My dear friend, Summer Ellison is my guest writer today. This past year she lost her beloved grandpa. At his graveside service she gave the following message. It was a trying, stressful, and sorrowful time for Summer, but she could rejoice knowing her grandpa was with Jesus, enjoying all the blessings of Heaven. So, at his service she gave him the highest honor possible, she shared the Gospel with those present, and today she has agreed to share the message with us.
Charles R. Ingerson
June 3, 1929 to July 19, 2020
Graveside Funeral Address July 25, 2020
By Summer Ellison
Everyone here today would agree with me that Grandpa was a very special man, and that he was. We all have countless precious memories of him and how he impacted our lives. The legacy he left for us was his example of love. He modeled love not by his words, but by his actions. He demonstrated his love through his example of how he loved his wife, grandma. This made such an impression on me. Through this example, he also modeled the love of Christ, and therefore I would like to honor him by sharing the gospel with you.
The gospel is God’s plan to redeem His people to himself through the person of Jesus Christ, His Son. You may be thinking, okay, that sounds a little churchy and I don’t really understand what that means. That’s understandable, and I have a confession. As a believer, God is so great and vast that I often have a hard time communicating the good news of the gospel because the gospel really is that! GOOD NEWS!
The gospel is, simply put, and in one word: Jesus. I struggle putting into words what this means because Jesus is so incredibly powerful in my life. He has made the single greatest impact and impression on me, and I have felt no greater love and joy outside of him. And yes, that includes the birth of my children.
All of us were created with an innate knowledge that there is something greater than ourselves. That something greater is God himself. God set eternity in our hearts. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” He knew we would want to run things our own way. That was proven by Adam & Even in the garden of Eden, resulting in the fall of humankind. We all seem to know and grasp that story and how it turned out. We were not designed to be our own gods, but we sure try, don’t we? We try to control every aspect of our lives and things inside our world. But what we find is that the world is much greater than ourselves and no matter how hard we try; we fail at running our lives and cannot control the outcomes.
There are forces beyond our control; people, things, circumstances, all of which are fallen and imperfect like we are. We are all corrupt. Our thought process and understanding is not only faulty, but incomplete. The only thing, or rather person, that can make us whole and complete is Jesus Christ himself.
Jesus has always existed as part of the trinitarian God, God in three persons: The Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. God is a holy and just God. His standard for being in His presence, in a right relationship with Him, is to be like Him. Blameless, righteous, holy, different. It is so hard to wrap our minds around what this really means because we are NOT like Him, but we were created in His image. God is good…all the time. His holiness is good. His justice is good. His wrath is good. He knows the truth about each person and knows what is in his/her heart. He alone can properly judge humankind.
And herein lies is the problem. There is no one who is good, not even one. Romans 3:10-12 tells us “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” And then again in Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” This sounds harsh, but we know this to be true deep within ourselves. How? Have you ever made a mistake, or have you ever hurt someone else or spoke unkindly towards someone (whether it was on purpose or unintentional)? Have you ever felt ashamed and not good enough? That is because you and I are NOT God and we will never be God. We do not and cannot ever make the mark or reach the bar, no matter how hard we try on our own. Sin is anything we do apart from faith in God. Think about that. Anything we do apart from faith in God. That is huge. We are all familiar with the Ten Commandments, referred to as part of the Mosaic Law. God created the law to bring to our attention sin and those things that separate ourselves from Him.
He did not design and create us to be separate from Him, but to have relationship with Him and with each other. Since he is a holy, just, and perfect God, the result of sin is death. Death, through separation from our body and spirt, but also eternal separation from God. Romans 6:23 says “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Yes, there is hope! He made a way for us! While we did not seek Him, in His love he sought after us. Jesus came to earth as a man, and lived the perfect, sinless life that we could not. We learn from Philippians 2:6-8 that “Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Jesus experienced pain, suffering and even death. He took on all the punishment and wrath that we deserved for our sin. He paid the price and stood in our place before the Almighty Judge and served our sentence. Not only did He do this, but He conquered death. The apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 (paraphrased) “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve (disciples). Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time. Afterwards he appeared to James, then to all the apostles and lastly, he appeared to Paul.”
He provided undeniable proof that he conquered death. He ascended to heaven and now sits at the right hand of God LIVING and interceding on our behalf.
God, in grace, gives us saving faith. He enables us to believe and accept Him. When we then surrender our way, to His way, we are seen by God through a new lens. We are seen through the covering of Jesus Christ himself. God sees CHRIST in us! Jesus lives in and through us by giving us His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, who enables us to live a life full of joy, hope, peace, faith, and love. We know that we have a Savior who loves us enough to die for us and give us a new and abundant life because He gives us Himself. This “salvation” is not just “get out of hell free card” or a “one-way ticket to Heaven”. I cannot express enough that salvation is much MORE than this. Salvation again, is Jesus Christ himself. He gives us Himself in the here, and now, not in the distant eternity. As we grow in love and relationship to Him, He shows us no greater love. He provides all our needs. He gives us living water and satisfies the deepest thirst within our souls. He gives us life, abundant life! When speaking to the woman at the well in John 4:13-14 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
This does not mean that our lives here on earth will be without pain and suffering. In fact, Jesus says that in this world we will have tribulation, but he reminds us to take courage, for He has overcome the world (John 16:33). Pain and suffering co-exists in this fallen world. BUT we have the love of Christ, which is such a mystery. As we get to know Him and love Him, He enables us to break free of the sin that entangles us and causes harm to ourselves and others, and He fills us with clean, living water that refreshes our souls. We begin to have a peace that surpasses all understanding as we begin to live, and want to live for him, NOW. He creates a hunger within us to know Him, and as we begin to get to know Him, we are satisfied with the spiritual food and drink that comes from Him alone. The only way to experience this is to come, taste and see. Drink the water that will never make you thirsty again. To surrender to Christ and wave the white flag is to receive His great power to have the true and abundant life He intended for us all along!
May you be comforted to know that he is now in the presence of Jesus, surrounded by, and covered with the love of Christ. This is where he is.
‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ (Matthew 25:21)