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SERMON DATE AND TITLE: 20110821: "Shall Not See Death"

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SHALL NOT SEE DEATH

SERMON STARTER

          We live in a death-avoidant, death-denying culture. Since I work part-time as a funeral home chaplain, I have lived with death every day I go to work for some twenty years now. It is impossible to comfort broken-hearted people for some 35 years of full-time ministry and not have to face the reality of death. Human life is fragile. We live in a temporal, mortal body. I have watched too often, mortal life slowly drain from a family member or friend.

          I hate death. It is an  embarrassing, humiliating, out-of-control necessary human experience. Every person who lives and draws her/his first breath will one day breath their last one. Every human heart that begins its arduous task in a mother's womb, will one day flat-line and forever cease.

          I awake in the early hours of the morning and as I lie there I feel this pain, or is it just the simple result of fear? Its frustrating that in order to get to heaven's promises we have to pass through a momentary darkness we call death. . .

My elderly mom has mentioned this tension with me more than once. I reassure her of Jesus Promise in John 11:25,26,

"I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die,

he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"

We pray together and once again she is at peace.

August 21, 2011

Sheepfold Ministries - Pastor Phil Roland

SHALL NOT SEE DEATH

JOHN 8:48-51

"Jesus has made some of the most astounding promises to His Followers. His promise to enable us to 'not see death' filled with Hope."  Pastor Phil 

 

"Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death."   John 8:51

LITOTES (LIH-tuh-teez, pl. LIH-toh-teez) : A type of meiosis (understatement) in which an affirmative is expressed by the negative of the contrary, as in "not unhappy" or "a poet of no small stature."

 

I.  SURFACE INTERPRETATIONS SOUND IMPOSSIBLE

          A. "Real Christians" will never get sick and die

                        1. Magical Thinking

                        2. Sarcasm

          B. Think it out: If they never die, they will never see heaven

                   1. Have to physically die to reach heaven

                        2. Presently Trapped / Caught here on earth

            C. What about our departed loved ones?

                        1. Weren't they Believers?

                        2. Yet they experienced death?

            D. Surface reading the text sets Jesus promise into opposition

                        1. Reality is that all men, including believers will die physically

                        2. What, then, did Jesus mean, "Shall not see death?"

 

II.  WE WHO FOLLOW HIM ARE ALREADY DEAD - Gal. 2:20

"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."

          A. Giving your heart to Jesus involves a death to self

                        1. We die to personal desires / lusts - "What about ME?"

                        2. We die to personal ambition

                        3. We join Jesus in spiritual death

                        4. Not just our sins, but we, ourselves are nailed to His Cross

                        5. We die to Revenge, Grudge-Bearing, Bitterness

                        5. Monks/Nuns symbolize this death to self

          B. We move to a present state living in the Kingdom of God/Heaven

            “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of          righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”           Romans 14:17

                        1. The Beatitudes of Matthew 5 illustrate the profound change

                        2. The Fruit of the Spirit eg. the change in the human spirit

                        3. Loving Jesus more than this world and what's in it

 

SHALL NOT SEE DEATH, cont., p.2

 

            C. We are dead to this world, but alive in Christ - John 5:24

            "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him

            who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has

            passed from death into life."

                        1. Two key words, one meaning "Life"

                        2. Greek word: "ZO-EIN," sometimes written, "Zoe"

                        3. Life that transcends human biological life

                        4. The Life of God eternal into the ages

                        5. Passed from Death unto Life?

                        6. A condition or state of existence in which one may enter w/o                          physically experiencing death

            D. Paul makes it plain that Death has no more Authority over us

          "For he who has died has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ,

           we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having

           been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion

           over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the

           life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves

            be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Rom. 6:7-11

                        1. Our lives and future are in His Hands

                        2. Our Deaths are in His Hands

 

III.  WE ARE NO LONGER TERRORIZED BY DEATH

            A. Jesus is our Light in this Dark World - Matthew 4:16

            "The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, And upon those

            who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned."

                        1. Jesus is quoting Isaiah 9:2

                        2. Those who sat in the Shadow of Death have seen light?

                        3. Are these words familiar? See Psalm 23

            B. Before Jesus we were Enslaved by our own fear of Death

            "Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity

            so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death--

            that is, the devil-- 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery

            by their fear of death."  Hebrews 2:14-15 (NIV)

                        1. Build your Sand Castles in this life and Fear Death

                        2. Build Castles in God's Kingdom and lose the Fear of Death

            C. Jesus promised His followers would not taste Death - Matt. 16:28

            "Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste    death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom."

                        1. Shall not See/Taste Death?

                        2. They shall not Empirically Experience Death

                        3. WHY? They have already passed from death unto life

                        4. Death strikes no fear in Jesus Followers' Hearts

                        5. They are already Surrendered to Life in Jesus

            D. "Because He Lives!"

 

 

SHALL NOT SEE DEATH, Text

John 8:48-59 (NKJV)
48 Then the Jews answered and said to Him, "Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?"
49 Jesus answered, "I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me.
50 And I do not seek My own glory; there is One who seeks and judges.
51 Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death."
52 Then the Jews said to Him, "Now we know that You have a demon! Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and You say, 'If anyone keeps My word he shall never taste death.'
53 Are You greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Whom do You make Yourself out to be?"
54 Jesus answered, "If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God.
55 Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say, 'I do not know Him,' I shall be a liar like you; but I do know Him and keep His word.
56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad."
57 Then the Jews said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?"
58 Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM."
59 Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

 

 

SHALL NOT SEE DEATH

ILLUSTRATIONS

Eg.

