the Scripture makes, and that is, that death was personally conquered by Jesus Christ. Death was personally conquered by Jesus Christ. Listen to Romans 6:9, "Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him." Death didn't master Jesus, He mastered it. Second Timothy 1:10, "our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." I love the way our Lord Himself describes it, you remember the scene on the island of Patmos when He appears, in Revelation 1, to John the apostle, and He describes Himself. Listen to Jesus's own words to John the apostle. Revelation 1:18, "I was dead," listen, Jesus says, I died just like the people you love experience death, I experienced it just like that. He says, "I was dead, and behold I am alive forevermore," I am, from now on, always alive, I beat death. This is the wonderful reality we celebrate not only on Easter Sunday, which of course we do, but every single Sunday. Don't forget why the church is commanded to meet on Sunday, the Lord's day, it's because it is a remembrance every Sunday that it was on the first day of the week our Lord was raised from the dead. He conquered death. He conquered our great enemy. You say well that's fine, Jesus conquered death, but what about us?

Well that brings us to a third great affirmation that Scripture makes and that is that death is a defeated enemy, even for us. Death is still an enemy, but we no longer have to fear it. If you're still there in 1 Corinthians 15 turn over to the end of the chapter. Look at verse 54, Paul is talking about when our mortal bodies become glorified and put on immortality, verse 54, "But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, 'Death is swallowed up in victory.'" Listen, when God gives us glorified bodies death will have been totally defeated forever. Verse 55, in light of that, in light of the fact that it's already a defeated foe, "'O death, where is your victory?'" You're not victorious. "'O death where is your sting?'" We can face death with joy and confidence because for us who are in Christ, the stinger has been removed.

Those of you who have been a part of our church for any time have heard me use this illustration because it's the one that always comes to my mind with this passage, and I always have to give this disclaimer – kids don't do this, okay? This was cruel and heartless of my part, but I was an unbeliever at the time, okay? When I was a boy growing up in Alabama, I remember searching through the clover looking for that elusive four leaf clover and, I hate to admit it, but, for bees. Because a friend of mine had showed me how we could deal with bees, and so I would look for the bee in the clover and then I would gently step on it. Not enough to kill it, just enough to stun it, and then I would take the end of my leather belt, and I would lick that just enough to wet it, and I would reach down and pick up the bee by the wings, still stunned, and then I would plunge its stinger into that leather belt and pull the bee away, and of course you know what happened, the stinger remained lodged in the belt, no longer in the bee, and until its death I would play, without fear of harm, with that bee. I know, cruel, but don't miss the point. That's what Christ has done with death. For us, He has removed its sting. Death is not final for us. Charlie Yates has not ceased to exist. He is more alive today than he's ever been, and that removes the sting. Death isn't victorious. To be absent from the body, is to be, where? In the presence of the Lord. Or I love the way Paul puts it in another place, This isn't home, you weren't made for this. Death is a difficult, but short, journey home.

There's a fourth affirmation the Scripture makes about death. It is completely under the power and authority of Jesus Christ. It is completely under the power and authority of Jesus Christ. You see this in both Testaments. As I've told you before, it was the second member of the Trinity, the eternal Son, who was the one who interacted with Old Testament Israel. In pre- incarnate form He appeared again and again to shepherd His people. He was the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. He was the rock that led them, according to 1 Corinthians 10, and so when Moses, for those 80 days, met with God on the mountain, he was meeting with the second person of the Trinity, the eternal Son, the one who would eventually become our Lord Jesus Christ. What did Moses learn about the nature of God from the Son? Well, listen to the song of Moses written in Deuteronomy 32, Deuteronomy 32:39. Here's what the Son said to Moses, "'See now that I, I am He, and there is no god besides Me; it is I who put to death and it is I who give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal, and there is no one who can deliver from My hand.'" God takes, in the person of His Son, complete responsibility for giving life and for taking life. But it's even clearer, I think, in the New Testament. Again, in that magnificent revelation of Himself, in the first chapter of the book of Revelation, Jesus appears to John. Let me read the rest of verse 18 of Revelation 1, "I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys," Jesus says, "of death and Hades," or death and the grave, the words mean the same basic thing. He's saying, I control death.

The clear testimony of Scripture is that the day of your death is fixed. God not only controls death in some general sense, He also controls the specifics of each person's death. He has fixed the day, the hour, and the circumstances of your death, just as He did that of Charlie Yates. Listen to these texts, Job 14:5, "Since man's days are determined, the number of his months is with You; and his limits You have set so that he cannot pass." Psalm 39:4, "Lord, make me to know my end and what is the extent of my days; let me know how transient I am." But I think Psalm 139:16 is even more direct in this point, "in Your book," the psalmist says, God, "in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them." Let me rephrase that, and less poetically, every single day You ordained for me was written before I had the first one.

