In my last blog post, “Certain Truth Known In LIFE”, I took the first twenty-three minutes of Pastor Wilson’s sermon, “Truth About Life & Death, Part Two” and discussed the post-modern notion of an unknowable ‘mystery’ when it comes to the absolute certainty of God’s truth. We were also instructed as to where God has actually deposited that truth for us to find here in our lifetime. But what about in death?
Far More Certain
Firstly, when it comes to death and funerals we often speak in terms far more certain than the life lived would allow. You might hear that the deceased is, “in a better place”. These certainties are often offered in spite of the life led by the deceased. At such a sensitive time no one would dare say or ask if the deceased was actually a believer, living a faithful life; that would be considered insensitive.
1 John 1:6-7
If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
John says that we can certainly see the true facts about where someone spent their time while alive. Did they worship in church regularly and have active relationships with their Christian family, or did they walk in the world (darkness)? Where did their interests lie? Where was their time and energy committed? Who did they prefer to be with? We want to talk about people being ‘Christian’ in life and in death even if they were never in fellowship with the Church and its people. Certainly, it can be a painful gut-punch to even entertain the notion of them being in the opposite of heaven.
See, I don’t even want to say “hell”.
There is no such thing as a ‘Christian’ who has no fellowship with the church. We don’t talk like they are Christians to their face or behind their backs when they’re alive. So why do we talk like that when they’re dead?
The Bible doesn’t talk like that; not because the Bible doesn’t talk ‘certainly’, but when the Bible talks certainly about people who have no fellowship with the church……you know what it says, right? Look at it. It’s in your Bible [1 John 1:6-7]. They are not Christians. That’s what it says. They’re not. Certainly not. – Pastor Steve Wilson
Far Less Certain
Secondly, when it comes to death we often speak in terms far less certain than the life lived would allow. You might hear a conversation that goes like this… “How can I know where Uncle Mort is?” The pastor answers, “Only God knows the heart and we trust that God is good. So, we hope Uncle Mort is in a better place.”
Why should we just hope with vagueness and uncertainty when faced with death? It is not loving to hide the certain truth that flows from the consequences of a life lived in truth or a life lived without truth. If you deny one, you have to deny the other. When people die, the ones left behind are faced with a fresh, raw reality that doesn’t come along every day. This situation begs for absolute truths because there is absolutely a body that remains and a soul that is certainly somewhere else.
It is true that only God knows the heart of Uncle Mort, but it is not true that we can have no certainty on the matter. God speaks to our certainty. We can certainly know that we and our fellow believers are going to heaven; that is not in doubt. The question must be, is/was this person a believer or not?
Determining the genuineness of someone’s Christian testimony
Thank goodness it is not our place to make verbal declarations about the deceased’s heart and their certain eternity. Let people declare it for themselves while alive and then live it out so that their life declares them truthful or a liar. Mort was either a physical witness in life by obeying the commands of his Maker or he wasn’t. If he declared himself a Christian and made it a practice to do what God said not to do, then he just wasn’t a Christian; even though you really loved him.
You telling a funeral-crowd of people that Mort was a Christian when they saw him fishing every weekend at the lake, is actually working against your own God-given cosmic purpose in life. With this example you’d be telling would-be-believers, or believers who’ve fallen away, that they didn’t have to follow God’s commands¹ of fellowshipping with the body of Christ. Given that you can’t serve God with a lie…who exactly would you be serving in doing such? Think about. It matters.
1 John 2:19
They went out from us [left the fellowship/church], but they were not of us [not believers/saved]; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all [the world] are not of us. But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.
John is saying there is a real divine purpose for us seeing and knowing that someone is not in fellowship with the church. That purpose is so that we would know for sure that those people are certainly not Christians. These are clear revelations into the heart of man so that we can benefit from the truth ourselves. That truth is, if God can make damnation clear to us, He can certainly make salvation plain to us. This should actually bring us solid comfort in consideration of our own eternity.
I hope you will subscribe to this blog and keep learning all God has to teach through these lessons taught by Pastor Steve Wilson of Grace Community Church.
¹ Hebrews 10:22-27, 1 John 2:4, 1 John 2:9, 1 John 2:11, 1 John 2:15, 1 John 3:4-6, 1 John 3:8-10