The World Is Not Enough – A Funeral Sermon
Stephen’s Note: This is the sermon I preached at my Granddaddy’s funeral on Saturday, August 15, 2009. It is not verbatim, and I’m positive I’m missing many things I said, but I will try to get as close as possible to what I can remember, since I don’t use a manuscript!
I come to you this morning laid low. I am laid low before God, before you, and before my Granddaddy. I have nothing to rest on today but the grace of almighty God. I have nothing to trust in today but the truth of His Word. And trusting only in His Word, I’d like to begin by reading to you from the Gospel of John.
John 16:5-7 – But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, “Where are you going?” But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.
As Christ left us so that the Spirit of God could come down from heaven, so it is to our advantage that my Granddaddy has been taken. None of the things I will tell you today are possible if he is still here with us. What are those things? A friend of mine sent me a quote from a man by the name of Buchanan. I do not know who this man is. But I believe it is an appropriate example of what we face today. He said:
The world isn’t big enough, long enough, deep enough to explain even one single life in it. Death, no matter how natural its causes, is always unnatural, a brusque intruder a gloating enemy, and death shouldn’t be allowed to have the last word. We weren’t made for this world only. We were made for eternity. The world is not enough.
Imagine that. The world is not enough. It was not enough for my Granddaddy to simply live out his life, have his children, and die. No, he had to do more than that! He had to influence the lives of everyone around him, and every single one of us here today has been influenced by him in many ways. With that in mind, we have to ask the question, “What IS enough?” What is enough for us is very simple.
What IS Enough?
It is enough to experience the glory of God here in this life. For us today that means we experience the glory of God through our memories of Granddaddy. There is one memory in particular that sticks out to me today. It is the story my Grandmother told me of how my Granddaddy was saved.
Granddaddy grew up Methodist. If you know anything about the Methodists, they baptize their children, their babies. Many people who were baptized as babies grow up believing they are Christians, when in fact they are not. I don’t say this to offend any who are from denominations that practice this, it is a simple fact. That baptism is a promise of salvation. Where we fail is to call people to that salvation. As such, there are many who are not believers who think they are simply because they received a baptism at such a young age.
What did my grandmother do? She witnessed to my Granddaddy. She called him to the salvation of which his baptism was a promise. “Hey! Remember your baptism! Come to Christ!” She told me that one day she had prayed, “God, whatever you must do to save him, do it. If I am in the way, remove me. If my children are in the way, remove them. But save him!” Can you imagine the kind of prayer that is? It is akin to Paul saying that “I wish I could give up my salvation so that just one more could be saved!” No sooner had she prayed this, than who should knock on her door than the pastor of our church! He was a man by the name of Hayden Center, pastor of First Baptist long before I was born, when my dad and aunt were young. And that night God used pastor Center to save my Granddaddy.
We experience the glory of God in this life through the legacy Granddaddy leaves us in his family and friends. Everyone who meant anything to him is here today, whether physically or “in spirit.” His life impacted everyone here. The glory of God is revealed in how God used him to impact each of us, through the lessons he passed on to us. I can see his legacy in my dad, and how my dad has passed that on to me, and how I hope to pass that on to my children. I can also see him in my aunt, and in my cousin Charley, and in how he teaches his own daughter. God is glorified by the legacy of my Granddaddy to us.
But it is most important that we experience the glory of God eternally. And this is where the Gospel speaks to us.
How the Gospel Speaks to Us
One of the dominant themes of my ministry over the past few years has been the Gospel. What it is, how it impacts us, how it changes our lives, how we live it out. And I can see from my Granddaddy’s life the Gospel speaking to me very clearly.
The essence of the Gospel is what Christ has done for us. He has died for our sins, risen from the dead to give victory over Death, drawn us to Himself by the power of the Holy Spirit, and made us alive that we might repent and believe in Him. There is great power to comfort and give hope in the Gospel. Without His work, we have no reason to hope for comfort, no reason to believe any good has come out of the reason we are here today. Why?
