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Writing Your Own Funeral Sermon


Thirty years ago this year a fellow Conditional Immortality believer and minister from Ohio by the name of J. Wesley Shaffer died.  However seven years before that in 1972 he wrote his own funeral sermon that he wanted read at his own funeral.  It was. What follows is a word for word transcript of that sermon (with all given capitalization & punctuation from my 1980 copy).

I hope such a sermon of truth is read at my own funeral – hopefully after I celebrate my 111th birthday in the tricentennial year of 2076!  🙂



By Wesley Shaffer – Minister

“I, J. Wesley Shaffer, was a short time ago alive as you are now. The dreaded enemy death caught and KILLED me – robbed me of my life. Friends, you can see that I am DEAD and LIFELESS. IF any of you need proof that Death is a killer, I AM IT, examine me and see. I am speaking to you through this letter, trying to impress upon your minds that Death is a Destroyer of Life, not a preserver. Neither is Death the GATEWAY into Eternal Life, but faith in Christ Jesus and the Resurrection out of Death, is the way to LIFE AND IMMORTALITY. This is the Christian’s blessed Hope.  It is my hope, and I hope it is yours.

Jesus revealed Himself to John while on Patmos, saying: “Surely I come quickly.” With John, I say: ‘Even so, Come Lord Jesus’ (Rev. 22:20).  No one wants to DIE, I DIDN’T.  We don’t want death.  Because DEATH cuts off all connections from friends and loved ones.

Friends, would you like to be joint heirs with Christ to inherit the Earth, and forever live with King Jesus in His Everlasting Kingdom under the whole heaven? Would you like to walk with Jesus in His city, which has streets of Pure Gold, walls of Jasper, Gates of Pearls?  In the Paradise soon to be RESTORED around the GLOBE, there will be no broken hearts, no pain, and no TEAR STAINED CHEEKS.  Do you DESIRE THIS ROYALTY enough to Obey and follow Jesus now?

In Heb. 7:19 this is termed “A BETTER HOPE.”  “For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a BETTER HOPE DID.”  The “BETTER HOPE” is, “Christ in you, THE HOPE OF GLORY” (Col. 1:27).  MY HOPE is also the second literal coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to RAISE THE DEAD.

“And as it is appointed unto men once to DIE, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27). Now, all of you should know that I have met that APPOINTMENT WITH DEATH, and until Christ returns, “The GRAVE is mine House” as God said in Job 17:13. Let me say to each friend and loved one, who are yet in sin that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, whom I served till death, right “Now commandeth all men everywhere to REPENT – Because he hath Appointed a DAY in which He will judge the world in righteousness by that MAN whom he hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the Dead (Acts 17:31).  Yes friends, “the GRAVE is mine HOUSE”, until this APPOINTED DAY, the DAY OF JUDGMENT.  I will meet that APPOINTMENT as I have met the APPOINTED DEATH, and so will you.  My plea to you now is, as it has always been, PREPARE for both APPOINTMENTS.

Listen to Job, he tells you of this same APPOINTMENT: “So man lieth down and RISETH NOT; till the heavens be no more, they shall not AWAKE, nor be RAISED out of their SLEEP.  O that thou would HIDE ME IN THE GRAVE, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until Thy wrath be past, that Thou wouldest APPOINT ME A SET TIME, and remember me! If MAN DIE, shall he LIVE again? (Job’s Answer is YES).  All the day of MY APPOINTED TIME will I wait, TILL MY CHANGE COME.  Thou shall CALL, and I WILL ANSWER THEE” (Job 14:12-15).  No where does the Bible teach that Man’s Eternal home is, or will ever be, in HEAVEN OR HELL.

As this letter is being read, I want those who hear it to understand that I am not on some beautiful Isle of Some-Where, more ALIVE than ever before, nor am I in heaven with God and His Son Christ Jesus, neither am I in a BURNING HELL FIRE.  Friends I am here in your midst.  I am LYING HERE LIFELESS in the state of death, ready to be SOWN or BURIED in the DUST of the EARTH, where I MUST WAIT the Resurrectors “CALL”. “Thou shalt CALL, and I, (J. Wesley Shaffer) will answer thee.” Friends, I would welcome my Redeemers CALL before I am LAID in Mother Earth’s Bed of DUST.  Jesus said, “The HOUR IS COMING, when all the DEAD will stand up ALIVE to be rewarded.  I would like THE HOUR THAT NOW IS TO BE THAT HOUR.

