A SERMON…at the Memorial of Richard Freed – Itchey Pede The Little Swede
Rv 14:13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.
We are not to wrest any Scripture to our own hurt holding to the false notion that Christians do not physically die. Nonsense!
It is argued: “Well, what did Jesus mean when he said to Martha in Jn 11:25-26…I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: believest thou this?
Heb 9:27-28 –it is plainly stated that it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: 28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
In no case may the Scripture be broken, therefore both Scriptures,John 11 and Hebrews9 are true. Let Scripture say what it means to say. Never try to change the Scriptures and attempt make them subject to one’s own “private interpretation.” They are the inspired word of God.
The author of the Hebrew letter is correct: all men die, but not all men (people) die in the Lord! Some who die physically will stand before the White Throne Judgment and all who have rejected the Son of God will perish.
Jesus, following the raising of Lazarus and addressing the statement of Martha that had he come sooner Lazarus would not have died, took the opportunity to announce that the death of the body is certain for every man, but those who believe on Him, will never die. Is this a contradiction? No. Jesus was referring to the fact that while all men die physically, not all men will die spiritually.
When Richard died, for example, His soul and spirit, that is the person of Richard, went immediately to heaven.
The bodies of lost men remain in the earth from which they came awaiting the day of the Second Resurrection where they will stand awaiting, without an advocate, the execution pronounced of their judgment. At that time they will be separated from God for all eternity in Hell.
The bodies of just men soon to be made perfect, that is the remains of Christians who have died in the Lord await the first resurrection when they shall rise to meet the Lord and forever be with the Lord.
We know that Richard Freed indeed died. I personally carried his remains to the cemetery. I personally prayed over his grave. What we put into the ground was the tabernacle in which the person of Richard Freed lived for 90 years.
But, praise our Merciful God, I know that our beloved Richard according to his testimony, when he left his body he was at once in the presence of the Lord.
2 Co 5:6-9 says: Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: 7(For we walk by faith, not by sight:) 8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. 9 Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent , we may be accepted of him.
A Word concerning the preparation of Richard’s body
Richard’s body was cremated!
Why do I bring up a subject so abhorrent to so many good folks? Because I know that there may be some here who would wonder, “what of Richard?” Has cremation so spoiled and desecrated his body that it will never be raised and unite with his soul and spirit already in heaven? The answer is NO! Will he one day be whole in body, soul, and spirit? YES!
Is then, Cremation allowed for Christian families to consider? Absolutely. That decision is always up to the families of the departed. That is no up to me to say one way or the other.
In Richard’s case since it is not known if he had a will requesting that his body be buried in the traditional way, the Jackson County Court, since no family could be found, considered Richard as having died intestate, an impoverished indigent.
While many good people do not believe cremation is a Scriptural means of Christian burial, they will have a hard time proving their belief by Scripture text or verse. To many, cremation is simply too unpleasant a subject to bring up or to even consider.
The fact is that I can find no specific biblical doctrine opposing it. Even “The Old Testament law nowhere commands that a deceased human body not be burned, nor does it attach any curse or judgment on someone who is cremated.
The question of what happens to the body at death and how will it be raised on the day of resurrection? Paul shows surprising little patience in the question asked of him in 1 Cor. 15,: How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come? Fool, that which thou sowest (buried), is not quickened (made alive), except it die. And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain…but God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. Fool!
The atheistic philosophy must by default deny that even God (in whom they believe does not exist) must also deny any after life and certainly hold in disdain the idea of resurrection. That philosophy then reigns today as did in Paul’s day – he calls those who hold to this heresy fools for they ought to know better.
Paul expanding on the matter of the “body” says that there are many kinds of bodies and all differ from another. And concludes by saying: So is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown (buried) in corruption; it is raise in
What kind of body will we be given? In verse 44 we are told it will be a spiritual body. Spiritual does not mean without substance. Was not Jesus raised with substance? What is meant by “spiritual?” I have not the time for a word study this morning, but I can say without question, according to Paul who under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit declared that the bodies of Christians shall be heavenly bodies, unlike the bare grain that they were when planted, they shall be raised in full and glorious fruit. Paul says our bodies will be like our Lord and Savior’s body… spiritual, heavenly! Changed! Immortal! Incorruptible.
The fact that Richard’s body has been cremated does not make it any more difficult for God to resurrect his quickening body. His body, and the body of our loved ones are, as we speak, undergoing a change, a transformation, a quickening into a body suitable for heavenly residence.
How for example, should we wonder about the bodies of people who are buried at sea? Is there hope of resurrection for them? John writes in Rev. 20:12-13 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
The bodies of Christians who died ages ago have, by now, completely turned into dust. This will in no way prevent God from being able to resurrect their bodies. He created them in the first place; He will have no difficulty re-creating them. Solomon pens this: All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. Ecclesiastes 3:20
We may, in good conscience think of cremation as “expediting” the process of turning a body into dust. God is equally able to raise a person’s remains that have been cremated as He is the remains of a person who was not cremated. The question of burial or cremation is within the realm of Christian freedom.
