************ Sermon on 1 Corinthians 2:9 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on February 5, 2007
1 Corinthians 2:1-10
1 Corinthians 2:9
"The Best is Yet to Come!"
Rich Voortman Funeral
Topic: HeavenThis story is about an unnamed woman but it could be a story about Rich Voortman. Do you know what Rich said to me every time I visited him the last 6 months? He kept saying, "The best is yet to come!"
Subtopic: Glory of
Title: The Fork
There was a woman who had been diagnosed with cancer and had been given 3 months to live. Her doctor told her to start making preparations to die (something we all should be doing all of the time). So she contacted her pastor and had him come to her house to discuss certain aspects of her final wishes. She told him which songs she wanted sung at the service, what scriptures she would like read, and what she wanted to be wearing. The woman also told her pastor that she wanted to be buried with her favorite Bible.
Everything was in order and the pastor was preparing to leave when the woman suddenly remembered something very important to her. "There's one more thing." She said excitedly. "What's that?" came the pastor's reply. "This is very important." The woman continued. "I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand." The pastor stood looking at the woman not quite knowing what to say. "That shocks you doesn't it?" the woman asked. "Well, to be honest, I'm puzzled by the request," said the pastor. The woman explained, "In all my years of attending church socials and functions where food was involved [and let's be honest, food is an important part of any church event; spiritual or otherwise] my favorite part was when whoever was clearing away the dishes of the main course would lean over and say 'you can keep your fork.' It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was coming. When they told me to keep my fork, I knew that something great was about to be given to me. It wasn't Jell-O or pudding. It was cake or pie. Something with substance. So I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder 'What's with the fork?' Then I want you to tell them: Something better is coming so keep your fork too.'"
The pastor's eyes were welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the woman good-bye. He knew this would be one of the last times he would see her before her death. But he also knew that the woman had a better grasp of heaven than he did. She KNEW that something better was coming.
At the funeral people were walking by the woman's casket and they saw the pretty dress she was wearing and her favorite Bible and the fork placed in her right hand. Over and over the pastor heard the question "What's with the fork?" And over and over he smiled. During his message, the pastor told the people of the conversation he had with the woman shortly before she died. He also told them about the fork and about what it symbolized to her. The pastor told the people how he could not stop thinking about the fork and told them that they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it either. He was right. So the next time you reach down for your fork, let it remind you oh so gently that there is something better coming.
I loved visiting with Rich. He was always so upbeat and positive and encouraging. He always had a big smile on his face. He would tell me a couple of things he had told me before and Nellie would say, "You already told him that." But I didn't mind because the stories were so interesting. He told me about being burned out, dried out, and drowned out in Iowa. He would read the Dune, Iowa newspaper to me and tell me about farming in Iowa. He would tell me about Salem down south and his windmills for their auctions. He would read a couple of his poems to me – I read one this past week that he wrote when my family and I first moved here. He would talk about his death and would say, "The best is yet to come."
Life was hard for Rich and Nellie, yet they always talked about how good life is and how faithful God is. What a testimony. My prayer is that everyone here can have a similar testimony. Rich and Nellie know that happiness does not depend on money or things or health or position or honor or glory. Rather, they know that happiness depends on the Lord and a relationship with Him. And, because of the Lord, they know "The best is yet to come."
"The best is yet to come." Can you say that? Do you believe that? Is this your testimony as a believer in Christ?
Topic: Eternal Life
Title: More Beyond
Before Columbus discovered the New World, the coat of arms of Spain bore the motto, in Latin, "There is nothing beyond." The three mile limit of their shoreline was the limit of their utmost horizon and furthest possibilities. But Columbus discovered there was a world beyond the shores of Spain when he braved the unknown and uncharted sea. With his discoveries, the Spanish coat of arms was changed, again in Latin, to "There Is More Beyond!"
Because of Jesus, we know there is more. Because of Jesus, we know there is a tomorrow. Because of Jesus, we know the best is yet to come. Because of Jesus, we know "no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him."
In our Scripture reading the Apostle Paul is talking about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was a message about the cross and the grave. It was a message about the crucifixion and the resurrection. It was a message about Jesus dying for our sins (1 Cor 2:2). Paul did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom; rather, as he put it, he came in weakness and fear and trembling (1 Cor 2:1,3,4). Paul knows it is an incredible responsibility to be a messenger of God and His wondrous grace. Paul knows this is not something you can ever take lightly. Paul knows that the salvation of lost souls is at stake (1 Cor 2:5). Paul knows there is always room for one more sinner at the foot of the cross.
