Robert Morris - Death
We are concluding the series called "Good News". And what we've done is each week we've taken a word and shown how it's without Jesus coming and bringing the good news, that word's really kind of a bad word. Like the word condemnation, now there's no condemnation in Christ. Like the word repentance, we saw that as a bad word, but it's really a good word to change our minds about something and allow God to do a work in our heart. And then last week we talked about judgment, how we're punished for our bad works before Christ, but when we come to Christ, judgment becomes a whole new word and that whole new word for us is that we're actually rewarded for our good works.
So this week, the word is "death". We're going to talk about death because before Christ death only had a bad connotation to it. Now, as I thought about this, I thought I really can't say that the only definition or the only application of death is good news. So I really believe God's given me a very scripturally balanced message that'll help us all deal with the subject of death not only for one day what we'll face, but what we face all the time with our family, friends and loved ones and things like that.
So point number one is, Part of death is bad news. Part of death is bad news because there's a person you love that you're not going to see anymore on this earth, so we've got to recognize that. We have some friends from high school. So we've known them, I've known him since sixth grade. And so, I liked sixth grade so much, I did it twice. But anyway, I'm joking. But anyway, so we've known this couple. They started dating in high school; Debbie and I started dating in high school. So we've known them for a long time. Her brother, one of my best friends growing up then, and then again, we've known this couple for a long time. Her brother got COVID, very severe, had other complications. And for the last two weeks has been very close to death. And so they've been texting us updates. And on Friday morning I got a phone call and I looked down and saw the caller ID and I saw it was my friend.
And here's what I knew immediately. I knew it was bad news. He wasn't texting me an update he was going to take the time to call me, and sure enough and he told me then that his wife's brother had passed away. Now they're believers, his wife's brother, a believer. So we know no more pain. We know where he is. We know all of that, but it still hurts. There's no reason for us to try to avoid that truth. But why am I saying bad news? Because I want to go to point two in a minute, which is going to sound just a little different give us more clarification, but why am I saying bad news? Let me tell you how death is really bad news for some people. And that is for any person who dies without believing in Christ. It's very bad news. Let me show you a scripture, you may have never even seen this scripture or heard this phrase before.
John 8:21, Jesus is talking to some Pharisees and he said, "Then Jesus said to them again, 'I am going away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin.'" This is a theological phrase that we are very familiar with in theological circles. But most people have probably never even heard this phrase, "die in your sin," you will die in sin. "'Where I go you cannot come.'" In other words, I'm going to go be with the Father. You're not going to though. So the Jews said to him, Well, will he kill himself? They never knew what he was talking about, "because He says, 'Where I go you cannot come'? And he said to them, 'You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if'", and now he's going to explain what it means to die in your sins, "'for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.'"
If you don't believe that I'm the Messiah, if you don't believe I'm the Son of God, if you don't believe who I say I am, you're going to die in your sins. And if you die in your sins, you're not going to be able to go where Jesus is going, which is to be with the Father. I want to, the majority of people that I speak to every weekend are believers, but not everyone. There are people listening that could be flipping through the channels and see me for the first time. There are people who are searching for God or who grew up in some sort of a religion that tells you you have to work your way to heaven or grew up in even a false religion. I want to plead with you to give your life to Jesus.
And here's one of the reasons: you don't know when you're going to die. You really don't know. You think you might know, and you see all of these things on the movies where people give this soliloquy at the end of their life. They've been shot or stabbed, and they're able to give this one minute monologue, you know, okay. Just from someone who's been close to death, from my own experience, I couldn't talk. I had lost so much blood, I didn't have the energy to talk. I could hear them talking. I could hear the paramedics say, "I can't get a heartbeat. Can you get a pulse? Can you get a pulse? I can't get a pulse". And I wanted to say, "I have a pulse"! And I couldn't say it.
So I'm simply saying that death can happen in an instant, and you won't have time to repent. And the truth is that even if it doesn't happen in an instant, the statistics are that if you won't give your life to Jesus now, you're not going to end up giving your life to Jesus on your death bed. And what you need to know is that you're going to die in your sins, which means you're going to be eternally separated from God. But I want to just say something else that might mean something to you that maybe you've never thought about it this way. You will also be eternally separated from all family and friends who are believers. Here's the reason I'm saying this. I know people who have family and friends that are believers and they love them, but they never think about you'll be eternally separated from them as well.
