************ Funeral Sermon on John 3:16 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on February 25, 2015
Funeral of Ron Hanson
I learned many things about Ronald Joseph Hanson when I met with him in the hospital and later with his family at his home.
He was born May 17, 1948.
He was a truck driver. A very dependable worker. Never called in sick.
He was a character. With a sense of humor. Who loved to pick on his sister.
He was very friendly. He never knew a stranger. He had lots of friends. Classmates from high school still remember him fondly and consider him a friend. He connected with a neighbor within days – maybe within hours – of moving in.
He loved the traditional. He loved old cars and old pictures, antiques and Route 66.
He was generous and even gullible with his money. He wasn't greedy. Money didn't mean a lot to him.
He loved to dance. And to eat. One of his favorite menus involved spam.
His best friend was killed in Viet Nam. He son was murdered on his birthday. But he wasn't bitter. He never held a grudge. He was forgiving.
Having said all this, let me now tell you the most important thing I learned about Ron. In the hospital I asked Ron, "Do you know Jesus as Savior and Lord?" His response, "I went to church all my life." My response, "I have a bike in my garage. That doesn't make it a car." He understood what I was getting at – that there are people in church who aren't Christians. So I asked him again, "Do you know Jesus as Savior and Lord?" "Yes sir," he said to me. And after he died, when I met with the family I asked, "Does anyone doubt that he was a Christian?" No one doubted his faith. So, I repeat, the most important thing any of us can say about Ronald Joseph Hanson is that he was a Christian, he knew Jesus as Savior and Lord.
It is not surprising, then, that Ron's favorite Bible verse was John 3:16. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
Let's break this verse apart. "For God." We start with the greatest Giver. I mentioned that Ron was generous. But there is One Who is far more generous. I am talking about God. He is the greatest Giver. He is the One Who gives us life, food, clothing, shelter. And, today, we celebrate that through Jesus He gives forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life to Ron and everyone else who believes.
"For God loved" Here we have the greatest motive. We might do good to get along with our neighbors, or for tax reasons, or to develop a reputation, or because it is expected of us. God's motive for being the greatest Giver is pure and holy. He gives out of love. Not a sickly, syrupy sweet love. Not a romantic love. But a love that gives for the good of the other. A love that gives without expecting anything in return.
"For God so loved world" This is the greatest need. By world we mean people. Which includes you and me. Everyone of us is a sinner. Everyone of us falls short of the glory of God. As we hear from the Apostle Paul in his letter to the church at Rome:
) "There is no one righteous, not even one; (11) there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. (12) All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one." Everyone of us deserves judgment and hell-fire and eternal condemnation.
"For God so loved the world t he gave" The greatest act from the greatest Giver. He gave. He took the first step. He took the last step. If it was up to us, we would remain in our sin. That is how lost we are. We can try to do good, but it is never good enough. We can try to claw our way into the presence of God, but we can never make it. God had to give.
"For God so loved the world that he gave one and only Son" You know what this is. This is the greatest gift. I mentioned the death of Ron's friend and Ron's son. But their lives were not given; rather, their lives were taken. God, however, gave His one and only Son. He gave Him to be born in a stable and laid in a manger. He gave Him to suffer and die and be buried. Truly the greatest gift.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, t whoever believes in him" The greatest invitation. A friend of mine received an invitation to the President's inauguration. But far greater and way more important is the invitation to believe in Jesus. The greatest invitation. So, let me ask, have you by grace accepted this invitation? Have you come to Jesus as Savior and Lord? Have you given Him your heart and your life? Do you live for Him Who died for you? Ron, by grace, accepted this invitation. He believed.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him ll not perish" The greatest deliverance. Don't forget the greatest need. We all are sinners who deserve judgment. But, out of grace, God promises deliverance for all who believe in Jesus. Deliverance from judgment. Deliverance from hell-fire. Deliverance from eternal condemnation.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish have eternal lifeThe greatest joy. We don't get what we deserve. In fact, we get the opposite of what we deserve. Remember, we deserve judgment. Instead, we get eternal life. Life without end. Life without pain. Life without tears. Life without mourning. What we are promised is a new and better life in a new and better body on a new and better earth. That is what is promised to all those who, like Ron, believe in Jesus.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." We see the greatest Giver, the greatest motive, the greatest need, the greatest act, the greatest gift, that greatest invitation, the greatest deliverance, and the greatest joy.
This is the text I want to hold before you as we remember Ronald Joseph Hanson.
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