Rich wrote a poem about this awesome responsibility in October of 1997. It is the poem I mentioned earlier:
We welcome Pastor Dieleman and familyLike the Apostle Paul, Rich knew that important things, vital things, are at stake in the proclamation of the Gospel.
With joy in our hearts
We welcome today
The man God has chosen
In His special way
Our prayers have been answered
We knew it from the start
Cause the prayers of the people
Were right from the heart
We thank the Lord
For heeding our call
To bring the way of salvation
To the big and the small
We must stand all together
To benefit all
United we stand
Divided we fall
We pray for the pastor
The shepherd of the flock
The words from the pulpit
Based on solid rock
The message of the Gospel does not come from the mind or mouth of man. The message of the Gospel is not and cannot be devised by man. It is "not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age" (1 Cor 2:6). For no person can possibly conceive of a message that includes a cross and a grave. Who can possibly think of the eternal Son of God on a cross? Who can possibly imagine Him suffering and dying?
The message of the Gospel is from God. It is God's wisdom "destined for our glory before time began" (1 Cor 2:7). It is God's wisdom, we can say, destined for the best that is yet to come.
Let's look at the Gospel message in terms of the best is yet to come. We see the Gospel message at the time of the flood. The Lord shut the door of the ark, the rain came down and the floods came up, and God saved believing Noah and his family. But the best is yet to come.
In Genesis 15 we see God making a covenant with Abraham. But God alone goes through the covenant-making procedure. Contrary to normal procedure, God walks by Himself between the halves of a heifer, a goat, and a ram. Abraham plays no role in keeping the covenant and its promises. God alone makes the promises. God takes upon Himself the task of fulfilling the duties or obligations of both sides. God alone is the one Who guarantees the covenant promises will be kept. But the best is yet to come.
Throughout the Old Testament we see the Tabernacle and Temple and the ceremonies and symbols of the Law. There is fire, smoke, incense, the bleating of sheep and goats, blood, the blowing of horns, special uniforms. Color and noise and pageantry. But the best is yet to come.
The New Testament begins with the birth of Jesus. The eternal Son of God made Himself nothing; He took the nature of a servant; He was made in human likeness; He humbled Himself; He became obedient to death – even death on a cross (Phil 2:6-8). But the best is yet to come.
After three days in the grave Jesus arose. God exalted Him to the highest place. God gave Him the name that is above every name (Phil 2:9-10). But the best is yet to come.
Someday, we don't know when, the archangel will shout, horns will blow, the dead will be raised, and Jesus will come on the clouds. At that time every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. And we who believe will be with the Lord forever (1 Thess 4:16-17).
This is God's wisdom, not man's wisdom. Only God could conceive of a Gospel that keeps getting better and better. As Paul puts it in our text:
(1 Cor 2:9) "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him ..."Each step along the way we know the best is yet to come.
What is true for the Gospel is also true for the future life of those who believe in the Gospel – the best is yet to come. What is true for the Gospel is also true for the future life of those who believe in the Gospel – "no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him." Rich knew all this. Nellie knows this. And, I trust that their family and friends also know this.
It is interesting to note that much of what the Bible says about our future existence is in terms of negatives – no corruption, no dishonor, no weakness, no death, no tears, no mourning, no crying, no pain (1 Cor 15:42-43; Rev 21:4). The Bible tells us what we will not experience but it tells us very little of what we shall experience. But this we do know – the best is yet to come. This we also know – "no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him."
Subtopic: Glory of
Title: Travel Section of Newspaper
Every once in a while I will read the "Travel Section" of the newspaper. The columnist is able to describe in great detail what Tibet or Sri Lanka or some other exotic location is like. He is able to do this because he has gone there.
Many authors have tried to give us a picture of heaven and life everlasting. But they can never succeed. They can't succeed because they have never been there. They can't succeed because "no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him."
The best is yet to come.
Now, I have to tell you this is not true for everyone. This was not true for the Jews who rejected Jesus. This was not true for the teachers of the law and the Pharisees who hated Jesus. This was not true for the unrepentant thief who hung on the cross beside Jesus. This was not true for Judas. And, this is not true for unbelievers today.
But, for people like Rich and Nellie who love God and serve God, the best is yet to come.
It this true for you? Has God prepared for you what no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived? For you, is the best to come? It can be and it is if you are one of those who love God and Christ. It can be and it is if you have given your heart to Jesus.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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