Tharold Sylvester - First Speaker at the Funeral Service for John T. Carroll - Milltown, Washington - March 30, 1957

Hymn “Peace, Perfect Peace” (No. 36, Leaflet), Ernest Nelson, Calvin Casselman, Rosetha Newman, Eileen Longley

Obituary (Read by Tharold Sylvester):

 

I would like to read just one verse this afternoon:  Psalm 126:6, “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”  I feel that I can express my deep gratitude for the sacrifices of our brother, and what he has meant to me through the years, and I believe I can understand a little better what God told Joshua when He said, “Moses my servant is dead.”  That was God’s obituary of Moses, put in five words.  The outstanding statement in this is, “My servant.”  Moses truly was God’s servant.  We read of Paul expressing himself as a servant of Christ, and we know that this was true.  That is why this afternoon I feel that one of the greatest tributes that we can give our brother is to call him the servant of Christ.  He truly was that.  He has served long, willingly, faithfully, and untiringly.  I don’t suppose it is necessary to remind you people of what he himself has told us so often of his first days, the days when he heard the gospel, when that gospel moved his heart and touched him and brought him to the place of true submission to Christ, when He said, “It is Christ for me,” he also said that other word, “Forever.”  Now he has proved that.  That is why this afternoon as we are gathered here to pay our last respects to him, we are grateful for that sacrifice.

 

I believe we can put it this way, that he saw very clearly at the beginning that to believe Christ was to receive Christ, and he also saw that to receive Christ was to live Christ, and to live Christ was further more a privilege of following Christ.  That is why in his own daily home life those first days, he followed Christ, and a few years later when had the privilege of going forth into the ministry, obeying that greatest of all commands, he also followed Christ there.  The mark of a true servant is that they always want the will of the Master to be done.  You are familiar with what Jesus asked of His first disciples when He told them to “Follow i.e.,” to make them apostles.  We are glad for our brother’s vision that enabled him to see first of all the privilege of service, and the fields white unto harvest, and he gave himself – he started forth.  That means making himself poor.  He started that way, continued that way, and we are very, very grateful for that, but we are also very very grateful for the fact that he finished that way, and today he lies in another man’s coffin, he will be buried in another man’s grave.  He maintained that mark of poverty and homelessness until the very end of his life.  We are grateful for that, because he has given us a wonderful example of what Jesus lived and taught.

 

The world stumbles over the fact that they want to change Christ.  Some change it one way, some change it another, and that is why we have the religious confusion in the world, but I believe he understood clearly from the very start that God wants to change lives.  God did change Jack’s life.  The love of God will always change lives, the power of God will always change our lives, the revelation of the Gospel will always change lives, and we are glad for what has been changed in his life, because today we are enjoying things that we would never have enjoyed if he had not made that first sacrifice.  Can you just picture what it would have meant if Jack had said, “No” when Christ called him?  If he had lived for himself, gathered earthly things around him, could that have brought the living hope that we have today?  That is why I will say this, we are grateful that when he was weighing up that cost, that choice, God was able to keep his vision clear and enable him to see what just one grain of wheat could produce.  I believe I can understand how he felt, because I faced the same things when I started out.  I felt I didn’t have very much to sow, maybe just a few kernels of truth, but I wanted to sow them, and I believe he felt the same way, and as he sowed them God gave him more and more.  I believe that we can say this afternoon to you people that you will value those seeds of truth planted in your hearts, planted from his own lips, and lovingly cared for by his own hands, and you will value them increasingly as the years pass.  Don’t lose the vision of just one corn of wheat falling into the ground and dying.  Remember that your life can be exactly the same thing.  You can have a part in the greatest of all work to spread the glorious gospel of Christ.  Seed sown should grow, shouldn’t it?  I am glad that Jack lived long enough to not only see seeds springing up, but sheaves gathered – some that have already been gathered home.  This came as the result of the corn of wheat falling into the ground, and dying.  The Scripture makes it very clear and plain that amongst them there will be some tares.  We can’t hinder that – but no true servant of God will ever sow tares.  We can say this afternoon that our brother didn’t sow that kind of seed.  He was interested in planting a bountiful harvest to the glory of God.  I am grateful that he didn’t give his life over to the pursuit of pleasures, or to any other earthly calling.  I am grateful that he became as a corn of wheat, willing to fall into the ground and die that a harvest might be produced.  We are enjoying today a great deal of what he has faithfully labored for.

