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Page 88

When experiencing the death of a loved one, what great difference is there between believers and non-believers? Why?

  • Catacombs - Underground tunnels and passageways forming a burial place
  • Epitaph - A short statement, often engraved on a tombstone, in memory of a person who has died

  • True Christian religion provides a hope that goes beyond death and grave. Why?

    The living Christ is the life of His Church. If Jesus had remained buried in the grave, their hopes also would have remained buried forever. The resurrected Christ is the Church's living hope, strength, and comfort! Is He yours?

      Many persecuted Christians in Rome during the early centuries after Christ were buried in the catacombs. Two expressions are repeatedly found engraved as epitaphs over almost all of the dead buried there.

      The first is the words "In peace" or "In sleep." The second is the expression "Thou livest in God" or "Live in God."

      These words and expressions reveal to us the thoughts and hopes of the early Christian church when burying their loved ones.

      How can their faith in Jesus' resurrection be observed in these epitaphs? After nearly two thousand years, what is the hope of the Christian Church built upon today when burying its dead?

      How does the doctrine of Christ's resurrection relate to the great difference between the funeral and burial of believers and non-believers?

    When viewing Jesus' sufferings, especially in Gethsemane and Gabbatha, the situation looked dark for God's Church. When Jesus was captured and condemned, the true believers' hearts were filled with fear. But when Christ was crucified, dead, and buried, defeat and despair overwhelmed them. The apostles fled; Peter denied Christ; the women wept; Jesus' body was placed in the grave; the men traveling to Emmaus confessed despairingly, "But we trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel"; and Thomas saw no purpose for their meeting together anymore - all was lost.

    But as in nature, the greatest darkness is experienced immediately prior to the dawning of a new day, so the greatest darkness of despair was felt just before the dawn of Christ's resurrection day. The Church's experience of deep sorrow being turned into great joy is illustrated by the following story.

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