John Wycliffe, translator of the Bible in English. He was born in the hinterlands, on a sheep farm 200 miles from London. He left for Oxford University in 1346, but because of periodic eruptions of the Black Death, he was not able to earn his doctorate until 1372. Nonetheless, by then he was already considered Oxford’s leading philosopher and theologian. (By the way, those thousands who perished in that terrible plague were are cremated in order to destroy the bacteria that caused their deaths to keep it from spreading even further.)
Wycliffe, believing that every Christian should have access to Scripture (only Latin translations were available at the time), he began translating the Bible into English, with the help of his good friend John Purvey.
The Roman Catholic church bitterly opposed it stating: “By this translation, the Scriptures have become vulgar, and they are more available to lay, and even to women who can read, than they were to learned scholars, who have a high intelligence. So the pearl of the gospel is scattered and trodden underfoot by swine.”
Scattered, trodden, by swine? Really! How improper to say such a thing about people, especially when these words were uttered by a cleric of the church of Rome.
Wycliffe’s reply? “Englishmen learn Christ’s law best in English. Moses heard God’s law in his own tongue; so did Christ’s apostles.”
Wycliffe died before the translation was complete (and before authorities could convict him of heresy); his friend Purvey is considered responsible for the version of the “Wycliffe” Bible we have today. Though Wycliffe’s followers (who came to be called “Lollards”—referring to the region of their original strength) were driven underground, they remained a persistent irritant to English Catholic authorities until the English Reformation made their views the norm.
Forty three years after his death and burial his enemies dug up his remains, mainly by then merely bones, thinking that some people might find his bones and continue to follow his teachings. They gathered them and burnt them into ashes.
Then they fearing that someone might find his ashes and use them as a means of propagating his teachings, scooped them into a container, carried them to the River Avon and spilled them in the fast moving currents, satisfied that nothing of Wycliff remained.
Later, someone wrote: “Thus the brook hath conveyed his ashes into Avon; Avon into Severn; Severn into the narrow seas; and they into the main ocean. And thus the ashes of Wycliffe are the emblem of his doctrine which now is dispersed the world over.”
For the unsaved sinner death has an awful sting, The grave gains awful victory. However, for those who die in the Lord, there is no sting; the grave gains no victory!
All men at death no matter when or how their body was sown, all are sown to corruption, and for lost men, their bodies will be raised for final destruction, not annihilation but eternal suffering in hell. They will suffer what the Bible calls, the second death. All men are born once and die, but for some they will die twice.
But for the Christian body, no matter how it was sown, it too is sown to corruption but it shall be raised glorified, pure, strong and without infirmity, spiritual, with the heavenly image, never to die again. For Christians, they are born twice but die only once.
When Jesus returns, those who die in the Lord, will be raised to life. Their quickened bodies will be transformed to glorified, eternal bodies. This the Bible says will be the first resurrection – where they shall rise first, then as Paul says, those who are alive and remain will be “caught up” and will be together with risen saints and forever be with the Lord.
Richard Freed, died in the Lord and so we believe he is a happy soul! That’s what “blessed” means—‘happy’. But how can you say Brother Bob that Richard is happy? Well, it isn’t me that said it. So says the Holy Spirit. It is written, it is so! All Scripture is profitable to the believer! Richard is blessed, happy because, by his testimony, we believe he died in the Lord.
Richard is happy because he is at rest. That is he is no longer subject to pain, suffering, and debilitating physical and mental distress. Everyone on earth who truly knew Him, loved him.
Those who knew that Richard, in his infirmity of age, knew that he had somewhat dissipated in good judgment, and some while pretending to love him, took advantage of him, used him, and made him miserable and financially troubled.
Everyone in heaven loves Richard for who he is, Richard is safe in the arms of the Lord. He is happy. He is at rest.
Finally, Richard is blessed, happy because he can stand before the Lord virtually unashamed, not prideful mind you, but with a full assurances that his good works followed him.
Others who know not the Lord will stand before the Judgment throne, ashamed but without excused, having all their works burned up, and they themselves in body, soul, and spirit cast into a Lake of fire reserved originally for the devil. There they shall remain without hope and without God.
As to the passing of our Beloved brother in Christ let us consider again this great encouraging text found in Rv 14:13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.
Finally, in closing, It is vital that we understand that the works that follow a Christian have nothing to do with his salvation. Work’s following are works rewarded; crowns given or in some cases, removed. These are good works one does as unto the Lord.
But in and of themselves works are not works that save. I ask you to recall a portion of one of our favorite hymns,
August Toplady’s great work, Rock of Ages…
Not the labors of my hands
can fulfill thy law’s commands;
could my zeal no respite know,
could my tears forever flow,
all for sin could not atone;
thou must save, and thou alone.
Nothing in my hand I bring,
simply to the cross I cling;
naked, come to thee for dress;
helpless, look to thee for grace;
foul, I to the fountain fly;
wash me, Savior, or I die.