Not as others Grieve

grieve

Sunday 05/03/20

Series: Do we REALLY believe?

Message – Not as others Grieve

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Not as others Grieve

The other day we lost one in our assembly who’d literally been with us from the beginning. This sort of thing hits small home churches different than it does huge churches because we all know each other intimately. So naturally, there is both a need for and leverage enough to address the topic.

Death is NOT something any healthy person longs for, but it also something which Christians do not fear and in some ways look forward to. In the words of Paul, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” and so naturally THAT is where all true Christians want to be.

So in this service we simply walked through the scriptures to see what glimpses they offer us as to what our existence as Christians is like immediately following death.

We then had a time of comments and questions. It is a bit informal, but in our opinion, that is how biblical church is conducted. With respect and honor, but not stiff and formal. In other words it is relational and knowable…like our Lord!

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 

“(13)  We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.  (14)  Since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus.  (15)  For we say this to you by a revelation from the Lord: We who are still alive at the Lord’s coming will certainly have no advantage over those who have fallen asleep.  (16)  For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  (17)  Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will always be with the Lord.  (18)  Therefore encourage one another with these words.”

After her death I was contemplating what Ginny must be doing right now. What would have been her first experience after having left the body.

I remembered of course in 2 Corinthians 5, which is where we will be turning in a little while. That scripture tells us that, to be absent from the body IS to be present with the Lord…and how Jesus told the thief who was dying next to him that it was THAT VERY DAY, he would be with Him in paradise!

So, what actually happens upon death?

I’ve heard multiple stories and some biblical ones hint that it’s true that upon death angels are present and help escort the child of God into His presence in heaven.

But what happens upon arrival – do we have to check in at the gate like so many caricatures portray it? Do we immediately run into His arms? What actually happens?

Well, as I began to go through the scriptures in my heart, I realized something I’d not seen before. Ginny was in the final prep to be presented to her Lord. She was taken to judgment.

Now as I have often told you, judgment for the child of God is NOT a bad thing – it is actually quite wonderful.

The word Judge – at its core simply means “to separate”. For the child of God on our day of appearing before His throne – this means we will finally be separated from everything that was not of God. Spiritually this is already true…and if I understand the progression of how this happens following death then it has already happened in our souls as well because we will have seen Him as he really is.

1Jn. 3:2  “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”

And this is something which seems necessary in order to really grasp and truly appreciate what is happening when we are judged

Now When those who are alive at His coming, we will leave our bodies. We will see Him as He really is and be changed instantly as well. THIS IS IMPORTANT. This is the salvation of OUR souls. It will be completed and as I said it seems necessary in order to appreciate and grasp the judgement.

1 Corinthians 15:50-58  “(50) Brothers, I tell you this: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, and corruption cannot inherit incorruption.  (51)  Listen! I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed,  (52)  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 we will be changed.”

This indicates that those who have gone before us have already been made incorruptible…and we must share in their incorruption.  

“(53)  Because this corruptible must be clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal must be clothed with immortality. (54)  Now when this corruptible is clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal is clothed with immortality, then the saying that is written will take place: 

“Death has been swallowed up in victory. (55)  O Death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting?”

“(56)  Now 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! (58)  Therefore, my dear brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