But not just that, even the circumstances of our death is under the power and authority of Jesus Christ. You remember the conversation that happened between Jesus and Peter and John after the resurrection? It's recorded in John 21, and you remember that Jesus tells Peter, Peter when you're old you're going to be led around, and He goes on essentially to tell Peter that he's going to die a martyr's death, he's going to be crucified. And this is what John writes, 21:19, John's Gospel, "Now this He said," that is, this Jesus said, "signifying by what kind of death Peter would glorify God." Jesus says, I'm the Lord of life and I'm the Lord of death, and I'll decide the day and I'll decide the way. You understand that God has fixed a specific day and a specific way that you will die? When death comes for those we love it is no accident. That plane didn't crash by accident. The one you love doesn't get cancer by random chance. Life nor death are random in God's kingdom. Jesus Christ has the absolute power and authority over death.

There's a fifth perspective about death we should have. Death itself will one day be destroyed by Christ. First Corinthians 15, we read it a few minutes ago, 1 Corinthians 15:26, "The last enemy that will be abolished is death." That's the last enemy He'll put under His feet. And, of course, I love the way it's recorded in Revelation 21 when He's talking about a new heavens and new earth in the future, He says, "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be Listen, there is coming a day when death itself will die, under the word and authority of Jesus Christ, and the enemy will really be defeated.

So in light of those realities, how should we then, as Christians, respond to death when it comes into our lives? Let's consider a biblical response to death, a biblical response to death. First of all, let's consider, what about the death of an unbeliever? What if there's someone in our lives, and fortunately this is not what we're mourning in the case of Charlie Yates, a man who clearly was in Christ, but what about those in our lives, family members and friends, who die, who are unbelievers, how do we respond to that? Very briefly, the Scripture really encourages three responses. First of all sorrow, sorrow. You want a model of that, look at Romans 9:1-3 where Paul is contemplating the possibility of his fellow Israelites dying without Christ and it gives him great sorrow. We should experience the same thing when the reality comes, sorrow over those who've died outside of Christ.

There's a second appropriate response for the death of unbelievers, and that is, on a human level, genuine appreciation for their positive virtues, for that residual image of God that enriched our lives. It's okay to appreciate those things. I think the clearest biblical example of this is David in 2 Samuel 1. Read that magnificent poem he wrote celebrating and lamenting the death of Saul. I think it's unlikely that Saul was a true believer in the true God, and yet after his death, David, who had suffered the worst at his hands, laments him and sorrows over him, but at the same time he lists in that great poem all those things that he appreciated about Saul. It's acceptable to do that. By the way, let me just say that a lot of times it's difficult, because people in our families die and it's not uncommon to have doubts and not be sure about their salvation. Let me just say it's okay to still have hope for those we aren't sure about. If they were exposed to the true gospel, faith could have come even at the very end like it did for the thief on the cross.

So don't fall on either extreme when it comes to those you wonder about, relatives who've died and you just don't know if they're in Christ, don't go to either extreme. On the one hand, don't go to the extreme of assuming they're in heaven even though there was no clear profession of faith, and there was no life of obedience. On the other hand, it's okay to cling to hope that they may, in God's grace, have responded in faith to the gospel, even when death was imminent, because we serve a merciful and gracious God who is a forgiver and rescuer by nature. So it's okay to live in hope.

But let's move on to how to respond to a believer's death. How do we respond when one of our brothers or sisters dies? Our attitude toward death of Christians, the death of Christians, is supposed to be different in some ways, and yet the same in others. How do we respond? Number one, we respond with genuine grief, genuine grief. There are countless biblical examples of this. Let me give you a couple, 2 Samuel 1 again, David was not only grieving there over Saul, who may very well not have been a true believer in the true God, but also over Jonathan, who clearly was, and so you see this pattern of David grieving over the death of his friend Jonathan. But our Lord is a perfect example of this, a verse the kids love to memorize because it only has two words in it, shortest verse in the Bible, John 11:35, says what? "Jesus wept," at the graveside of His friend Lazarus. Now, I know there are those who say well that's because He couldn't believe their unbelief and all of that. I don't think that's true for a moment. Most commentators would say that it was probably, His grief was probably, over the reality and fact of death. Remember, death was not part of God's original design. It came as a result of the fall and sin, and He also wept because He loved those people, and He wept over the grief that death caused those He loved.

