Confusion in the Cemetery

Scripture: Genesis 2:7, Revelation 22:12, 1 Corinthians 15:22-23
Date: 05/26/2007 
There is confusion in the world about what happens when people die. What does the Bible say about the dead? This sermon deals with a clear definition of a soul, death, and resurrection.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

Morning. I wanted to wish everybody a happy Sabbath. Very good to see each of you here. I want to welcome any visitors that we may have today. It’s good to see Brother Rich and Dianne McSherry. They’re visiting from the mission field in southern California. Glad to have them back in our church family today.

The scripture reading this morning talked about a time when Jesus died on the cross, and there was a very unusual event. In connection with this earthquake there was a resurrection. Now it wasn’t like one or two people who have been raised in the Bible in the Old Testament Elijah, Elisha raised people. Somebody came back to life on the bones of Elisha. But this was a number of people who were raised around Jerusalem and it would have been very exciting if you were in that cemetery that day and could have seen the earthquake and those graves open up. It was a miniature picture of what’s happening in the last days when Jesus comes back. I thought it might be appropriate to talk about this subject today. After all this is the Memorial Day weekend. Memorial Day began back after the Civil War when they wanted to pick a day when we honor the troops. It started out honoring the troops, the fallen from the Union soldiers. Last Monday in May, also happens to be the date of the Indianapolis 500 since 1911, when people often frequent the cemeteries and after World War I it was made to also encompass all of the men and women who have served in the military in any capacity. It’s interesting as you go through the cemeteries it’s obvious that there is confusion regarding the important subject of death.

This is the title for our message for today “Confusion in the Cemetery.” A little footnote, the models for that picture are in the audience today, and we’re glad that they’re not in the cemetery. You may think this is a strange statement. One of the most important subjects in life to understand is death. One of the most important subjects in life we should understand is death because well, it’s just as certain as taxes. I don’t want to be macabre or sobering or depressing today. I would like to emphasize the good news about this subject before we conclude the message but there is a lot of confusion and it is very important for us to understand this subject because it is something that applies, death applies to every life. There’s another quote for you. Death applies to every life, and we need to think about it. Who was it? Herbert Eaton, he developed that very famous cemetery down there in Forrest Lawn and he became a multimillionaire because he sort of revolutionized the whole mortician industry. He trained his employees to talk about the dead person as the “departed one” or the “loved one” and they would put them (after a lot of cosmetic attention) in the “slumber room”. “The deceased” and they had all of these very gentle semantics that they used to try to soften the pain of death.

Pretty soon he capitalized on that because it’s an unpleasant subject people don’t want to think about. In our culture if someone dies quickly cover them up, take them away. We don’t want to think about it, and it is unpleasant especially if it’s someone you know. All of us here have been touched by this subject and so I don’t want to be unkind or disrespectful. This coming Monday people are going to be gathered in cemeteries all over the country. It doesn’t matter whether it is a Jewish cemetery or a Christian cemetery. In Round Valley they’ve got a Native American cemetery, and the military is sort of a great equalizer. In all of those cemeteries they will be memorializing and honoring people, but what’s interesting is none of the groups seems to agree on what happens when they die, and whether they come back or not, how they come back, when they come back. There is so much confusion in the cemetery. You know there was a battle in a cemetery. Matter of fact, the largest cemetery in the world is in Iraq. Did you know that? A little Amazing Fact for you. It’s the Najaf cemetery.

May, 2003, how many of you remember they had that big battle there? Part of the reason for it was because the holiest site in the Shiite Islam religion is in the midst of this community and all of the very dedicated Shiite Muslims want to be buried in the proximity of this Mosque of the Imam and so there are five million graves. There is actually a cemetery in Germany that’s got more deceased people, but a lot of them are cremated and they’re just in little bitty urns. This has got five million graves, largest cemetery in the world. The battle broke out there and the soldiers were running around among all of the tombstones fighting against the militants and the terrorists. Confusion in the cemetery, but the confusion in the cemetery is because people aren’t sure what happens when you die. Even if you go to a churchyard cemetery, it could be a Baptist or a Methodist church cemetery and you read the tombstones. Any of you ever do that? You visit the cemetery and maybe you’ve been there because of a service and you walk around a little bit on your own afterwards and you read some of the touching inscriptions and you can quickly see there’s not a consensus even in the same denominational cemetery about what happens when you die. For instance one stone might read “Our dear father is no sleeping quietly in the arms of Jesus waiting for the resurrection trumpet.” In the same cemetery you walk a few more tombstones and it will say “Our mother is not singing on the golden streets with the angels.” You’re wondering well, are they awake, are they singing? What are they doing? Where are they? There’s just no agreement. When we went to the Philippines a few years ago, some of our crew that’s here remember we went to visit a Chinese cemetery in Manila.

I didn’t see one in China so I wanted to tell you about the one in Manila. This cemetery is famous around the world because they have built very elaborate apartments for the dead. In the apartments some of them will have hot and cold running water. They’ve got rooms. They’ve got furniture. I even saw one they’ve got electricity and air conditioning! It’s amazing because it’s like the ancient pharaohs I guess part of their religion is you want to have all of the amenities for the afterlife. So they would put the servants in there with the pharaohs, and all these different beliefs about what happens when you die. Some people even approach the serious subject of death with a sense of humor. I think you’ve probably heard me say before I laugh when James Dobson said that his father… Oh, yeah. Here’s one. “I told you the milk was bad. I notice you didn’t have any” on that tombstone. James Dobson’s father told his mother he wanted to put on his tombstone “I told them I was sick!” or something like that. So some people approach it with a sense of humor. I remember reading about this cemetery where somebody had put some very serious thoughts on their tombstone and it said “Stop, my friend, as you go by. As you are now, so once was I. As I am now, you soon will be. So prepare yourself to follow me.” A schoolboy used to take a shortcut through the cemetery and he often read that tombstone and one day he brought a crayon with him and he wrote underneath that tombstone “To follow you, I’m not content until I know just where you went.” I thought that was cute.

