Stephen Caswell © 2003
Today we have come here to remember Ernie Heath. So suddenly, we have been separated from him. Will we see him again? Is there an afterlife? Does the Bible offer us hope? Yes it does! In John 14:1-6, Jesus shares 3 points that comfort us. Jesus gives perfect peace, Jesus has prepared a place, and finally, Jesus is the pathway home.
Firstly, Jesus Gives Perfect Peace
John 14:1 Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.
Jesus told the disciples not to be troubled. Why were the disciple’s hearts troubled? Because Jesus had just told them that He was going to die. Death, separation and uncertainty will always cause us anxiety. The disciples loved Jesus. They had followed Him for three years and didn't want Him to leave them now. This is why their hearts were troubled. Jesus told them not to be troubled in their hearts and shared with them His peace. Faith in God the Father and God the Son would bring back peace to their troubled hearts. Jesus and His Father have a wonderful plan to bring all God's children home. In times like these Jesus gives us perfect peace.
Moody More Alive
Realizing that he would soon be gone from this world, Moody said to a friend, Someday you will read in the papers that D. L. Moody of Northfield is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now. I shall have gone higher, that is all - out of this old clay tent into a house that is immortal, a body that sin cannot touch, that sin cannot taint, a body fashioned into His glorious body. I was born in the flesh in 1837; I was born of the Spirit in 1856. That which is born of the flesh may die; that which is born of the Spirit will live forever.
Secondly, Jesus Has Prepared A Place
John 14:2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
Moody Saw Heaven
A few hours before entering the Homeland, Dwight L. Moody caught a glimpse of the glory awaiting him. Awakening from a sleep, he said, Earth recedes, Heaven opens before me. If this is death, it is sweet! There is no valley here. God is calling me, and I must go. His son who was standing by his bedside said, No, no, father, you are dreaming. No, said Mr. Moody, I am not dreaming: I have been within the gates: I have seen the children’s faces. A short time elapsed and then, following what seemed to the family to be the death struggle he spoke again: This is my triumph; this my coronation day! It is glorious!
In God's house there are many mansions. Jesus has gone and prepared a special place for us. The word mansion means a dwelling place. Heaven is large and able to accommodate many people. It is God's desire that everyone should live there. He invites all men to come. The heavenly Jerusalem is some 1500 miles square. God doesn't want any to perish. There is plenty of room for all. Will everyone go to heaven then? No. Sadly this won't happen. Only members of God's family are welcome in the Father's house. Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people.
Born Into God’s Family
In our home at 147 Mount Sylvia Road all of my children are welcome there. They live with me because they are my family. You might ask; how can I join your family? There’s only one way. You have to be born into it. The same is true of God's home. Only His children will live there. God doesn't have grand children. Just because your parents are or grandparents are Christians doesn't make you one. For migrants to become Australian citizens they have to choose to do so. To become one of God's children we have to be born into His family. It’s your choice!
Ernie Heath was born into the Heath family about 75 years ago. This gave Ern physical life. It was when he believed that Jesus Christ had died for his sins that he was born again. He then received Christ as His personal Lord and Savior. In fact Ernie and Yo gave a public testimony of their faith here at Tent Hill Baptist Church about 9 years ago. Now Ernie has gone home to be with his Heavenly Father. He is living in the mansion Christ prepared for him. Have you been born again into God's family?
Thirdly, Jesus Is The Pathway Home
14:3-4 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.
Jesus told them the way to the Father's home when He lived with them. Unfortunately the disciples hadn't understood all that Jesus had taught them. They didn't know that He was going back to heaven. So Thomas asked for the directions on how to get to our heavenly home. John 14:5 Thomas said to Him, Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way? Jesus reply is simple yet profound. John 14:6 Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. Jesus said 3 important things.
a. The Way
Firstly, Jesus is the Way. A traveler engaged a guide to take him across a desert area. When the two men arrived at the edge of the desert, the traveler, looking ahead, saw before him trackless sands without a single footprint, path, or marker of any kind. Turning to his guide, he asked in a tone of surprise, Where is the road? With a reproving glance, the guide replied, I am the road. So, too, Jesus is our way through unfamiliar territory. In fact, Jesus said that He was the only way to the Father. Isn't that being narrow minded? It is; but it is also the truth. Jesus Christ came from God to start with. He knows where the Father dwells. Witnesses saw Him ascend back into heaven. No one else has come from heaven or gone back there. Jesus is the only way to heaven.
