Psalm 51: 5
Romans 3: 21-26
Hebrews 9: 27
Genesis 47: 31 from “And Israel”; 48: 1-2, 15-16
The first three scriptures I have read relate to the common lot of men, that is, “in iniquity was I brought forth, and in sin did my mother conceive me”; and, in Romans 3: 23, “for all have sinned”; and then, in Hebrews 9, “it is the portion of men once to die”. That is the common lot of everyone in this room and you can do nothing about it as far as that goes, but God has a proposition to make to you. It is His glad tidings, and it concerns His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. God requires righteousness. He cannot bypass sin or sins, and He has not. You and I could do nothing about righteousness. The whole of the Old Testament is a time when God gave man an opportunity to see whether he could establish his righteousness to the satisfaction of God by works of law, but he failed and we come into that failure. God says, ’I have a proposition to make. I have glad tidings. It is my glad tidings concerning my Son, the Lord Jesus Christ’, and the glad tidings is that He has secured a righteousness that makes men and women, boys and girls, suited for His presence. It is a gift, and it is towards all. It is only “upon all those who believe”, but it is “towards all”. It is because He has given His only-begotten Son, in whom the matter of sin and sins was dealt with on the cross. “Him who knew not sin”, Christ, “he has made sin for us, that we might become God’s righteousness in him”, 2 Cor 5: 21. That is available to you, friend, and to everyone in this room, by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour. So that is what He has to offer to you . “All have sinned”, but in Christ Jesus “God has set forth a mercy-seat, through faith in his blood”. If you have faith in the blood, God can justify you.
Now then, in Hebrews 9, “it is the portion of men once to die”. That is true but Scripture adds more than that, “and after this judgment”. Our dear brother whom the Lord has taken will have to face the judgment too, and so will we all. I am not at this moment discriminating. The judgment is not in death. The judgment is in resurrection. “It is the portion of man once to die, and after this judgment”, the judgment is in resurrection. Scripture speaks about “the resurrection of the just”, Luke 14: 14. Does our brother have to fear the resurrection and the judgment? No, he does not have to fear that. Why? He made Christ his Saviour in his lifetime and God gave him as a gift the righteousness of God. When he wakens in the resurrection, he has that righteousness. It is secured in time; it is valid for eternity. If I may be simple dear friends and brethren, it is like the visa to heaven. If you go to another country you need a visa. He has his visa secured in Christ here in time. His sins have been forgiven and he has a righteousness of God that is yours today if you lay hold of it.
Now I want to speak about Jacob. Jacob has a portion that is not the lot of all men. Where I have read, it is the crowning touch of the life of a believer. He worshipped on ’the top of his staff’ (note). He finished as a worshipper. Our dear brother finished as a worshipper. His life included moments of toil. He proved what a toilsome life was. I want to allude to the fact that in his early life he went through bitterness. He never lost his faith in his God. He went through sorrow, deep sorrow. Not everyone has faced that kind of sorrow. I will tell you what I read in a letter written by a Christian brother who went through similar exercises in his early life. He says “feelings of unutterable pressure and loneliness, known only to those who have passed through them”. In those moments, only one blessed Man can be with you all the way. Friends and brethren are with you, and that is a great comfort, but only one blessed Man goes all the way. That is Jesus. He found Him as his Friend. He walked with him through that valley and He brought him forth to green pastures. Our dear sister who has been with him is now going that way but Christ can be the Friend all the way to succour and sustain her in these hours of sorrow.
For this man, Jacob, at the close of his life is a family man. This scene is a family scene, the scene you would be acquainted with when our brother was sick, and here the son goes along with his two sons; a son and grandsons. He takes his grandsons into the presence of this dying believer. What did he want? He wanted to put them in an area where they would hear about God, hear about the God who had shepherded his father Jacob all his life long until this day That was a characteristic of our brother; God shepherded him all his life long, brought him through, brought him through all the exercises of life, and there were many after the one I have spoken about. God brought him into blessing, gave him light as to the house of God, “Arise, go up to Bethel” (Gen 35: 1); that is the word to Jacob. He gave Jacob light as to the house of God which he followed through, and then as departing he desires that the generations that are following on may come into blessing. He says, “bless the lads”. What a heart he had for the testimony as every father, every grandfather, every brother, every sister would have for the generations coming on. Come into the Christian fellowship; come in to the Christian circle! He says, “let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the land!” What did he have in mind? Not that they would make much in this scene. We need our bread and butter to get through, we need to do our work, we need to exercise prudence. There is another life, dear brethren. Our brother knew another life. He had a link with a Man in heaven, a real and living link with a Man in heaven, forgiveness of his sins, and he received the gift of the Holy Spirit. Christianity is real. Conversion is real. A real change takes place in the soul of a believer when he is converted. He lives in the real sense of the life of a blessed Man in heaven and he meets with Christians and he enjoys the life that is called eternal life. That is not future. There will be a future life with Christ, but this is a present thing. It is a sphere of life. You and I are living persons, but we have our life, a sphere of life that we live in. What sphere of life do you live in, friend? This dear brother that we are burying today lived amongst his family. That was one side of his life. He had a sphere of life there, but he had a greater sphere of life amongst the circle of Christians because he had a link with a Man in heaven, and what they spoke about was not the life in this scene. It is life that is to come, but not only life that is only to come, life that is present, knowing the blessings of what they have in Christ, “inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith in me”, Acts 26: 18. What is this inheritance? For these persons here literally, Jacob had in mind they would enjoy the promised land, but for the Christian it is the circle of affection amongst believers where the presence and blessing of Christ is known, a peace that surpasses understanding, a bond that is not broken in death.. As belonging to the family of God we have a link together as believers that is not going to be broken. We can enjoy that living link now because each believer is in touch with the Man in heaven. It is a real matter. There is a real sense of joy in the soul, a real buoyancy. It draws you to where believers are. The Bible is not a dead book, you know. It is full of life. You are linked with a glorious, living Man and that attracts you to that sphere. You are drawn like a magnet to where life is. May it be the portion of all here today, for the Lord’s Name’s sake.
11th June 2009
(At the meeting for the burial of Mr David Scougal)