I’d like to talk about the subject of death. Before I do that I want to spend some time talking a little bit about something I think most of us are acquainted with, but not everybody. It bears repeating for us to understand what happens when you die. Now to understand that, you’ve got to go back to the basics. The Bible tells us that when God made Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden he became a living soul. What is a soul? Some of us started thinking well I’ve got a soul. What is a soul? To understand that you’ve got to go back to the beginning. Second chapter of Genesis, chapter 2, verse 7 we read there that “the Lord God formed the man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life;” and notice what it says. It doesn’t say God gave him a soul, it says “man became a living soul.” The combination of those two things together he became a living soul. Now when someone dies the opposite of those two things happens. In other words before man becomes a soul it’s the elements of the earth that God combines with the breath of life and he becomes, those two things together equal a living soul. When you die, those two things are basically separated. You can read about that in Ecclesiastes 12:7. “Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.” So when a person dies we know what happens to the body. Ashes to ashes, I’ve said over many graves at a graveside service.

The body will turn back into dust. Someone might ask “What about cremation?” That’s just really accelerating the process. You’d be surprised how many times we get the question in our Bible answer program “Is there anything wrong with cremation?” Well, the Bible doesn’t specifically say that. Most of the time in the Bible when a person dies they’re buried. There are a couple of examples of saved people in the Bible who were cremated like Jonathan for instance the son of Saul and we expect he’ll be in the kingdom. Cremation does not disqualify you from the resurrection. Some people think that if you’re buried God can find all of the parts and put you back together again, but if you’re cremated, if they scatter the ashes He’ll never be able to reassemble you. There are actually people who worry about this. It doesn’t really matter because the Bible says that everything is new. He’s not using the old parts to reassemble you. God knows who you are, right? So what about the spirit? So if the soul is the combination of the body and the elements but you’ve got this inner spirit and the breath, the spirit returns to God who gave it. What is this spirit that returns to God in death? We’re going to let the Bible answer these questions. You want to know what the Bible says, right, friends?

A lot of confusion in the cemetery about what happens when you die. Job 27:3 “All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils…” Now I’ve never heard anybody sing a song saying I’m so thankful for the spirit in my nose. I mean, people talk about the spirit in their hearts and the spirit in their mind, but they don’t talk about the spirit in their nose. Why does it say “and the spirit of God in my nostrils”? That’s talking about the breath. That word there in Hebrew is talking about the breath of God. God breathed into Adam the breath of life. It’s the spirit. Same word. And again James 2:26 in the New Testament, many verses bear this out, “the body without the spirit” and that word there spirit is the Greek word pneumatos it means wind or breath. “the body without the spirit is” what? “is dead…” You don’t have a little ghost inside of you. Supposedly there was an experiment where some people as they were dying were on this very delicate scale (I’ve never been able to substantiate how this happened) and at the moment of death a very minute difference in weight registered as though this little ghost or butterfly hopped out of them and fluttered away. That must have been the spirit that left them. But you don’t have, there’s no little essence or spirit that has a little weight in it that has wings that flies off anywhere when you die. The Bible doesn’t teach that. The breath that returns to God is the breath of life. Matter of fact, in Ecclesiastes when it says when you die the body returns to the earth, the spirit returns to God who gave it, it’s talking about the spirit of the good and the bad and the animals, the spirit of life of all creatures returns to God who gave it. It’s like if you were to unplug some electric appliance and you say where did the electricity go? Well, it’s back at the power plant where it came from. When someone dies the essence, the power of life returns to God.

Now that brings up the next question. What is a soul and can a soul die? You’ve all heard the expression the immortal soul. The Bible says the soul is not immortal. Ezekiel 18:4 “The soul that sins, it shall die.” Now I will ask you and you can answer me. Name one verse in the Bible that says that man has an immortal soul. You’ve got several hundred people here, and I’m always very secure when I ask this question. Someone might misquote something, but you’re not going to find a verse that I know of in the Bible that says that man possesses an immortal soul. Folks are shocked to hear that because so many preachers preach about it and so many people sing about it and yet the Bible doesn’t say one time that man has immortal soul. Matter of fact, it says the opposite. It says we are mortals and when Jesus comes then this mortal puts on immortality, but right now we’re mortal and mortal means you can die. A lot of confusion in the cemetery. So often people say you’ve got an immortal soul to save. The Bible doesn’t teach that. The Bible teaches if you want immortality you get that from God.

Matter of fact, in Job 4:17 “Shall mortal man be more just than God?” Now notice does it say mortal or immortal? Mortal, that means you die. Immortal means you can’t die. Who is it that has immortality? Man or God? I Timothy 6:15 and 16 “…the King of kings and Lord of lords, who only has immortality.” Who is it that only has immortality? God. So this common teaching that is so pervasive all though even the Christian church that we are all immortal and you’re either going to live forever in hell or you’re going to live forever in heaven, the Bible doesn’t teach that. The Bible teaches “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him…” can have immortality “…everlasting life.” Otherwise you perish. Two choices. Perish or everlasting life. What was the first lie the devil ever told? In the Garden of Eden what did he say to Eve? “You shall not surely die.” What did God say to Adam and Eve? If you eat the forbidden fruit “you will surely die.” The devil said you will not surely die, and the biggest joke the devil has ever played on the Christian church is he now has pastors echoing the lie of the devil. The devil said you won’t really die, you’re immortal. God said you will die, and if you want to live it’s on My terms. And yet the majority of the Christian church, Catholics and protestants around the world are teaching the first lie. If you want everlasting life it’s a gift of God otherwise it’s perish.

Now I want to try and do these things in some logical sequence and I think it’s important for us to understand there is a resurrection, there is immortality, there is punishment and resurrection for the wicked, there is a lake of fire and while it does not burn through endless ages the wicked are punished in the lake of fire sometimes called hellfire, but nobody is in hellfire now and the vast majority of people who die are not in heaven yet. Now that shocks a lot of people when they first hear that. When do people get their rewards? We’ve got to understand that. Some folks are at the cemetery and they’re talking to their loved ones. It breaks your heart. You’ve seen it. You can go Monday and visit some of the cemeteries and you’ll see these heart wrenching scenes where mothers and wives are by the tombs of their fallen sons and husbands and they’ll be kneeling there sobbing, their hands touching the tombstone, talking to them as though they can hear. I don’t want to be disrespectful to folks who believe that, but it’s not what the Bible teaches. They’ve not gone to their reward yet. When does that happen? Let’s find out what the Bible says. When do they get their reward? Revelation 22:12 Jesus said, “behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.”

