Thursday, March 5, 2009

Please Preach the R-Word at Funerals!

Today I attended the funeral for a family friend and sister in the Lord. It was moving and touching, honoring her and glorying in God. But unfortunately, I fear, it assumed the Gospel and shortchanged attendees.

I could be mistaken, but I don't believe I once heard the R-word: resurrection.

The pastor who gave some "words of encouragement" noted that the dearly departed could credibly "be convicted in court" if being a Christian were illegal. He cited a passage from Micah and one from Matthew noting characteristics of those who are righteous, but not once did he say that the source of the departed's righteousness was faith in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Yes, she was a godly lady and lived a life devoted to honoring and serving God. But that all is fruit of the sanctification which followed her justification by faith in Christ. This lady was saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

Yet that wasn't explicitly mentioned. Nor was the hope of the resurrection.

There were tearful and moving goodbyes to my dear sister in Christ, but there was no reminder that while in Heaven that is not the final chapter. The dead in Christ WILL be raised to new life at the Resurrection, and those of us who remain alive at Christ's return will be transformed.

But nowhere was this glorious hope of the Resurrection explicitly preached or proclaimed.*

What's more, the pastor obliquely suggested that there are people in the congregation who need to repent and put their faith in Christ, but there was no clear call to repentance or explicit warning of the final judgment. Although a final day of judgment was suggested, it was not exposited.

In short, I fear the gospel was shortchanged and thereby God was robbed of the glory that could have been given him and unrepentant sinners were robbed of a chance to hear a clear gospel call to repentance.

All the same, there was plenty of Scripture and sound doctrine in eulogy and in song, and I pray that many people walked away with a greater sense of their mortality and the pending judgment to come.

Father, please work in the hearts of the lost who were there today. Call them to repentance and faith in Your Son Jesus, in whose Name I pray. Amen.

*The passage from John 11 where Jesus proclaims that He is the "resurrection and the life" was read, but one cannot assume people know the concept of resurrection and what it entails as a great hope for the Christian.



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