My friend Larry Goring died 2 months ago after a nine-month battle with cancer. He was only 73, and I miss him greatly. Larry was one of the original board members of our missionary care ministry, Caring for Others, and was always a great encouragement to me. His wife Jill gave me permission to share some of the details following Larry’s death that I want to share with you. I’m doing so because here in November 2022, the month we celebrate Thanksgiving, Jill’s response shows us how we can be thankful for life after death.
What she did for Larry’s funeral service is quite encouraging, and I thought you would appreciate a little encouragement today.
But before I tell you what Jill did, here’s what this podcast is all about.
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Thankful for Life After Death
Thank you, Carol. I’ll start by reading part of the email Janet and I received from Jill, the night Larry died at home, surrounded by Jill and their two adult children.
“We are grief-stricken. At the same time, we are so thankful that he is pain-free and joy-filled and enjoying the glories of heaven, meeting his savior, reuniting with his parents, his brother-in-law, my nephew, and so many other dear ones. We are grateful for what the Lord Jesus did to make this possible. We were sitting with him and playing one of the many songs he loves [The Holy City] when he took his last breath.
“Everywhere we turn in the house makes us weep with his absence. We wish we could just sit and cry and hug all of you who loved him.
Thank you for your prayers.”
The burial service
Twelve days later Jill wrote:
“Tomorrow it will be a week since Larry’s burial service. It crushes my heart to write those words.
“We gathered for some family time at the funeral home, and whoever wanted to read a verse took a printed one before we crossed the street to the cemetery.
“At the graveside, all we did was read these Scriptures.
“Each voice was loud and clear with not a single stumble—from the eight-year-old to the teenagers to the nieces and nephews and us older ones.
It was powerfully comforting.
“Tonight—my first night home alone–I am reading them again. As I will do over and over again. I hope you are blessed by them.
“Thank you again for your prayers.
Scriptures that assure us of life after death
Several weeks later when Jill was visiting us in our home, she told us more about Larry’s burial service. 15- 20 people gathered around the gravesite, ranging in ages from 8 to 73. Jill had printed scripture verses on 5×7 notecards that spoke of life after death and the encouragement we can draw from them. Anyone who wanted to read the Bible verses could do so.
Here are the verses people read standing around the gravesite. I hope you can picture the scene. May they give those of us with a relationship with Jesus great comfort, both now, and for when our time on earth comes to an end.
[Jesus talking to the religious teacher Nicodemus]
God loved the world so much that He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. That’s why God sent his son—not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
I’m telling you the absolute truth: those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins—in fact, they have already passed from death into life.
And I assure you that the time is coming, indeed it’s here now, when the dead will hear my voice—the voice of the Son of God. And those who listen will live!
Picture someone reading John 11:23-26
[Jesus talking to Mary at her brother Lazarus’ grave]
Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”
Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.”
“Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.”
Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”
“Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.”
II Timothy 4:6-8
[some of the apostle Paul’s last words as he awaits life after death ]
As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.
I Corinthians 13:11-15
When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
II Corinthians 4:16-5:9. What we know about life after death
[The apostle Paul in his second letter to the church at Corinth]
[And so] we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. Our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. Because the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
We know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. …While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee, he has given us his Holy Spirit.
[5:6-9] We’re very sure of that, dear friends. We live believing that, even though we can’t see it with our eyes. We know that as soon as we leave these earthly bodies—we’ll be at home with the Lord! And that’s where we’d rather be! But no matter where we are—whether in these bodies or there with him—our goal is to please him.
Picture one of the children reading from the following.
It’s from the apostle Paul and one of his letters to a church he loved dearly. He described Papa’s (i.e, what the grandkids called Larry) future & ours:
Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die,
but they will be raised to live forever.
Our bodies are buried in brokenness,
but they will be raised in glory.
They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength.
They are buried as natural human bodies,
but they will be raised as spiritual bodies.
Because here’s the thing, dear brothers and sisters.
God has amazing, eternal blessings planned for us.
But our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever. Our bodies have to be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies have to be changed into immortal bodies to experience the eternal blessings God has prepared for us.
[That’s what’s going to happen to Papa and great-grandpa Bartlett and all us ‘left-behind’ ones!]
Those left behind can be thankful for life after death
And for we who are left behind:
Listen! Let me tell you a wonderful secret!
We may not all die.
But we WILL all be transformed.
It will happen in a moment—in the blink of an eye–
when the last trumpet is blown.
I say ‘in the blink of an eye’, because when the trumpet sounds, those who have already died will instantly be raised to live forever!
And we who are living will also be immediately transformed.
Our bodies will be changed into bodies that never die!
Then –then what God promised in His Word long ago
will be fulfilled:
Death is swallowed up in victory.
You think you can hurt us, death?
You think you’ve won?
You are conquered forever—through Jesus Christ our Lord.
[I Corinthians 15:42-55, 58]
So my dear children and grandchildren and mother and sister and brother and in-laws and nieces and nephews: be strong and immovable.
Always work enthusiastically for the Lord—because we know that nothing we do for the Lord is ever useless!
Romans 6:5, 8-9
Since we have been united with Christ in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was.
And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him.
Parts of Romans 8:18-24 [paraphrase]
Just think, friends! We are God’s children—His heirs—those He is showering with all His goodness. And in fact we are going to be glorified with Him!