I was doing a memorial service one time, I was probably in my twenties. And when you're in your twenties... Hmm, let me see how I say this. Sometimes you say things that later you think of better ways to say them as you get older. And so I was, it was a godly grandmother that had passed away and five of her grandsons, great grandsons, I believe pardon me, great grandsons were teenagers, and they were unbelievers, and they had grown up in church, but they were rebellious. And literally they stood outside and smoked cigarettes and made jokes and then came in and sat down together, kind of letting us all of us church people know, we're tough and cool. And so, while I was speaking, I thought, you know, they may never hear the truth again.
So I might as well tell them, you know, and so as I shared, I just had this come to me. I said, "In a moment, we're all going to pass by the casket. And I want all of you to tell". And whatever her, however they called her grandma or whatever. I said, "I want you to tell her something. I want everyone of you to". And I remember looking down at these five boys, I said, "I want you to tell her something". I said, you know, when you're twenties, you just go for it. You know, you just might as well. And so I said, "If you're a believer, I want you to say to her, 'I'll see you later.' Because this won't be the last time you see her". And then I said, "But if you're an unbeliever", I said, "I want you to tell her goodbye," And I went like this, "because you're never going to see her again. She's going to go to heaven, and you're going to go to hell".
So you know, there might've been a better way to say it, but... One of them got saved so that was good. He loved his grandmother, and he remembered how his grandmother told him about Jesus Christ, and he was already feeling, I don't want to live this life that I'm living. And so God used that. By the way, I shared that one time in a message here at Gateway. So I think I shared it right after it happened probably 10 or 15 years ago. And a few years after that, Nancy Briggs, Pastor Tommy Briggs wife, was passing away from cancer. And so Debbie and I went to visit her in the hospital. We knew it'd probably be the last time that we saw her. And so when I got ready to leave, you know, I told Tommy, you know, goodbye and all. And I turned to Nancy and I said, "Bye Nancy," and she said, "Uh-uh see you later". She said, "Don't tell me goodbye 'cause we're going to see each other later. And we will see each other later". So part of it's bad news.
Here's the second thing about death. Part of death is sad news. Now, we've talked about bad news and good news, but it's sad news. And what I mean by this is it's okay to be sad when someone passes away who even was a believer. You don't have to put on a happy face because you're a Christian. You don't have to deny your feelings. I've told more people that as they say, "I know I should be happy". No you shouldn't. You should be sad. It's okay to be sad. Now it's okay also to be grateful that you're going to see this person again. That's wonderful, but it's okay to be sad. The Bible actually tells you to mourn. It's good to mourn. Listen to this scripture. 1 Thessalonians 4:13, "And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope".
Now I want you to notice what he said here. He didn't say, I want you to know what will happen to these believers who have died so you will not grieve, period. He said, "so you will not grieve as people who have no hope". But you can still grieve, and you should grieve. And if you talk to experts in this area, it's a part of the healing process. You need to grieve. Here, Ecclesiastes 3:1-2, "To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die", and then verse four says, "A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance". And the New Testament backs this up Romans 12:15, "Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep". It's okay to weep when someone dies. It's okay to be sad. Part of death is it's sad news. You're not going to see this person for a while on earth.
And here's one of the best confirmations that I've ever seen in the Bible that it's okay to weep when someone dies. It's the shortest verse in the Bible, John 11:35. It has a subject and a verb. "Jesus wept". If Jesus weeps when someone dies, is it okay? But I want to show you why he wept. I mean, it's like everybody knows the shortest verse in the Bible. But did he really weep because Lazarus died, or was there another reason he wept? Let me show you the verses leading up to verse 35. Verse 33, "Therefore," this is talking about Mary now, "when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled". I'll explain that phrase to you in a moment. "And he said, 'Where have you laid him?' They said to him, 'Lord, come and see.' Jesus wept".
I want you to remember the story. You can read the whole chapter later. It's John 11. The whole chapter's about Lazarus dying and being raised from the dead. Lazarus had died four days earlier, and Jesus didn't weep then. He had to tell his disciples, Lazarus is dead. He knew he was dead. He didn't weep. He also knew he was going to raise him from the dead. So it really doesn't make much sense that he would weep over Lazarus dying, 'cause he's going to go raise him from the dead. Why did he weep? He wept because he had become a human and he saw what death did to other humans. He wept because Mary's heart was broken, because Martha's heart was broken. He wept because Roman says weep with those who weep. He saw Lazarus' family and friends. And he saw how much they were hurting. That's what caused him to weep, because he saw they were hurting. But not only did he weep, something else happened that again, this is a phrase that's very easy to miss if you don't go back to some definitions.
