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December 7, 2020 3:00 am
The death is something most of us are uncomfortable talking about we try to soften using phrases like he passed away or he's no longer with us. Changing the words doesn't really provide the comfort were looking for.
So what can today on Truth for Life. Alastair Begg presents encouraging truths Scripture gives to believers concerning the nature of Ecclesiastes chapter 12. Remember your creator in the days of your youth before the days of trouble, in the years approach when you will say I find no pleasure in them before the sun and the light in the moon and the stars grow dark in the clouds return after the rain. The writer here starts to employ a metaphor or a series of massive or severe. Like all related to pictures of the human body and it said demise when the keepers of the house tremble as the hands as our lives move on. We made develop tremors and the strongmen stoop when the grinders cease because they are few and adequate occlusion and those looking through the windows grow dim our eyesight. When the doors to the street are closed out years and the sound of grinding fades when man rise up at the sound of birds, insomnia, but all their songs grow faint strange experience where you can actually hear the birds wake up in the middle of the night thinking that you hear them when men are afraid of heights and of dangers in the streets on the almond tree blossoms white hair and the grasshopper drags himself along and desire no longer stirred then man goes to his eternal homeland. Mourners go about the streets remember him before the silver cord is severed are the golden bowl is broken before the picture is shattered at the spring or the wheel broken at the well and the dust returns to the ground it came from. The spirit returns to God who gave it meaningless, meaningless, says the teacher. Everything is meaningless. Not only was the teacher wise, but also he imparted knowledge to the people he pondered and searched out and set in order many Proverbs the teacher starts to find just the right words and what he wrote was upright and true the words of the wise are like goads their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails given by one Shepherd.
Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them of making many books there is no end and much study we reach the body. Now all has been hair.
Here is the conclusion of the matter, fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man for God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.
Thanks be to God for his word, we pause and pray once again, our gracious God, we thank you that the Bible turns us into subjects that we might seek quite naturally to avoid his return to these issues. Tonight we pray for a sense of clarity and for understanding for the renewed interest in looking to the Bible, not simply to find information that may be a blessing or an encouragement to us. But in order that the whole of our lives may be framed in a biblical way that our view of the world and the events in our world globally and in our private lives may bear testimony to the imprint and the impact of your truth in Scripture.
Help us then. To this end, we humbly pray in your son's name, amen. Well, we might easily well have read from a whole host of passages.
If we were to go into the New Testament we might read from two Corinthians 5, the picture there of our earthly tent being destroyed but I an eternal dwelling in the heavens made and fashioned by God for us, or perhaps the first Thessalonians 4, or to many other places but for us tonight to even think of death and dying in the very process and the impact of it within the framework and context of Scripture is to immediately Mark is out as a somewhat different company because one of the undeniable features of our contemporary culture is an unwillingness on the part of most to face the reality of death. Death is covered up in all kinds of ways. We have the notion. I think that if we don't mention it. Perhaps it will go away that we identify with the classic quote from Woody Allen when he said it's not that I'm afraid to die is just that I don't want to be there when it happened and we can all identify with that in some ways. Death is un-American. After all, as Americans, we regarded as our inalienable inalienable right to life and liberty and to The Pursuit of Happyness and death comes crashing in an spoils all that throws a dreadful wet blanket over all of our hopes and all of our dreams by large parents do not speak to their children about death. If you're under the age of 20 unless you lost a friend in dramatic circumstances perhaps in a car crash or as a result of the onset of illness in their mid teens than the average young person has really given no thought to it at all but one day they will stand in the grave of their mom or their dad or a close friend and in all places, and of all people.
It ought to be Christians who are prepared to do what the secular world is unprepared to do and that is to look death full in the face and to acknowledge that there is no way to deny it. There is no way to escape it, and therefore we need to find a way to approach it as a long time now since the games people play. Remember the song or the games people play now every night and every day.