 

A true servant always meets God’s terms.  You know the terms on which He sent His apostles forth.  Jack met those terms, and in doing that, God was able to give unto him a message, a glorious message.  You have heard him speak about the message of Christ – that he became a risen, glorified, living Saviour.  Isn’t that a glorious message?  Isn’t that something that we appreciate?  I can tell you this afternoon that you can never bury the Love of God.  You can’t bury true righteousness, you can’t bury the power of God, and you can’t bury the life that God gave.  That is why Christ Himself rose from the dead, rose not alone to go to Heaven but to dwell in every individual that makes a complete surrender to His will.  There is lots of need in my life for God to change me yet.  I have found out through the years to whom I can go that that change might be wrought in me.  That is the One that our brother has pointed us to so often.  He didn’t preach himself, but he preached Christ, the power of God, the resurrection of life to enable us to enter into those things that are so precious and so real.  I feel grateful that we have a glorious message, a message of resurrection.  It is a message of death first, but it is also of resurrection.  It is a thing that takes away the sting of death and is the promise of eternal life, the message of the resurrection.

 

With a glorious message, what about God’s method of carrying that message?  Knowing your Old Testament, you know that the ark must always be borne upon men’s shoulders.  There was a time when they made a new cart to carry it, and it ended in disaster.  David said, “How shall the ark of God come to me?”  When he found out how it was to be, he submitted, and when the ark was carried to its resting place it was borne upon men’s shoulders.  I am grateful today that I have a little part in bearing the precious gospel.  I want to keep before me God’s method.  Our brother Jack has often told us of the need of loving and serving as Christ served.  That is still the standard, and as I go out from here, I hope that it might be with a definite purpose and consecration of my life to that standard, because there is just as much need today.  We have the glorious message, but we have also given to us the method by which to carry it.  When the messenger is right, the message is right, and the method is right, God can bless it, and that is why so many today are enjoying this.

 

Our brother has often told us that there are four things God’s people will enjoy forever.  They will enjoy the Word of God.  They love to read it today for the simple reason it comforts them, it instructs them, and it brings them into the place where their service can be acceptable.  We love it today, and that is where we turn in our need, and in times of distress – to the Word of God.  We will love it forever.  Why?  Will it not be a thrilling thing to hear the Word of God from the lips of the Son of God?  Our brother has already entered there where the veil has been taken away.  Now we see through a glass darkly, but for him that has been taken away.  Every child of God will love the Way of God – the way of escape from sin, bondage, and corruption, and they love the Way of God today – it is plain and clear.  When you look back on first days, remember the first steps that became clear to you.  Do you see it just as clearly today, or has your vision become dim?  It is a time like this that can wipe away a lot of fog and mist, doubt, confusion, perplexity, and we can have our eyes lifted again to see the things that are eternal.  God’s people will love the Way of God forever.  They will walk in it there, because Revelations 7:17 tells us the Lamb will lead them unto living fountains of waters, He will feed them, comfort them, wipe away all tears from their eyes.  Wonderful promises.

 

God’s people will love to do the Will of God.  It is not easy for them to lay their own will aside.  You must lay it down, that the will of God might be done.  Is it worthwhile?  Was it worthwhile for our brother to do God’s will?  I believe there would be a hearty “Amen” from every heart.  The children of God will love the fellowship of the people of God forever.  A little foretaste of that is given to us now, but then we can have fellowship with God, with the people of God, with all the servants of God that have lived in the past.  Isn’t that a wonderful possibility?  Isn’t that a wonderful privilege, and don’t you want to enter into it more fully?  If our brother Jack could stand on this platform this afternoon, I believe he would encourage everyone to enter into a deeper death, a greater sacrifice, for His sake.  Why?  Because it is not in vain.  We have a glorious message, a message of life.  We have a wonderful example the example of the Son of God, and we are glad for those who have helped us to show us that, have clarified it for us, and have helped us to follow in the same way.  I am thankful that Jack had the clearness of vision to choose right, courage to step out on the promises of God.  I am grateful for his godly counsel, his wonderful example, his fellowship through the years, and I want to value this as I should, and put my best into His service.