Death, Hope, and Ingersoll

Death, Hope, and Ingersoll 

Robert Ingersoll was a famous atheist of the 1800s. As he spoke at the grave of his dead brother it is reported that he said: 

Life is a narrow vale between the cold and barren peaks of two eternities. We strive in vain to look beyond the heights. We cry aloud—and the only murmur is the echo of our wailing cry. From the voiceless lips of the unreplying dead there comes no word. But in the night of Death, Hope sees a star, and listening Love can hear the rustle of a wing (Farrell, 12:391).

Wayne Jackson added that "When adversaries confronted him with the implications of this expression of “hope,” he rationalized by suggesting that his words were simply spontaneous eruptions of affection; literally speaking, he said, he was “agnostic” regarding the immortality of the soul.”*

Such is the ‘hope’ of materialism and atheism.  At best one can claim to be agnostic, that he simply doesn’t know. Such is true from a purely human viewpoint. Who knows? Such was the question asked by the writer of Ecclesiastes "Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth?” (Eccl. 3:21) Yet he ended with the comfort that believers indeed return to God their creator (Eccl. 12:7). 

Jesus was born into a human form, lived, was rejected and crucified, was buried, and rose again on the third day. Such is the basis of the gospel said Paul. 

1Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:1-4).

For disciples that is not only the assurance of our salvation through Jesus the Son of God, it is also the hope of our own resurrection. In His resurrection He became the 1st fruits of those who will be raised by Him (vs. 20). Like the first fruit that is gathered in the spring it gives assurance of fruit that will follow. Having risen from the dead He gives assurance that He will destroy our common enemy - death (vs. 26). 

Picking up our reading in vs. 35, Paul’s admits that we don’t know the specifics of the nature of the resurrected body, but we know it will be fit for eternal life in the presence of God. 

Knowing that this whole thing about death is a result and consequence of sin, we have assurance in facing our own death that Jesus overcame sin and death and gives US the victory also (vs. 57)

I don’t know how many funeral and memorial services I have spoken at - too many! BUT the sadness of the gathering is punctuated by the hope that we have in Jesus. We, like Ingersoll, cry out loud but the voice of our resurrected Savior comes loudly to us: 28Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment” (John 5:28-29). On another occasion of writing about our coming resurrection, Paul instructed us to “comfort one another with these words”. Is this YOUR hope? Can you leave your loved ones with this comforting thought about your eternal future? 

Hugh DeLong

While typing this, auto-correct kept replacing Ingersoll with innersoul!  :-)