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Eulogy To A Saint

 

This is close to the tenth anniversary of this event and I want to honor it by again sharing my recollections as I repeat this sermon.

 

It was about 4:00 in the morning and sleep, because I am an early riser, was beginning to ebb. Suddenly the phone rang.

Out of my ebbing sleep I heard my wife Carole say, "Oh, no, Ted. Oh, no. Oh, Iím so sorry." I was instantly wide awake and listening.

She spoke for a minute or two, concluding with, "Yes, weíll take care of that," then hung up the phone. She turned to me and said, "Oh Wayne, Eddie Qualls died." She then explained what she had learned of the circumstances of his death. He had been at work on the night shift and suddenly just collapsed. We talked for a half hour or so - about Eddie, his family, our concern for their welfare. Then, being wide awake, we got up and began our day.

Sorrow over the death of someone close to me does not strike me immediately. I have to think about the person for awhile, dwell on past memories, consider that I will no longer be blessed with their conversation and personality, consider the impact on their family. Then comes the sorrow. Perhaps some would say thatís a hard-hearted reaction, but thatís just the way I react. This time, Ted, bless his heart, unknowingly made it easier. He asked me to take his sermon. So I had an opportunity to express my feelings.

As I sat, trying to contemplate a sermon, my thoughts continually returned to Eddie, my brother in Christ. I thought about a man I had called to tell him of Eddieís death, who said, "I loved that boy." Well Eddie wasnít really a boy. He was in his early fifties. The man I called was considerably older. But there was a special affinity between those two. Eddie had a special affinity to a lot of people.

 

So today I want to talk about the death of Saints. On the outside, not a pretty subject. But as we look into what the Bible says about the death of Godís Saints (and thatís how I think the Bible would classify Eddie), I think we will see a very positive and encouraging side of death.

Letís start by asking the question, "How does God feel about the death of one of His saints?" Turn to Psalm 116.

(Psa 116:15) Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.

The word "precious" might also be translated as "valuable". The word "LORD" is a translation of the Hebrew word, Yehoveh, Yaweh, or Jehovah, Strongís number 3068.

The real meaning of "precious" or "valuable" can be better understood by a statement by Jesus, Yeshua in Hebrew, in John 8:51. Letís look at it.

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

What death can He be talking about? Everyone must die. He is talking about permanent death, the second death, described in Rev 20:6.

(Rev 20:6 NKJV) Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.

The righteous Saints shall never experience permanent death. After their resurrection they will be with our Father forever. No wonder He describes them as precious or valuable. Weíll talk more about these righteous saints in a few minutes.

Isa 57 also describes the death of the righteous.

(Isa 57:1-2 NKJV) The righteous perishes, And no man takes it to heart; Merciful men are taken away, While no one considers That the righteous is taken away from evil. {2} He shall enter into peace; They shall rest in their beds, Each one walking in his uprightness.

Perhaps the Tanakh states it better:

The righteous man perishes, and no one considers, pious men are taken away, and no one gives thought that because of evil, the righteous was taken away. Yet he shall come to peace, He shall have rest on his couch who walked straightforward.

The righteous are taken away from the evil to come. Our merciful Father removes them from future evil. Isa 57:1 makes no distinction as to the source of that evil, but in these increasingly dangerous and evil days, we can easily relate to these words of Isaiah. Eddie was keenly aware of the increasingly evil days we are entering into. He spoke of it often in both his sermons and in his conversations with others. God took him out of the increasing pressures of evil ways which were all around him. God rescued Eddie to keep him for His own.

Eddie is now resting on his couch, awaiting his resurrection. He does not have to be continually saddened and concerned about the increasingly evil days swirling about him and us.

We have been talking about the righteous, but what is a righteous person?

(Mat 25:34-46) "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. {35} For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, {36} I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' {37} "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? {38} When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? {39} When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' {40} "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' {41} "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal

fire prepared for the devil and his angels. {42} For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, {43} I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' {44} "They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' {45} "He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' {46} "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

Did Eddie exemplify these scriptures? When Eddie died, his wife Rene suddenly received ten bags of groceries. Why? Well, one reason is because Eddie had given bags of groceries to other needy people when they needed it. No, no one knew about it. Only the recipients. But they didnít forget his love and concern in their time of need.

I imagine the flood victims Eddie and his son Nathan helped remember him too. That was the time that Eddie went out and bought clothing to give to the flood victims being housed in emergency shelters. No, few could deny Eddieís love for unfortunate strangers. And I can assure you, what he did for needy strangers, he would have done for needy brethren as well, should they have needed it. What will be Eddieís reward? Letís reread verses 34 and 35 again.

