In celebrating Bev’s life today, we must at the same time celebrate the grace of God that gave her life. The grace that is indeed her life now. Because, that grace shown in her life. And because the fact is that 10,000 years from now, what will be most important about Beverly Morton is not her good works, but that God took hold of her, at mid-life, and gave her life. As a GRACE, or a GIFT. Undeserved by Beverly. Undeserved, and yet given all the same.
Paul puts it this way, in Ephesians 2, v. 8 and 9:
Ephesians 2:8–9 (ESV): For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
But sometimes, as in the life of Beverly, some of the glory of this grace might be shrouded from our sight, at least at first. Because by all accounts, BEFORE she was a Christian, Beverly was a good person. Who did good works. She loved horses, but even more so she loved her family, and sacrificed for them, as we have heard. Isn’t salvation for, you know, the really BAD people? Not the kind of people that you already would like to know, like Beverly?
And yet what Beverly learned in that Bible study in her 50’s is that she needed God’s grace, as much as anyone else. As Paul again puts it in Romans, chapter 3:
Romans 3:10–12 (ESV): None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
We have all broken God’s law. Some do it in spectacular ways, some in quiet ways. But we all do it. Thus we are all in need of HIS grace.
And so the glory that’s hidden perhaps, in the beauty of Beverly’s life, is that God’s grace to her was MAGNIFICENT. And His mercy to her was INFINITE. As much as it is to anyone else.
Because the God Who created Beverly, and gave Her to us, as a mother, a sister, a friend – this God is the one we are accountable to – all of us, no matter how sparkling our past may be. Paul puts it this way in Romans 3:19-20:
Romans 3:19–20 (ESV): 19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight
So we are accountable to God. And in order to be accepted by God, we must stand righteous before Him. Yet no one does good, not such that we may stand before God, Who IS good.
So then God, in His magnificent grace and infinite mercy, PROVIDED righteousness FOR Beverly, and for us – righteousness like a garment, to wear BEFORE him. All the Bible up until the gospels anticipated this, and then it finally came:
Romans 3:21–23 (ESV): 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it – the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.
In order to GIVE us righteousness, God sent His only Son, Jesus.
Paul goes on, talking about Beverly, and you, and me:
For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Spectacular sinners, and quiet “good” people alike. And therefore, Paul says, all
which means, to be clothed with righteousness – we are
JUSTIFIED BY HIS GRACE, as a GIFT, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
The GRACE, the GIFT of righteousness, is Jesus HIMSELF, who clothed HIMSELF in the form of a man, like us, and lived a perfectly righteous life, top to bottom, beginning to end, FOR us.
whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood,
Then, at the end, he was hoisted up on a pike, a sword was run through him, and all of the justice, all the retribution, that WE deserve for OUR crossing over God’s lines – God poured that out, on HIM, instead of us. Every GRAVE, SPECTACULAR sin, and every careless comment, every impatient bark, every slight bit of gossip – God’s justice was satisfied for it all, by Jesus spilling his blood, and giving up His life on the cross.
But, Paul says one more thing:
to be received by faith.
This robe of righteousness is given ONLY through one channel, one means – FAITH. And that faith can only have ONE object – one target – Jesus Christ.
Jesus, who three days later emptied His own tomb and rose from the dead. And now the life he lives he lives to God. More than that, he shares that life, with all who have faith in him. Paul put it this way, in Romans 4:25:
Jesus was delivered up to the cross for our trespasses, for our crossing over God’s lines, and he was raised up – resurrected from the dead – for our JUSTIFICATION.
So then, when Beverly died, she shed her weakened mortal clothing. But then, she was immediately ROBED, in the purple, royal robe, of the righteousness of Jesus. And then she could stand before God – but not on the merits of HER good works. Not on the merits of HER righteousness, which would always be insufficient. But on the merits of the righteousness of Christ – on the merits of HIS life, LIVED for her, and given for her. Jesus LIVED for Beverly, as much as he died for her.
And he was also RAISED for her, and now Beverly lives, in that new life.
By faith – by a faith that God gave, that surprised HER, as it came, in a little Bible study that she went to almost on a bet. But in that quiet moment, there was GLORY. The glory that now robes her, and gives her life.
And there was glory before that moment. One of the glories of God’s grace is the kind of women it produces. One sister here speaks of how, when she went to visit Beverly in her later years, she found that she was really doing it, not for Beverly, but for herself, for all the love and enjoyment she received from Beverly. One redeemed heart resonates with another. And the glory of those moments is not measured by its relative quietness.
It’s points us to a greater, magnificent and unending power and a beauty, that is only found, in quiet faith, in a suffering Savior.
We often say, when someone dies, Rest In Peace. The glory of God is that this is not just a saying, but a reality, through the righteousness that’s found by faith in Christ. Beverly has gone through the door of death, and on the other side she’s been robed in this righteousness. And wearing that robe, she has found this true peace. And there, on the other side, she waits for us.
Do you have this peace? Do you have this faith? In this Jesus?
Rest In Peace, Beverly.