On the most somber of occasions, he sought to comfort the mourning. The cold casket adorned a chilled body as the eyes of family and friends, swollen from grief, gazed up at the speaker. He wanted to bring whatever consolation he could. And so, he did what many well-meaning pastors have done in his situation: he abandoned the truth.
Many can sympathize with the impulse to do so. The woman before him lived as worldly as they come, blaspheming God and his word whenever the opportunity presented itself. With all her friends and family gathered, it hardly felt like the appropriate time to tell them what God actually said. And so, the pastor proclaimed that deep down she was a good person and was with the Lord in heaven.
It was at that moment, when all sat pleased at the pastor’s words, that a young woman spoke up:
It’s a lie! Do not believe him! We will not all be in a better place! That hope is false! Only those who believe in Christ, the Son of God, the one who died and was raised, will be saved! Only those who repent and believe and follow him until the end will be in a better place. Wrath awaits all who die in sin! Please believe! He stands ready to forgive you!
People stared, aghast. A funeral usher approached to invite her to leave. One person furiously told her to shut the hell up and so she was trying. Hell’s mouth gaped open. Souls were at stake. God’s truth was being butchered. She tried, alone, to warn her loved ones off the path to perdition.
My wife was at that funeral home a decade ago. She witnessed the minister’s sentimental words, saw the usher approach, and heard the crude language addressed to her. She was the young woman who, with trembling voice, offered all who would listen grace at the gates of hell.