The preaching assurance post from last week seemed to generate a little interest and I have been thinking much about this topic lately. I thought I would go a step further in this post and up the ante a bit more. It seems to some people absurd that you would ever preach in such a manner as to give your congregation assurance. The objection is that the preacher has no way of knowing who believes and who does not so there is no way the preacher should ever give assurance, it is not his to give. We talked about that in the last assurance post, and I don’t care to explain myself again. I would say that the possibility of giving false assurance frightens many people, so they end up withholding assurance from everyone.
Like I said I am going to up the ante a bit. I have had the privilege of officiating 7 funerals in my first 5 months as the Pastor of Delta UMC. At funerals even if the one who has died apparently died in unbelief, and the majority of the family assembled seems to not be believers I still preach assurance. Let me rephrase, I preach assurance at a funeral regardless of the circumstances surrounding the funeral, and regardless of who is in attendance. This must bother a reader or two, but I cannot think of a better place to preach assurance. I think that one of the great confusions that people have in this issue is that preaching assurance and pronouncing someone to be redeemed are two very different things. I preach with full confidence at every funeral that Christ has lived, died, and rose for us, and that because of the work of Christ we can have confidence in sin forgiven. I make no statement with regard to the eternal destiny of the dead, or the living, yet I do proclaim the sure work of Christ on the cross for those in attendance, and for the one who has died.
Of course the Calvinist asks how I can do that if I believe in a limited atonement. My answer is pretty simple. Christ died for all, the atonement is only applied to the Elect by faith. The atonement is limited, the sacrifice was not. I certainly do not go so far as to give full peace regarding the deceased, but I also do nothing to withhold peace. Now the Arminian of all people should have no problem with this because of their staunch belief that Christ died for all. Yet it seems that the Arminian is the first to shy away from this type of funeral proclamation.
So what of you? How would you preach a funeral? Would you dangle a carrot out and tell people if they only do this or that then they can be redeemed? Or would you tell them that Christ has lived, died, and resurrected for them. Again I ask the question, what are you afraid of? Are you afraid that someone in faith would actually believe those words to be true and receive assurance?
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