When do they get the rewards? When Jesus comes. One reason that’s important to understand is because has the judgment day happened yet? Are you with me? Has the general judgment happened yet? Don’t people get rewarded after the judgment? Would it make sense to pull people out of heaven and say, “We hope you’ve enjoyed this preview. Now we’re going to find out if you really deserve it.” Or to take people out of Hell after thousands of years of burning and to yank them up and say, “Well, we thought it would be time to try you and see if you’re really guilty.” Does God operate that way? No, the reward comes after the investigation, after the trial. The Judgment Day is still in the future. The idea that people are going to the lake of fire or Abraham’s bosom or limbo… Oh, by the way, have you heard? How many of you heard that the Catholic Church in the last couple of months basically deleted limbo from their theology? Did some of you hear that? They did. Isn’t that amazing? Thousands of years, maybe not thousands, hundreds of years of teaching this whole doctrine about this place called limbo and they finally said, “You know, we’re going to delete that. It’s just not part of the teaching anymore. It’s not true.” There are some other teaching I wish that they would delete that are confusing people. Where was I? Job 14:12 “So man lies down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more…” People lay in the grave, they rest, they sleep until the heavens be no more. When will the heavens be no more? II Peter 3:10 gives us that time. “But the day of the Lord will come… in which the heavens will pass away… and the elements will melt with fervent heat.” When is it that the heavens pass away, that the heavens are no more?

The day of the Lord, the coming of Jesus when He comes like a thief, that’s when it says the dead lay down until the heavens be no more. They’re still there resting. Now some of you are confused. You’re saying, “Doesn’t the Bible tell us that part of us goes to Abraham’s bosom?” Let’s keep reading. Stay with me. I Corinthians 15, this to me is a slam-dunk, friends, if you have any doubt about when the rewards happen. I Corinthians 15:22 and 23 and I hope, by the way, in your bulletin you’ve got a little page that’ll say notes on the back if you want to write some of these verses down. I’m not even giving you a chance to look them all up. In case you’re counting I have ninety-six slides today. Most of them are scripture because I want you to have the scriptures on this subject. Amen? “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But every man in his own order…” There’s a sequence, there’s an order. What’s that order? “Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” I’m sorry, Christ the firstfruits. Jesus was the firstfruit of the resurrection. When do the general saved and lost have the resurrection? At his coming. The dead in Christ rise first. Later it’s even the power of Christ after the millennium that raises the wicked.

But it’s the coming of Christ that raises both. Did you catch that? The next time Christ comes the dead in Christ rise, at the end of the one thousand years the wicked rise. But they’re not risen yet. Furthermore, in the same chapter I Corinthians 15:51 on to 53, “…we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.” Has that last trumpet sounded yet? When does this transformation take place? “For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible…” Corruptible means the body decomposes, it gets old. “For this corruptible must put on incorruption,” catch this, “and this mortal…” right now it’s this mortal. I’m a mortal. Trust me. You feel your mortality more and more as you get older. “…this mortal must put on immortality.” Do we have immortality now? It’s at the coming of the Lord. John 5:28 and 29 Jesus is speaking. If this was a Bible with red letter this would be red, “…all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth…” How shall it happen? When He comes in the last great day. Now I know some of you, you know your Bibles and your minds are spinning. You say, “Wait, but, Pastor Doug, aren’t there some people in heaven now? Doesn’t the Bible seem to teach through some parables and others that there are some in heaven now?”

Is anyone in heaven now? Yes! Are there any humans in heaven now? I’m not just talking about angels and Jesus. Yeah, there are some exceptions and the Bible explains all of those exceptions. First of all, you can read in Mark chapter 9 and Luke and in Matthew the story of the transfiguration. Who appears to Jesus on that mountaintop? Moses and Elijah. They’re real. He’s talking to them; the apostles saw them. They’re both from prior history. How’d they get to heaven? Well, we know about how Elijah got there. You read about that in II Kings 2:11. What happened? He took a band full of angels, a chariot of angels so to speak, or they call it chariots of horses of fire came down and swooped him up and took him up to heaven. So we know how he got there without dying. How did Moses get there? Well, the Lord buried Moses. You can read, by the way, Jewish tradition says three days later the Lord raised Moses so that he could witness them crossing over into the Promised Land. That’s actually true. You read about it in the book of Jude there’s only one chapter verse nine, Michael comes disputing with the devil over the body of Moses. Why would Michael dispute with the devil? He’s coming to raise him and because Moses appears you know he’s there.

Who else is there? “Enoch walked with God, and he was not for God took him.” You can find that in Genesis; you can find that in Hebrews. No question Enoch is there, but there’s more. You remember our scripture reading at the beginning of this message, in Matthew chapter 27 during the time when Christ died on the cross there was this earthquake, all the graves in the world opened up… Is that what it says? No, not all. It’s not universal. Many of the graves around Jerusalem opened up, and many of the saints who slept, some of the patriarchs, prophets and kings who lived prior to the time of Christ, a special resurrection took place. It doesn’t tell us who they are. Could have been Isaiah, Jeremiah, could have been Abraham, we don’t know, that was raised in that resurrection. And that probably explains… It says they came out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city, they appeared unto many and then at the ascension of Christ they ascended with Him. Sort of a trophy, the firstfruits of what was going to happen. The Lord often does things that way.

That was sort of an example of when He comes again, but when you read in Revelation about the twenty-four elders around the throne of God and you say who are they? Well, this answers that. I think they’re probably the ones who were in that early resurrection, and you know that number makes sense. You read in the Old Testament, it tells us that the Lord arranged those in His temple who would worship, you can read there in II Chronicles talks about twenty-four thousand. Twelve and twelve thousand that would be in charge of praising God in the temple. And so it makes sense that He maybe raised twenty-four. That’s probably why you only read about it in Matthew. It wasn’t, if it was ten thousand that were raised it would have been in all four gospels, but there were twenty-four individuals walking around and appearing and talking and stirred things up a little bit.

Now in connection with the subject of death and the cemetery I probably need to talk briefly about reincarnation. I even meet Christians that believe in reincarnation. I admit, I’m not proud of it, that when I first became a Christian I came out of the new age movement and eastern religions. I believed in reincarnation. I tried to commingle the Bible teaching with reincarnation. I tried to make the two of them fit, and I said, well after all, there’s at least one reincarnation when the dead in Christ rise. Maybe there were others. And I tried to argue for that. Pretty soon as I studied the Bible I realized you can’t defend reincarnation from the Bible. Yeah, there’s that one time when we’re reassembled. Either you’re resurrected with the just or you’re resurrected with the lost and that’s it, but you’re you. Reincarnation teaches you come back as somebody else.

