Tharold Sylvester - First Speaker at the Funeral Service for John T. Carroll - Oakland, California - March 28, 1957

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 desperately inadequate to even express a little in this service,
but I believe that I can understand a little better the message that God gave to Joshua long ago when He said, "Moses, my servant, is dead." That was an obituary of only five words, but to my mind, the thing that was so outstanding is the fact that God called Moses His servant.  This is a wonderful tribute. Paul the apostle, in writing, often expressed himself as the servant of Christ, and we know that was true.

To those in this
audience who may not have known our brother, we can say that he was a servant of Christ. A true servant always does the will of another, and we are glad to tell you this afternoon that because of the Gospel, something happened in the life of our brother that enabled him to do the will of God. I am sure most of you here will have no difficulty in remembering his own words of the first days, how as he listened to the Gospel, it won his heart, it moved him to give himself gladly and willingly unto the Lord. When he did that, he said, "It is Christ for me, forever." I believe that he saw that to believe in Christ is to receive Christ; to receive Christ is to live Christ; to live Christ is to follow Christ.

We are very grateful today that he had the vision of Eternal possibilities, the courage to step out on his own convictions, carrying the Gospel unto others because of what he had proved for himself. The world oftentimes stumbles over changing Christ - that's why we have all the confusion in the world today. I believe our brother saw from the beginning that God wants to change lives. Do you have any difficulty in believing that the love of God will always change the lives of men and women? Do you have any difficulty in believing that the power of God will always change lives? Do you have any difficulty in believing that regeneration, the new birth, will always change lives?

As a result of the Gospel coming to him, our brother's life was changed. Perhaps I could just put it the other way:  What hope would we have today if, instead, he had chosen to live selfishly? Look at how he himself would have been robbed, how countless thousands of others would have been robbed of a living faith and Eternal Life.

What hope would we have if he had chosen just to live in pleasure? The pleasure would be past now. Long ago, the servant of God faithfully said that there are pleasures at God's right hand forevermore, and I honestly believe today that our brother has entered into that, and if he could stand here and speak to us, he would encourage us even a thousandfold more than he ever did before that we should never lose sight of what God can do for us.

Love always changes things, but love always serves. That is why this afternoon you have gathered here as a tribute to this one whose service was first of all to the One that had captured his heart's affections and had first place in his life, and who rendered a service unto others even as he did unto Christ. His was a love that served. That brings us to another step in his life: When he began to lift up his eyes to the fields white unto harvest - that requires service. Wheat isn't sown without labor; a harvest is not gathered without labor. Do we have to remind you this afternoon of the countless days in which he sowed the precious seed of the Gospel? I believe everyone that knew him best will have things that he has planted by his own hand and by his own voice in their hearts forever. That is why as he began to think of spending his life laboring in the Lord's harvest field, he said like Isaiah said, "Behold, here am I; send me."

How did he go? That brings us back to the mark of a servant again. A servant always accepts the master's terms. You are familiar with the fact that Jesus asked those first twelve apostles to become homeless and poor, scattering their earthly possessions, going out to tell the Gospel story, proving their love to dying men and women. He did that. The world doesn't understand that; they say it won't work. We are here today because the promises of God have never failed. They are true. We are grateful today for the fact that his courage enabled him to step out on those promises. As a result of that, God gave him a message; it was not a set of rules, or just doctrine. That message is a message of Life. We have no difficulty in looking back over the past to realize this: that when he heard and obeyed that message, life came to him. That's why I feel deeply grateful for his counsel through the years. I feel deeply grateful for his fellowship. I feel deeply grateful for all that he has done. He has helped to set my feet upon a foundation that is solid and sure and eternal.

God not only gives His servants a message, but also the method of sowing the Seed. You are familiar with that. Ho has told us over and over and over again that there can be no true New Testament Christianity without a true New Testament ministry. The thing that makes that so outstanding is the fact that he himself took those steps that proved that he was sent by God. He started poor, continued poor, and now he has finished poor. He is being buried in another man's grave; he was poor as his Master. We value his beginning, continuing, finishing, that way, and he has left us a wonderful example.

Do I have to remind you, then, that God's methods do not fail? They are best, the most effective, most powerful - His method reaches down to redeem sin-cursed men and women, lifts them, gives them a living hope - that is why we have a glorious message to give men and women today that even conquers death.

There are five points in this
Gospel:  (1) Christ lived for me, (2) Christ died for me, (3) Christ rose that He might live His life over again in me, (4) Christ intercedes at God's right hand for
me, (5) One day He's coming back for me. This is the Gospel in five short sentences. Every one of you has heard that message over and over again, but I felt this afternoon that it wouldn't hurt just to remind you that that is the thing that makes all the difference between doctrine and formality, and what we have:  a living, vital thing.