Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | July 29, 2021

Dearly Departed (Part 2)

“And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”  Luke 23:43

I went to a funeral the other day. And it was a time of deep grief, sorrow, and wishful thinking.

We’ve known him his whole life. Through various traditions, our families spent special times together over the past decades, despite any geographical distances. This kind, creative, wholly unique (and somewhat mischievous) young man was well loved by everyone who crossed his path. Stories were shared that brought laughter at the remembrance, as well as admiration at his outside-the-box perception of life.

But the day was blanketed with tears and sadness. His life was like an amazing firework that was lit 23 years ago, emblazoning the sky with a glorious light show, only to quickly burn out, leaving us wanting for more.

The church service, however, did not celebrate the confident hope of Heaven—that, as the Bible promises, “to be absent from the body (is) to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:7-8). Despite the cross at the front of the church, the message given was an antithesis to the Truth found in God’s Word. The robed man delivering the sermon spoke of uncertainties. The “hope” he did share was built not on the solid foundation of the finished work of Christ, but on the shifting sands of church traditions originated to delude and fleece believers.

“Is he in heaven? I don’t know,” the robed man said. “But he is likely in purgatory, being purified for Heaven.” He stated that because of our sin in life, we are not perfected at death to enter into God’s glorious Kingdom. The man went on to tell the crowd of tear-stained faces that action was required—we must pray the departed soul through that time of purification in order for him to be perfected for Heaven.

There was a depiction of Jesus on the cross right in front of the congregation. And I wanted to shout, “You’ve got it wrong! Yes, we are sinners, and our unrighteousness forbids us to stand in the presence of a Holy God. But Jesus! Jesus died on that cross and rose again, defeating sin and death! Through His action—not ours—we are made perfect when we accept the gift of grace through faith.”

Jesus, although mentioned throughout the service, was not proclaimed as Savior, Conqueror, King or the Way, the Truth, and the Life. It is the responsibility of those of us left behind (along with our prayers to Mary, Jesus’ mother, and other “saints”), he said, to help usher this young man into God’s presence.

Friends, this is not so! No work on our behalf is required—He did it all. No penalty is owed—He paid it. No post-death suffering must be endured—His suffering was sufficient. This is the Gospel—the GOOD NEWS!

We are all separated from God by our sin. But Jesus, fully God and fully man, lived the perfect life we could not live and died to take the punishment we deserve. He rose again, defeating sin and death. And when we surrender to Jesus, He exchanges our rags for His righteousness, so that we can live eternally with Him. (Romans 5:8; 6:23; 8:1; 2 Cor 5:21; 1 John 4:10)

Sister, you can have confident hope—knowledge that this life is fleeting, and upon death, you’ll be in the eternal presence of the Lord. Won’t you accept the free gift of salvation—of soul restoration—provided by Jesus?

“Lord, thank You that You paid the price for our sin, and that by Your grace through faith we can stand in Your presence immediately upon death, fully righteous because of Jesus.”

 For His Glory

Julianne Winkler Smith
TRBC Women’s Life

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