The Gospel is our comfort in all times, in all situations. If we have believed the Gospel, Jesus promises the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Other translations of Scripture use the term “Comforter” to describe the Spirit. Jesus had to leave so that the Helper could be with us, guiding us, comforting us, reminding us of the promises God has made to us in His Word. And so we are comforted that Granddaddy is with Jesus, because unless he left, the Holy Spirit could not comfort us with the glory of God. The Spirit also gives us what the world cannot – a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that God knows the thoughts he has towards us, thoughts of good and not of evil, to give us a future and a hope. The promise of the Gospel is a future and a hope! Through Granddaddy’s legacy, we realize he has given us the tools to continue with life, and that is the work of the Spirit in us.
The Gospel speaks into every part of our lives. How? Because the cross embraces every emotion we have — grief, anger, confusion, sorrow, joy, happiness, hope — all the emotions of human experience. They were all bound up on the cross and crucified with Christ. All the things we feel today were nailed to that cross with Jesus. They have no claim on us! They have no control over us! If this were not true, I would be sitting with my family, a weeping mess. I do not want to stand here speaking to you today! But how I feel has been crucified with Christ and replaced with the promise of the Holy Spirit. That is how the Spirit enables us to go on when our own strength is not enough and gives us the grace to endure. You can know that Christ has died for what you are feeling this very moment, and has sent the Holy Spirit to comfort you, to strengthen you, to lead you out. Indeed, Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew, “MY burden is easy, MY burden is light.” By the power of the Spirit, Christ took our sins, our emotions, our fallenness upon Himself and crucified it.
Lastly, the Gospel shows us our need for Christ as the source of enduring grace. Jesus said, “Come to ME, and I will give you rest.” Not our family, not our friends, but Christ alone! Yes, we embrace each other this weekend. The first thing I did when I got here from Louisville was hug my grandmother, then my dad, then Charley, then my sister Angie, then the rest of the family. I have hugged many of you this weekend. But I have not gone to them. I have gone to Christ through them. I have trusted in the embrace of Christ through you this weekend. When we as believers hold up each other in times of trouble, it is Christ who works in us and through us. Unless Granddaddy goes away, we cannot come to Christ for the grace we experience through each other today!
How Can I Receive This Grace?
You may be asking, “How can I receive this grace?”
For believers, simply trust the promises God has made to you. Realize that God is NOT finished with you yet! Philippians 1 says “I am sure that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it until the day of Jesus.” God’s not finished with you yet! God is NOT finished with you yet! There is so much more to be done! There is more of Granddaddy’s legacy to pass on! More of his love to share! More! Both my cousin and I are about to have a second child. You see, we have more of Granddaddy to pass on to our new babies! God is NOT finished with us yet!
Also, we need to understand that God has an over-arching purpose to be fulfilled in our circumstances. Ephesians 1:11-14 says that
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
You see, we have inherited from Granddaddy a rich legacy, just as we have an inheritance in Christ. The Holy Spirit is the promise of that inheritance. And God has determined to work in us to bring us to that inheritance. He will work in us to pass on what Granddaddy has given us, that He might be glorified.
If you are NOT a believer, there is only one way to receive this grace — Christ! Yesterday I was told of a family story about one of the ladies in our family who is here today. She had memorized Romans 8:28, which reads, “All things work together for the good of those who love God, those who are called according to His purpose.” My Granddaddy had her recite the verse to him, and when she said the second half of the verse, he told her, “Good! You remembered the last part! That’s the most important part!”
Those who are called according to His purpose! These promises of the Gospel I’ve told you today only for those who belong to Jesus! The Psalms say that “God has not done this for just anyone, He has done this for His people.” The only way you can receive the comfort, the hope that the Holy Spirit gives us is through the work of Christ. If you want comfort today, you must repent of your sins and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you AND your household. I am begging you today, do not leave here without the great Savior who saved my Granddaddy and gave us this wonderful inheritance through him!
Right about this time Granddaddy would be telling me to “Wrap it up!” So I’m going to do just that. I’d like to close with a quote from a man by the name of Paul Washer. He is a preacher in Alabama. I don’t know if he knows of my circumstances, of our circumstances this weekend. But he put out this quote and I thought about it deeply as I drove down here from Louisville. He said:
We are always cast upon God whether we know it or not. It is good to be weak, to have no footing except the grace of God.
No footing but the grace of God. Without His grace I could not stand before you today and speak as I have. Without His grace we could not look at each other and smile at the memories we have of Granddaddy. It is good that we grieve today, for we experience today the Gospel speaking to us, covering us with the glory of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. Let’s pray.