Monday, May 22, 2006

The Eulogy and Sermon

I know that many of you may think this to be strange, but I enjoy preaching at funerals. At least, most of the time I do. Today, I did not enjoy it so much. More on that later.

The reason that I enjoy preaching at funerals is because I can think of no where on earth where the gospel of Jesus Christ is more relevant than over a dead body. I am not making light of grief or death. I mean to magnify the greatness of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

When the deceased is a fruit-baring believer, I find the funeral to be a grievous, yet glorious experience. Even the unbelieving family members know the testimony and fruits of such a person. The eulogy for the "dead" brother or sister is a wonderful introduction to the gospel.

Two things motivate me to preach the gospel with passion and enthusiasm at a funeral. One is that the deceased would beg me to if they could. The Rich Man in hell begged for someone to be sent to preach the gospel to his brothers. A saved person would beg the gospel to be preached to his family and friends that they too might see and glory in the presence of Jesus Christ.

Secondly, I rejoice greatly in the truth of Jesus Christ while standing near the dead. I know that one day, if the Lord tarries, I will most likely lie in a coffin somewhere surrounded by grieving friends and family. I can think of no greater outrage I could feel than if at that moment the preacher neglected to preach the gospel over my dead body to my friends and family. If I could, I would haunt that man. He needn't say one thing about me, but he must glory in Christ Jesus and the power of His resurrection and the truth of the atoning power of His death. He must tell the people that I was who I was and that I am who I am because the gracious Lord of all the Earth suffered and died for me.

The funeral today was nearly devoid of rejoicing. The deceased was 21 years old and died under tragic circumstances. The family, for the most part, does not know Jesus Christ. The comforted themselves with the idea that the young lady was now with Jesus in glory. I grieved. I wept. What should I say?

So I stood behind the desk and I told the truth. I told them that if their loved one could speak to them now, she would beg them to know Christ. I preached from 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. I told them the truth of sin and death and heaven. I told them that soon, they too would lie in state. Where, then, would their soul be?

It is hard to look into grief stricken faces and leave doubt about the eternal destiny of their loved one. But what else can one do? Should we act like everything is okay and soothe their conscience? The Lord have mercy on those who do. Rather, we ought to stand and tell the truth and prick the sore soul and cause them to consider eternity. I pray that God will use this tragic and untimely death to open eyes and ears and hearts to the glory of God in Jesus Christ.


Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear Brother Brad,

I've been thinking along similar lines lately. I'm glad you did the right thing, and told the true Gospel. Amen!

Love in Christ,


Anonymous said...

Hey friend,
I don't know where I heard this from, or maybe I made it up myself(probably not), but " The right thing to do is usually the hard thing to do." It is easy to tell jokes,pat people on the back, put everything in a positive light, sing "The sun will come up tomorrow", and there are places for this....but equally there are times when sin, hell, the consequences for a life apart from Christ should be proclaimed.
I have only performed/presided over one funeral so I am certainly not an "old hand" at them, but there are ways to share the truth with people and accomplish both phases of encouragement and responsibilty. Sounds like you did both.
The funeral I performed a few months ago was for a man I had only met once, but proclaimed he knew Christ. His life did not back this up, but God is the judge. I simply proclaimed what he said he believed, and gave the appropriate passages to the attendees to know which destination they were headed. Many of these were "well to do" people in this city, and probably one of the few times they have been confronted lately with God's truth. I was a little surprised when a fellow minister whom I did not know was there, came up to me a few weeks later and gently told me that " I had used too much of the Bible." He said I needed illustrations instead.
If you are thin-skinned, the ministry is not the place to be:)
Take care my brother, and enjoy your posts.......KA

Jim said...

Brad, the truth is always hardest to speak. That is why any man of God must have boldness and anointing!

Continue to speak the truth in love without compromise.

God bless,