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. {35} For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, {36} I needed clothes and you clothed me......

Eddie was known at work as a quiet man who lived his religion. He didnít try to push it on others. Eddie didnít just know the kind of life he should live. He tried to live it.

(James 1:22-25 NKJV) But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. {23} For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; {24} for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. {25} But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

Eddie had two boys. Nathan was sixteen, Thomas was six. As we have seen these two boys grow, we have marveled at the fatherly patience Eddie displayed. Eddieís favorite pastime was spending time with and playing with his two boys.

Eddie didnít do these good works to receive a reward.... Only through love. But these verses promise Eddieís reward. What motivated Eddie to do these good works?

(Gal 5:22-23 NKJV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering [patience], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, {23} gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

Eddie was filled with Godís Holy Spirit. His fruits proved that.

(John 15:5 NKJV) [Our Lord said,] "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

Does this mean that all who do good things are given a ticket to eternal life? Will those who do not even recognize the Judean/Christian God Yehoveh be given eternal life? Notice again in Isa 57 that the scripture is talking about devout men, those who walk uprightly. But what about someone from Nepal, for example, who fits the description of Matthew 25 but who prays to Buddha and his dead relatives through the spinning of prayer wheels? What about a 'righteous' priest of Baal in the days of Elijah (1Kings 18)? My point is that only those people who worship the One True God, through the keeping of His commandments, can truly be called righteous, no matter how many good works they do. Rev 22:12 and 14 show us that.

(Rev 22:12&14 NKJV) "And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.... {14} Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.

Blessed are those who DO His commandments, not just talk about them. Though we can certainly determine what sin is, it is Christ who will make the final judgment of a personís life and determine his destiny.

But Eddie was righteous, in my opinion. He is waiting for his resurrection. I talked in a recent sermon of a marriage between the Saints and our Savior in Heaven. He is lying on his couch waiting to be called to that marriage. Perhaps he has already heard the voice of our Elder Brother saying to him, "Not yet, but very soon."

There are many who believe that a Saint enters Heaven as soon as he dies. The Bible does not support that theory or belief. Letís read a few scriptures on that subject.

(John 3:13) No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven--the Son of Man.

These are the words of our Savior. No, no human being has ever gone into heaven. Not yet, anyway.

(Acts 2:34) For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, "'The Lord said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand

Even David, a man most close to God, has not ascended to heaven. At least, not yet.

(Job 14:14 KJV) If a man die, shall he live <again>? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.

Job knew his destiny. He knew what his future would be. He was willing to wait for however long it would take. Then he would be changed. That is Eddieís state. That was Eddieís attitude. Eddie too, in my opinion, will be changed. That change will occur at the resurrection of the Saints.

Preparations for the resurrection of the Saints began with the ascension of the Messiah. Before He left, He promised us:

(John 14:2-3 NKJV) "In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. {3} "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

Yeshua (Jesus), the groom was going to prepare a place for His bride, the church. Who would constitute the bride? The Saints.

(1 Cor 15:50-54 NKJV) Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. {51} Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall 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 shall be changed. {53} For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. {54} So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory."

Eddie Qualls is now sleeping, waiting for his call. His death will soon be swallowed up in victory.

 

But we who are alive must wait until the resurrection of all the saints. Letís read 1 Thes 4:15-18 and Matt 24:40.

(1 Th 4:15-18 NKJV) For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. {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. {17} Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. {18} Therefore comfort one another with these words.

(Mat 24:40-42 NKJV) "Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. {41} "Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. {42} "Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.

Let me digress a bit on this last scripture. Will these people be taken as spirits or physical people? If Spiritual, and we will read next where it is spiritual, wonít their physical bodies be left behind where they fell? How different is this scene from Eddieís, where his body just collapsed?

1 Cor 15:42-56 talks about a spiritual resurrection.

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown (planted) is perishable, it is raised imperishable; {43} it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; {44} it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. {45} So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being" ; the last Adam [i.e. Christ], a life-giving spirit. {46} The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. {47} The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. {48} As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. {49} And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man [As a parallel, Eddie often talked of his sinful early adult life.], so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven. {50} I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. {51} Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed-- {52} in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. {53} For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. {54} When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory." {55} "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" (Where are your plagues and destruction?) {56} The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. [Man's transgression of the law gives death its lawful power. Without the law there is no sin.]

And another scripture...this one dealing principally with the Jews and Israelites of old:

Ezek 37 talks about a physical resurrection. Letís turn there.