“Marvel not at this; for the HOUR IS COMING, IN WHICH ALL that are in the GRAVES shall hear His voice, and shall COME FORTH; they that have doen GOOD unto the Resurrection of Life; and they that have done EVIL, unto the Resurrection of Damnation (John 5:28-29).  John delcares that the voice of Jesus will in ONE HOUR, on that APPOINTED DAY, CALL FROM THEIR GRAVES THE DEAD.  The righteous dead to a Resurrection of Life and IMMORTALITY, the wicked DEAD to a Resurrection of DOOM, to Die the Second Death, which is Sin’s Penalty, the eternal cessation of Physical life.

DEATH BRINGS ITS VICTIMS DOWN INTO SILENCE AND UN-CONSCIOUSNESS.  “For in Death there is No REMEMBERENCE OF THEE: In the GRAVE who shall give Thee thanks?” (Psalm 6:5). “The Dead PRAISE NOT the Lord, neither any that go down into SILENCE” (Psalm 115:17).  If the righteous dead are in heaven praising God, they would not be SILENT.  But God said “The DEAD both righteous and the wicked GO DOWN INTO SILENCE.  “His BREATH GOETH FORTH, HE RETURNS TO HIS EARTH in that very day, HIS THOUGHTS PERISH” (Psalm 146:4). “For the LIVING know that they sall DIE; But the DEAD KNOW NOT ANYTHING. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is NO WORK, NOR DEVICE, NOR KNOWLEDGE, NOR WISDOM, IN THE GRAVE WHITHER THOU GOEST.” (Ecl. 9:5-10).

Any one who wishes to comfort my wife Elsie, do so with the Truth, for she knows better than most of you, that I AM NO LONGER ALIVE, to love, protect, and comfort her.  Together, we believed in the Resurrection of Hope, we did not believe in the fly-away theory.  We believed that DEATH is an ENEMY (1 Cor. 15:26).  And that death is not something that happened only to my BODY leaving the REAL ME STILL ALIVE.  The Bible speaks of the person dying, never their Body.  DEATH has now come upon my WHOLE PERSON.  I am DEAD, LIFELESS, and HELPLESS, only Christ who is my LIFE can help me now.  “When Christ who is our LIFE, shall APPEAR, then shall ye–(The Righteous) also APPEAR WITH HIM IN GLORY.” (Col. 3:4).

“Even so, Come, Lord Jesus.”


20 Responses to “Writing Your Own Funeral Sermon”

  1. on 01 Feb 2009 at 3:53 pmRay

    My home is in heaven from whence cometh my help.

    Though the day should come when I die and my soul and body
    be no more alive on this earth, yet I shall be present with the Lord
    in heaven who shall change my earthly body and fashion it into some thing of glory after the likeness of his resurrection.

    That day will come at his appointed day, when he shall come to
    this earth in the power of the Father, when the dead in Christ shall
    rise in newness of life to live again in their new bodies. Until then
    I shall be with him in spirit, joined with the whole family of God in

    Don’t look for me here. You won’t see me. Don’t try to contact me.
    I trust I will not hear and neither will answer.


  2. on 01 Feb 2009 at 4:10 pmSean

    According to Jesus no one ascended into heaven (John 3.13). Dead people are not alive, nor conscious in the grave (Ecc 9.5, 10). Did you read the sermon?

  3. on 01 Feb 2009 at 9:02 pmRay

    As members of his body we are included in Christ and in his spirit
    we ascend into his presence when we depart from our bodies,
    therefore if anyone has any matter not settled with me when I
    am gone, they may ask God to tell me whatever it is, that they may
    be clear of the matter. If I owe any man anything they may
    call upon God that he may tell me and that I might answer to him
    and I trust then that God will make it right with whoever it is on
    this earth, for I will be gone from my body and will still wait for the
    resurrection when he returns with all the saints and in the power
    of God.

    Jesus is the only man that ascended into heaven in a resurrected

    I will not be conscience in the grave, therefore you may not contact
    me here upon earth but must contact God and trust in the mediation of Christ our Lord and saviour.

    I trust my spirit will ascend to be with the Lord and that is where
    I will be.

    Those that have gone into heaven are included in Jesus. He and Adam
    are the two men of the Bible. Jesus came from heaven and ascended up to it and knows what the kingdom of God is all about
    while we see darkly and know only of it in part.

