A couple of years ago I was selected to write the annual “Memorial Tribute” for our church association’s annual Sunday School Convention. I’d like to say it was a big honor, but in truth no one else was nominated but me (and I only after several calls) so it was my opportunity by default I suppose you could say.
When given these opportunities you have an entire year to write your piece – I was asked in 2011 to write the Memorial for 2012 – so you have ample time to prepare. Even though I didn’t begin composing the document until a week or so before I was to read it before the convention and submit it for publication in the annual minute book, I knew the night I received the assignment what The Lord wanted me to say.
These things are normally written to wax poetic and nostalgic about the ones who have left us in the prior year. But I had the strong impression that what God desired was for us to honor Him and them in a different way. And over the past few days I’ve felt strongly led to share this message with you, here.
Brother and Sisters, I bid you a good morning and greetings in the Name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Each year we set aside a time to remember our Brothers and Sisters who are no longer with us in this walk of life, the ones who have “entered into his rest” and “ceased from his own works, as God did from his.” (Hebrews 4:10). Each of us has fond memories of friends, family members, and different ones we have labored and worshipped with that have finished their course and kept the faith. Reflecting upon these precious, good memories we realize that what we are thinking about are dear times of fellowship with God’s children.
The eternal Godhead has always and always will be in perfect harmony and fellowship, if you will. Before Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden, man had perfect fellowship with God. But sin broke this fellowship and brought death to man. In His goodness, love and mercy, God made a way to restore our right relation, our fellowship, with Him through the redemptive work of His Son Jesus Christ. There is one Way to restoration of fellowship with God, only one Door to Heaven, only one Truth in this world, and only one Name that can save; Jesus Himself told us it was all through and by Him (John 10:9; 14:6; Acts 4:12)
There is not one of us here today, nor any of them which we are remembering this hour, that does not have someone who is out of the Ark of safety. There is not one of us who
doesn’t have someone whose fellowship with their Creator is broken. There is not one of us who does not have someone that, in their current state, faces an eternity in Hell. But there is a solution for everyone, One who can restore their relationship with the Almighty, One who can redeem them from damnation, and that is the “one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).
1 John 1:3 says “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” In the ninth chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthian church Paul explained he would be all things, to all men, in other words, he would do whatever he could, whatever it took, to see some saved. 2 Peter 3:9 teaches us it is not God’s will that any should perish, but that all come to repentance. Jesus said in John 14:23 if we love Him, we will obey His words and will have fellowship with Him and the Father. It is the church’s duty, yours and mine, today and until the Lord’s return, to abide by God’s Word, following these examples and commandments given to us.
So I ask you, what better tribute, what better memorial to those that have gone on than to shine the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ out to a lost and dying soul, so that they may one day be reunited at the glorious sound of the last trump when Christ returns for His church? There is none.
“Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.” (1Th 5:6-11).
There is a Heaven and a reunion to gain and a Hell and its torments to shun. Let us honor the memories of those gone on before us by diligently and zealously sharing the Gospel with our people. With the boldness of a lion (Proverbs 27:1), say unto them, as the Apostle Paul did, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16).
In His service,
Brother Greg Wolford
Gethsemane United Baptist Church
The reaction to my Tribute was not a rousing round of applause, not was it even a few hearty (or weak, for that matter) “amens”. No, it was more like stunned silence. After the convention meeting was over I was approached by a handful of individuals, each of them told me that this Memorial Tribute was the, or one of the, best they’d heard. And that it was more along the lines of what it
to be, not what it had traditionally become. I was, and am, grateful to The Lord for this and every opportunity He presents me with to speak out the Gospel to the best of my ability.