Myrna Brodhead Funeral Sermon — Pastor Rolf Preus

Myrna Brodhead Funeral Sermon
June 30, 2018
1 John 5:11-13

And this is the testimony, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

 

We have seen Myrna lying in the coffin. Is she dead? Or is she alive? Do we see in order to believe or do we believe in order to see?

Thomas said that he would not believe in Christ’s resurrection from the dead unless he could see His body and touch the wounds of His crucifixion. Jesus did what Thomas demanded but added a promise intended for us, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” To be blessed by God is to be made happy by God. God brings us joy when he brings us to believe in those promises we cannot see. The greatest promises God gives are the promises He gives us in Christ. We cannot see these promises. We cannot see the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, or the life everlasting, but God promises us all of these things.

We know that these promises are based on what Christ did. He was certainly seen. Shepherds saw Him as a baby lying in a manger. Thousands witnessed His life and miracles. Many watched Him die on the cross. Over five hundred people saw Him after He rose from the dead. The life of Jesus was lived within our history. The facts of His life are recorded for us in the Holy Scriptures. We believe the Bible to be God’s infallible word. It is not possible that the word of God could mislead us. We believe what the Bible says because God is the Author of the Holy Scriptures.

We believe in order to see. From God’s word recorded here in l John 5, God tells us three things that our sister Myrna believed, and which give us great comfort this morning.

  1. Eternal life is a gift from God.
  2. Eternal life is received only through faith in Jesus Christ.
  3. We can be sure that we have eternal life.

 

Eternal life is a gift from God. It is not something we deserve. It is not something we could ever earn. Myrna knew this. She confessed her sins to God and admitted that she did not deserve eternal life. Before receiving the Lord’s Supper, she confessed to God,

I, a poor miserable sinner, confess unto thee all my sins and iniquities with which I have ever offended thee, and justly deserved thy temporal and eternal punishment.

She received forgiveness, and with it eternal life, as a gift. That was the greatest gift God could have given to her. God has received her to Himself where there is no pain, no suffering, and no sorrow.

But Myrna is not the only one who has eternal life. You do too, Leon [Myrna’s husband]. You have it right now. Right now, as you are suffering the loss of your dear wife, people talk to you about heaven. They want to comfort you. Christian friends will comfort you with the promise that Myrna has eternal life with God. But what about you? St. John writes, “God has given us eternal life.” Has given. We have it right now. We do not have to die to gain eternal life. Jesus said, “Whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” God gives eternal life. Nobody who ever received it worked for it. The only way to receive it is simply by trusting in the promise of God that he gives it. Eternal life is a gift from God.

Second, eternal life is received only through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.” Eternal life is received only through faith in Christ. There is no other way. Why is this? Because Jesus, the eternal Son of the eternal Father, is the One who earned this gift for us. St. John makes it crystal clear. “He who has the Son has life, he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

Who, but the Son of God, has eternal life to give? Who else has suffered the punishment for our sin? Who else has lived that holy life God requires of us? Who else has fulfilled all of God’s demands on us? Who else has defeated the power of the devil by suffering for our sins? Who else has destroyed death? Who else has raised himself from the dead? Jesus, and Jesus alone, has done this. Qnly the Son of God has done this. To have Jesus is to have life. To trust in the Gospel of Jesus is to receive what Jesus alone can give.

Is there anyone here today who is trusting in his own obedience to God, or in his own commitment to God, or in his own efforts, to find eternal life? If so, please consider these words from God to you: “He who has the Son has life.” St. Paul made it crystal clear when he wrote to the Ephesians, “For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works so that no one may boast.”

Third, we can be sure that we have eternal life. We doubt, we wonder, we become afraid, and we want assurance, we want certainty. We look and see that Myrna is surely dead because we have seen her lying in her casket. Our eyes tell us that she is dead. So how can we know that she or we or anyone else has eternal life? Where is the certainty of faith?

It is in the testimony of God Himself. God cannot lie or bear false witness. Everyone else can. The Psalmist said, “Let God be true and every man a liar.” It is God who promises that those who have Christ have eternal life. It was God who inspired St. John to write the words, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.”

God removes all our doubt. Myrna received eternal life. That life remained hers when her mortal body died, because God promised her that she had eternal life, and God cannot lie. The life you lived with your wife, your mother, your grandmother, was visible. You experienced it. You saw it. You felt it. It was real. The life with God in heaven may seem unreal simply because we haven’t experienced it. But consider this. The love we share with one another here on earth is always a loved that is marred by something: sin, sickness, weakness and finally physical death. God has something far greater: A reunion in heaven where sin is no more, sickness is no more, and death is no more.

How do we know? God says so. The words here written, John says. The words proclaimed in church. The words confessed in the creed. The words that make ordinary bread and wine the body and blood of Jesus, given and shed for us for the forgiveness of sins. The word of God is the foundation of faith. That’s why Myna loved going to church. It’s where God gave her her confidence that she had eternal life in Jesus.

Meanwhile, as we mourn, we confess our sins to God. We confess our complete unworthiness. And then we receive from him that promise: “He who has the Son of God has life.” And we trust in Him whose promises cannot fail. Amen

 

About Pastor Rolf Preus

Pastor Rolf David Preus grew up on the campus of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, the fourth of ten children, where his father, Dr. Robert David Preus, taught for many years. Pastor Preus graduated from high school in 1971, from Concordia College, St. Paul, Minnesota in 1975 and from Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, Indiana in 1979. He was ordained on July 1, 1979, at Trinity Lutheran Church, in Clear Lake, Minnesota. He served Trinity Lutheran Church in Clear Lake (1979-1982), First Lutheran Church in East Grand Forks, Minnesota (1982-1989), St. John's Lutheran Church in Racine, Wisconsin (1989-1997), River Heights Lutheran Church in East Grand Forks, Minnesota (1997-2006), and First American Lutheran Church in Mayville, North Dakota and Grace Lutheran Church in Crookston, Minnesota from (2006-2015). On February 15, 2015 he was installed as Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Sidney, Montana and St. John Lutheran Church, Fairview, Montana. Pastor Preus received his Master of Sacred Theology degree from Concordia Theological Seminary in 1987. His thesis topic was, “An Evaluation of Lutheran/Roman Catholic Conversations on Justification." Pastor Preus has taught courses in theology for Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, Concordia University Wisconsin, and St. Sophia Lutheran Theological Seminary in Ternopil, Ukraine. Pastor Preus married Dorothy Jean Felts on May 27, 1975, in Coldwater, Michigan. God has blessed Pastor and Dort with twelve children: Daniel, David, Paul, John, Mark, Stephen, Christian, Andrew, James, Mary, Samuel, and Peter. David, Paul, John, Mark, Stephen, Christian, Andrew, and James are pastors in the LCMS. God has blessed Pastor and Mrs. Preus with forty-three grandchildren so far. Pastor Preus' mother is living in Minneapolis. Three of his brothers and two of his brothers-in-law have served as pastors in the LCMS.

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