The problem with reincarnation used to always baffle me. What good is it to be reincarnated and not know what you did last time? You can’t learn from it. All of our dear Hindu friends that believe that they just keep coming back and you don’t really know. I’ve met people who say, “Yeah, I’ve been reincarnated. I used to be Napoleon,” or “I used to be Alexander the Great,” or “I used to be Cleopatra.” Everybody has these visions of grandeur. “I’ve got déjà vu. I remember from my former life. I’ve been here before. I’ve got that sense.” You know some scientists once explained a lot of these déjà vu experiences. You know what causes a lot of it? Your subconscious mind is so quick that you will walk into a room and look around and your subconscious mind will take it all in before your conscious mind even processes it, and by the time your conscious mind catches up with your subconscious mind, you’re saying, “Oh, this looks familiar!” That’s because about a microsecond ago you saw it for the first time and now you’re reviewing it. They’ve proven that a lot of these déjà vu experiences is just because your subconscious is so fast that sometimes by the time your conscious mind catches up with it you say, “This looks familiar!” Yeah, your brain and your mind and your eyes saw it all a few moments ago.

So don’t be fooled by that. There is no reincarnation. The Bible tells us, this is very clear, Hebrews 9:27 “And as it is appointed unto men once to die…” How many times? Now you know there’re a few exceptions like Jesus resurrected Lazarus and he died again, right? And there are a couple of rare exceptions of people who were resurrected and they had to die again, but it’s speaking in terms of general humanity “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” You don’t just keep on coming back. You start out as a squirrel or an alligator and work yourself up to a squirrel and then you come back as a man. No, I guess they say you come back as a woman, then a man, and then a cow. That’s the sequence that they teach. Did you know that? Yeah. You’ve heard the expression “holy cow”? That’s where that comes from. It’s true. I’m serious.

So what happens when a person dies? When you go to the cemetery, does it give you the creeps? If you had to walk through a cemetery in the middle of the night, full moon, would you be afraid that some spook is going to reach out of the grave and grab your ankle? We’ve been trained to think that way. Come on. Admit it. Haven’t we? We’re trained to think all these macabre, ghoulish things that the dead aren’t really dead. What does the Bible teach about the subject of death? What is man’s state? Boy, if anything is clear, if you’re a Bible Christian this is clear. The Bible refers to it as a dreamless sleep. From the time of death until the resurrection there is no consciousness. Some of you have restless sleep, and it seems like the night goes on forever. Some of you sleep well. You close your eyes and the next thing you know you may have been there for seven hours and you hear the alarm and you think, “What happened? It seems like I just closed my eyes.” No awareness of time. That’s how the Bible describes the sleep of death. For the saved and the lost it’s the same. Psalm 13:3 “Consider and hear me, O Lord my God; Enlighten my eyes, Lest I sleep the sleep of death.” Death is referred to over and over again in the Bible. Old Testament, New Testament, words of Jesus when His friends came and told Him, “Your friend Lazarus is sick.” Jesus waited and He didn’t do anything, and He said to the disciples, “You know our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I’m going that I might wake him.” The apostles didn’t understand.

They said, “Well, he had a fever. If he’s sleeping that’s good. He’ll get better.” He said, “No, you don’t understand. Lazarus is dead.” How did Jesus refer to Lazarus’ death? As what? Sleep. All through the Bible. Paul says, “Many of those who saw Christ are now asleep.” He meant that they died. Death is referred to as a sleep. But I go that I might wake him. Now when He came, listen to this, if you have any questions about the state of man in death. The story of Lazarus is a great story and I’m surprised that it’s not more clear to people. When Jesus went to the tomb and He said, “Roll away the stone,” He was getting ready to raise him, he had been dead for four days. Martha said, “Lord, by this time he stinks for he has been dead for four days.” The body is turning back into dust and that’s not a happy process and you don’t want to roll away the stone now. And Jesus said, “Trust Me.” They rolled away the stone, and when He had said this He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” Lazarus then came forth. He had been bound by grave clothes and Jesus said, “Loose him.” How long had he been dead? Four days. You know one reason I think Jesus allowed Lazarus to be in the grave four days? Lazarus was in the grave longer than Jesus. This is the longest resurrection. Decomposition. Some people say, “Well, these other resurrections in the Bible they were probably in some kind of induced coma, they weren’t really dead yet.” But with Lazarus he had been embalmed. They had wrapped him up.

He would have suffocated otherwise. They wrapped you up head and foot. You remember even with Jesus they had a napkin around the head, and all of this ointment and stuff. Lazarus had been dead four days in the tomb, already begun to smell, and I expect when they rolled away the stone, I don’t want to be unpleasant, but the stench probably wafted out and gagged them. But when he came out of the grave… if that happened today, Larry King would have called Lazarus and said, “I want an interview.” Am I right? What would have been the first question? What happened? What did you see? Where’d you go? What did you do? Who’d you meet? What was it like to be dead? Isn’t that right? In spite of the fact that this is one of the most public miracles of Jesus and all the disciples knew about it, what comment do we find in the Bible regarding Lazarus’s experience while he was dead? Zero. Nada. Nothing, zip, zilch, pick your favorite term. The biggest question in history is what happens when you die? Lazarus has got the answer, he comes back and what’s his comment? No comment. Why? Jesus tells us why.

He’s asleep. Lazarus had a fever, he was sick, all of a sudden he lost consciousness, eventually he died. He didn’t know anything until all of a sudden he woke up feeling great, but he’s all wrapped up with this ancient toilet paper. He doesn’t know what’s going on. He’s hearing Jesus call him. That’s all he knew. It was like a sleep. This is what the Bible teaches. Matter of fact, one reason I’m talking about this on the eve of Memorial Day, in I Thessalonians chapter 4 the apostle Paul says, “Brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant regarding them that are asleep.” Then what does he commence to talk about? Death. Paul calls it a sleep. He said I want you to understand this. Why? Because not understanding this can lead to major deception in the last days. That’s why I’ve chosen this subject. Matthew 27 when Christ comes and “the graves are opened, and many bodies of the saints which slept,” this is actually when Jesus died on the cross. Many of the bodies of the saints which did what? Slept. The Bible refers to it as sleep. Again, Job 17:13 “If I wait, the grave is mine house.” You wait in the grave until the resurrection. Another one, Job 21:32 “Yet shall he be brought to the grave, and shall remain in the tomb.” And then finally, if this is not enough scripture for you, Acts chapter 2.

