Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Preaching at the funeral of a lost person

On several occasions I have been asked to preach at a funeral or memorial service of someone whose salvation was in question or unknown. In most of those cases my personal observation would lead me to believe that the person was not in Christ. There was no talk of the Lord, no reliance upon Christ, no love for His word, and no fellowship with His people. In short, there was no fruit. And despite the absence of a Christian walk, in most cases, the family was always adamant that the person was saved and is now in heaven with Christ.

Several friends have asked me, "What do you say at the funeral of someone who you think is lost?" My answer is, and will likely always be the same, "I preach Christ and Him crucified." While I do reflect on the positive remembrances of the deceased and strive to provide comfort for the family, I never try and cloud the fact that salvation is found in Christ and in Christ alone. 

In the most recent occurrence I was lead to preach, "What Does it Mean to Believe Upon Christ". I started by asking how many believed in Christ (quoting John 3:16) and from what I could see every person in the chapel was agreeing that they did. Then I challenged their belief and asked what separated their belief form that of the demons. I urged the hearers to reflect on John 3:3 and that a true believer must be born again according to the Spirit and not the flesh.

Urging them to plead with Christ I explained that true believers must come to grips with the depth of their wickedness and depravity. The problem for most people is that they do not see mankind as evil. Most people think that since man is capable of doing “good” deeds that deep down man is OK. But this is where mankind is blind to the truth. Man is sinful and must come to Christ alone for salvation or else perish. It isn't until you understand your sinful state that you recognize you must cry out to Jesus.
In closing I told the audience that true believers hear and obey Christ. The true believer hears Christ because they have a love for His word. The true believer also follows Christ’s teachings and trusts fully in His work on the cross.

The gospel is for all to hear – we preach Christ crucified to all nation, to every man, woman, boy and girl, because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. There are none righteous and apart from Christ all will perish in an eternal hell. And yet although the gospel is for all to hear not all will receive this word. Jesus said, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. (John 10:24-28)

In regards to eternal life the gospel is very selective. Only those who Christ knows will be saved, only those who follow Him will be saved, only those who have been given eternal life will be saved.
Yet many, and most, will claim to believe but have no understanding of the word.

Matthew 7:21-23 ESV - “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Easy believism will get you nowhere. Just saying that you believe that Jesus is God’s Son makes you no different than the demons.

Acts 16:30-31 ESV - Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

This belief involves the hand of God changing your life and what used to be a love for sin becomes a hatred for sin. You must repent of your sins and put your trust in the work of Christ.
If your belief is no different than that of the demons than I plead with you today to repent and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Ecclesiastes 12:14 ESV - For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

Who among you today will claim to believe but have not been born again? Who among you today will claim to believe but don’t see mankind as evil? Who among you today claim to believe but have no desire for the Word of God and do not follow Christ?

This was my plea to the gathering that the Lord had appointed that day. I pray for grace and comfort for the family and I pray that the Lord might grant ears of faith to the lost. The truth of God should never be void of grace. Always show grace to the family, pray for grace for the family, and proclaim grace to the family.


Joel Nunley said...

Do you preach at pauper's funerals? I am a pastor in Scottsburg IN and have been thinking about putting myself on the call list with our local funeral directors to be called when family has no one to officiate these unchurched people? Do you have any experience with this?

PastorJ said...

I have preached pauper's funerals before but it was coordinated through a family member or friend. Unfortunately I do not have any experience with being on a call list per se' but I think that it is a good idea if the Lord provides you with the time to accommodate it.

Lord's Blessings,

Anonymous said...

Good post pastor. Reminds me of Morecraft's lesson on semi-pelagianism