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WILL YOU HAVE AN HONORABLE FUNERAL?

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, May 20, 2001


"I did cast them out as the dirt in the streets" (Psalm 18:42).

(The following sermon is adapted from one which
appeared on Dr. John Waldrip's website last month).

Dr. Alvin J. Schmidt has written a book called Under the Influence: How Christianity Transformed Civilization (Zondervan, 2000). This book shows the impact of Christianity in shaping Western civilization. Dr. Schmidt shows the impact of early Christians' care for throw-away babies, the sick, the poor, and the elderly on the surrounding inhumane Greco-Roman culture.

Then, he shows that Christianity was responsible for ending cremation:

To the early Christians the sanctity of life and the human body did not come to an end when a person died. Believing Christ's promise that he would raise them and all the dead…they buried their deceased rather than cremate them as the Romans commonly did. The Christians strongly opposed cremation. Tertullian (AD 160 - AD 220) said that cremation "mocks its victims with cruelty" (On the Resurrection of the Flesh). But Christians most prominently opposed cremation because they saw it as contrary to their firm faith in the resurrection of the body, a faith that their Roman persecutors sometimes mocked by defiantly burning the bodies of executed martyrs. When this happened surviving Christians tried to gather the fragments of their brethren who had been martyred in the flames…When cremation virtually disappeared in the fourth century, it apparently was largely the result of Christian influence. Today, contrary to centuries of Christian opposition, more and more…are (cremating) the deceased bodies of their loved ones. However, before 1930 in the United States, cremation was considered "bizarre." But by 1996 nearly 1/4 of the dead in the U.S. were cremated. By 2010 the number will climb to 40 percent (quoted from Christian News, February 14, 2001, p. 22).

My mother would have been eighty-eight years old today. She passed away three years ago. She had a respectful funeral. But a growing number of people do not have honorable funerals. Americans are increasingly turning to cremation - because it is cheaper and easier. They usually save five or six thousand dollars (the mere price of a down payment on a car) by cremating you and throwing away the ashes. There is often not even a memorial service in our day. Because of the greed to save a little money, and the desire to "get it over quick," they scatter the ashes and forget about you. This lack of respect for you when you are dead is a judgment from God on the wicked in our nation. God says, "I did cast them out as the dirt in the streets" (Psalm 18:42).

Will You Have an Honorable Funeral?

I.    Not if you don't have lasting friends.

I will give you two illustrations of this from the Bible. First, I draw your attention to the funeral of Lazarus. He had a respectful funeral because he had many close friends. The Bible says, "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth" (John 11:11). "And many of the Jews came to Martha (his sister) and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother" (John 11:19).

Preparation for his honorable funeral would not have taken place if he had not had many close friends to care for him. Do you have such friends in the local church? Is this your church home? Do you come here every time the door is open, and love the people, so they will be here for you at your time of need, and later at your funeral?

We read of a second funeral which illustrates this great truth in the Book of Acts. When Stephen died, "Devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him" (Acts 8:2).

Would you have devout people in the local church willing to bury you in an honorable funeral and make "great lamentation over you?"

Most people today have only a handful of friends, and most of them will not go to the trouble of even coming to your funeral in the secular and lonely age in which we live.

Get into the local church. Be here every time the door is open. Make deep, long-lasting friends here. Then they will be here for you when trouble comes, when you get sick, and even when it comes time for your funeral. Don't change your membership and become a church tramp. Stay here and make friends that will last a lifetime - and beyond. The Bible says:

"Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is (even today); but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching"

(Hebrews 10:25).

Will You Have an Honorable Funeral?

Or will God say, "I did cast them out as the dirt in the streets" (Psalm 18:42).

Will You Have an Honorable Funeral?

II.   Not if you don't have a family.

In Genesis 50:22-26 Joseph had his large family around him when he died. They embalmed him and put him in a coffin with great care. Later they took his coffin and carefully buried it in the Promised Land (Joshua 24:32).

Joseph had an honorable funeral because he had a family that cared for him. If you do not get converted and get into this church, the chances of you having a family like his really don't exist.

1. You may not even marry. Many people are so afraid they will be "burned" that they never marry - unless they are real Christians in a good church, where they can find someone to marry they can truly trust.

2. Many others who do marry have few (or no) children. They are so caught up in the materialistic lifestyle of today that they put off having children until it's too late to have a loving family of children around them.

If you follow this wicked world, you will have no loving children, no wife or children, to care for you when you are old. The people who are left will say, "Cast them out as the dirt in the streets" when you are dead (Psalm 18:42).

Will You Have an Honorable Funeral?

III.  Not if you don't have converting faith.

They won't have anything much to say about you when you die. They probably won't even have a memorial service for you, because they know that the minister won't have any real hope to give them - since you had no real faith.

The Bible says,

"When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish: and the hope of unjust men perisheth" (Proverbs 11:7).

I must be very strong in warning you with these words from Jesus,

"Ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins" (John 8:24).

And if you do die in your sins, everyone will know it. Your funeral, if you even have one, will be a horribly hopeless event. Novelist Ernest Hemingway said, "We are doomed to lose,  so we must lose on our own terms.  It is all that is left us, we exiles from the Garden of Eden" (quoted in Picturing Hemingway by Frederick Voss, Washington, D. C.: Simthsonian Institute, 1999, p.9). With a philosophy like that, no wonder he committed suicide.  And he had a horrible, depressing funeral. That's the way your funeral will be if you don't get converted.  People will hate to come to it - and many will stay away - because they will know that you didn't have saving faith in Jesus Christ.

On the other hand, those who are truly converted to Christ have joyful funerals. Of them it is said:

"Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them" (Revelation 14:13).

So, I ask you, "Will you have an honorable funeral?" To have a good funeral you must prepare now. You must get into this local church, make close friends here, and stay here - no matter what happens. Then, you must have a good family. You cannot have a good family to give you a good funeral, unless you are part of a good local church like this one - and stay - no matter what happens. Finally, you must have real, converting faith in Jesus Christ. Then the pastor who conducts your funeral will be able to give hope to your friends and relatives who are left behind.

Get into this church every time it's open. Get saved. Make sure you know Jesus Christ. He died on the Cross to pay for your sins. He arose physically from the dead to give you life. Throw yourself on Jesus. Believe on Him, and you will not only have a good funeral - you'll also have eternal life because your sins have been washed away in the Blood of Jesus Christ - alive, at the right hand of God - in Heaven.



Scripture Read Before Sermon: Isaiah 14:18-20.
Solo by Benjamin Kincaid Griffith: "Ye Must Be Born Again"

by William T. Sleeper (1819-1904).

You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."




THE OUTLINE OF

WILL YOU HAVE AN HONORABLE FUNERAL?

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

"I did cast them out as the dirt in the streets" (Psalm 18:42).

I.   Not if you don't have lasting friends, John 11:11; John 11:19;
Acts 8:2; Hebrews 10:25.

II.  Not if you don't have a family, Genesis 50:22-26;
Joshua 24:32.

III. Not if you don't have converting faith, Proverbs 11:7;
John 8:24; Revelation 14:13.