Now, never thinking, what they say now or never say what they mean. They while away the hours in their ivory towers until they're covered up with flowers in the back of a black limousine and in that wonderful chorus Nana Nana Nana Nana Nana Nana knee all the games people play now talk about you and me and the games people play, but it's true. You could argue that three decades of only reinforce the notion of the desire to quite categorically sidestep death in all of its aspect and bombers worked diligently to make those who are no longer with us look better than they did before they left, and nice suits are set aside and if you had a particular book you like to read they may stick it in your hand in between your frozen thumb and your frozen first finger so that we all may walk past you and say my mind actually looks pretty good. You know, and those of us who knew you very well as a yeah I've a pleading look that good when he was here but is all part of the art of concealment is all part of the art of concealment. People don't speak about graveyards speak about Memorial Park's look for cards to write to your friends and the loss of a loved one, and you will search in vain. In the vast majority of cases for cards out with the framework of Christianity that actually tackle death head on your fine cards about your uncle Fred.
Having gone upstairs, having departed for a better place, and so on and so on. But the one thing that you will find probably missing from it is any notion that this person has actually die, that they are no longer here, funerals used to be solemn occasions are often allocations of gaiety and laughter and stupidity where everybody and their uncle gets up and says whatever they want to say, as if somehow or another we were having a high school reunion as if somehow or another.
People had not shed tears and agonized over the passing of this individual as if somehow or another we could mitigate the reality, the finality and the ugliness of the last enemy to be destroyed by having a succession of videos or a succession of people stand up and tell of how they had a wonderful time when they were on a Greyhound bus going to New Jersey in the early 60s. There is a place for that.
I'm not convinced that the funeral is the place for the but of course I won't be around for mine and if anyone wants to talk about being on a Greyhound bus with me to New Jersey than I suppose they be able to do Tom Paxton from Greenwich Village again in the 60s. He was there with Dylan and with all those old granddaddy's now he had an amazing song. I think you wrote it himself called Forest lawn use know all of the words I try to remember them. I couldn't get them at all, but it began well lay me down and for as long as a very cynical take on death that one point he hasn't a little trip with the girls like this my likeness done in brass will stand and plastic grass and weights in hidden Springs will tip his hat to the mourners filing past. I want to go simply when I go in there give me a simple funeral there. I know the art of concealment see there's a significant contrast between that kind of thing and that kind of thing I would suggest to you has crept very easily and successfully into realms hereto for on invaded.
I have in mind during a funeral down in the Worcester area some years ago when I went there for his funeral.
I was struck by the complete full frontal acknowledgment of what was happening and as we processed from the church building into the graveyard, which was immediately adjacent to it. The plain simple coffin was carried by members of the family. The grave had been done. The coffin was lowered into the ground. The male members of the family to shovels and shoveled in the air on top of the coffin while the complete family led the gathering throng and singing hymns concerning the reality of Christ's victory over death and the resurrection. No one in that context could be anything but struck by the preparedness of those left behind to acknowledge exactly what it taken place.
If then our society is marked by an unwillingness to face death in all of its finality.
Christianity biblical Christianity confirms within us.
The fact that we are to be countercultural in this respect, as in other respects that Christianity changes the way we view everything. Remember the famous CS Lewis quote. I believe in Christianity as I believe in the rising of the sun, not simply because I can see it, but because by it. I can see everything else that if you like. In every realistic way to be embraced by the love of God in Jesus is a mind altering experience. If love changes everything. Surely the love of God in the Lord Jesus changes everything is golf, the French mathematician and philosopher writing a letter of bereavement to a friend chose not to fill his letter with ordinary platitudes of consolation, but instead he comforted him by encouraging him to recognize the providence of God in the events that unfolded and this is a quote from his letter.
If we regard this event. That is the loss of this person's loved one.
If we regard this event, nor does the effect of chance, not as a fatal necessity of nature, but as a result, inevitable just holy of a decree of his Providence conceived from all eternity to be executed in such a year. The hour and in such a place, and manner. We shall adore in humble silence. The impenetrable loftiness of his secrets. We shall venerate the sanctity of his decrees, we shall bless the act of his Providence and uniting our will with that of God himself. We shall wish with him in him and for him. The thing that he has willed in the eyes and for us from all eternity. There is something wonderfully liberating about that perspective. And it is the perspective that the Bible brings when we face these questions. The passage from Ecclesiastes 12 as well as for example passages from the letter of James, confirming what human experience makes clear that life is brief, even a long life is brief in light of eternity. Certainly, that life is frail, the great mystery is not that we have a list of people for whom we are praying who are unwell within the framework of the Parkside church. The real mystery is that the list is so short in relationship to so many people given exists, especially the frailty of our lives in the Bible also confronts us with the reality of death reality from which we may wish to run, but we cannot run.
