1 Corinthians 15:12-21[selected verses] Now if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? Ö For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins... But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.
Helen Bremer is not here. She has gone to be with God, she left in the hope of the resurrection of the dead, and the life everlasting which is ours in Jesus Christ. Scripture says the days of our life are 3 score and ten and if by reason of strength they be 4 score[Psa.90:10]. So when you are a Christian, and you get past 90, you begin to wonder, why am I still here? And what is it that God has for me yet to do? Especially if you were given as a confirmation verse: Psalm 111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who practice it.
And that brings us to the central question, is there a resurrection of the dead? I suspect most people gathered here this morning would answer, of course there is. For while we confess Jesus died for our sins, we do not stop there, but we go on to speak of his resurrection, which proves that Jesus is the Son of God, that His doctrine is the truth, and that God accepted his sacrifice for the reconciliation of the world. And as Jesus rose, we too look forward to our resurrection. But perhaps we donít always look that far forward, and sometimes our focus is more or less exclusively on here and now. And that was one of the burdens that Helen carried, for she saw many people who seemed to be living their life as though there was no resurrection of the dead, living as though today was the only thing that mattered. They seemed to break down into 2 groups of people, some that were afraid of death, and others who thought death was a far distant thing, and best not even thought about.
For those afraid of death, it was easy, you can pray for them, and you can tell them about sin, and the forgiveness of sins which comes by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and how in Christ we need not fear death, for the good shepherd is there with us all the way, in all of life, and all the way through the valley of the shadow of death, and still with us when we arrive on the other side, in the resurrection. And that was one of the reasons why Helen was with us these many years, so that we might have the example of her faith, and see that we also need not be afraid to walk through the valley of the shadow of death, for Jesus would walk by our side, if only we would walk with Jesus, and follow his path.
But as I said, there is a second group, and those were the ones that were the greatest burden, for they lived as though today was all there was. They did not seem to have time to listen to God, or his Word, or to follow their savior. It wasnít that they didnít know about these things, but they were indifferent, or perhaps they thought they applied to someone else. Perhaps they figured that since God was love, he would forgive everyone everything, without question, and if they were already forgiven, then what was the point of living a Christian life, why not just do what you want? This is a harder group to reach, because often they are too busy to listen. Sometimes the only thing to do is pray, and leave it in Godís hands, knowing that God Almighty, creator of all, is able to reach them.
And thatís what brings us back to as it were the beginning, The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who practice it. - What is the fear of God? In the first place, according to the law, it is fear of the punishment we deserve on account of our sins. What punishment do we deserve? Scriptures teach that the wages of sin is death. And so we are encouraged to turn from our sins in sorrow and contrition, and plead to God for mercy. For there is death, as a valley that we pass through, and there is also a death that is everlasting, this we pray we would never see.
But the fear of the Lord, according to the gospel is quite another thing. It is an awe at a God who is not our equal, but who is so incomprehensible, so far above us, that all we can do is be amazed; particularly that he should take human form, to reveal himself to us, and to save us from what we deserve. It is a love, for a God who loved us while we were yet sinners. It is respect, and honor, praise and adoration, all the things that are at the center of right worship - for He is Lord of all, and our savior.