Some people say, “Well, in the Old Testament they slept, but in the New Testament everybody who had been dead now goes to heaven.” Peter, at Pentecost, he’s preaching about this, and he starts talking about King David. This is good King David who we know will be saved “a man after God’s own heart.” What does Peter say about David? Does he go right to heaven? Verse 29 “Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both” what? “dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.” “For David is not ascended into the heavens…” Acts 2:34 Dead, buried, not in heaven, and when David died it says he slept with his fathers. If that’s clear, say amen.

But still people insist, “Well, the body is asleep, but the soul is conscious. Is there any consciousness in death according to the Bible? You know I like oxy morons. You know that. You want to hear another oxy moron? Dead reckoning. Dead reckoning. The dead reckon nothing. The Bible tells us in Ecclesiastes 9:5-6 “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.” Under the sun means in this world, in this life. They’re not coming back to haunt anybody. Don’t forget that. A lot of people think they’re getting visited by loved ones who have gone on. They don’t have anything to do with it! The Bible tells us the dead do not praise the Lord. Ever hear of the grateful dead? Another oxy moron. The dead are not grateful. They don’t praise the Lord, they’re dead. They’re asleep. “But Pastor Doug, doesn’t Paul say there in II Corinthians to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord?” You’ve all heard that expression before, absent from the body, present with the Lord. Let me read that to you. II Corinthians 5:6-8 “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”

Paul said, “Don’t worry about me if I die and I’m absent from the body, I’m present with the Lord.” First of all, that verse means two things and they don’t conflict. Paul often talked about a battle between the spirit and the flesh. If you’re living for the body, the flesh, you can’t be present with the Lord, you’re not living or walking in the spirit. That’s one thing to recognize. The other thing is that Paul did realize that he was about to die and he wasn’t worried about it in the least. Matter of fact, he said, “I’m kind of struggling. I don’t know whether to depart and to be with the Lord. I can’t wait to be with the Lord, but I’m worried about you so I need to stay and work for the church. I’m torn!” It is true that for any believer when they die to be absent from this body, when you lose consciousness and you die your next conscious thought is the presence of the Lord, that’s the resurrection. So it is comforting when you’re at a funeral and someone says, “You know our dearly beloved brother or sister, the next thing they’re going to see when they open their eyes, we trust that they died in the faith, is to hear the trumpets, to come out of their graves with a glorified body, and to be in God’s presence. So shall we ever be with the Lord.” That’s true. But are they there yet?

No, because the Lord hasn’t come yet. This confuses people. Keep in mind King David died three thousand years ago. We already read he’s dead, buried, not in heaven, right? Three thousand years ago David went to sleep. He was probably there Abishag trying to warm him up and he stopped breathing. Read your Bibles you’ll know what I’m talking about. How long has it been for David? Let’s suppose that Jesus should come next week. For David how long does it seem? A moment? A twinkling of an eye. It’s an instant. He closes his eyes, drifts off, loses consciousness, next thing he knows he hears the trumpet, he comes out of his grave, present with the Lord. You and I live in the dimension of time here in this world that will be very different from eternity. Keep in mind, God can go into the future; God can go into the past. Can God take a prophet and show him the past? Can he? Can God take a prophet and show him the future? God is not restricted to time the way you and I are. I don’t understand it all. Einstein understood it better, but for a believer who dies their next conscious thought is the presence of the Lord, but for us living in this world are they there yet? No, it hasn’t happened yet. Is that clear? So it’s still true, absent from the body, present with the Lord. Don’t be mixed up by that.

Why is this subject so important? Because in the last days there are going to be armies or demons that will pose as ghosts, departed people, that will deceive, that will go forth to the kings of the earth to deceive, and if we don’t know who they are we’ll be deceived. Can we communicate with the dead? A lot of people try. they’ve even got TV programs where folks sit around and someone who’s supposed to be channeling with the dead is telling them all kinds of things with their loved ones that only they would know. Of course the devil knows, doesn’t he? The devil will reveal these little secrets about their departed loved ones. He’ll say, “Yeah, and they always had this favorite shirt with flowers on it that they always wore.” Gasp! How did you know?! “And they’re telling you a message right now… you don’t need to worry about this or that.”

People get so… You know we miss our loved ones, don’t we? Sometimes we wish that… You know I miss my family. I wish I could talk to my brother. I went back to Covelo this last week and I found a video tape and it was a video tape that must be twenty-something years old. My brother had a camp for children with cystic fibrosis. It was a commercial that was made by Miami News for my brother’s camp and they interviewed my brother and I cherish that because I’ve many times popped it in. I’ve watched my brother, and it’s one of the only videos I’ve got of him. I popped it in, and after the tape, it’s only a few minutes, and after it’s over you’ve got that ugly scratchy look when there’s nothing on the tape. I’m just sitting there, but I was just moved thinking about my brother, how I miss him. All of a sudden it came back on again. All the years I’ve had this tape I didn’t realize they put all this additional footage on the tape. I’d always turned off the TV. I started to watch probably thirty minutes of all the raw footage they never used of my brother and the interviews and the camp and the counselors and it was so neat. I really started to miss him and all these memories came back, but you know what? I can’t talk to him. He’s dead. If anyone appears to me with red hair and freckles claiming to be my brother, as much as I miss my brother, it’s not my brother. Either my mind is playing tricks on me or it’s the devil. I might have dreams that my brother is talking to me and the Lord might tell me something through those dreams.

My brother doesn’t know he’s talking to me. He’s asleep. Do you understand what I’m saying? So people say, “But I felt their presence. I know that they’ve been visiting me.” Well, your mind might be playing tricks on you. And when you live with someone... My grandparents were married seventy years. Can you imagine being with somebody seventy years? You really become one flesh after that much time. And when my grandmother died, my grandfather, he just felt her presence everywhere. Well, it’s because his whole life was his mind his brain was filled with her memories. He just sensed her everywhere. That’s normal. But grandma was asleep and now grandpa is asleep, and God willing they’ll both be reunited. Don’t be deceived by this. The Bible says in Job 7:10 when a person dies “He shall return no more to his house.” If that’s clear say amen. Again, Job 14:12, speaking about this subject, “So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more,” we already used this one, right? “…they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.” You might go to see a channeler or some medium, they cannot raise them. Again, it says in Job 14:21, they don’t know what’s happened to their family. “His sons come to honour, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them.”

