Yesterday, I was the final speaker at the memorial service for one of the best friends that I had ever had… Vincent “Vinny” Saccone (1965-2020). He will be sorely missed by many. As another friend who also spoke had said (paraphrasing), “The greatest thing about Vinny was his faith.” Indeed, it was. Vinny had a unique way of putting things, and that was true of how he would share the Gospel, which will forever impact whenever I have the opportunity to retell (as Vinny would say)… “The Story of the Bible.” Here is what I shared…
If it was possible for me to ask Vinny why we are here today, I know exactly what he would say…
“You’re in Babylon, bro. You’re not in Eden. You’ve got chaos. That’s why you need to give your allegiance to Yahweh, through a believing loyalty to His Son, Jesus Christ.”
You see, Vinny would want us all to understand that because of Adam’s sin (in the Garden of Eden), Adam and his wife Eve were then kicked out, taking away their access to the tree of life.
It meant that both they and their progeny (their future generations, which includes us) were then going to experience life on a cursed ground, in a chaotic environment, forced to labor for their sustenance, all while being severely influenced by the behind the scenes, “powers of darkness.”
And then, after they had lived their lives and died (because of their mortality due to not having access to the tree of life), they and their progeny would then be brought back to life at the resurrection to be judged by God as to how they had lived their lives.
At the judgement, those who had sought glory, honor, and immortality before they had died (by giving their allegiance to Jesus through repentance and faith) will then receive eternal life. (Romans 2:7)
For those who did not repent and have faith in Christ before they had died, for them, the judgement will then result in second death. (Revelation 2 and 20)
Vinny would want us all to pause here, to take a step back and to evaluate ourselves (honestly), according to Scripture.
He would want us to take, as he would say, “The Story of the Bible,” very seriously.
Seriously enough for us to each change our mind about our sin and how we live. Not hiding from it, but truly recognizing and fully acknowledging who we really are and what we have done.
Vinny would want us to repent, to live a life worthy of that repentance, and to also give our full allegiance to the God of the Bible by submitting to Him… again, through a believing loyalty to his Son, Jesus Christ, depending upon Him alone to be made righteous… declaring Him as Lord and Savior.
The Bible says that it is appointed for a person to die once, and then the judgement. (Hebrews 9:27)
Vinny would want us to understand that the judgement of a person cannot occur until a person’s life here on earth has ended.
It’s like football…. You cannot declare the winner of a football game until the time runs out. In other words, the winner cannot be announced until the game was officially over.
The same goes for the judgement of a person. They will not be fully evaluated by God until after their life has ended.
At the judgement, I believe that Vinny will be declared as a winner.
Why do I say this?
Because of His victory over death by rising from the dead three days after He (Jesus) was executed by crucifixion on the cross, Vinny, along with everyone else who had ever repented and believed in Jesus before they had died (unless of course they happen to be alive when Christ returns) will also resurrect to have access to the tree of life, so that they could live forever and not perish.
One biblical writer put it this way, when he was encouraging the believers about resurrection…
“God raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power.” (1 Corinthians 6:14)
Another person in the Bible, who had a believing loyalty in Yahweh, said this regarding himself…
“…I know my living Redeemer,
and He will stand on the dust at last.
Even after my skin has been destroyed,
yet I will see God in my flesh.
I will see Him myself;
my eyes will look at Him, and not as a stranger.” (Job 19:25-27a)
One of the psalmists said this…
“…l will see Your face [God’s face] in righteousness;
when I awake, I will be satisfied with Your presence.” (Psalms 17:15)
As already mentioned, those who did not repent and believe before they died, they will also resurrect. But, not to eternal life. Yes, they too will also be awakened from death, but only to then die a second time after being judged, leaving behind a legacy of contempt in the minds of those who will rise to live again forever.
One writer of the Bible put it this way…
“Many of those who sleep in the dust
of the earth will awake,
some to eternal life,
and some to shame and eternal contempt.” (Daniel 12:2)
Jesus (Himself) said this regarding the judgement…
“…a time is coming when all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come out — those who have done good things, to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked things, to the resurrection of judgment.”
In His revelation to the apostle John, Jesus would later say this about believers such as Vinny…
“The victor will never be harmed by the second death.” (Revelation 2:11b)
The Bible says that the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
Again, it cannot be stressed enough, and I know that Vinny would want it further emphasized that the Bible says that those who believe in Jesus will not perish at the resurrection…
In one version, John 3:16 says this…
“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”
One of the apostles said this about Jesus…
“He commanded us to preach to the people and to solemnly testify that He [Jesus] is the One appointed by God to be the Judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about Him that through His name everyone who believes in Him will receive forgiveness of sins.” (Acts 10:42-43)
Another writer of the Bible wrote this about what his goal in this life was…
“My goal is to know Him [Jesus] and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead.”
That was also Vinny’s goal…
And, he would want us all to honestly ask ourselves whether or not it was our goal as well.
I am going to leave you with the closing to Vinny’s favorite book of the Bible, Ecclesiastes…
“When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is: fear God and keep His commands, because this is for all humanity. For God will bring every act to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether (as Vinny would like to emphasize from the Hebrew: tov or ra) good or evil.”
May we all consider Christ as Vinny did…
Godspeed, to the brethren!