To be read when this body is dead. My ambition in this writing is not to be morbid, negative, melodramatic, bleak, or suicidal; my ambition is to be real. My life, and the life of every human being, is a very delicate thing that can be snuffed in an instant. This piece is purely hypothetical, but entirely earnest and honest. It is my own eulogy, a response to the question, “Knowing that you would die tomorrow, what would you write to be said at your funeral?”
My brothers and sisters in Christ, my family, my friends —
I hope that what I say today will comfort your hearts, dry your tears, and ease your grief. Death hurts; it always hurts. And while I cannot answer the questions undoubtably running through your mind — Why did he have to go so young? Why did God take him? Did he have to die that way? — I do hope to bring peace in a different way. Please, from one dying, and now dead, man to other dying men and women and children, take heed to my last words.
Death is Swallowed Up in Victory
1 Corinthians 15:54-57 54 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; 57 but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
I am dead. But do not weep for my soul. For those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, death has been swallowed up in victory. We mock death, asking “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” There is no fear of it. The sting of death is sin, it’s strength comes through the law, and the fear of it previously ruled over our lives, but thanks be to God, for He vanquished sin, its sting, and its power, through the Lord Jesus Christ. He has conquered death. And while all men must physically die, those who are in Christ Jesus have no reason to fear it; instead we have every reason to rejoice because Jesus waits for us on the other side of death.
To Live is Christ, to Die is Gain
I am on that other side, finally home. While I do not know the conditions, I pray that by the grace of God I died in a way honoring and pleasing to Him. If I died “according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything...” breathing my last hoping that, “with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death” (Philippians 1:20), valuing Him above everything and in everything, my death was not a tragedy. “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). My life was for Christ. My death is for gain, for now I rest in the kingdom of Christ.
Death, to me, was only a necessary thing in order to pass from this mortal life into the eternal one, to put on the imperishable and immortal, a gain so that I can enter into the presence of God. In light of this great gain, I do not regret dying young, without experiencing so many of the things I planned for and looked forward to. I do not regret dying without having the privilege of continuing to encourage my younger siblings to grow up in the Lord. I do not regret dying without having the honor of continuing to learn from my parents. I do not regret dying without knowing the joy of leading a sister in Christ in marriage. I do not regret dying unaware of what it feels like to hold a child of my own in my arms, nor do I regret dying clueless about what it means to teach a son or daughter the commandments of God, “talking of them when [I] sit in [my] house and when [I] walk along the road and when [I] lie down and when [I] rise up” (Deuteronomy 11:19). I do not regret dying being unable to die a peaceful death after living a good long life full of laughs and memories.
The Surpassing Value of Knowing Christ Jesus
Instead, I press on to have the same attitude as the apostle Paul...
Philippians 3:7-11 7 But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, 9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; 11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
That is not to say that I didn’t love the things I had, or want the things I hoped for. I loved life, I loved being an older brother, I loved being a son to my parents. I looked forward to being married, having children, being the head of a household of faith. A good life, in which I persevered to the end loving Jesus more each day, is a wonderful thing. Yet these things, which are good gifts of God, and were/would have been gain to me, are incomparable to the value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. If He caused me to suffer the loss of all of them for His sake, I would gladly submit, for He has given me everything.
Yet, still, there are three things I do regret not doing before my death: loving the Lord more, loving His people more, and loving those who are not saved more. In heaven, I will be able to love the Lord and His people for all eternity. However, this will be the last time I can love those who are not saved. And so, the rest of this message will be dedicated to my family and my friends who are not yet saved.
Let me tell you about my Jesus.
The Word Became Flesh
John 1:1,14 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ... And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The Word, also known as Jesus Christ, was in the beginning, was with God, and was God. He is the eternal, holy, set apart, all-powerful, all-knowing, perfectly just, entirely sovereign, and only true God.
And this GodMan, Jesus Christ, came and dwelled on earth. After seeing the world that we humans have created through our sin, God had two choices: judge the world with fire for its rebellion against Him and His commandments, or reconcile all things to Himself through a perfect sacrifice. Although God would have, and still is, entirely righteous and just and fair in condemning the whole earth for its sin, with you and me in it, He chooses to be gracious and merciful towards us instead. He chose to send His Son, to dwell among us.
God the Son
Jesus Christ, God the Son, was willing sent to became flesh, and dwell among us. He left his throne in a perfect heaven for a dirty, dangerous, sinful earth, coming in appearance as a normal human being. He was born of the virgin Mary, grew up in a rural town, worked as a carpenter, and loved His family. He lived a normal life, yet without sin, always obeying God the Father in heaven. For the last three years of His life, He lived homeless, hungry, without a place to call home or lay His head, dedicated to preaching the message that God the Father sent Him to proclaim — repent of your sins and turn to God for salvation.
He performed countless miracles, raising the dead to life, healing the sick with just a word, walking on water, feeding thousands with a small lunch, causing the blind to see, the lame to walk, the deaf to hear, casting demons out of demoniacs, calming the storms with a rebuke, and forgiving sins. The culmination of Jesus’ life and three-year ministry came when the religious people of His day finally succeeded in getting Him to stop performing miracles and preaching repentance, at least for a little while.