So let’s look at what happens…

2 Corinthians 5:1-21, 

“(1) For we know that if our earthly house, a tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.  (2)  And, in fact, we groan in this one, longing to put on our house from heaven,  (3)  since, when we are clothed, we will not be found naked.  (4)  Indeed, we who are in this tent groan, burdened as we are, because we do not want to be unclothed but clothed, so that mortality may be swallowed up by life.  (5)  And the One who prepared us for this very thing is God, who gave us the Spirit as a down payment.  (6)  Therefore, though we are always confident and know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord–  (7)  for we walk by faith, not by sight–  (8)  yet we are confident and satisfied to be out of the body and at home with the Lord.  (9)  Therefore, whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to be pleasing to Him.  (10)  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may be repaid for what he has done in the body, whether good or bad.  (11)  Knowing, then, the fear of the Lord, we persuade people. We are completely open before God, and I hope we are completely open to your consciences as well.  (12)  We are not commending ourselves to you again, but giving you an opportunity to be proud of us, so that you may have a reply for those who take pride in the outward appearance rather than in the heart.  (13)  For if we are out of our mind, it is for God; if we have a sound mind, it is for you.  (14)  For Christ’s love compels us, since we have reached this conclusion: if One died for all, then all died.  (15)  And He died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the One who died for them and was raised.  (16)  From now on, then, we do not know anyone in a purely human way. Even if we have known Christ in a purely human way, yet now we no longer know Him like that.  (17)  Therefore if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.  (18)  Now everything is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  (19)  that is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed the message of reconciliation to us.  (20)  Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ; certain that God is appealing through us, we plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God.”  (21)  He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

1 Corinthians 3:1-23, 

“(1) Brothers, I was not able to speak to you as spiritual people but as people of the flesh, as babies in Christ.  (2)  I fed you milk, not solid food, because you were not yet able to receive it. In fact, you are still not able,  (3)  because you are still fleshly. For since there is envy and strife among you, are you not fleshly and living like ordinary people?  (4)  For whenever someone says, “I’m with Paul,” and another, “I’m with Apollos,” are you not typical men?  (5)  So, what is Apollos? And what is Paul? They are servants through whom you believed, and each has the role the Lord has given.  (6)  I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.  (7)  So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.  (8)  Now the one who plants and the one who waters are equal, and each will receive his own reward according to his own labor.  (9)  For we are God’s co-workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.  (10)  According to God’s grace that was given to me, as a skilled master builder I have laid a foundation, and another builds on it. But each one must be careful how he builds on it,  (11)  because no one can lay any other foundation than what has been laid–that is, Jesus Christ.  (12)  If anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw,  (13)  each one’s work will become obvious, for the day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire; the fire will test the quality of each one’s work.  (14)  If anyone’s work that he has built survives, he will receive a reward.  (15)  If anyone’s work is burned up, it will be lost, but he will be saved; yet it will be like an escape through fire.  (16)  Don’t you know that you are God’s sanctuary and that the Spirit of God lives in you?  (17)  If anyone ruins God’s sanctuary, God will ruin him; for God’s sanctuary is holy, and that is what you are.  (18)  No one should deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks he is wise in this age, he must become foolish so that he can become wise.  (19)  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God, since it is written: He catches the wise in their craftiness–  (20)  and again, The Lord knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are futile. (21)  So no one should boast in men, for all things are yours:  (22)  whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come–all are yours,  (23)  and you belong to Christ, and Christ to God.”

God Bless!

I hope this message will bless you richly…not because I taught it, but because it reveals Christ. He alone is our blessing and if in any way – whether big or small, 100% accurate or even just partially so – I have revealed our great God and Savior to you in a relationally knowable way, then this was time well spent on both our parts.

We at Living Grace Fellowship encourage you to place your trust in Jesus Christ, deliberately choosing Him and bowing the knee to Him as your Master and Lord, so as to come to realize Him as your Savior.

You have a special place in God’s family & kingdom. The fact that you exist… that you are His creation, says you were in His heart, you are His delight!

If you do not know Him, please reach out to us. Give us a call at the number located on every page of this website or use our ‘Contact Us‘ page. We would be deeply honored, if you gave us the privilege of introducing you to the Lord. Neither money nor attendance at our church will EVER be mentioned.

If you HAVE been spiritually fed by this ministry and WANT to give, we truly appreciate that and you may do so here, but please understand that all the outreaches of this ministry are FREE for you and anyone to enjoy at no cost.

Blessings!

Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been shepherding in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it right...safety in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" that did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keep authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provides teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!

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