Think about Stephen, Stephen the first martyr, the first, one of the first deacons, and he, you know that magnificent scene where he dies looking up and seeing Christ in the heavens, but what happened after that? Acts 8:2, "Some devout men buried Stephen, and made loud lamentation over him." He was a follower of Christ, he was in heaven, and yet there was, in the culturally appropriate way in their case, loud lamenting, in our case sort of quiet solitude and crying; they wept over him. In Acts 20:37-38, when Paul, when it becomes clear to the Ephesians, the Ephesian elders, that they are not going to see Paul again,

they began to weep aloud and they embraced Paul and repeatedly kissed him, grieving especially over the word which he had spoken, that they would not see his face again.

Paul himself wept in the face of death. Listen to Philippians 2:27, Epaphroditus, you remember, was sick nearly to the point of death. Paul writes, "but God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, so that I would not have sorrow upon sorrow." Paul says if Epaphroditus had died I would have been overwhelmed with sorrow, but God spared me.

So we grieve genuinely, we grieve deeply, but here's the key, we don't grieve in the same way as others. Turn to 1 Thessalonians 4, Paul is correcting some misunderstandings in the church in Thessalonica, verse 13, he says, "But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep," those brothers and sisters in Christ who have died, "so that you will not grieve as do the rest," that is, don't grieve like the rest of humanity grieves over the death of people in their lives, and they do that because they have no hope. Paul says, yes we grieve, but we don't grieve like the rest of humanity, "who have no hope." We have great hope, verse 14,

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede [or go before] those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

Their souls, the immaterial part of them, is in heaven now, will come back with Christ, and in that moment of time they will be reunited not with their old mortal bodies, but with new glorified bodies.

Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

"Comfort one another." You know, some Christians act like it's not appropriate to grieve or to be sorrowful. It's like some kind of breach of faith, if you really believed God, you believed eternity, you believed in heaven, then you wouldn't grieve. That's not what the Bible says, so "weep with those who weep."

In fact, let me tell you two wrong ways that well-meaning Christians respond to those who have experienced the death of a loved one. Too wrong ways, don't do this, okay? The first wrong way is since they feel awkward and don't know what to say, they just avoid the person altogether. I never knew this happened until back in 1984 when my dad died, and good friends, they'd see me coming on the sidewalk, and it's like they walked across the street to avoid me because it was awkward. They didn't know what to do or say. I was also surprised at the people who reached out to me and expressed the love of Christ to me. You say, well, I don't know what to say, it is awkward. Listen, you don't have to say anything, just go up and hug them. Just go up and tell them you love them and are praying for them. You don't have to say anything profound, or do anything profound. Just express the love of Christ to them, and weep with them.

Don't make the other common mistake that well-intentioned Christians make, and that is, to feel like they need to say something deeply spiritual in this moment. They need to come up with some Christian platitude, so instead of expressing genuine care and sympathy, they sort of walk up to this person who is grieving and they have a kind of smile almost plastered on their face, and they say, "Well, all things work together for good!" "Well, he's in a better place!" Yeah, that's true. Those things are true, and there is a time and a way to say them, but only if they are combined with love and sympathy. Your genuine love and compassion for that person is the platform that you build, on which to speak into their lives, if that's needed. But often times they know the truth. They need the sympathy that you bring.

Genuine grief, there's another response to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, and it seems counterintuitive, not only genuine grief, but joy, joy. Psalm 116:15, says, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones." The psalmist says God finds precious "the death of His godly ones," and the psalmist is therefore rejoicing with God over "the death of His godly ones." 1 Corinthians 15, after he rehearses this victory we have over death, he says, "thanks be to God," even in the face of death, "who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." There can be joy. Revelation 14:13, "I heard a voice from heaven, saying, 'Write, "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!"' 'Yes,' says the Spirit, 'so that they may rest from their labors.'"

Listen, we weren't made for this life. You understand, this life is like a dress rehearsal for the real thing? You were made for one reason, and that is to eternally serve and worship the true and living God in His presence. Today Charlie Yates, and all of those whom you know and love, who have gone to be with the Lord, are in His presence, doing exactly what they were designed to do, and in perfect, full joy, and we're to respond with joy as well.

