Server Outage Notice: TheSeed.info is transfering to a new Server on Tuesday April 13th

Statistics
2357 sermons as of April 12, 2024.
Site Search powered by FreeFind

bottom corner

   
Author:Rev. Jeremy Segstro
 send email...
 
Congregation:Cloverdale Canadian Reformed Church
 Surrey, BC
 cloverdalecanrc.org
 
Title:We Need Not Fear Death
Text:LD 22 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:The Second Coming
 
Added:2023-04-25
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Reading: Revelation 14:1-13

Lesson: Lord’s Day 22

 

WE NEED NOT FEAR DEATH

  1. We Have an Immortal Soul

  2. We Will Have an Immortal Body

  3. We Have an Eternal Life

 

  1. Psalm 16: 1, 4, 5

  2. Psalm 63: 1, 2, 4

  3. Hymn 35:1-4

  4. Hymn 2

  5. Psalm 125: 1, 2

  6. Hymn 45:1-3

 

Words to Listen For: chestnut, fooling, earful, crematorium, seriously

 

Questions For Understanding:

  1. What is courage?

  2. Which kind(s) of people have an immortal soul?

  3. What is the Christian view of cremation?

  4. What are 4 things about eternal life that we learn from Scripture?

    1. Eternal life is:

    2. Eternal life comes to us:

    3. We ______ eternal life, even  ______

    4. ______ cannot ______ or even _______ our eternal life

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved in Christ our Lord,

When you think of courage…what image comes to your mind?

Maybe courage to you is a lion - we’ve all seen videos of lions taking down, not only antelopes and gazelle, but even larger and more dangerous animals, like hippos, giraffes, and elephants.  Surely a lion has courage!

Or, maybe for you, courage is what David did when he fought with Goliath.  He was a young boy, Goliath was a giant.  David refused to wear King Saul’s armour, but instead, came at this fearsome warrior with a sling and 5 stones.  David had more courage than any of the Israelites that day.

But the courage of David isn’t quite the same as the courage of a lion.

A lion has worldly, earthly courage.  A lion has courage that either comes from stupidity - she REALLY WANTS to eat giraffe that night…or from a confidence in her own abilities.  I am strong, I am smart, I have sharp teeth and powerful claws.  No one can stand in my way.

But David’s courage wasn’t that of stupidity or confidence in himself.  Even though he gives an account of his history with powerful opponents - Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one them…he goes on.  It’s not that David has these amazing fighting skills…but his courage lies somewhere else.

The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.

David’s courage comes from his faith.  His courage is not stupidity, his courage is not in his own abilities, but his courage is in his God.

And there’s another story, a powerful story of courage.  The courage of a missionary named John Paton.

John set off in 1858 to the New Hebrides Islands, about 1500 kilometers east of Australia, and he was strongly opposed by some of the elders in his church.  There was one in particular, Mr. Dickson.  Mr. Dickson said “You cannot go there because of THE CANNIBALS!  You will be eaten by cannibals!

But to this Paton responded:

Mr. Dickson, you are advanced in years now, and your own prospect

is soon to be laid in the grave, there to be eaten by worms; I confess

to you, that if I can but live and die serving and honoring the Lord

Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by

Cannibals or by worms; and in the Great Day my Resurrection body

will rise as fair as yours in the likeness of our risen Redeemer.

This is courage.

And what happened to John Paton?  Within 15 years, he saw the entire island of Aniwa turn to Jesus Christ.

This came at the cost of his wife and infant son who both died of disease, not 3 months into his ministry.

The rest of his time sounds an awful lot like the life of the Apostle Paul - constantly in danger from the natives, who would regularly threaten his life, surrounding his hut, with axes and arrows pointed at his head.

But in all of this, John Paton showed godly courage.

One night, there was an entire tribe looking for him, and so he climbed into a tree to escape them.  All around him, he heard yells and the discharging of muskets.  Yet, as he writes in his autobiography: Yet I sat there among the branches, as as as in the arms of Jesus.  Never, in all my sorrows, did my Lord draw nearer to me, and speak more soothingly in my soul, than when the moonlight flickered among those chestnut leaves and the night air played on my throbbing brow, as I told all my heart to Jesus.  Alone…yet not alone!