The Bible again says Ecclesiastes 9 “there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.” That’s verse 10 of Ecclesiastes 9. Nothing going on there. They’re asleep. It’s quiet. They’re unconscious. And again, I told you there’s no such thing as the grateful dead, Psalm 115:17 “The dead praise not the Lord.” The first thing I’d do if I died and I was in the presence of the Lord, wouldn’t you praise Him? If the dead don’t praise the Lord then how can they go right to heaven? Again, Psalm 6:5, hundreds of scriptures on this, and you’re probably thinking how can the church be so confused on this subject? “For in death there is no remembrance of thee…” Again, Isaiah 38:18 “death can not celebrate thee…” How has the devil been able to bamboozle the Christian church? Why has he put so much energy into deceiving the church on this subject? Because he’s going to use it. Another verse, Psalm 146:4 a person dies, “his thoughts perish.”

What about consulting the dead? Isaiah 8:19 “And when they say to you, ‘Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,’ should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living?” Now in Ecclesiastes it tells us that it is better to go to the house of mourning than the house of feasting. It’s good to remember what our end is. Do you know why? It says, “For the living will take it to heart.” Never in that passage does it say the dead know anything about it. It says the reason that we honor the dead is not for the dead. When people go to the cemetery Monday do the dead know anything about it? One reason you might go is it may give you some encouragement. It might revive, refresh some memories for you, it may bring back some sweet memories. You might just need to grieve and weep a little bit for healing. It’s for you, it’s for the living. The living lay it to heart. It doesn’t help the dead at all. They don’t know anything about it. They may know in the resurrection, “Hey! I understand you went to my grave fifty times. Thank you very much.” They don’t know it then though. Do you see what I’m saying? I Timothy 4:1 “some shall depart from the faith,” speaking of in the last days, and boy, has this ever happened! “…giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils…” The idea that you can communicate with the dead is a doctrine of devils.

So what happens when the righteous rise? How is it going to be when the Lord does come? Well, the Bible tells us that, it says in I Corinthians 15 we’ll “all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible,” and this mortal puts on immortality. That’s when it happens, when Jesus comes. And again, you know this verse, I Thessalonians 4:16 “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.” When? When the Lord comes. Now there are several times that Jesus made it very clear that the resurrection is in the last day and that’s when they rise. John 5:28 and 29 “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life;” (that’s the first resurrection) “and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” That’s at the end of the one thousand years.

Again, John 6:39-40, “This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up” Say those bold words with me: “at THE LAST DAY. And this is the will of Him who sent Me…” That’s twice that we’ve read that. Let’s look at a third time, again John 6:39-40 “that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life;” and when do they get that? “and I will raise him up at the” say this “the LAST DAY.” These are the words of Jesus. And again John 6:44 “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the LAST DAY.” So generally speaking how many are raised when they die? None of them. There’re a few exceptions but the majority are raised up when? The last day. They don’t die, and yet how many funerals have you heard people say they go right to heaven?

Now I’m ready for the slide on the thief on the cross. Pastor Doug, there’s some anomalies you need to explain. What about when Jesus said to that thief who was dying next to Him on that day, “Verily I say unto you today you’ll be in paradise.” It’s very simple, friends, in the original Greek, you’re reading it in a Bible that’s translated into English. We use punctuation. The Greek had no punctuation. Our translators had to say, “Where shall we put the comma?” So they translated it “Verily I say unto you comma today you’re going to be with Me in paradise.” That’s a mistake. There are some errors in the translation not in the scriptures. It should be translated “Verily I say unto you today comma you will be with Me in paradise.” In other words the emphasis is, I’m telling you today even though I don’t look like a lord and I don’t look like a king because you called Me Lord and King, you’re going to be with Me in that day. How do we know Jesus didn’t go that day? You read in John chapter 21, Mary goes to worship Him, this is three days later, He says, “Do not cling to Me, I have not yet ascended to My Father.” From the time He died and was buried, He did not even go to heaven. How could He be with that thief in heaven on Friday afternoon? So it’s very clear. Just a misunderstanding.

Why do we need to understand this? In the last days there are going to be lying spirits. Now I appreciate, many of you know these things, don’t you? I appreciate your letting Pastor Doug share this again during this time of year because we’re going to broadcast this and a lot of people don’t know. There is a lot of misunderstanding, sincere people that just have been mis-taught on this subject. Somebody said that they’re lying spirits. All of these people believe in immediate life after death. Somebody wrote in People Weekly seventy million Americans think that it’s possible to communicate with the dead. When you consider there’s what? About three hundred million people in America, seventy million, forget about all of the children they haven’t interviewed, that believe you can communicate with the dead. “Oh, Pastor Doug, I know somebody died on the operating table, and their spirit left the body and there they were floating around and they had this near death experience and they know that they were conscious after death.” Well, it’s just so clear that when a person has too much carbon dioxide in their system they begin to hallucinate. They’ve done tests on that. You’ll have all kinds of visions and are you going to base your theology on a dream or vision someone had? There’s a new bestselling book that’s out now called Twenty-three Minutes in Hell. Somebody had a dream so they’re now experts on Hell based on their dream and they’re touring the country. Probably very sincere, I’m not trying to question their sincerity.

But let me remind you I had a dream once, very vivid. Jesus came to me, very exciting. I woke up. I was so thrilled. Did I mention when He came for me He was driving in a bumper car because in my experience a bumper car represented the epitome of joy? You never had enough time in the bumper car. Well, am I going to start going on tour and writing books about Jesus is coming in a bumper car? That’s just a little thing between me and the Lord. He was letting me know it’s going to be a happy day when I come. He’s not coming in a bumper car. Dreams and visions and near death experiences when someone’s heart stops beating and they don’t have enough oxygen and they have a vision and that’s where we’re getting our theology? That’s very dangerous. Why do we need to understand this? I Kings 22:22 “And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.” There are going to be in the last days lying spirits in the mouth of false prophets deceiving the world. That’s why it tells us in Revelation 16 this beast power, these unclean spirits like frogs they go forth to the kings of the earth. “They are the spirits of devils, working miracles,” to deceive the leaders of the world, and then it will have a trickle down effect and to deceive people into thinking they should embrace a certain theology based on the testimony of demons posing to be the spirits of the dead. If we aren’t clear on this, if we don’t get the message out on this it does matter what you believe, all this confusion in the cemetery is going to work against us in the last days. It’s sad. There’s even some Bible Christians who are scared of cemeteries because they think there are spooks out there.

