Posted here is an audio recording of remarks made by me at the memorial service for my father, Reuben Kulp, on July 23, 2018. A transcript is given below. At about the nine-minute mark, you will enjoy an a capella version of the moving contemporary hymn, “In Christ Alone”, sung by the largely Mennonite audience, in four-part harmony.
My father’s spirit is with Christ, in unspeakable bliss, and his body is asleep in Jesus.
I would like to share with you some things that I know about my dad. Sometimes I feel I didn’t know my dad very well, and my siblings likely knew him better, but I’d like to speak briefly about five things that I know for sure, without a doubt, about him.
We will find these things in the word of God. I’m going to turn to Ephesians 1:4-6: “He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ unto Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace wherein He has made us accepted in the beloved.” God in eternity past desired to have holy children, to have more sons like His beloved Son, and so he chose my dad, and me, and many others as a gift to His beloved, only-begotten Son. My dad was one of those that God the Father chose to give to His Son, with the purpose that he would forever be before the Father in unsullied light and unhindered love, accepted in Christ, so that the glory of God’s grace might be eternally praised.
The second thing I know about my Dad is that he was saved by grace, and for that assurance, I want to turn to over to the next chapter in Ephesians, to chapter two, and verse four: “God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.” Even though my father was once dead in sins, by nature and by practice, as all of us once were, he was quickened (made alive), and saved by God’s marvelous grace, through believing in Christ and His work on the cross of Calvary. And that faith is itself a gift of God’s grace. Dad’s salvation was not by works, and I never heard him boast of any works that he had done for God in order that he might be saved, or to be worthy of His grace. Dad knew that he was but a sinner saved by God’s unmerited favor – His grace.
And there is yet another thing I know about my Dad’s life of faith on this earth, and that is that he was kept by the power of God through faith. I find that piece of information about him in I Peter 1:2-5. It’s speaking of believers here: “Elect (chosen) according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively (living) hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” After writing about how believers have been chosen and born again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from among the dead, Peter assures saints that an eternal inheritance is reserved in heaven for all those who are kept by the power of God. Dad was saved by God’s grace and kept by God’s power. He took no pride in his own faithfulness, but I believe that he simply enjoyed and rested in God’s keeping power in his life, and I believe even more so the older he became.
The fourth thing that I want you to know about my Dad is that he will be changed! That salvation to be revealed in the last time that Peter wrote about refers to a time yet future when a physical, bodily salvation or redemption will take place for all believers, whether dead in Christ or still living like we may be. Let’s read a couple of verses in Philippians, chapter three, and verse 20: “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our [body of humiliation],¹ that it may be fashioned like unto His [body of glory],¹ according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself.” Our dear Dad certainly had a body of humiliation and he had a lot of pain, and that has already been referred to (by others), but very soon, at the rapture, that same body will be changed right there in that grave where he was lovingly laid this morning, and he will rise up out of the ground to meet the Lord in the air. If the Lord Jesus should come today, or in a year from now or ten years from now and we are still alive, I will get a changed body just like Dad, and like the Lord’s, by God’s almighty power, and if you trust the Lord Jesus Christ to save you, just like Dad did long ago, you will be caught up together with us to meet the Lord in the air, and so forever be with the Lord.
Now for the last thing I want to share with you that I know about my Dad. He is going to reign! Even though that is not something that he ever aspired to on this earth, he is soon going to reign with Christ. Paul told the Thessalonians that “them who sleep in Jesus will God bring with” Christ back to the earth after their change has come in the “first resurrection”, after they rise to meet their Lord. Let’s read one verse yet, in Revelation 20:6. “Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection; on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” After all those who have been chosen, saved, and kept are either changed through resurrection, or changed without dying, we will come back with Christ to reign with Him over the earth for 1000 years. Now, this is all still future, and Christians now are bearing Christ’s reproach and often persecuted, but it’s only a matter of time until my Dad and all his fellow-saints will come back with the Lord Jesus to reign over the earth in the millennium of Christ’s glory, because the Lord Jesus has title to the earth, as a result of His death, to rule the nations with a rod of iron. My Dad and I, and all who have put their trust in Christ, will have power over the nations, and will judge the world, and angels, according to the scriptures.
And the Holy Scriptures are where I find all that I truly know about our dear Dad, how that he was chosen, saved, and kept, and how he will be changed and reign with Christ to the ages of ages, to eternity. All the enjoyment and hope that we as Christians can ever really experience here on earth and in eternity is found “in Christ alone”, and all because of God’s “amazing grace.”
¹ (As given in the Darby translation.)
(This song was suggested for Dad’s memorial service by my sister Margaret.)