They killed him.
Jesus was killed not only for speaking words that the religious Jewish leaders didn’t like; He was condemned for blasphemy, because He would not cease to proclaim that He was the Son of God, the embodiment of the Creator God in human form, sent on earth to forgive sins. As punishment, He was sentenced to die on a cross, beaten by Roman soldiers, whipped with a cat o’ nine tails until He was marred beyond human recognition, pierced through the brow with a crown of thorns to mock Him, spat upon, jeered, and finally nailed through the hands and feet to the beam of a wooden cross to die.
But do not view Jesus as a victim. He came to earth knowing that this would happen. Seven hundred years before the Jesus came to earth, the prophet Isaiah wrote, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel,” (Isaiah 7:14), which means “God with us.” Indeed, as Jesus was God who did not lose His divinity but instead added to Himself humanity, He truly is “God with us.” The prophet Isaiah also wrote, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way. But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” (Isaiah 53:6). Our iniquities, our sins, and the punishment for them, were laid upon His back. On the cross, He willingly took upon Himself the punishment for the sins of many, drinking the metaphorical cup of God’s wrath against sinners, purchasing the forgiveness of sins for us. He initiated the great exchange: He received the punishment that we deserved, and we receive the righteousness, the forgiveness of sins, that He earned.
Jesus died on a Friday, and rose from the grave on that next Sunday to provide irrefutable evidence that He was, is, and always will be God. He appeared to many groups of peoples, ranging from a few to more than four hundred after His crucifixion, teaching about Himself and convincing many more that everything He had said was indeed the truth. The four accounts of the Gospel of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are based on primary eyewitness sources. The historical record and evidence make it impossible to logically deny the deity of Christ. Even nonChristian scholars believe that this Jesus died, was laid in a tomb, and then somehow rose from the dead. Christian scholars know that it was nothing short of the greatest miracle Jesus performed.
All Have Sinned
So, what does that mean to you? Jesus died for sins. So what? If you are like I was, you probably think you’re a relatively good person. If you were like I was, you probably think that in some ways, you deserve to go to heaven, because at least you aren’t half as bad as some people you know. If you were like I was, you think you deserve heaven, because it would be just unfair if God didn’t let you in after you tried your best to be good.
You’re wrong. You’re not a good person. You don’t deserve to go to heaven. And God, owes you nothing.
Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
Isaiah 64:6 “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seems right to man, But it’s end is the way of death
Sure, maybe compared to the criminals you see on the news, the politicians who keep corrupting the entire country, the celebrities on TV who can’t seem to keep their life in line for more than a week, your coworkers who love to curse and drink and lust, you think you’re good. But life is not graded on a curve. Jesus says...
Matthew 5:48 Therefore, you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
The standard is not our own idea of what is good enough, or our friends, or anything other than what God declares. Heaven is His house, is it not? He sets the standard for who can enter.
Salvation is of the Lord
If you’re surprised that heaven requires perfection, take heart.
Matthew 19:25-26 When the disciples [of Jesus] heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?” And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Salvation is only through God. God saves; people cannot save themselves. And so, those who realize that they must be saved have only one hope: that through the Lord Jesus Christ, God would be merciful and pardon them of their sins, counting them as righteous not because of what they have or haven’t done, but that because Jesus is the perfect sacrifice, that because Jesus took the punishment for sin, that because Jesus hung on the cross, that because Jesus is their righteousness, they would be saved.
In a world where there is no mercy, love, favor, or grace from God, we all go instantly to Hell. That’s how the cold law works, right? Sinners guilty of crime are punished. How much of a scandal it would be that a convicted criminal would go free of punishment! Yet “[t]he Lord is... patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). God the Father is patient with you, every second of your mortal life offering the gift of eternal life, the gift of knowing Him and His Son, wishing for all to come to repentance.
How can you not marvel at such a God? All our lives we ignore Him, scoffing at the instruction to “keep His statutes and His commandments... that it may go well with you and with your children after you...” (Deuteronomy 4:40). All our lives we love to do the things that He hates. All our lives we place our own opinions and ideas and philosophies over His truth. All our lives, we reject the only hope of salvation we have. And still, He remains patient, everyday giving you the chance to accept Him.
Today, stop rejecting Him. Repent of these ways, for the kingdom of heaven is near, and turn to the God who will not turn away anyone with a sincere plea for salvation.
Acts 16:31 ...“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
Acts 4:12 And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.
Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast”
Christians, my beloved brethren and fellow heirs of life, you understand this. Live for it, love it, die for it.
Colossians 3:1-4, 12-17 1 Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. [...] 12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
NonChristians, my beloved friends for whom I pray for and love toward Christ,
Acts 2:22-24, 32-33, 36-42 22 “...listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— 23 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. 24 But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. [...] 32 This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. 33 Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. [...] 36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.”
37 Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 “For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” 40 And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” 41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. 42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Heed the word of the Lord, for His glory, and your good.
In Christ, Keith Fong 1 Peter 1:3-9