And when we come up against that. If you like the brevity of life and its frailty. The reality of death and the certainty of judgment. We have been within the Scriptures.
These clear wonderful encouraging guiding statements concerning the nature of death for the Christian, and we could run through almost for example, I'll tell you, just three for the Christian death's sting is drawn. The sting of death is drawn that's first Corinthians 1556 if you want to look it up later. Paul says the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God. He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. If you've ever been out in the in your backyard and you've had a youngster with your little one and you wanted to protect them and look after them. If a B or a washboard a few wasps have come around. You will be very careful to make sure that you put yourself in between then and the potential of the staying if one of these B's problems and as you reach out your arm. You take this thing that was planned for the little one, then you will drawn the staying and the little one will not have nothing to fear from the influence of that creature Christ in going to the cross has dealt with the guilt of our sin has broken the bondage of sin's power in the Christian's life and on account of that we may look into the face of God with death sting draw. Secondly, the Bible makes it clear that we are asleep in death through Jesus. Now interestingly, when the Bible uses the picture of sleep as best as I've been able to look for and never uses sleep in relationship to our souls. A users sleep in relationship to our bodies talk about our bodies sleeping not about our souls sleeping and it gives to as the reality of this notion of having fallen asleep in Jesus. Again, that's that that's in Pauline terminology and that the conjunction is through Jesus falling asleep through Jesus. As a result of Jesus. In other words, just in the same way as a child inevitably adheres their mom or their dad say that time we will hear Jesus say the same dogs that died and we may say to Jesus what children say to their dads or their moms will you stay with me while I fall asleep and Jesus says yes I will better than that. I will be with you in that sleep and Manton says man cannot be completely happy till the body be raised again the soul alone. Dogs not constitute human nature, or that being which may be called man, the body.essentially concur to the Constitution of man as well as the soul. Therefore, the soul, though it be a spirit and can live apart, yet it was not made to live apart forever, but to live in the body and soul remain at a window as it where till the body be raised up and united to it is without its mate and companion so that it remaining remaining destitute or half itself, which, though it may be born for a while yet not forever.
Lenny was on the right. From there, now this is important to come to the question of what were doing with the body in the process of death, and that's why I read it. What he is saying there is that humanity man queen man in his Constitution is not complete. Simply as a soul, but body and soul unite to make the human Constitution and the absence of the soul from the body does not therefore render the body obsolete, insignificant, as if you were throwing out on old water bottle to be discarded because you knew that you were going to get a better water bottle on some later occasion Alastair back with a message titled on death and dying Truth for Life. As Alastair said, our contemporary culture doesn't like talking about death.
That's why it's so important for us to be students of the Bible.
Death is a certainty which of us wants to stand before God unprepared at one of the reasons why we teach the whole Bible on Truth for Life that we've heard from blisters all around the world who this year have written to us to say how grateful they are the Truth for Life is a source of biblical truth. They can trust. We've learned from 2020 is that in times of fear and worry all of us want and need teaching we can rely on. So if Truth for Life is help you navigate some of the challenges you face this year. Would you consider providing the financial support we need at this important time. Your December giving is vital to our ministry. It enables us to end the year fully funded so we can continue this program in 2021. When you give a generous gift today. We'd like to say thank you by inviting you to request the checkbook of the bank of faith written by Charles Spurgeon now that sounds like an unusual title but it's a book of daily reflections on God's promises.
Spurgeon's title draws the analogy that God's promises are as certain to be fulfilled as a bank check each of the 365 pages includes a promise made by God in Scripture, followed by a reflection from Spurgeon and you love that this devotional is convenient size. It's like a checkbook. It comes covered in rich leather and it makes a great gift request a copy of the checkbook of the bank of faith for yourself. When you donate today can also purchase extra copies are cost to give as Christmas gifts go to Truth for Life.org/donate or tap the book image you see in the mobile app while you're at it, visit our online store where you find a new USB from Alastair titled the miracle of Christmas. This USB contains eight short series that unpack how Jesus birth altered all of human history, no matter how familiar you are with the Christmas story great deal more to learn in this panoramic view of Jesus coming and his eventual return visit Truth for Life.org/store Bob Lapine hope you can join us tomorrow. Alastair will explore the sensitive issues of burial and cremation as we continue our study titled my times are in your hand Bible teaching of Alastair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life. Learning is for Living