If it be to glorify my God, I will not grudge to spend many nights alone in such a tree, to feel again my Saviour’s spiritual presence, to enjoy His consoling fellowship.

John Paton’s example is one that can encourage us so greatly.  So powerfully.

And he continues, after sharing his experience with a question that we should all be able to answer - If thus thrown back upon your own soul, alone, all alone, in the midnight, in the bush, in the very embrace of death itself, have you a Friend that will not fail you then?

IN THE VERY EMBRACE OF DEATH ITSELF…DO YOU HAVE A FRIEND WHO WILL NOT FAIL YOU?  EVEN THEN?

I hope that each one here can answer with a resounding “YES!”  “YES!  I have a friend who will not fail me.  My faithful Saviour Jesus Christ!”

It is because of Him that we need not fear anything in this life, and

 

WE NEED NOT FEAR even DEATH.  We need not fear, for 

  1. We Have an Immortal Soul,

  2. We Will Have an Immortal Body, and

  3. We Have an Eternal Life

 

WE NEED NOT FEAR DEATH, FOR WE HAVE AN IMMORTAL SOUL

Human beings are immortal.  Did you know that?

I know it seems contrary to what we see in this world, but it’s true.

Human beings are immortal.

This might seem like a particularly difficult doctrine to accept, especially as we hear every year on Good Friday how DEATH is necessary.  About how there is NO LIFE without DEATH.  We hear every Sunday that Jesus, completely God AND completely Human...DIED.  Every human being who has been born will one day die.  This is how it has always been - with the notable exceptions of Enoch and Elijah.

So…we die…but we are immortal?

Yes.

You see, it all depends on your definition of death.  Because the believer has a different understanding than the unbeliever.

For the unbeliever, death is the absence of life.  Death is merely nothingness.

I once asked an unbelieving friend of mine if he feared death.  After giving the matter some thought, he told me this: No, I don’t fear death.  Because what is death anyways?  Just…nothingness.  I experienced that before I was born, I’ll experience it after I die.  It wasn’t bad before, so it won’t be bad after.

This is the stated belief of many atheists…but I don’t really buy it.  I’m not really convinced.  Are you?

You see, the fact is, that, apart from Christians…nobody knows FOR SURE what happens after you die.  Not the most devout atheist, not the strictest Jew or Hindu.  Because, apart from Christianity, no belief system, no religion, has ANY PROOF of what happens after death.  It’s a guess.  It’s lies and manipulation.

And so, even if my friend truly believed what he was saying…he was just fooling himself.

When he approaches his death, or, to use the language of John Paton, when he is in the very embrace of death itself…will he be calm?  Will he be fearless?  I doubt it.

For the unbeliever, death is, or at least, is assumed to be, nothingness.  Just the absence of life.  And, if we take that definition, then no Christian ever dies.  AND…no unbeliever ever dies either.

For we as human beings have an immortal soul.

This is the teaching of Scripture and our confession:

Not only shall my soul after this life immediately be taken up to Christ my Head…

Our soul does not pass away into nothingness.  Our soul is immortal.  This is how it was made, and this is how it will stay.  The sting of sin does not affect the immortality of the soul.  The soul cannot be destroyed.  It lives here on this earth, and it will continue to be alive in the next life - either taken up to Christ, or cast into the outer darkness, forever dying, but never experiencing death.

This is what we heard in our reading from Revelation 14

Revelation 14, starting at verse 9 - And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of His hanger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.  And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshippers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.

The is what immortality looks like for those who reject the gospel of salvation.

But for the believer, for those who see that Jesus Christ is their friend who will not fail them even in the embrace of death…for us…what the world wrongly sees to be death…oh what a blessing this is.  What a glory this is!

Continuing in Revelation 14, starting at verse 12 - Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.  And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”

Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on…if we are those who identify with JESUS CHRIST, the second, the final Adam, then our “death” is a blessing.  Our “death” is not nothingness…but it is MORE.

It is more…EVERYTHING.

More…holiness.

More…righteousness.

More…goodness.

More…light.

More…God.