You’re just as much at risk at home in your living room of those spooks as you are in the cemetery. Probably safer in the cemetery; there’s no television there unless you’re at the Chinese cemetery in Manila they have TV in some of those. Matthew 24:24-25 “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders…” Again “by thy sorceries were the nations deceived.” This spiritualism that’s gotten into the church is going to be used by the devil in the last days to deceive. It’s sad to consider there are even some professed Christians that go to visit these palm readers, these mediums, these psychics. Your heart goes out to them because some of them miss their loved ones so much they’re desperate. They do these desperate things. That’s why King Saul in the desperation of his last days went to see a witch. Bad idea. He committed suicide the next day, and he saw an apparition that just totally discouraged him, the devil posing as Samuel the prophet. Revelation chapter 18 warned us “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit…” Ephesians 5:11 “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness…” Christians should stay away from that stuff, and yet some of us say, “I’ve got it clear.

I understand this subject, Pastor Doug. No confusion for me,” but we watch it on television. People go and watch all these movies that are filled with spiritualism and witchcraft and sorcery and devils and ghosts and entertained by it. Oh, we laugh, ha ha! Oh we know it’s not real. Have no fellowship with these things, the Bible says. Galatians 5:19-21 “the works of the flesh are manifest,” here they are, “which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry,” and what else? “witchcraft…”

“Well, I don’t believe in spirits, but Pastor Doug, I did have angels guide me one time.” Well, they might have been angels. There are good angels, and there are billions of bad angels and bad angels sometimes appear as good angels. The Bible says, in II Corinthians 11 “Satan himself… transforms… into an angel of light.” So if you have an angel visit you, that might be a good thing, but you better measure anything they say by the word of God or you could be deceived. “Ah, but Pastor Doug, Mary appeared to me. I know she’s alive.” Do you? I don’t think Mary was even in that special resurrection that you find in Matthew 27 because she lived beyond that day, isn’t that right? Mary was a saint, but is she appearing to people today? If someone claiming to be Mary is appearing and guiding, the Bible says Mary, godly person, chosen by God, filled with His Spirit, highly favored.

I believe she is among the saints, but she’s asleep. Nowhere in the Bible does it tell us anywhere that Mary is alive and appearing to anybody. Furthermore, nowhere in the Bible does it say we should pray to her, and yet some people who understand you can’t believe in these ghosts and these apparitions they still will believe an apparition of Mary. Could the devil use that in the last days? Matter of fact, turn the cameras around. Get an audience shot. Can you show me one scripture in the Bible that says that we should pray to Mary or talk to Mary or communicate with Mary or that Mary is still alive? There’s nothing in the Bible. This is coming out of paganism. They took a lot of these teachings from Diana and Ishtar and these other female deities and they transferred them over to Mary. They just changed the name and this whole theology came into the church that’s right out of paganism. Mary is looking forward to the resurrection just like everybody else.

How can we avoid being deceived in the last days? What’s our only hope, friends? Acts 17:11 “they received the word” of God “with all readiness” of mind, “and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” And again Isaiah 8:20 it’s only the Bible the scriptures that are going to keep us safe. “If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” It doesn’t matter if it looks just like your departed grandma or your aunt or Mary herself or your uncle, sounds just like them, knows all the secrets only they know, if they’re appearing as someone from the dead, it’s of the devil. If you want information go to God. Don’t wait for ghosts to speak to you. Revelation 21:8 Sorcerers “shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” God feels so strongly about dabbling with witchcraft and sorcery that He says very clearly those that do such things are going to find their place in the lake of fire. If that’s clear say amen.

What will happen when Jesus comes when the righteous are raised? I know I’m going just a few minutes over, friends, but that’s why we started early. We’re still on schedule, right? What happens to the righteous who are raised? Luke 20:35-36 “they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, … Neither can they die any more…” They’ll live forevermore. Amen? It says in Revelation 21:4 “God will wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying,” all the pain is “passed away.”

Now this whole message was to lead up to my closing point. I think it is very healthy, one of the most important subjects in life to understand is death. We sometimes forget that we are all in a raft together going down a canyon with sheer walls. We know there’s a waterfall around one of those turns. You know there is no way out. You are all heading towards the waterfall. Either Jesus comes, in which case you have a parachute for the waterfall or you’re going over. And yet we live our lives as though there is no limit. We have a limited time. Be honest, and again, I want to be encouraging. I don’t want to be discouraging. But if you knew you had one month left, how would you live? Would it be different? Think about how it would be different. Well, you know what? You might only have one month left. Who here knows for sure they have more?

We’re all playing by odds, aren’t we? Statistics, we’re guessing, we’re hoping. A lot of people presume that they’ve got a lot more time than they have. Some people live a lot longer than they thought. My father used to say, “If I thought I’d live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.” And then there’s the other group who think they’ve got a long time and then they’re surprised by fate. We ought to be realizing that our lives are limited. The Bible tells us that we should measure our lives that way. Deuteronomy 32:29 “Oh, that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!” Consider the end! Psalms 90:12 “So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom.” And again, Ephesians 5:15 “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” We’ve only got so much time in this life. Are you thinking, “Well, I’m going to live for the world now, and when I get old and I can’t enjoy sin anyway because desire has failed then I’ll serve God. I’ll have one of these eleventh hour conversions like the thief on the cross.” I’ve got a theory that nobody that plans that enjoys it. I think that we need to realize and live every day like you don’t know if this is your last day.

By the way, as far as you’re concerned if you should die today, for you Jesus comes. We need to be prepared for that. We have a limited time here. Psalm 39:4 “Lord, make me to know my end, And what is the measure of my days, That I may know how frail I am. Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths…” (that’s like an inch) “And my age is as nothing before You; Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. Surely every man walks about like a shadow; Surely they busy themselves in vain; He heaps up riches, And does not know who will gather them.” We forget how temporary life is. So if you go visit a cemetery on Monday I hope that you will, and by the way it’s a good thing to do. Solomon the wisest man that ever lived said “it is better to go to the house of mourning than the house of feasting.” I’ll be at a funeral this afternoon for somebody, somebody who should have lived much longer statistically and it’s just a smart thing for us to realize that we have limited time and to plan ahead. What profit is it if we gain the whole world and lose our souls? I think we ought to plan on living every day and doing today what we would do if we only had a month left, if we only had a week left. Live for God now and then you don’t have regrets. You know, occasionally I do funerals.