And this suffering that we’re going through now—it is going to seem like nothing –not even worthy to be mentioned compared with that glory that’s ahead.
I’m talking about the glory that the whole world will see when God reveals all of us His children–sharing in all His glory!
Another reason to be grateful for life after death
With eager hope, creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. Right now…all creation is still groaning, as it has been since the fall. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, because we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.
That’s the hope God gave us when we were saved!
[Larry loved listening to these verses in his final days.]
What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Another child reads from Colossians 3:1-4
[the apostle Paul to the church at Colosse; Papa loved these verses]
Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. Because you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory!
[Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians; this is our prayer for all of us in the family]
When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.
And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.
I Thessalonians 4:13-18
[the Apostle Paul explains what will happen to believers who have died]
And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.
[The reason we don’t grieve like they do is] because we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again—so we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.
We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died.
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout…
with the voice of the archangel
And with the trumpet call of God.
First the believers who have died will rise from their graves.
Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
Then we will be with the Lord forever!
So encourage each other with these words.
Imagine another child around the gravesite reading from Revelation 21:1-6
[This is what Jesus showed his disciple John, and what Papa and all of us are looking forward to!]
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life.
Parts of Revelation 21 tells about life after death
So he took me in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and he showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God and sparkled like a precious stone—like jasper as clear as crystal.
The wall was made of jasper, and the city was pure gold, as clear as glass.
The twelve gates were made of pearls—each gate from a single pearl! And the main street was pure gold, as clear as glass.
I saw no temple in the city, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light. The nations will walk in its light, and the kings of the world will enter the city in all their glory. Its gates will never be closed at the end of day because there is no night there.
Parts of Revelation 22
[What awaits us in our life after death is more of what Jesus showed his disciple John—the end of the Story!]
No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him. And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads, and there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever.
Then the angel said to me, “Everything you have heard and seen is trustworthy and true. The Lord God, who inspires his prophets, has sent his angel to tell his servants what will happen soon.”
And Jesus said:
Look, I am coming soon!
Yes, I am coming soon!
[And we say:]
Amen! Come Lord Jesus!
I Timothy 6:15-16
At just the right time Christ will be revealed from heaven by the blessed and only almighty God, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords. He alone can never die, and he lives in light so brilliant that no human can approach him. No human eye has ever seen him, nor ever will. All honor and power to him forever! Amen.
Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
II Thessalonians 2:16-17
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.
To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault.
All glory to him who alone is God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his
…before all time
…and in the present
…and beyond all time!
1 Passages from New Living Translation and/or the BRE [Bible in Real English—Jill’s paraphrase for kids]. All passages were read clearly and distinctly by adults and children as young as 8, with not a single stumbling. It was a huge blessing to hear.
So what does all this mean for YOU?
How does what you heard today affect how you view death? Your own death?
I wonder what you would like said and done at your funeral service.
I especially wonder how your relationship with Jesus, or for some of you, lack of relationship with Him, will affect your last days on earth and the people you leave behind.
These are important questions to consider. Our life after death depends on how we answer.
Here’s the main takeaway I hope you remember from today’s episode
Our relationship with Jesus enables us to be grateful for life after death. Those we leave behind who also have a relationship with Jesus can be comforted by this important truth. We will all be together again one day because Jesus defeated death. Sadly, there are those who refuse this great gift because they don’t want a relationship with Jesus.
Relationship question of the month.
On a lighter note, our relationship question of the month as we move into the Christmas season is this:
What joyful memory of Christmas do you have? What is a tradition or event that stands out for you when you think about this holiday?
Just go to johncertalic.com/question to record your answer using your phone or computer. With your answer, please include your name and where you’re from. It’s that simple. If you’d rather give a written answer, just enter it in the Leave a Comment box at the bottom of the show notes.
I’ll need your response by 5 pm Central time on December 12, 2022. I’ll pick several responses to air on one of our episodes before Christmas.
In closing, I’d love to hear any thoughts you have about today’s episode. I hope you were encouraged by the fact that we can be thankful for Life after death
Well, that’s it for today. If there’s someone in your life you think might like to hear what you just heard, please forward this episode on to them. The link is JohnCertalic.com/186. Or scroll down to the bottom of the show notes for this episode and click on one of the options in the yellow “Share This” bar.
And don’t forget to spread a little relational sunshine around the people you meet this week. Spark some joy for them. And I’ll see you again next time. Goodbye for now.
You Were Made for This is sponsored by Caring for Others, a missionary care ministry. The generosity of people like you supports our ministry. It enables us to continue this weekly podcast and other services we provide to missionaries around the world.
John, I was really encouraged by this episode. It was a great reminder of the plentiful verses that address eternal life with God. Listened to every one.
Christmas memory that stands out.: Going to a Christmas tree farm near Cross Plains with dad and sibs, walking quite a bit to choose just the right tree, cutting it with our own saw, dragging it to the car and taking it home to decorate.
Second Memory: Grandparents had beautiful old Swiss chalet on five acres in Madison Highlands with large rooms and high ceilings. The tree needed to be so large to fill the space that Papa would select a huge tree and cut off the top for our use. This worked out nicely for him because it served to also reopen the view of Lake Mendota in the distance from his property.
Thanks for your feedback. I’m glad you found the episode and the verses helpful.
And thanks for sharing those great Christmas memories, too!