Ministry in the times of loss and death is one of the crucial roles of a pastor, so good examples of such ministry are indispensable.
Recently in our church a dear brother took his own life. Such a situation raises a host of challenges and questions. Many people continue to think that a person who takes his own life cannot go to heaven. What does the Bible say about this? For the pastor, how do you preach such a funeral? Do you directly address suicide? Every situation is different, but the video below contains one of the most powerful, pastoral funeral sermons I have ever heard. Even if you do not know Glenn Perry, this message by Lee Tankersley is a powerful example of several things, including:
– how robust theology matters and can bolster us in suffering
– justification by faith and the issue of suicide
– the importance of really knowing your people
– clear, direct, pastoral, humane address at a funeral
– the value of the ministry of encouragement (e.g., Preston Atkinson’s letter at the end of the message)
The sermon begins at about 15:30.
“Both the believer who dies singing ‘Amazing Grace’ with his family at his bedside and the believer who dies by taking his own life, will stand before God saying, ‘All I have is Christ and what he did for me.’ And that is enough. In fact, that is the only thing that is enough. Our good works will not suffice before his demand for perfect righteousness, and our sins are not sufficient to triumph over his sin-bearing death and resurrection. Jesus is our righteousness. All we have is Christ. And that is enough. ”