There's a third response, and that is with worship, worship. In 2 Samuel 12, you remember the story, David's adultery with Bathsheba, there was a child born out of that adulterous relationship and the boy became gravely sick, looked like he was going to die, and David puts on sackcloth and ashes, he goes without food, and he pours out his heart to God, asking God to spare the boy. But then one of his servants comes and tells him the boy is dead. What happened? Listen to 2 Samuel 12:20, on hearing of his son's death "David arose from the ground, washed, anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he came into the house of the Lord and worshiped." Job had the same response when he heard about his son's death, Job 1:20 and 21,

Job arose, tore his robe and shaved his head, he fell to the ground and worshiped. He said,

"Naked I came from a mother's womb,
And naked I shall return there.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord."

Listen, don't you dare give into the temptation to question the wisdom of almighty God. Don't you sit in judgment on His wisdom or goodness or grace, and say, why? Why would God take this man or this woman? Why would He do this? Instead, the right response is to fall to the ground and worship the God who needs no counsel on how to run His universe.

What about the thought of our own death? Very briefly, let me just share a couple of thoughts with you. In light of the realities of what the Bible teaches about death, how should we think about our own death? First of all, be prepared, be prepared for death. Death is absolutely certain. It's more certain than taxes. There are tax evaders, but there are no death evaders. Unless the Lord returns, every single person here this morning will die. You can put that thought out of your mind. You can think it's forever in the future. You can deny it, but it will happen. Hebrews 9:27, "it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment."

But here's the catch, none of us knows the appointed hour of our own death. So we better live prepared for death. You say, well how do you prepare for death? There is only one way, and that's to believe in and follow the only one who has conquered death. The one who said "I am the resurrection and the life." Listen, your only hope when it comes to death is knowing the one who has mastered it, and who promises that those who follow Him will never truly die. Let me ask you this morning, are you prepared to die? Are you prepared for what happened to Charlie yesterday to happen to you today? You better be, because you have no promise of tomorrow, nor do I.

What if you're already a Christian? How do you think about your death? Very quickly, believe that God's love will follow you through death. Listen to Romans 8. I love this, I'm going to shorten it for you. Listen to the shortened form. Romans 8:38,

I am convinced that not even death will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Listen, for a believer death changes nothing. God's love doesn't waiver one moment. That love that He set on us in eternity past and has carried us through this life will pass with us through death. Trust that God's presence will be with you through death. We love Psalm 23, those majestic words, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil," why? "Because You are with me." You understand that when the time of death comes for a believer, the presence of God is with him? Listen, Charlie wasn't alone yesterday in that emergency room, his Lord was with him.

And you can have that same confidence. Desire the results of death. Look at Philippians 1:21. Nowhere does the Bible tell us to desire the process of dying. God doesn't want us to be sadomasochists, but He does tell us to desire the results that death brings. Look at Philippians 1:21, Paul says, "For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." The end result of death for Paul was gain. That's a financial word. It means interest you make on an investment. Paul was saying that for him, death was like making interest on the investment he made with his life. We don't have to fear death. Jesus died to save us from the fear of death, not from the process, fearing the process of dying, but from fearing the outcome, the results of dying. It's still normal, can I just say this to you, because a lot of Christian get misled on this, it's still normal to fear the process of dying, because it is an enemy, it is unnatural to what we were created to be.

None other than John Calvin writes this, "Death itself will never be desired because such a desire is at variance with the natural feeling, but it is desired for some particular reason, or with a view to some other end. Believers do not cease to regard death with horror, but when they turn their eyes to that life which follows death, they easily overcome all dread by means of that consolation." In other words, the process of death is not something we look forward to, it still is a fear, but when we look at the results, we can walk through the process.

One final point I would make is, when you think of your own impending death, live life on purpose. Don't waste your life with the trivial and the unimportant. Look at Philippians 1:20, Paul says, "according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether it's by living or whether it's by dying." The only way you can exalt Christ in your death is to exalt Him in your life.

When I was growing up, and those of you who are around my age will remember, there was a common saying that Christians had all around their homes, and on their Bibles, and all round, and I had one in my own home, and now it's still posted on my fridge at home. It says this, "Only one life 'twill soon be passed, only what's done for Christ will last." That's a Christian's perspective on death. May God comfort our hearts with His Word.

Let's pray together. Father, we do pray for Your comfort. You are the God of all comfort, and we ask that we would know Your grace and comfort. We pray especially for Charlie's family, for Diane, for Angela Smedley, for their families. Lord, we pray that they would know Your grace. We ask that they would know the comfort that these truths bring. May we know that comfort Father as we face not only this situation, but as we live in a fallen world and face death in the future. Father, I pray for the person here this morning who still is enslaved to the fear of death. May this be the day when they come to know the One who is "the resurrection and the life," and who promises all who follow Him that they will never truly die. Lord may this be the day when they come to know Him and following Him. We pray in His name and for His glory, amen.