Our souls DO NOT DIE, but, as our Lord’s Day says…

Not only shall my soul after this life IMMEDIATELY be taken up to Christ my Head

Immediately.

There is no break, there is no delay.

What?  No purgatory?  No in-between place for 9 000 years, paying off the debt that Jesus Christ did not pay for on the cross?  No.  No purgatory.

No soul sleep?  No.  What is buried in the ground is not the soul.  The soul is immediately taken up to Christ.

No purification?  No purgatory?  No sleep of the soul?  No, beloved…nothing at all.

Our union with Christ in Heaven is immediately and instantaneous.

This life on earth will become that life in heaven.  No delay.

Our souls will be immediately with our Saviour, and our graves will be empty - in a sense.  For the grave of a Christian will still contain a body.  We know that.  The immortal soul goes up to be with Christ, and the mortal body is placed in the ground.  But not hopelessly, not casually disposing of the remains…but, as we heard on Good Friday, planted.  Planted, like a seed.  Planted, in hope of the resurrection of the body.  For we will have an immortal body.  Our second point.

Not only shall my soul after this life immediately be taken up to Christ, my Head,

BUT ALSO THIS MY FLESH, raised by the power of Christ, shall be reunited with my soul and made like Christ’s glorious body.

For an unbeliever, death is mere nothingness…but for a believer, if we are going to use that word, “death,” and we can - Scripture does! Nearly 500 times! - we can use this word, but we have to understand what it means.

The Christian understanding of death, physical death that is, is the separation of the body and the soul.

When a person “dies” their body and their soul are separated.  And this is not the way it was meant to be.  For we were CREATED body and soul - Genesis 2: the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground (body), and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (soul), and the man became a living creature.

We were CREATED body and soul, and we were REDEEMED body and soul - 1 Thessalonians 5: Now may the God peace Himself sanctify you completely and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Body and soul.  Both.

And yes, we read here too about “spirit” which can complicate matters.  We won’t go into it this afternoon, but the catechism students have heard an earful from me about this matter - ask the children of Cloverdale if you want to know, or send me an email.

But what is so important for us to recognize is that our heavenly existence is not meant to be that of disembodied souls flying around.

When we were made, as body and soul…God declared that to be “very good.”  The body did not come as a result of sin, but, rather, this was part of our original, very good, sinless creation.

Our bodies are not something that we need to ESCAPE FROM as the Greeks believed.  That the body was merely a prison for the soul, and true freedom, true joy, was escaping the body.

No, not at all.

And let us not go so far as to view our bodies as something we HAVE and our souls as something we ARE.  This is not true.  Our bodies are just as much “us” as our souls.

Our bodies, whether young or old, healthy or diseased, weak or strong…our bodies…ARE US.

And our bodies will continue to be us after the resurrection.

Just as we can read in 1 Corinthians 15 - Behold!  I tell you a mystery.  We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed

Not every believer will die before the second coming of Jesus Christ, but that does not mean that believers who are still living will be “stuck” in their mortal bodies forever…nor does it mean that those who have already died will be “stuck” as souls forever.

We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumped.  For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.  For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.

WE WILL HAVE IMMORTAL BODIES.

Finally, bodies that perfectly match our soul!

Our reborn body will match our reborn soul!

And this is why we, as Christians, bury our dead bodies.  We bury them, not merely out of respect for the person who has died, but, as though we are planting a seed.

This is one of the reasons why we typically discourage our brothers and sisters in the faith from the practice of cremation.

It is not that we do not have faith that God can raise up a new spiritual body out of the ashes.  Just because your body is burnt, whether in a house fire or in a crematorium, this does not prevent God from raising the body.  By no means!

But rather, in burning the body, this can send the message that this is the end.  This is the end of the person, and he will never be in this body again.

But that is simply not true.  For our souls will be re-united to our bodies, and our bodies will be transformed.  Our sinless soul will be reunited with our newly sinless body, and THIS is how we will forever live in the presence of God.  Not as mere souls.  Not as strong souls in weak bodies, but truly, in bodies and souls fit for the presence of the King.

We have immortal souls…even now.

We are promised immortal bodies…on that day.

And we will live forever, enjoying the life everlasting.  Our final point this afternoon.

