************ Funeral Sermon on Job 4:6 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on December 8, 2008
Janet Vedders Funeral
Scripture: Job 4:1-6
Text: Job 4:6
Sermon Title: "She Went to Church"
When there is a funeral I am one of the first people to the graveyard. So, I usually walk around looking at headstones. Some are so sad – especially when you see two or three little children from the same family who died because of some long-forgotten epidemic. Some are amusing – like the one that says, "Here lies Johnny Yeast, pardon me for not rising." Some are a testimony – like the one that says, "He went to church." I want to apply this last one to Janet Marie Vedders.
"She went to church." She was carried there by her parents. As a covenant child, she was baptized in the name of the triune God. I am sure the minister mentioned her baptism in his prayer and sermon. I am sure it was a special day for the parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and siblings who witnessed it.
"She went to church." She wasn't sent to church. Her parents took her, for they worshiped together as a family. She quickly learned to sit quietly in the worship service. She attended Sunday School. She learned to sing, "Jesus Loves Me." All of her best friends attended church with her.
"She went to church." At the glorious age of 18 she professed her faith in Christ – first before the elders and then in front of the entire congregation. I am sure the minister mentioned her profession in his prayer and sermon. I am sure it was a special day for the parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and siblings who witnessed her welcome into full communion with the people of God.
"She went to church." One month after her profession, Janet went to church to be married to Albert Vedders. It was a marriage in the Lord. The minister had appropriate remarks for them in his sermon; I think they told me it was based on Psalm 127:
(Ps 127:1) Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.I am sure this, too, was a special day for the parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and siblings who witnessed it.
"She went to church." Together, Janet and Al presented Karen for baptism. They did this three more times in the years that followed for the rest of their children. Each time the minister talked of God's faithfulness throughout the generations. By this time the grandparents had gone to be with the Lord. But their parents, uncles, aunts, cousins, and friends shared their joy.
"She went to church." Al and Janet took their brood to church – they worshiped as a family, you know. They also brought them to Sunday School and Catechism and Young Peoples.
Today, "she went to church" again. She was carried here, just like she was carried here the very first time. Again, family and friends are in attendance. And, the minister has remarks from Scripture that are appropriate to the occasion.
I have to say it again: "She went to church." The church triumphant! The church above! The church redeemed by the blood of the Lamb! The angels of God carried her there. We know she was welcomed by grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts, cousins, friends, and by Al – her partner of 69 years. However, I dare to say that not every family member who has died was there to welcome her.
"She went to church." And, with Al, she lived like she went to church. For this reason, I read Job 4 to Al & Janet six or seven years ago. I placed special emphasis on verses 3 & 4:
(Job 4:3-4) Think how you have instructed many, how you have strengthened feeble hands. (4) Your words have supported those who stumbled; you have strengthened faltering knees.They were embarrassed when I said these verses described them. I praised them for their love – remember how every Sunday they came walking up the church sidewalk hand-in-hand? I praised them for their encouragement and support for the elders and deacons and pastor. I praised them for their prayers for the church and their church family. In fact, do you know what Janet asked Joy to do less than 24 hours before she died? Two times she told Joy to remember Janet's offering for the General Fund and Scholarship Fund – yesterday's offerings.
Verses 3 & 4 are the words of Eliphaz the Temanite. Eliphaz says these words to Job in all his affliction – remember how Job lost his sons and daughters, sheep, camels, oxen, donkeys, and servants? Remember how Job was covered with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head?
Eliphaz comes to Job in his affliction and says, "Think how you have instructed many." Job was a teacher; he told people like Eliphaz how to live before God. "Think ... how you have strengthened feeble hands." Feeble hands are hands hanging down in helplessness and despair, hands of the weak and sick, hands of the aged and dying, hands of the sorrowing. Job stood alongside these people and held them up. "Your words have supported those who stumbled; you have strengthened faltering knees." People stumble and falter for different reasons – some because they are sick, some because of a heavy burden, some because of physical or spiritual trials. Whatever the reason for the stumbling and faltering, Job supported these people with encouraging words and prayers. Eliphaz looked up to Job as a wise and true counselor, someone with words of wisdom. In the same way, I looked up to Al & Janet.
Verses 3 & 4 set the stage for our text. Listen again to the words of verse 6:
(Job 4:6) Should not your piety be your confidence and your blameless ways your hope?Eliphaz mentions Job's "piety" – a better word or phrase is "fear of God." Job was someone who feared and worshiped Almighty God. Job was in awe of God and His ways and acts and deeds. Eliphaz also recognized Job's "blameless ways." Eliphaz looked at Job and saw a man of integrity, a man of moral goodness, a man who strived against sin and evil. Job's piety and blameless ways tied him to God and gave him confidence and hope.
Do you know that God agreed with Eliphaz? Do you remember that two times God praised His servant Job to Satan:
(Job 1:8) Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil." (Cf Job 2:3)Job was righteous in God's sight. His piety was his confidence. His blameless ways were his hope.
In the same way, I want to tell you – the family and friends of Al & Janet Vedders – that their piety was their confidence and their blameless ways was their hope.
I can hear some of you saying, "Boy, pastor, you must have thought highly of them." Yep. Because they went to church and they lived like they went to church – unlike so many others.
(Job 4:6) Should not your piety be your confidence and your blameless ways your hope?And the answer, for Al & Janet: YES! YES!
How can I talk this way? After all, we are all conceived and born in sin. And, we all commit actual sin. That is true for me, for you, for Job, for Eliphaz, for Al & Janet too. How can sinners have confidence in their piety and hope in their blameless ways?
Do you remember the verse Robert preached on for Al's funeral? It also comes from Job:
(Job 19:25) I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.He lives! Yes, He died – He died on the cross for our sins. But He also lives – He arose from the grave and was raised to life for our justification.
I want to talk here about holy arithmetic. When Jesus died, something negative was subtracted from us – our sin, our guilt, our shame. It was taken from us and given to Jesus. And, when Jesus arose, something positive was added to us – His righteousness, His holiness, His perfection. It was taken from Jesus and given to us. By faith, there is a transfer – my sin to Jesus and His righteousness to me. This is what I mean by holy arithmetic.
Do you see why fallen sinners like Job, Al & Janet, could have confidence in their piety and hope in their blameless ways? Because it was not their own! Because it was an alien righteousness. Because it was the holiness of Jesus Himself. In union with Jesus, Al & Janet went to church and lived like they went to church.
I wish I could say words like this at every funeral. But I can't! Some, they don't go to church. Others, they may go to church but they don't live like they go to church.
So now, let me ask, can these words be said at your funeral? In union with Jesus, do you go to church and do you live like you go to church? Has Jesus taken on your sin? Has Jesus given you His righteousness? These are the most important questions that can ever be asked of you. If your answer is YES, then your piety can be your confidence and your blameless ways your hope – as it was with Job, as it was with Al, as it was with Janet, as it is with all the Redeemed in heaven.
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