Kathy G.'s Step-Mother

I led her to Christ after it was discovered she had a brain tumor.

She was still in the hospital recovering from surgery. She never went home. Her step-daughter and myself led her to Christ the first day after the surgery when she received the bad news. Day by day she quickly declined.

Finally, she was receiving injected morphine every hour. Her head was swollen and the lower part of her body was slowly turning black. We asked her about her pain, and she related it was barely tolerable.

"When I think of myself and my pain I can scarcely go on, but when I think of Jesus and His love, my pain goes away and I am at peace."

A few days later she quietly slept her way into Jesus Presence.

Technically, she did not see death, she saw Jesus when He came for her.

 

Eg.

CANNIBALS OR WORMS

John Paton, pioneer missionary to the New Hebrides, tells in his autobiography how he was challenged by an elderly gentleman who complained that he would be eaten by cannibals:

At last I replied, “Mr Dickson, you are advanced in years now, and your own prospect is soon to be laid in the grave, there to be eaten by worms; I confess to you, that if I can but live and die serving and honouring the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by cannibals or worms; and in the Great Day my resurrection body will arise as fair as yours in the likeness of our risen Redeemer.” The old gentleman, raising his hands in a deprecating attitude, left the room exclaiming, “After that I have nothing more to say!”

 

Eg.

CROSSING JORDAN

A Methodist bishop tells how, as a young minister, he was called to the bedside of an elderly woman who was approaching the end of life. He tried to comfort her and muttered something about how sorry he was that she was going to die, when she interrupted him,

“God bless you, young man. There’s nothing to be scared about. I’m just going to cross over Jordan in a few hours, and my Father owns the land on both sides of the river.”

 

 

Eg.

THE END IS THE BEGINNING

The distinguished German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, also executed just days before the German surrender, conducted a service for his fellow prisoners before being taken out to his death. His text was,

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who in his mercy gave us new birth into a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).

As the guards removed him, he sent this last message to the Bishop of Chichester,

“This is the end— but for me the beginning of life.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SHALL NOT SEE DEATH

CLOSING ILLUSTRATION

BE SEEING YOU

          A moving story is told in Graham Twelftree’s Drive the Point Home.[1] [37]  A young man, Jimmy Lee Davis, was sentenced to death row for rape and murder. Even his mother wrote to the state governor, “Don’t reprieve him. What he has done is so bad I want my boy to die.” A news magazine from America carried the headline: “I want my son to die,” says mother.

          A young Pentecostal man in Melbourne, Australia, read the story. He was moved to write to Jimmy and tell him that Jesus loved him. To his amazement he got a letter back saying,

“It’s the most wonderful letter I have ever had in my life. I do wish I could meet you. I just wish I could know Jesus in my life like you do. I’ve made such a mess of it. You have given me hope.”

          The young man felt that God wanted him to go to America and visit Jimmy. After prayer and sharing the idea with friends, he raised the money and went. By a series of coincidences he got permission to go into death row twice a week, for four hours a visit, for two months. He took his guitar and they sang choruses, told jokes, laughed and he led Jimmy to Jesus. His last visit was to Jimmy’s baptism.

          For two years Jimmy’s faith grew. In one of his letters, he wrote,

“There is one thing I’m not going to do. I’m not going to dishonour the gospel by using my conversion to escape the death penalty.” Then one day the young man in Melbourne got a ring from his wife, “Can you come home at once? Jimmy’s just got permission to ring us from prison; he’s being executed tonight.”

          He tore home and got through to the prison two hours before Jimmy was due in the gas chamber. But he just broke down and cried on the phone. However, Jimmy at the other end said, “I love you man. Thank you for all that you have done for me.

I’ve got to go now. Goodbye. Be seeing you.”

And Jimmy hung up.

 

The Spirit of Death

"Then death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire."             Rev. 20:14

 

I thought I saw the Old Specter dodge behind the closet door,

    But there I only found mops and rags and towels and   cleaning solutions.

His Presence was there, nonetheless,

       Taunting me, haunting me, giving me no peace nor rest

                     From the desperate beating of my heart,

                           And the icy hand of fear

                                  As it grabbed my taut abdominals.

 

There was nothing there the eye could see,

    But still it lingered there,

       As palpable as a chef's tasting spoon.

              What is the shuddering down my spine?

                  Was it the leering Old Specter, threatening again,

                       Or was he just rattling his chains?

 

Or was it me, girding up for battle,

   And feeling once again Specter's rage and oppositional spirit?

                     Lord, grant me your power

                           In this tough and trying hour

                     To look to You and find

                            Your comfort, strength and peace of mind.

 

 

 

By Phil Roland

Copyright, December 1996