Matthew R. Perry

Death’s Grip Pales in Comparison to the Gospel’s Grip

In death, funeral on March 11, 2009 at 4:35 pm

funeral_pic Today, I officiated a funeral for a long-time member of our church.  This was an incredible joy, especially she and her husband had poured so much of their life and energy into their biological family as well as their church family.  Our church is blessed to have 22 acres of property, and to recount how much of that property was cleared, fenced, and provided electricity by this family is amazing to me.  They were truly cut from some wonderful cloth, to be sure.

When I first came into the ministry, I remember feeling at such a disadvantage preaching the funeral of someone that I wasn’t able to know all that well in comparison to many others in the church.  Many were friends with her for over 50 years!  They had a slew of memories at their disposal I couldn’t begin to have.

Yet, in preparing sermons for funerals of Christian men and women, I began to realize, “Yes, I may not know this individual as well as others, but he/she and I share the same Savior and Lord.  And I know they would want me to tell them what they would want everyone in that building to know: Christ is great, He is real, and He went to great lengths to take us out of our sin and rebellion before God to make us righteous and accepted before Him through His death and resurrection.” 

We must know that death’s grip pales in comparison to the grip of the gospel.  Romans 5:18-21 gives a glorious understanding of this grip of the gospel of Christ:

18Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The “one man” is Adam whose condemnation was passed along into the DNA of our being.  His disobedience made us sinners.  The “Law” is a glorious gift of God, but also makes us aware of our sinful behavior and, ultimately, our sinful nature.  "So that, as sin reigned in death, grace might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  Adam’s sinful nature was passed on to us, made evident through God’s Law, and could only be freed by Christ’s righteousness through grace.  Christ’s work leads to “justification and life” (v. 18) and righteousness (v. 19, 21). 

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

(Charles Wesley, And Can It Be, 1738)

 

 

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