************ Funeral Sermon on 1 Thessalonians 4:13 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on August 3, 2020
1 Thessalonians 4:13
"Those Who Fall Asleep"
Cornelius Van Hofwegen Funeral
Brothers and sisters, on the death of Cornelius Van Hofwegen we do not grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.
As we grieve about Case, we have hope. But let me ask why. Do we have hope because Case loved God, the Bible, and his family? Do we have hope because he was a patriotic American? Do we have hope because he served on church council? Do we have hope because he was a humble and honest man whose handshake was his word? Do we have hope because he was a faithful husband for 71 years? Is this why his family has hope?
Case had a favorite saying: "My name is written in the book." The book of life. The book of God's elect. The book of those saved by the Lamb of God. That's why his family has hope. That's why Case had hope as he faced dementia and death. Case might have gotten mixed up about the day of the week or the time but he was never mixed up about this.
As we grieve, we have hope. We have hope because Case knew Jesus. We are not like the rest of men, the most of men. They have no hope because they don't know Jesus, because their name is not written in the book of life.
But now let me ask, what is our hope? What is the Christian's hope? What is the hope of those whose names are written in the book of life?
There are two hopes. First, let's talk about the soul. Let's talk about Case's soul. Remember what Jesus said to the repentant thief on the cross? "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise" (Lk 23:43). This is the whisper of Jesus to every dying saint. Death is not the end. "You will be with me." The Christian's soul is with Jesus in heaven. Their souls are before the throne of God, praising Him day and night in His temple. Their souls are singing hallelujah's to Him who washed them from their sins in His blood. Their souls are proclaiming Him who is worthy to receive glory and honor and power.
This is the Christian's hope as we mourn and grieve. We are not like the rest of men who have no hope. So we believe Case's soul right now is with the Lord.
Second, let's talk about Case's body. We are not going to deny its death or make light of death. The body, this body, will shortly go into the grave. But notice the words of hope about the body. Paul uses the phrase "fall asleep." What is the death of the body like, if you are a Christian? It is like falling asleep.
The body sleeps in its lonely bed of earth, beneath a blanket of grass. But what is this sleep? Well, why do you sleep? You sleep to rest. Sleep makes each night a Sabbath. And that is the thought the Spirit of God wants to comfort us with. When Christians die their body is asleep, their body is at rest. After a lifetime of work and struggle, of increasing weakness and infirmity, their body is at rest. The toil-worn believer quietly sleeps, as does the weary child asleep in its mother's lap. Oh blessed are those who die in the Lord; they rest from their labors and their deeds follow them (Rev 14:13). Guarded by angel watchers, curtained by eternal mysteries, they sleep on.
What happens to the body at rest? It is rejuvenated and strengthened and renewed. Likewise with those who fall asleep in the Lord. Their quiet rest shall never be broken until God shall wake them to give them their full reward. They sleep on until the fullness of time brings the fullness of redemption. The body of the Christian is asleep in the grave. They went to their rest with weakness and infirmity, but the promise is that someday they will be awakened in beauty and glory. The shriveled seed rises from the dust a beautiful flower. The winter of the grave gives way to the spring of redemption and the summer of glory.
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. Case's soul is with the Lord and his body is at rest until the day it is awakened into the beauty and glory of Jesus.
Funerals are a good time to examine our own life and ask whether we, too, are like those without hope? Or, like Case, do we believe in Jesus? If you don't believe in Jesus yours is no hope. If you do believe in Jesus yours is the hope of being with Jesus when you die and of having your body someday raised in glory. So I ask again: are you like most men or are you like Case?
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