    I believe Enoch went up into heaven but did not come back here
    to tell us what it is all about. I don’t know if I should call Enoch’s
    transport an ascention because of what Jesus said, but I do believe
    he was taken by God into heaven, and wasn’t Elijah also taken up?

  4. on 02 Feb 2009 at 12:00 amSean

    Ray, did you read the sermon above?

  5. on 02 Feb 2009 at 8:00 amBud

    Thank you for posting this blog.

    I have pondered many times over the years what I want said at my funeral (only if the Lord tarries of course). Most people leave the last words for someone else to say for them at their funeral…. Most funerals teach that when you die you are in a better place, that God has called you home, etc…. In fact I have never found those to be the truth from The Word of God. This letter has given me some solid ideas how to prepare and have in place in case it is needed.

    Personally, I do not want the day to be a day to celebrate my life, but I would want all teachings to be focused on my Lord Jesus Christ and his return (The day we shall have victory over death) and all glory to be given to God for making a way for me (a sinner, but holding fast to the faith) to be given grace and mercy and many other blessings on that day when I meet the Lord Face-to-face.

  6. on 02 Feb 2009 at 9:25 amMark C.


    You’re still just making broad statements with no Scriptural backing. Do you want to discuss or just state your beliefs? If your desire is to know the truth from God’s Word I recommend considering what many of us on this blog have to say. Sean asked, have you read the sermon in this thread?

    You at one point said you were looking into what I wrote on my web site. Have you read the State of the Dead article? It handles all the points you made in your last post, including Enoch and Elijah. Hebrews 11 says “these all died” including Enoch. Elijah was taken up to “heaven” but in the sense of the space above the earth. Read the article for the details.

    Also, check out the material on the Death is Sleep page on this site. (See link at the top of this page.) I hope you will consider what the Bible says rather than hold to what you have heard that has no Biblical support.

  7. on 02 Feb 2009 at 12:12 pmRay

    I did read part of the above sermon and decided that if I should
    write one it should be slightly different based on some observations I have had from the Bible.

    I noticed that Enoch walked with God by the spirit of wisdom that
    was from before the world was made (see Proverbs 8). I saw that
    Elijah was taken up and was not found on this earth, thus giving
    me confidence that there is a place above where the saints will be

    I saw that God is not the God of the dead but of the liviing. I saw
    that Jesus talked to Moses and Elijah. I saw that the apostle Paul
    believed that upon his being absent from his body that he would
    be present with the Lord.

    I saw that men are body, soul and spirit, and that the spirit of God
    goes up to God who gave it, and by this spirit we live and move and have our being. I believe we may have our being with or without our bodies when we are in Christ by that same spirit.

    I saw that Jesus talked about a man in the bosom of Abraham, and
    it seemed to me that this was before the resurrection. I trust that
    the man Jesus was talking about is in fact in the bosom of Abraham
    at this time and that the resurrections are yet to happen.

    Are not those that have died in Christ dead until his appearing,( for
    their bodies are in the earth waiting to be changed at his coming),
    even while in the spirit they are with God in heaven?

  8. on 02 Feb 2009 at 12:15 pmRay

    Som how a smiley face appeared where there should have been
    an “8”. It was a typo. Proverbs 8 speaks of the wisdom of God that
    was with him from eternity, in whom Enoch was found to be walking and thereby was taken.

  9. on 02 Feb 2009 at 4:01 pmBrian

    I was sitting in the waiting area today waiting to start some physical therapy, and I picked up a magazine to peruse. It was the most resent issue of Newsweek and had an article on this very subject: “God’s Miraculous Makeover” by Lisa Miller. The article starts with the following:

    You likely believe that when you die, you’re going to heaven. More than 80 percent of Americans do. But in what form? Are you “you”? If so, are you old or young, fat or thin? If not, what are you? An angel? A spirit? A spark? On the question of resurrection, the consensus breaks down. According to a 2005 NEWSWEEK POLL, only half of Americans think of resurrection as a physical event, a revivification of flesh after death.

    It goes on to say:

    Now a small group of orthodox Christian and Jewish scholars are trying to force the issue. They argue that from the beginning, Jews and Christians have understood resurrection as a physical transformation—a literal reversal of death. . . . At Harvard, a scholar named Jon Levenson is trying to bring back a belief in resurrection to the legions of Jews who insist on agnosticism or, at least, on looser metaphorical interpretations. His award-winning 2006 book “Resurrection and the Restoration of Israel” argues that a Jewish belief in resurrection has its origins in the Torah (a controversial claim in scholarly circles) and a long tradition in rabbinic Judaism.