b. The Truth
Secondly, Jesus is the Truth. What truth? The truth about God and man; about sin, death, salvation and judgment; about heaven and hell. The truth is that we are all sinners who cannot save ourselves. Only Jesus Christ lived a sinless life. He died for our sins and rose again. It is only as we believe the truth that we can be saved from our sins. Romans 10:8-9, 13: But what does the Scripture say? The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
c. The Life
Thirdly, Jesus is the Life. Jesus is the only one to rise from the dead. Everyone dies because of sin. The founders of all other religions are dead and still in their tombs. Why would you follow them? Only Christians serve a living Savior. His tomb is empty. Christ conquered death and hell for us. All who believe in Him will receive forgiveness from sin and eternal life.
Carried to His Own Room
In a small family home, a little boy, their only son, was ill with an incurable disease. Month after month the mother had tenderly nursed him, read to him, and played with him, hoping to keep him from the dreadful finality of the doctor's diagnosis – The little boy was sure to die. But as the weeks went on he gradually began to understand that he would never be like the other boys he saw playing outside his window. Small as he was, he began to understand the meaning of the term death, and he too knew he was to die.
One day his mother had been reading to him the stirring tale of King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table, of Lancelot and Elaine the lily maid of Astelot, and about that last glorious battle where so many fair knights met their death. She closed the book as her little son sat silent for an instant, deeply stirred. Then he asked the question weighing on his childish heart, Mama, what is it like to die? Mama, does it hurt? Quick tears sprang to her eyes and she fled to the kitchen supposedly to tend to something on the stove. She knew it was a question with deep significance. She knew it must be answered satisfactorily. So she leaned for an instant against the smooth surface and breathed a hurried prayer that the Lord would keep her from breaking down before the boy and that she would be able to tell him the answer; the Lord did tell her. Immediately she knew how to explain it to him.
Kenneth, she said to her son, do you remember when you were a tiny boy how you used to play so hard all day that when night came you were too tired even to undress and you'd tumble into your mother's bed and fall asleep. That was not your bed, it was not where you belonged. You would only stay there a little while. Much to your surprise you would wake up and find yourself in your own bed in your own room. You were there because someone had loved you and taken care of you. Your father had come with big strong arms and carried you away. Kenneth, darling, death is just like that. We just wake up some morning to find ourselves in the other room. Our room where we belong, because the Lord Jesus loved us and died for us.
The lad's shining face looked up into hers. He told her that there would be no more fear, only love and trust in his little heart as he went to meet the Father in heaven. He never questioned again. Several weeks later he fell asleep just as she had said and Father's big, strong arms carried him to his own room.
Today we have gathered here to remember Ernie Heath and honor his life. We remember something of Ernie’s loving and caring personality. The way that he cared for Yo and ministered to so many others. Ern had this love for people because Christ had placed it in his heart. Last Friday morning the Lord called Ernie home to Himself. At this very moment, he is at peace, rejoicing in the presence of God. We miss his kind, friendly face, but know that he is at peace with Christ.
But let me ask you this, where would you be now if you had passed into eternity last Friday morning instead of Ernie Heath? Would you be welcome in the Father's home? Are you one of His children? Or would your un-forgiven sins take you to a different place? A place of eternal torment and sorrow. A place the Bible calls hell. Death need not cause us anxiety. God has prepared a place for those who love Him. Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people. Will you allow God to prepare a place for you in His mansions? Will you be born into His family today? It's as easy as A, B, C.
A = Admit that you are a sinner and cannot save yourself.
B = Believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins and rose again.
C = Confess Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
The Bible says that whoever calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved. Ernie loved and served the Lord Jesus for many years. Imagine how happy he would be if he knew that folk came to love the same Lord Jesus on the day we remember him. Will you call on the Lord Jesus to save you today? Will you find your way home? If you would like to talk about this please see me after the service.
Numbers 6:24-26: The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.