LINDSAY, Okla. (BNC) by Gantt Carter — On Saturday, Nov. 14, I attended the funeral service of Elizabeth “Ellie” Guinn Ince. She was born on June 3, 2014, and died Nov. 9, 2015. Her family lives in Lindsay and worships with the local congregation there.
You’re not supposed to die at 17 months. The joy of life should (especially) not be stolen from one so young and so innocent. I hate death, and I so long for its complete and final conquest one day. The apostle Paul writes,
“But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at His coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:23-26).
I am looking forward to a day when little blond-headed girls will not be hurt and die, to a time when caskets are no longer fashioned. I long for a resurrection from the dead to eternal life with Deity, for a time when nursing homes, hospitals, and funeral homes are all long gone.
Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire … He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away (Revelation 20:14; 21:1:3-4).
Our hope is often stated as “dying and going to heaven”, but the hope of the New Covenant writings is founded upon Christ’s resurrection from the tomb and fulfilled in our resurrection from the grave one day.
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
Ellie’s death reminds us that death is the great enemy, but Christ grants the victory one day. At times, we seem to view death as a type of friend, but the Bible sets forth death as the consequence of sin and as an immense enemy of humanity. Our culture even appears to have some kind of fascination or fixation with death and decay. Thankfully, one day our King will destroy every other authority and bring an ultimate end to death and all of its associates (decay, desperation, disease, distress, etc.). Consider the way the resurrection chapter closes:
When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law (1 Corinthians 15:55-56; cf. Isaiah 25:8).
We laid precious Ellie down in the grave on Saturday, but she will rise on that wonderful day!
“Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).
Gantt is a gospel preacher working with the Northside congregation in Cordell, Okla.