    You can find the entire article at: http://www.newsweek.com/id/181287

  10. on 02 Feb 2009 at 6:05 pmMark C.

    So Ray, you’ve made up your mind on this matter? Proverbs 18:13 says, “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.” You should really give more consideration to what is being said here. In my article alone, every point that you brought up in your last post is dealt with, not to mention the other articles that deal with all this. But it requires humility. Do you want to know the truth of the Bible or do you prefer to hold onto what you have heard?

  11. on 02 Feb 2009 at 9:10 pmRay

    Haven’t we heard about the apostle Paul’s desire to be with Christ
    after departing from his body?

    And haven’t we heard about the Lord raising up the dead at his

    And haven’t we heard about the gathering together of the saints
    unto him?

    And haven’t we heard about the heavens being rolled up as a scroll
    and the elements that will burn with a fervent heat?

    And haven’t we heard about a new heaven and earth?

    And don’t these things happen in that order according to the Bible?

  12. on 02 Feb 2009 at 9:44 pmJohnE

    Ray, it seems you don’t want to have a dialog on this. You were asked some questions, but instead you choose to ignore them. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to respond first to the arguments brought against your views, showing why exactly they cannot be understood as they are by others?

    Let me in the meantime respond to your questions:

    Haven’t we heard about the apostle Paul’s desire to be with Christ
    after departing from his body?

    We’ve heard. What does this supposed to prove?

    And haven’t we heard about the Lord raising up the dead at his

    How is this relevant to this discussion?

    And haven’t we heard about the gathering together of the saints
    unto him?

    I’m not sure I’ve heard such a thing, at least not as you have formulated it. Please quote the Bible.

    And haven’t we heard about the heavens being rolled up as a scroll
    and the elements that will burn with a fervent heat?

    And haven’t we heard about a new heaven and earth?

    And don’t these things happen in that order according to the Bible?

    How are these relevant to this discussion?

  13. on 03 Feb 2009 at 12:37 amRay

    When a man is present with the Lord in the spirit after his death,
    he is in once sense alive, for the spirit of God is life eternal, even
    though he is dead for his body and brain are dead. Yet, in the spirit
    he comes to revelations of the Lord.

    Not until the resurrection of the dead will his mortal body be raised
    and receive it’s change, and that will be at the return of the Lord after
    he comes with ten thousands of his saints.

    Let’s be mindful of body, soul and spirit.

  14. on 03 Feb 2009 at 12:56 pmRon S.


    You have been asked direct questions by Sean, Mark C., and JohnE, yet you have not given any direct answers. As the others have mentioned and even given you resources to check, the issues you bring up about any kind of going off to be with God & Jesus in heaven have actually been shown to be false according to the Bible. Please have the courtesy and the fortitude to answer people and the arguments presented with Scripture.

    As to your last statement of “Let’s be mindful of body, soul and spirit.”, I would say to you that body and soul are one in the same. We as human beings do not have a soul that is separate from our bodies. We ARE Souls as a living, breathing, “alive” person. Body and soul mean the same thing. In fact, all throughout the OT & NT “soul”, “body” and “life” are used interchangeably from the exact same root work (nephesh/psuche). And if Scripture plainly says that souls DIE – does not logic dicate that the soul is not something eternal that goes off anywhere?

    Additionally – God told Adam where he should go when he died: “Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return” (Gen. 3:19). Webster says that “thou” is the pronoun used in addressing persons. “His breath goeth forth, HE returneth unto his earth” (Ps. 146:3, 4). “Man lieth down” (Job 14:12). “Thou takest away their breath, they die and return to their dust” (Ps. 104:29). “All go unto one place; all are of the dust and all turn to dust again” (Eccl. 3:20). “There is no work, nor knowledge, nor device, nor wisdom, in the grave wither thou goest” (Eccl. 9:10).
    If you will read the Scriptures carefully you will discover that the words which denote the personality are always applied to the physical man, and never to the breath or spirit of life. Hence we must conclude that the physical man is the real man, and that the spirit of life from God, is that which causes him to live. (from C.M. Keach)

    The Spirit that “returns to God who gave it” (Ecc. 12:7) is exactly what God brought Adam to life with – His breath. This animating energy (i.e. “Spirit”) is what is returns to God “who gave it”. It is his and it belongs to him. We live because of God. Look at what Scripture plainly describes what would happen to mankind if God withdrew HIS Spirit from all living things – “If he set his heart upon man, if he gather unto himself HIS spirit (ruach, pneuma) and HIS breath (neshamah); all flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust” (Job 34:14, 15). Spirit is not something we own that belongs to us. It is God’s lifeforce that is in us and makes us alive!

