************ Funeral Sermon on Romans 1:17b ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on March 17, 2020
"The Righteous Will Live by Faith"
Funeral of Larry De Hoog
Let me introduce you to Larry. Larry had the gift of gab. He could talk to anyone anywhere anytime. And he did too. To use an old expression, he was able to sell snow to Eskimoes. Larry talked when he catered a meal, a party. He talked about the Lord. I know that because some of these same people told me about their conversations with Larry. One of them lives in my subdivision. Now let me ask, was Larry's gift of gab able to save him when he died and appeared before the throne of God?
Let me introduce you to Larry. Larry had a kind, generous, caring, serving spirit -- for people and animals. He would help anyone anywhere anytime. Sometimes he did so at the expense of his own family. He put in lots of volunteer hours. He served and cooked food for many church functions. And he loved doing this. Now let me ask, was Larry's generous spirit able to save him when he died and appeared before the throne of God?
Let me introduce you to Larry. Grace remembers what I am going to say next and some of the family too. Larry and I had so much fun with this. I want to tell you about Larry the accidental thief. Our church has a campout every year. Three years ago I bought a new camping chair for the campout -- one of those fancy ones from Costco. Can you believe it -- at the end of the campout it was missing! Two years ago I bought another new camping chair for the campout -- again, one of those fancy ones from Costco. Can you believe it -- it too went missing. Last year I bought a cheap chair. Larry came over to see me as I was setting up. Wearing a sheepish grin on his face. "I found your chairs," he said, "in my camper." The year before he had scooped up all the chairs around his camp fire and threw them in the back without looking them over. He felt really bad about this and kept apologizing. Of course I warned people to hang on to their chairs when Larry came around. But now let me ask, is Larry saved because he felt bad for things like this? Or, about more serious things?
Let me introduce you to Larry. Larry grew up in a Christian home. He was baptized. He joined the church as a full member. He attended worship. He partook of the Lord's Supper. He prayed. He sang. He read the Bible. But now let me ask, was Larry saved because of these Christian exercises?
When we die, what saves Larry, what saves you, what saves me? Not the gift of gab. Not good works. Not guilt and shame. Not religious exercises. There is a song we sing that speaks to this:
Not what my hands have done
can save my guilty soul;
not what my toiling flesh has borne
can make my spirit whole.
Now what I feel or do
can give me peace with God;
not all my prayers and sighs and tears
can bear my awful load.
Let me backtrack for a moment and tell you that only the just, only the righteous, are welcome into the presence of God. What does it mean to be righteous? It means to obey God's law. It means to obey God's law perfectly. It means to be as perfect as Christ Himself. Jesus loved God with all His heart, soul, mind, and strength. Jesus loved people perfectly. Jesus obeyed all God's commandments and not a thought came to His mind against any of them. That's what it means to be righteous.
"The righteous will live ..." Let's stop there. "The righteous will live ..." We are talking about life with God. We are talking about life in the presence of God. We are talking about life in heaven. We are talking about life in the new heaven and new earth. We are talking about life in the New Jerusalem. "The righteous will live ..." Only the righteous will live. Only the just, only the righteous, are welcome into the presence of God.
"The righteous will live ..." Want to guess how many of us qualify? NONE. NADA. ZILCH.
(Rom 3:10-12) 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.Larry was not righteous. I am not righteous. You are not righteous. None of us are righteous because we are sinners. We are all sinners and no sinner is righteous.
So does God lay down an impossible path to heaven? Is the Bible saying heaven is an empty place? Jesus is there, of course, because He was and is righteous. The angels are there because they have not sinned like the devil and his demons. No one else can be there or should be there because no one else qualifies. Does this mean Larry is not there either?
And yet we have the words of our text: "The righteous will live ..." "The righteous will live ..." "The righteous will live ..." That includes Larry. That includes me. I pray it includes you.
But how? Why? Here I need to tell you the amazing and wonderful news of the Gospel. Larry is not righteous -- in and of himself. I am not righteous -- in and of myself. You are not righteous -- in and of yourself. But Larry, me, you are righteous in Christ. In Christ. Because of Christ. Due to the work of Christ. Let me explain:
Even though my conscience accuses meIt is not my righteousness. It is an alien righteousness. It is the righteousness of Christ. Sinners are cloaked, robed, draped with the righteousness of Christ. So God doesn't see sinners. So God sees people who are perfect, righteous, and holy. That's what gets Larry, me, you into heaven. Christ.
of having grievously sinned
against all God’s commandments
and of never having kept any of them,
and even though I am still inclined toward all evil,
without my deserving it at all,
out of sheer grace,
God grants and credits to me
the perfect satisfaction, righteousness,
and holiness of Christ,
as if I had never sinned nor been a sinner,
and as if I had been as perfectly obedient
as Christ was obedient for me.
But now the rest of our text: "The righteous will live by faith." By faith. What does it mean to live by faith? Faith in what? Faith in who? Faith in Jesus. You need to believe He died for your sins. You need to believe He was judged in your place. You need to believe His perfect obedience was given to you. You need to believe He is the Lord and Master of your life.
"The righteous will live by faith." How are you right with God? How do you get into God's heaven? Only by true faith in Jesus Christ. All you need to do is to accept Jesus with a believing heart.
Let me introduce you to Larry. You probably gather by now that he was a man of faith. He believed in Jesus. He was ready to meet Jesus.
"The righteous will live by faith." Does this include you? Will you one day be found among the saved in glory? I ask this because funerals are about the only time people give serious consideration to such questions. Look at Larry and Grace. When he left home Monday morning neither of them thought that would be the last time they would see each other. When he left home, death was the last thing on their mind. But yet now he is gone being only 58 years old. We, none of us, know when our last day will be. We, none of us, know when accident or heart-attack or stroke may take our life. We need to be ready. We need to be ready to meet the Lord. Are you ready? Do you believe in Jesus? Don't wait with this. Don't delay because we just don't know.
Let me introduce you to Larry. Larry had the gift of gab.
Let me introduce you to Larry. Larry had a kind, generous, caring, serving spirit.
Let me introduce you to Larry. Larry was the accidental but repentant thief.
Let me introduce you to Larry. Larry was a man of faith.
Let me introduce you to Larry. He has been cloaked with the righteousness of Christ. So he lives. He lives with God. He has gone from the land of the dying into the land of the living.
"The righteous will live by faith." How I pray, how I plead, that these words are true not just for Larry but for you and me and everyone here.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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