 

What comfort do you receive from the article about the life everlasting?

Since I now already feel in my heart the beginning of eternal joy,

I shall after this life possess perfect blessedness,

Such as no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived - 

A blessedness in which to praise God forever.

 

When does our eternal life start?

Are we living in this world, under the curse of Adam, waiting and hoping that one day our eternal life will come?

One day our KING will come - our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, crowned with praise, no more an outcast.  No more the suffering Servant, but the King whose kingdom shall stretch from shore to shore.

One day our King will come - and we wait with eager longing.

But…is it accurate to say that one day our eternal life will begin?

 

Not quite.

 

The catechism speaks of already having a foretaste…already feeling in our heart the beginning of eternal joy.

And this is because, for those who are in Christ…our eternal life has already begun.

The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life.

If you are waiting around for your eternal life to begin…stop waiting…it has arrived.  Even here, even now.  You are already living your eternal life.

Now, there are different stages of that life, no doubt.

I shall AFTER THIS LIFE possess perfect blessedness, such as no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived

There is another stage of eternal life that we enter when this life on earth is done, and we do not DIE, not really, but when this life on earth is done and we are TRANSPORTED.  It is a difference of LOCATION that we experience at death.

One moment here, the next, with our Lord in glory.

But our location is not what determines our eternal life.

What does Scripture say?

 

Eternal Life is from God - John 3:16

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.

Eternal life is the gift of God, not something that we as human beings DESERVE.  We were MADE for eternal life, but we lost that, in Adam, in the Fall.

And you may say - “well, that’s not fair, I wasn’t there…why does Adam’s sin affect me?”

Let’s take this argument seriously for a moment, not getting into Adam representing humanity, not getting in to Adam as the father of humanity.

 

Why does Adam’s sin affect me?

Well…let me ask you another question…why does Jesus’ sacrifice affect you?

If you want to reject your damnation in Adam, then you cannot, at the same time, freely accept your salvation in Christ.  It just doesn’t work like that.

Eternal life is from God.  It is ours THROUGH CHRIST.

 

Secondly, eternal life comes to us through the Word of Christ - John 6:68-69

Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

Our eternal life comes to us through God as a gift, and it is a gift that is worked in our hearts BY THE SPIRIT, THROUGH THE WORD.

We are reborn by the Word that is preached to us.  The message of salvation, the gospel.  It if life-giving.  It is EVERYTHING.

God has already given us this gift.  Already on this side of glory, we hear the gospel preached.  Will there be preaching on THAT side of the glory?  No!  We do not need to hear the gospel anymore.  We will have no need to repent and believe.  We will have no need for faith - being sure of what you hope for, and certain of what you do not see…for our hopes will be realized, and we will see our Lord, face to face.

Eternal life has begun, already now!  But don’t take my word for it…

 

We have eternal life..already now - John 5:24

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

HAS eternal life.

HAS passed from death to life.

ALREADY NOW.

Already now beloved, we can feel in our heart the beginning of eternal joy…not the hope of a future eternal joy, but already now!  By faith, we have passed from death to life.  By faith, we have eternal life.

This is our joy and our hope as believers!  This is our identity - WE ARE IMMORTAL!  Even now!

And death?

 

Death will not stop or even interrupt our eternal life - John 11:25

I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.

Though he die, yet he shall live.

Everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.

This is eternal life.  It is stronger than Satan - he shall never snatch us out of the Father’s hand.  It is stronger even than death.  Death cannot touch us for WE ARE IMMORTAL.

 

We are immortal. And this must give us courage.

Not foolish courage, in the strength of our own abilities - I am immortal, therefore I can live my life however I please…no.  Never.  Never this.  Go on sinning that grace my increase…BY NO MEANS.

But rather, we can have courage in the God who has given us eternal life.  We can have courage and strength to face whatever is out there.  To face life in this sinful world.  To face what looks like death.  To face angels, rulers, things present, things to come, power, height, depth…to face EVERYTHING IN ALL CREATION…because not a single one of them can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

AMEN.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright, Rev. Jeremy Segstro

Please direct any comments to the Webmaster


bottom corner