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A Homily Given at the Memorial of Jim Ross

empty-pulpitThe Blessed Estate of Those Saints Who Die in the Lord

Rev 14:13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”

The apostle John in this vision accounts for us that he heard a voice from heaven. We can make some observations about this. It is a voice that has come from heaven. Why is this necessary that a voice would come from heaven and not from man? Because John is receiving a revelation. This revelation is something that must happen outside of himself. It must come from outside of our existence. This is a form of authority because it is speaking from a position of knowledge.

Then a command is given to write. “Write this” and follows the content. “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” What are we to make of this? And in light of this as a memorial for Jim how should we understand this blessing. Consider for a moment the contrast, a blessing for those who are dead. For a moment let us consider Death.

“Rom 5:12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—” 

It enters as a consequence of the rebellion of Adam. Death would be spread to all humanity. Death would now function not only as a consequence or punishment. Death would function as a tool. Understand there is Death is a drum, and it beats for each of us. When Death stops its beat, time is up. It is a fearful thing to fall into eternity outside of Christ.

Rom 5:18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. Rom 5:19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.”

Death however finds a different function for those who are in Jesus. Jesus coming under the law that brought death to us all, satisfies the Law. That means he lived the perfect life and never failed to have perfect obedience. And though he was perfect. Though death was only for those who were sinful, he would enter into the mouth of Death. However, there was a third day. The third day came and rose from the dead. Because Death had no claim on him.

Never would death be seen as a blessing. But now, John tells us for those who are in Jesus, it is a blessing. To be blessed means “being fortunate or happy because of circumstances”. Here those Saints who die in Jesus are fortunate. They are to be considered happy because of the circumstance. What circumstance? Death. How could death be a circumstance to be considered happy or fortunate? Then for emphasis it John writes again, “Blessed indeed”. Yes they are in death they are blessed.

How could they be considered blessed?  They are blessed because now they can rest. Death has now served as a tool to translate them to glory. A chariot that now serves to lift them up rather than bring condemnation. Death meets the saints at the end of their lives and says, “I will take you to your master.” The saints are safe. They are at peace. Because they are in a position where no judgment can come against them. “Who can bring judgment against God’s elect?” That judgment has already been placed on Jesus on the cross. The saints now are done laboring. Now they rest.

What do they rest from? Through their lives they have battled daily against this sinful world. Though they were delivered from the dominion of sin, they were still in the presence of it. They would fight against the spirit of the world. That spirit of the world which works hard to tell them to abandon their faith. The spirit of the world that works against the kingdom of Christ. We should not be deceived to think that we can be neutral or indifferent. Because such a person does not exist. We will either be slaves to sin. Under the dominion and reign of sin. Or we will be slaves to Christ. Slave here is perhaps a word that comes with a lot of baggage in an american context. However, in a biblical context being a slave could be a good thing it all depended on your master.

So how did Jim die “in” the Lord? What did he do that put him “in” Jesus? Technically, he didn’t “do” anything. Something was done to him.

The promises were given to him and he received those promises by faith. Jim trusted in Christ alone for his salvation. And God made that promise a reality.

Jim was changed, forever. Never again would he be the same person.

Now he would have struggles and he would have moments of victory, moments of defeat. But he would never ever be outside of Christ. Because Christ told him and promised him that he would never leave him and God cannot lie.

Therefore Jim, who achieved much in his life in terms of his profession, achieved what matters ultimately most. He lived well and he died well. We pray that we will be able to say the same of ourselves.

Through his sufferings, and there were many, he never renounced his faith. His illness which may have seemed to take him, only brought him sooner to heaven. It was his usher. And through the suffering he held fast to the faith. It was difficult. It was a life of laboring. But now, his labors are finished. Now he enters glory. We must not shorten the significance of his death. It isn’t only an end of his suffering. It is the beginning of a new level of glory and happiness.


1 Comment

  1. Majoo says:

    My first companion was Elder Arlen W. Bell, a great sriaptoricn. He had been confined to his apartment for months because the city he was working in passed an ordinance making it illegal to proselyte. He spent the time memorizing scriptures. I really thought he must have memorized the whole Bible, because I sat in meetings with him when he literally confounded ministers. As I analyzed it, I realized that modern day revelations made the difference. Ours is the only church with 12 apostles and a prophet. We build and operate temples around the world. We understand the apostasy and end to revelation with the closing of the Bible, and we understand the scriptures that promise apostasy and restoration. We have clarity in our doctrine. From there, I tried to follow Elder Bell’s example and memorize everything I could get my hands on. While I have lost a lot of it, I still have the things I need. But we have been blessed with the fullness of the gospel, and this because of modern day revelation. There is no other plausible explanation for Joseph Smith than he was a prophet of God. Without that explanation, he would be superhuman; the greatest genius in the history of the world. Of course, he was a prophet of God, and God was using him to restore all truth. The priesthood received by him and Oliver Cowdery in 1829 from the hands of Peter, James and John was transmitted from man to man to our current day apostles and prophets. All other explanations pale, falter and become nonsensical.

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