My thoughts about death from conducting over 100 funerals.

These are my sermon notes from a sermon I preached on the 18th March 2012 at Nowra City Church titled:- Let’s Talk about Death

During the course of the last 12 years of being Senior Pastor of Nowra City Church, I have conducted about 100 funerals in my time.

  • I have buried – hero’s of the faith
  • I have buried people who died too young
  • Others who died at the right time
  • I have buried people who died from sickness, people who have been murdered, people who took their own life.
  • I have buried Christians and I have buried atheists.

So I have done 100 Funerals and attend probably another hundred. I think we should be talking about death as the latest statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics says that 10 out of 10 people die. But often death is not spoken of as we think that if we talk about it, death might hear us and somehow be attracted to us.

So I want to talk about death by looking at some observations that I have made through the funerals that I have either officiated at or have attended.

We need to understand that Death changes our perspective on things. A great example of this is the song by Nickleback – If today was your last day.

There are approximately 2 deaths per second around the world. Some deaths go unnoticed, unmourned with people unmoved by the death of someone else. An example is the death of an elderly woman who died in Sydney about 8 months ago and there was outcry when no one noticed for months.

Other deaths are grieved by the world over. Steve Jobs for example. Here is Steve speaking on death.

So here are my observations about death from Funerals.

1. People always rave about the dead person – at their funeral – encourage them to speak out while the person is still alive

They say such nice things about people at their funerals that it makes me sad that I’m going to miss mine by just a few days.”
Garrison Kielor.

At a funeral, people get up and talk about how wonderful the dead person was and how much they meant to them.  My observation is this. – Don’t wait to the funeral to tell people what you think of them. The funeral is too late. Tell them today. Tell people you love them. Thank people for their input into your life.

2. Talk about the person who is now gone

When a person dies, the fact that they existed isn’t erased from people’s memory. So don’t stop talking about the person

I had a friend from Wollongong down a few weeks ago and it was the first anniversary of when her husband had a massive heart attack and died. So we were talking about Steve, and she made the comment – it’s so good to hear you say Steve’s name because so many people don’t talk about him, don’t mention him and act like her never existed.

So talk about the person who has died, to the family

3. When someone does die and you want to ring the family, but you don’t know what to say and you don’t want to say the wrong thing – ring anyway

Presence yourself in their time of grief. Just being there with a person is very powerful.

Look at Job’s three friends. He looses his family. He is in deep grief and for 7 days his friends just presence themselves with Job – they don’t even say a word. Your presence is very powerful.

Jesus – about to face death – needed the presence of people. But His disciples fell asleep.

Romans 12:15 Weep with those who weep – great advice from the word of God.

4. Every family at the funeral wants to believe that their loved one went to heaven.

In other words – the majority of people like to think that their loved one and themselves are Christians at a funeral – yet they walk away and don’t change to an active faith.

Ever noticed that overwhelmingly – everyone goes to heaven at a funeral

I kind of have a problem with preachers who indicate that at a funeral.

I personally  refuse to say that they went to heaven unless i know or I can ascertain that they had a faith in Jesus Christ. I do however tell people at a funeral that death reminds us to think soberly about our own mortality and that we need to have a personal relationship with Jesus.

5. Death causes us to have sober thoughts about God.

Regina Spektor has a great song that sums up my thoughts here – particularly the first section of the song. I have also noticed that no laughs at God at a funeral.

6. In the natural Prepare now

In other words – have a will. I have sat with too families and the loved one I am doing the funeral for – didn’t have a will. This leaves a mess for the family as death and money bring out the worst in people

Write down what you would like at your funeral and give it to someone you trust.

7. Wisdom is found in the house of mourning

Ecclesiasties 7:4
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure. (NIV)

What wisdom can be found in the house of mourning. Here are some points from my funeral preach that I often do.

1) Wisdom uses Death as a reminder

2. Death Reminds us to reflect on life’s true value.

3) Wisdom comes to house of mourning as there is no other time in life than at the time of mourning when we understand the briefness of life.

4) There is Wisdom in knowing that death is a certainty

5) Wisdom comes to the house of mourning when death is prepared for when and the hope that is in Jesus Christ is accepted.

6) Wisdom comes to the house of Mourning when we realize that not only is death inevitable it can come as a surprise.