The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. {2} He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. {3} He asked me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" I said, "O Sovereign LORD, you alone know." {4} Then he said to me, "Prophesy to these bones and say to them, 'Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! {5} This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. {6} I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.'" {7} So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. {8} I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. {9} Then he said to me, "Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.'" {10} So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet--a vast army. {11} Then he said to me: "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, 'Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.' {12} Therefore prophesy and say to them: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. {13} Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. {14} I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.'" {15} The word of the LORD came to me: {16} "Son of man, take a stick of wood and write on it, 'Belonging to Judah and the Israelites associated with him.' Then take another stick of wood, and write on it, 'Ephraim's stick, belonging to Joseph and all the house of Israel associated with him.' {17} Join them together into one stick so that they will become one in your hand. {18} "When your countrymen ask you, 'Won't you tell us what you mean by this?' {19} say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am going to take the stick of Joseph--which is in Ephraim's hand--and of the Israelite tribes associated with him, and join it to Judah's stick, making them a single stick of wood, and they will become one in my hand.' {20} Hold before their eyes the sticks you have written on {21} and say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. {22} I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. [Many feel this is happening today as Jews by the millions return to Israel from Russia, Africa, Europe, the Americas but there will be another return. Let's read on.] There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. {23} They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God. {24} "'My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees. {25} They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children's children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever.

A physical resurrection of the Israelites will occur so that those who had no hope will be able to live in the Kingdom of God under the Messiah and King David.

The Jews may be returning to Israel but so far I haven't seen King David. Have you? Do they appear to be keeping God's laws today? Most do not. Of course we must remember that most so-called Christians don't think they have to keep God's laws either. Seems to be a glitch here somewhere between Godís word and what people do.

continuing in verse 26:

{26} I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. [The real new covenant.] I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever. {27} My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. {28} Then the nations will know that I the LORD make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever.'"

And from righteous Job...

Job 14:10-14 But man dies and is laid low; he breathes his last and is no more. {11} As water disappears from the sea or a riverbed becomes parched and dry, {12} so man lies down and does not rise; till the heavens are no more, men will not awake or be roused from their sleep. {13} "If only you would hide me in the grave and conceal me till your anger [the tribulation] has passed! If only you would set me a time and then remember me! {14} If a man dies, will he live again? All the days of my appointed time I will wait for my renewal to come.

Notice that Job knew what death means. He knew that he would rest in death for an unknown amount of time. His only concern seems to be that God might forget where he was.

People without the understanding of God's word come up with many sanctimonious and pleasant sounding ideas, like gazing into the eyes of God and talking to dead relatives in Heaven, but they still have no hope, no knowledge of the great plan of God to resurrect all mankind.

Now I want to take a few minutes to talk about the death of secular people.

Some years ago I gave a sermon about the death of a lifelong friend. Both he and his wife were good citizens, leading respectable lives. And, like most people, they had good points and bad in their lives. They were secular, had little or no interest in religion, but were well thought of in their community.

When he was in his mid-fifties, he died unexpectedly in surgery, though they were both aware of the potential danger at the time he went into surgery.

This man had spent his life successfully accumulating wealth and property to be used in providing a very secure lifestyle during both his working years and into retirement. He was eligible for retirement several years before his death but elected to postpone it until, as it turned out, two years after his death in order to add more to his retirement annuity. The situation may remind us of the scripture in James 4 which discusses the fact that tomorrow may never come, but of course, at the time it was just good planning - something we must all do. Let's read that scripture starting in verse 13.

James 4:13-15 Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." {14} Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. {15} Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that."

While I was taking his wife to the cemetery, etc., she spoke with me regarding her husband being in heaven...She said she did not know whether there really was a heaven but she knew that he was there talking with his oldest son who was killed a few years earlier in a train/car accident. How would you respond to a statement like that from a bereaved wife? It is not the time to lay on her a philosophy so radically different than any she's heard to further frustrate and anguish her mind. We have read some scriptures which describe who is in heaven:

I answered the question posed to me about heaven by referring her to the 20th chapter of Revelation:

Rev 20:4-6,11-14 I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. {5} The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. {6} Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years........

let's skip to verse 11

{11} Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. {12} And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. {13} The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.

Works are important . . . even crucial.

 

In conclusion, as I have attempted to prove, in my view, Eddie is a Saint. As such he has a marvelous, almost unbelievable future. We, and especially his family, who have been blessed by his association, can only thank God for bringing him into our midst and making him an ever-living son of God.

I hope this sermon has given you this vision.

 

 

Sermon given by Wayne Bedwell

29 November 2008

 

Copyright 2008, Wayne Bedwell

 

 

 

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