Let me read it again, verse 33. "Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping," when he saw Mary weeping, "and the Jews who came with her weeping," watch this, "He groaned in the spirit and was troubled". That word groaned means to snort with anger. That's what it means in the Greek. Very unusual word, to snort with anger. I would imagine like someone going Just angry. You know, just upset. And then this word "was troubled" means agitated. He was angry and agitated when he saw them weeping. He wasn't angry and agitated at them. He was angry and agitated at death. It made him mad that death had entered the world through sin, and death was doing this to his friends, people he loved. He loved, we're already told that he loved Lazarus and he loved Mary and he loved Martha. Hey, by the way, they were angry and agitated also, except they were angry and agitated at the wrong person. Do you remember that? They were angry and agitated at Jesus.
Verse 21, "Now Martha said to Jesus, 'Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.'" And then in verse 32, "Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, 'Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.'" I just want you to know, it alright to be angry and agitated at death, but don't be angry and agitated at the one who overcomes death. Be angry and agitated at the one who brought death into the world. That's the one you need to be angry and agitated with. And you got to be really careful with regrets.
So you would think that when someone dies close to you, that Satan would leave you alone. You'd think that Satan had a little bit of respect. He has none. You would think that he would think, "Okay, she she just lost her mother. Her mother was her best friend. I'm going to leave her alone for a little while". No, he's still going to come and tell you what a bad daughter you were. He's going to come and tell you how you weren't there for her at the end. He's going to remind you, you should've said this and you didn't say this. I'm telling you, don't get angry and agitated, not only at God because the person died, because there's a time to be born and a time to die, but don't get angry and agitated at yourself. It's very, very easy. The easiest time in the world to get angry and agitated is at death. It's okay to be sad. It's okay to be angry and agitated at Satan. Just don't get angry and agitated at God or at what the devil's telling you about yourself.
Let me give you a funny story. Since I'm preaching on death, I knew, let me try to throw in something and let's just laugh for a minute. Okay? Alright? So Debbie's father, he's with the Lord now, he's one of six brothers. They're all with the Lord now. Debbie grandfather was called DO. Those were his initials for his first and middle name. And, but they just called him DO. Well, they got down after six boys, you know, and toward the end there, they had twins. And I don't know, they just kind of, you know, couldn't figure out, you know, what do we do? And so they named them OD and OB. And I don't mean that you spell it out. I mean, the initials OD and OB, they were asked at the hospital, "What does it stand for"? They said, "Nothing. It's OD and OB".
I don't know if they actually thought about DO and BO, but BO stands for body odor. I don't know if they might've switched them. Nobody really knows where they came up with OD and OB, but they were twins. And what was amazing is they actually thought alike as being twins, but they didn't like to be told that they thought alike. And they were, they had earth moving equipment. They had some land. Neither one of them did that as a business. But as they retired, they would buy old earth moving equipment and build ponds and roads on their land and stuff like this. And my cousin Mark told me one time... Debbie's cousin, but I still call him my cousin. He said, "I sat out there one day with a glass of lemonade and I watched OD move a pile of dirt over here. And I watched OB move it back. And I watched that four times," you know, they just. You know, so, but something happened to me, to show me how much they think alike at a memorial service.
So one of the brother's name was Ronald Weldon. And I don't know why, middle names are big in Debbie's family. We're all from East Texas, but people, they called them, Grady Wayne, Billy Ray, Billy Wayne, Billy Bob, Bobby Bob, Robbie, you know, all these, everybody has a middle name. And for some reason it was big to use everybody's middle name. And so anyway, Weldon, they started calling him Weldon. Well, as I came into the family, being a pastor, they would ask me to do a lot of the memorial services as people began to pass away But Weldon had this pastor he was close to, asked him to do it. His wife asked him. It didn't bother me at all, obviously. And then this pastor pulls out like a day before the service, like he's got something else to do. And I think they felt a little embarrassed, we can't ask Robert now.
So they went to the church where they were members, but had not attended very much because of their age. And the associate pastor was the only one available. Well, when he came to do the service, he didn't do his due diligence. You're supposed to get to know the family, get to know the person. And so he actually started, he kept calling Weldon by his first name, Ronald. He kept saying Ronald. And, "We all knew Ronald". And of course we were thinking, "No, you didn't know Ronald because his name's not Ronald". But he kept saying Ronald, and then he wouldn't even use pronouns. He wouldn't say he did this, and he just kept saying, Ronald did, and Ronald did, and Ronald, you know. So then at the graveside, he started it again. And so I'm standing beside Debbie. On the other side is OB, on the other side of Debbie, and another side is OD. Remember the two twins now.