8. Suicide

There is a prevailing thought that if you commit suicide you go to Hell.

The bible doesn’t say one way or the other. In fact that bible makes no differential about the impact of the various ways you die on your eternal destiny. Which to me means that how you die has no impact on where you spend eternity. The only thing it says about suicide is this verse.

“Do not be a fool–why die before your time?” (Ecclesiastes 7:17b)

Many of the greatest saints and heroes of the Bible faced overwhelming depression and sometimes wrote that they wished they had never even been born. King David, (Psalm 13:2-4), the prophet Jeremiah, (Jeremiah 20:14-18), and Job, (Job 7:15-16)among others, all reached low points where they despaired of their very lives. But they did push through which should be an encouragement that suicide should not be an option for us.

So here are my thoughts on suicide

2:Cor 5:21 If anyone be in Christ he is new creature – the Greek word for new creature literally means new species. So when we are born again as a Christian – it means that we are recreated spiritually. We know in Romans 5 where it talks about us being justified in faith – it’s talking about our innocence being restored.

Romans 8 – We are adopted into the family of God – we have an intimate relationship with God to the point that we call him Pappa Daddy.

Suicide doesn’t undo all this. What is more important is – did the person have a relationship with Jesus?

God’s grace is sufficient

We don’t walk through life jumping in and out of Heaven and Hell

9. How would I live different if I knew I had 12 months to live.

How would I live – if I knew I only had 12 months to live

  • What would my priorities be
  • What would the passion of your life be and would that be different to what it is now
  • How would I conduct my walk with God
  • Would my involvement in worship change
  • How would I pray
  • How would I treat others and would it be different
  • I wonder how I would be treated
  • What would my bucket list look like
  • What would change in my family dynamic
  • What books would I read

10. What does the bible say about death

Believers can face death without fear.

1 Corinthians 15:54-57
Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Believers enter the Lord’s presence at death.

In essence, the moment we die, our spirit and soul go to be with the Lord.

2 Corinthians 5:8
Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. (NLT)

Philippians 1:22-23
But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. (NLT)

Believers will dwell with God forever.

Psalm 23:6
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (NIV)

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Jesus prepares a special place for believers in heaven.

John 14:1-3
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

Heaven will be far better than earth for believers.

Philippians 1:21
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (NIV)

Revelation 14:13
And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this down: Blessed are those who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, they are blessed indeed, for they will rest from their hard work; for their good deeds follow them!” (NLT)

The death of a believer is precious to God.

Psalm 116:15
Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. (NIV)

Believers belong to the Lord in heaven.

Romans 14:8
If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. (NIV)

Believers are citizens of heaven.

Philippians 3:20-21
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (NIV)

After their physical death, believers gain eternal life.

John 11:25-26
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (NIV)

John 10:27-30
John 3:14-16
1 John 5:11-12

Believers receive an eternal inheritance in heaven.

1 Peter 1:3-5
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (NIV)

Believers receive a crown in heaven.

2 Timothy 4:7-8
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (NIV)

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Peter Pilt

Categories: Sermon Notes, Theology, Uncategorized, Wisdom for life

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4 replies

  1. We have learned so much about life through our little Ruby’s death. Now, four years down the track, we look at the time in which she lived, died and was celebrated and smile as it was a blessing to have had her a part of our lives. 9 days was all that she needed on this earth and in those 9 days, our lives changed – not immediately recognised as for the better, but definitely ended up being so.

    I look back on the party that was her funeral and see a real celebration, not a sad day.

    Thankyou for being there when we needed you …

  2. “Every family at the funeral wants to believe that their loved one went to heaven.”

    I’ve conducted exactly 1 funeral (though if God wants that will grow to 100) but I have to say I get very frustrated at the media implying that famous people are automatically in heaven. I want to scream “no they’re probably not” (if the indications are they aren’t) but that would perhaps be insensitive.

    It’s gives people false hope. It draws the away from Jesus. It’s wrong.

  3. Extremely important article, thank you. Recent deaths of dear friends and earlier losses of family members decades ago, are as fresh and this morning dew to me. Grief is magnified by my neglect of telling them all how wonderful they were… if only I had given them some praise for what and who they were to me, I would surely feel better today. May God encourage you to spread your vital message to everyone.

  4. Great explanation….wise advice! Thank you!

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