    BTW, in addition to the articles that have been suggested, here’s another good one: http://home.flash.net/~jwr2/death.htm

    Please take the time to read it over and see what the Bible actually says – vs. what you “have heard”.


    Ron S.

  15. on 03 Feb 2009 at 6:29 pmRay

    I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the
    body, I can not tell; or whether out of the body, I can not tell: God
    knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. – II Cor 12:2

    The first heaven in the Bible is the heaven we can see with the clouds and blue sky, and at night the moon and the stars. Beyond
    that is a great expanse or firmament we call space. The third one
    is the heaven where God is, where paradise is. (See II Cor 12:4)

    This man Paul talked about I don’t know who it is. Maybe it was
    John, maybe someone else, but to Paul it is clear that Christians
    have experienced out of body revelations of God. Paul himself told
    of how being absent from his body, he would be present with Christ, a thing he seemed to prefer to living on this earth in his
    body as it was, not having yet been raised from the dead or changed, a thing that will happen with the appearing of our Lord
    Jesus Christ.

    Yes, paradise is up in heaven. Christians do have out of body experiences with the Lord, and yes they are alive in the spirit in
    heaven after they depart from their bodies when they die. These
    things the scriptures teach. Amen.

  16. on 03 Feb 2009 at 7:37 pmMonty

    Hey Ray
    I think your proof that ” A Man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”

    If you want to believe in spiritualism that is YOUR choice.

    Though I would encourage you to check out this website and what is written in the Bible. This website has some great research.
    Check it out, you may find it will change some of your views but then again maybe not. Meekness is a great quality to have.



  17. on 03 Feb 2009 at 9:10 pmMark C.


    Somehow, I wouldn’t count on it. He is still misquoting “absent from the body and present with the Lord” and I have pointed out this common error to him three or four times now.

    But ya never know….

  18. on 03 Feb 2009 at 9:45 pmSean

    If anyone would like to watch a short video exposition of Paul’s oft misquoted “absent from the body” statement, click here.

  19. on 04 Feb 2009 at 12:51 amRon S.

    I think Sean covers all this in the video above, but this post from the Conditional Immortality Association of NZ covers the main points in a fairly concise manner.

    “Do not Paul’s words, “absent from the body … present with the Lord” and “to depart and to be with Christ; which is far better” show that the believer goes immediately to “heaven” at death?”

    “The only comfort Paul offered the Thessalonian Church was that the dead in Christ would be resurrected when Jesus comes again (1Thess. 4:13-18). Likewise, 1Corinthians 15, the resurrection chapter, puts forward no hope other than the resurrection of the dead.

    Looking at 2Cor. 5:8, in context, we note the following:

    1. The hope expressed in the context is that of resurrection (2Cor. 4:14);
    2. The “earthly tent” is our present mortal body (5:1a);
    3. The “building from God”, the “eternal house in heaven” (5:1b) is our future resurrection body;
    4. The clothing metaphor (2-4) elsewhere is used of the resurrection (1Cor. 15:53-54);
    5. The “swallowing up” of the “mortal” by “life” (5) also occurs at the resurrection (1Cor. 15:54);
    6. It is in anticipation of this hope that we “groan” (2,4 c.f. Rom. 8:22f);
    7. Paul’s use of such terms as “naked” (c.f. 1Cor. 15:36-27 with 42 and following) and “unclothed” describe the intermediate state and it is clear from the passage under consideration that Paul does not desire to be in this state (3,4) – despite how Paul’s Greek contemporaries may have felt.
    8. Note Lastly that the context concerns our appearance before the judgment seat of Christ (10), which occurs only after Christ returns.
    Paul speaks only of future resurrection from beginning to end.

    So Paul’s controversial words are best understood as teaching Paul’s preference to be away from this mortal body, having put on his immortal resurrection body as a consequence of Christ having returned.

    In Phil. 1:23 the use of the term “depart” suggests a journey in which the beginning is death and the end is being with Christ. The “gain” which Paul has in mind throughout the context is that which comes of dying a martyr’s death.”

  20. on 04 Feb 2009 at 7:23 amSean


    Indeed, this one is cleared up the moment we read the context.


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