So about halfway through this grave side of him being called by the wrong name, OB slides over to me, and he says to me, "When I die, I don't care what anybody says, you're preaching my service, 'cause I want to be called by the right name". And then I said "Okay, I'll take care of it". So he slides back over. About three minutes later, OD comes over to me and says, "When I die, I don't care what anybody tells you, you're doing my service 'cause I want to be called by the right name". You're talking about twins... Now the odd thing is, the funny thing is that I did both their services, but OD, you normally have two pastors, and one reads the eulogy. Well the pastor was new at the church, So he actually called him, "Odd". Alright, so sometimes it's just sad. It's just sad. That's all there is to it. Alright, so part of death is bad news. Part of death is sad news.
Here's number three: Part of death is good news. It's good news. So remember I told you that Jesus got angry and agitated. So what'd he do about it? You know what he did about it. He destroyed what was destroying us, and he destroyed the person that brought death into the world. Let me read you the scriptures, I love these scriptures. Hebrews 2:14, "Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself [that's Jesus] likewise shared in the same that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil". And 1 John 3:8, "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil". Jesus got so angry at Lazarus' funeral. Of course, this had been planned before the foundation of the world. He decided I'm just going to destroy it. I'm going to turn this bad news word into a good news word.
Now I'm going to, it's amazing how God plans the messages, that doesn't mean they're perfect 'cause I get involved and mess them up. But God plans these things. So remember I start this talking about the word gospel means good news. So I want you to, here's the last scripture that I'm wrapping up the whole series with about Jesus destroying death and how it's good news. 2 Timothy 1:10, "but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light", through the what? "The gospel". Which means good news, through the good news. This next Saturday will be the one-year anniversary of my mother's death, natural death. Spiritually, she didn't die, because Jesus died for her, she's a believer. She closed her eyes on earth; she opened her eyes in heaven. It's that quick. But it was September 4th, a year ago.
For 18 days she was in the hospital before she passed away. My father and I were talking. My sister and I've talked about this. She was the happiest we had seen her in years those last 18 days. It was amazing. She was telling us jokes. She was telling us about, you know, funny stories. She was telling us stories we'd never heard. She told us how she met, you know, the first time she ever saw my father. She told us, she was just happy. I mean, she was happy, very happy. She, you know, through some of the medicine, she had some hallucinations. And then later she had told me, she said that she said there are, I saw some snakes crawling on the ceiling. And then later she told me about that she and I had gone somewhere and I had a barn and she said, "What are you going to do with all this stuff? Are you going to sell later, you know, what are you going to do"?
And so I didn't know what to say you know, I don't know. I was trying to figure it out. And finally I said, Mom, we didn't go to such and such city, and I don't have a barn full of stuff. And she said "I'm probably saying some crazy things because of the medicine don't you think"? I said, "Yeah, I think you are". I said, "You even told me that there were snakes crawling on the ceiling". And she went like this, "Oh the snakes are real". But she was so happy. She said to me one time when I was alone in the room, later I found that she said it to my sister when my sister was alone in the room. She said, "I need to tell you something very important". She said, "I want you to be okay with what's about to happen because I'm okay with it". And then she told my dad just a few days before she passed away, "I've been waiting for this my whole life". The only way you say things like that is if you know that Jesus Christ is your Lord and your Savior, and you're going to heaven. You know that it's good news.
I want you to bow your heads and close your eyes and I just want to remind you that every week I ask you to ask the Lord a question, and the question is, Holy Spirit, what are you saying to me through this message? And the Lord might answer it for you in many ways. Some of you really have never given control of your life to Jesus Christ. And you actually know he's who he says he is. You know he's God. You know he's the Son of God. You know he died on the cross for your sins. But you just been going through a rebellious stage. I'm asking you to repent. And that doesn't mean change the way you're living. That means change the way you think about the way you live and let Jesus do the changing for you.
Some of you have lost someone. And so during this message, you might just need to kind of change your mind about the way you thought about it, that it wasn't God who took the person, but God received the person when death came. Sometimes we say God took someone, but scripture doesn't support that he takes people, it supports the fact that he receives people when their body wears out, their physical, metaphysical body. So God didn't take someone away from you, but he did receive that person. Maybe you need to change your mind about that.
I don't know what it is that the Holy Spirit wants to say to you, but I just want you to let him say it to you. He might say it to you today. He might say it to you one day this week in your quiet time. But let the Holy Spirit take what is bad news, because as humans there is a time to die. Let the Holy Spirit take what is sad news, because we're all going to go through where we lose someone that we love very much. And let the Holy Spirit turn it into good news, that Jesus came so that we don't have to be eternally separated from him or from our loved ones.
Lord, I just pray you'd take the truth of your word today and cement this truth into our hearts. And we want to tell you, Thank you for the gospel. Thank you for the good news that you came and gave your life for us so that by belief in you, we can live forever in Jesus' name amen.