A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®

Reformed. Christianity. Evangelism. Modern Culture.

What to Preach at An Unbeliever’s Funeral Without Flinching.

Just got my latest (and yes, smokin’ hot) copy of the month’s Table Talk Magazine. The topic that has caught my attention is the one that causes the greatest of fears upon most pastors. Harry Reeder III has an interesting article that asks:

How do you preach the gospel at funerals for unbelievers? First, you must be committed to doing it. Second, you have to be compassionate while doing it. The implications will be obvious to any who listen what you are thoughtfully yet pointedly saying about the gospel. The eternal state of the unbeliever who has died is revealed by the truth of the gospel. Let’s be clear. We  are not called to make pronouncements about a person’s soul any more than we are allowed to make false assurances concerning his eternal state.

Why? God alone is in the position of knowing that person’s heart and making pronouncements concerning their eternal destination – we do not know if perhaps he experienced a death bed conversion. Instead, we are to preach the gospel and direct all in attendance to their need of the Saviour in light of eternity.

However, we have a responsibility to tell all too that all who have NOT put their trust in Christ are rightly under the judgement of God. The individual’s heart, we do not know.


5 responses to “What to Preach at An Unbeliever’s Funeral Without Flinching.

  1. Holly H. August 23, 2011 at 18:08

    As an “unbeliever” (or atheist as I prefer to be called) I was reading this post and somehow accidentally “liked” it. I’m not entirely sure how that happened, but everything happens for a reason! Then I reread it and realized I do agree very much with the cited passage, “We are not called to make pronouncements about a person’s soul any more than we are allowed to make false assurances concerning his eternal state.” So true (though I can’t make pronouncements about what you are called to do)! To be honest, I’m not sure how many true atheists want someone preaching the gospel at their funeral. But whether or not this is included in a service, maybe for family or tradition, I couldn’t agree more that “the individual’s heart, we do not know.” Thank you for sharing this piece of wisdom with those who believe it IS their responsibility to judge, and as a consequence feel entirely too burdened by the matter of an atheist loved one’s post-mortem destination.

    I should mention, I initially was reading your 10 Dangers of Defining Yourself By What You Are Against. I have quite a few evangelical people in my life who I care for very much but with whom I cannot communicate (about almost anything) for this very reason, and it makes me sad- mostly for the fact that they spend so much time being angry and hurt.

    • Michael Acidri August 25, 2011 at 12:30

      Hi Holly, Im surprised that you liked this post. I hope God leads you to understand that I (michael) as a sinner saved by the grace of God have a responsibility to tell all (including you) who may not have put their trust in Christ yet that you will be rightly under the judgement of God if you die in your sin. Michael

      • Holly H. October 14, 2011 at 01:32

        As I said in my post, hitting the like button was accidental. But I always try to find some value in others’ words. What I was agreeing with is that you do not know my heart. But your perceived responsibility to those you do not know is your business not mine, as long as you are doing no harm. As a person who practices empathy, the act of understanding another’s point of view, I can (believe it or not) understand (without necessarily sharing) your sense of responsibility to “sinners” like me… I have never needed “God” to show me that.

      • Acidri October 14, 2011 at 09:32

        Perhaps God’s concern for your life was to seemingly and “accidentally” lead you to this blog. I hope what you read and learn here leads to a a timely awakening.

  2. marie maharaj March 3, 2013 at 05:16

    Hello Michael,
    I accidently came upon your blog looking for ideas to preach to the unsaved.I agree with you;we are not to judge and to come to any conclusians about people’s souls. I was taking care of an elderly Jewish lady who was jewish all her life.On her death bed she said,’Jesus save me’ ,and as she began to ‘travel’,she said,’Jesus saved me’I am seeing jesus”. She said this over and over for about ten minuted until she became unconcious until her death a little later. I hope this shows the Atheist that there is a Jesus,who is God.May the Lord open the spiritual eyes of the athesist Holly, and any other person reading this blog.

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