Christian Funeral of Walferd G. Delzer (Romans 8:28-39)

Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Lebanon, OR
Christian Funeral of Walferd G. Delzer – July 20, 2017
Text: Romans 8:28-39

85 years: that’s how long Wally lived (actually just a month ago today).  65 years: that’s how long Wally and Lucille were married.  38 years is how long he worked for CalPortland Cement Company.  24 years is how long Wally was a part of our congregation.  That’s a lot of time for us.  Lots of memories, lots of warm words and love, and yes, lots of hard times too.
Wally was baptized as an infant in Menno, South Dakota.  His parents later moved to Tehachapi and he was raised in the faith at a congregation in Bakersfield.  He and Lucille have spent their entire life together in the Church, loving and serving.  That’s a lot of years to live in God’s grace.
Yet for all of those years, God invites His children to see their lives from a bigger perspective.  For us, we count days, months, and years.  For God, He sees our lives from eternity:
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”
God’s perspective on Wally’s life started before he was even born.  From before the world was ever made, God established His eternal plans for Wally in Christ.[1]  His plans—His good purpose—were for Wally to be called by the Gospel to faith in Jesus.
In that call to Wally came the clear words of God’s grace.  Wally was a fallen descendent of Adam and Eve, for whom no amount of good works could make him right with God.  Yet out of His divine love, God made peace for Wally and declared to him that his sins were forgiven on account of Jesus’ death on the cross.  The familiar words of Jeremiah 29:11 ring out, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for peace and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”[2]  God gave that peace to Wally in the forgiveness of his sins.
But there’s more to God’s plans: “those whom he justified, he also glorified.”  These 85 years on life are not the total of God’s plans for Wally or any Christian.  God’s eternal purpose was fulfilled when Wally finished his course in faith.  The end of this life is only an end from where we stand.  God has prepared eternal life for all who are called by the Gospel and have peace with God through faith in Jesus Christ.
If we see our lives as God’s children from His perspective, it changes our outlook on everything in life as we know it.  When things are going well in our lives, we can thank God for what He’s provided, but also realize none of it is meant to last—even the dream houses, cars, jobs, and vacations will come to an end.  Money comes to us and goes out again, and it would be foolish to look for security in something that’s so easily lost.
God’s perspective on our lives is also tremendous comfort in times of need.  In those seasons where things are falling apart all around you—you’ve lost your job, house, maybe even spouse and children.  When your health is failing and all the tests come back with inconclusive or bad news, God’s promise stands.  He has called you from eternity into eternity, and He never breaks His Word.
What a comfort it is!  We can endure in time of pain and struggle because God holds our life in His hands.  We entrust our days and years into God’s care because His plans are eternal.  Jesus rose from the dead and our life belongs to Him, so the power is taken away from even the most dreadful disease or unexpected death.  Because God’s purpose for us is for good and life, we can know for certain that whatever evil befalls us God will overcome it for us and give us the perseverance and peace we need when we need it.  We hear the rest of Romans 8:
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
            “For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God’s purpose for Wally is the same purpose He has for each one of you—even for every man and woman who has ever lived—that you hear His call to repent and believe the Gospel.  Hear it straight from the Son of God, who gave His life for you:
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
By the power of His Holy Spirit, may this peace and this life be yours in Jesus Christ! Amen.
[1] Ephesians 1:3-5
[2] Many translations say “welfare” but the Hebrew is shalom which the King James correctly translates