I’m not doing the one this afternoon. I found something a while back. It was a poem I’ll close with. It’s called “Your Dash”. “Your Dash” and because the poem said “Author unknown” I modified it. You’re allowed to do that, aren’t you? You can still put author unknown. It doesn’t bother me. “A man once sadly stood to speak at the funeral of a friend. Referring to the tombstone dates beginning and the end, he noted first the year of birth, and spoke the date with tears, but said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years. That tiny dash stands for all the time they spent alive on earth. Now only those who loved them know how much that line is worth. For it matters not how much we own, the cars, the house, the cash. What matters most is how we love and live to spend our dash. So ponder very carefully the things you’d like to change. You never know what time is left that dash can rearrange. If we could just slow down enough to think of what is real, and always try to understand how other people feel, and be more slow to anger, appreciating more, and love the people in our lives we usually ignore, and treat each other with respect, more often wear a smile, remembering this little dash will only last a while. So when your eulogy is read, life’s actions to rehash, the Lord does not regret the way you chose to live your dash.” A little sobering, eh?

One of the most important things in life to understand is death. Teach us to number our days. Now you don’t need to be afraid of death. Jesus promises us in His word, just a couple of closing scriptures for you, I John 5:12 “He who has the Son has life…” When does that begin? Does eternal life begin after Christ comes or can eternal life begin now? Does it say he who has the son will have eternal life or he has eternal life? Christians don’t die, they go to sleep. Amen? He that “has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” You don’t need to be afraid of death if you have Jesus. He is life. Amen? Revelation 1:18 Christ promises us, I am the one who “was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore…” and I’ve got “the keys of hell” that means the grave “and of death.” You don’t have to be afraid of the cemetery.

Matter of fact, I know some people as they get on in life and they’re secure in Jesus, they’re looking forward to it. I’ve done funerals before where I envy the person in the coffin. I do because they’re not studying war no more. Their next conscious thought is the resurrection. You don’t have to be afraid of that if you’re ready. Philippians 3:10 “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection…” Do you know Jesus? He that has the Son has life. We are just here for, well, we’re here for a little hyphen is what it is. You look at the billions of people that have lived through history and we are given the space and time. Two priorities to know God and His love, this is eternal life that you might know Him, and to share God and His love. That’s what it’s all about and to just pray every day that God will teach us whatever we need to know to be ready for Him. You know we’ve got big plans. I mean, I live like I’ve got a future. I plan like I’ve got a future. I’m planning for the next hundred years. Matter of fact, I was thinking this week, Lord, if I live to be ninety what will that be.

That’ll be 1937. Can I make it to 1937? 2000, yeah, sorry. Thank you. Did I ever mention I’m lisdexic? But I’m thinking I want to do as much as I can while I’m here. All the struggles we go through in plans for the future and building the church and property and growth and evangelism and you know, the Lord reminds me every now and then, “Doug, it doesn’t even matter if the church gets built. It doesn’t matter if this program or that program, or this machine or that method works or doesn’t work.” What really matters from day to day is, in my behavior am I becoming like Jesus? That’s everything. All the challenges, all the trials, all the financial struggles, the sickness, whatever you’re going through is all so that you can become like Christ. That’s the purpose of your dash, to get to know God and then spend your time helping other people get to know God.

I’d like to invite you, friends, to say I want to know I’ve got Jesus and if you’ve got the Son you’ve got life. Our closing song is “There’ll Be No Dark Valley When Jesus Comes” amen? There are struggles in life and sometimes there’s tragedy and there’s loved ones we miss, but when He comes there’s nothing to fear anymore. If you’d like to sing that with me, let’s stand. What number is that? 208.

There’ll be no dark valley when Jesus comes, There’ll be no dark valley when Jesus comes; There’ll be no dark valley when Jesus comes To gather His loved ones Home. To gather His loved ones Home, To gather His loved ones Home; There’ll be no dark valley when Jesus comes To gather His loved ones Home.

The message today is really about priorities, seeking first God’s kingdom knowing we all have a limited time here in this life. Do you know that you have the Son? Do you know that you have Jesus? I’d like to provide an opportunity now for you to respond to the invitation. As we prepare to sing the final two verses, if there are some here that want to know today that they have surrendered their lives to Jesus, maybe you’ve wandered away and you’d like to return and you’d like to ask for special prayer or to just say I’m accepting Jesus for the first time, as we sing verse two and verse three, come, we’ll have special prayer for you. Let’s sing together.

There’ll be no more sorrow when Jesus comes, There’ll be no more sorrow when Jesus comes; But a glorious morrow when Jesus comes To gather His loved ones Home. To gather His loved ones Home, To gather His loved ones Home; There’ll be no dark valley when Jesus comes To gather His loved ones Home.

There’ll be songs of greeting when Jesus comes, There’ll be songs of greeting when Jesus comes; And a joyful meeting when Jesus comes To gather His loved ones Home. To gather His loved ones Home, To gather His loved ones Home; There’ll be no dark valley when Jesus comes To gather His loved ones Home.

Father in heaven, dear Lord, we’re so grateful for the truth that sets us free. We’re so thankful to understand the truth to understand the truth regarding this sometimes confusing subject in the cemetery. What happens with death? Why is there death? And we’re thankful, Lord, for the promise that You have the keys over the grave and over death that someday death itself will be cast into the lake of fire and God will wipe away all tears from the eyes. Lord, I pray that each person right now in this place or hearing my voice can know that we have Jesus in our hearts; that we will be living our lives with a balanced sobriety realizing that this life is temporary.

It’s just like a vapor, like a shadow. That we’ll live our lives in perspective of eternity seeking first Your kingdom. Lord, I pray that You can help us to keep that priority. Bless us every day that we might live in a way where we know that Jesus will someday review our eulogy. I pray that You’ll bring comfort to those who are mourning. We thank you, Lord, for those who have laid down their lives in the defense of freedom, and that are resting in their graves right now. We pray, Lord, that we’ll all be ready for that day when those graves open, and especially when the dead in Christ shall rise, that we’ll be ready to be with You through eternity. It’s in Jesus’ name we ask. Amen.

You may be seated and if there are some who have come this morning that have special need for prayer, the pastors and elders will be happy to visit with you.

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