Picture of Pastor Gettys

Sermon delivered March 19, 2005 by Pastor Donald J. Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

Buried Alive

(RealAudio Version available)

I would like to speak with you this morning about being buried alive. Have any of you been buried alive?

Well, in the days of yesteryear, a prosperous businessman in Mexico was wrongly pronounced dead and in due course of time he was buried. They did not have the knowledge that he was still alive. The night watchman of the cemetery went to the police to report hearing knocks coming from the new grave. An order finally came to exhume the grave and they discovered that the glass top of his coffin had been broken. He had been buried alive, and later regained consciousness, and after a frantic struggle, and he ha died of suffocation.

It is important to make sure that there is death before burial. Would you agree? I think that is fairly important. In a few moments you will see that this is one of the greatest reason for failure in the Christian life.

In John 19:30, you will see the record of the last moments of Jesus' life. Jesus was hanging on the cross, and in verse 30 it says, that He gave up the ghost, he died. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." And with that, he bowed His head and gave up His spirit. Do you think he actually died? If he didn't die, then we won't live, right? He did actually die. He was buried just before sundown on that Good Friday (We call it good because that's the day that our salvation was paid for), and He rested in the tomb all during the holy Sabbath hours. And then very early on Sunday morning an angel came and rolled back that monstrous stone.1, opening up the tomb, and Jesus came forth our resurrected Savior. His victory over the tomb was not just for Himself but for every human being in the entire world Any one who would accept Jesus as their personal Savior, and invite Him into their heart and trust Him forever more, that victory is for them. And just as sure as Jesus is alive today, Jesus was truly dead before His burial that Friday afternoon. I believe that. He died.

Today there is quite a bit of fear among a lot of people about being buried alive. In England there is a century-old organization called the Society for the Prevention of Premature Encofferment, Burial, and Cremation. We all agree that there should be death before burial.

This is especially true in a spiritual sense The old sinful man must die you can have a new life, before baptism. Many who assume the name of Christ have been baptized, but they were buried alive! Because self did not die. The old man did not die. The old man went down into there alive and came up alive. Do you see what the problem is in the Spiritual life? People are buried alive in the church. Because self did not die, they do not rise with a new life in Christ. Therefore they experience a languishing life, even in the church. Their spirituality is not the same because when they were baptized, the old-man did not die. You don't want that old man. You don't want that struggle with the ways of life. You want a new life, so the old life has to die.

To be properly baptized first you die to the old ways of sin. Then you are buried under the waters of baptism, and you come up a brand new person in Jesus Christ. That's the only way it can happen. But when and if you slip, which you will, in the weeks after your baptism, do you need to be re-baptized all over again? Do you need to die again and be buried and come up again? Yes you do. If every time we told a lie or did something dishonest, if we had to be buried and re-baptized in a baptistry we pastors would be waterlogged from being baptized ourselves and baptizing others. We would be consuming our time by baptizing people here in the church.

Fortunately Jesus holds the patent on a service that basically replaces baptism after you've been baptized. It's a miniature baptism. It's called The Foot-washing Service! Here in John 13 you can see the evidence that Jesus took out a new invention: The Foot-washing Service. He washed His disciple's feet. I don't have any record of this happening before this time. In the spiritual that He did it, it was something very new and very important. This miniature baptism is to gain the full rich blessing from this service in a continuing way. Now, you would think that during the communion service this would be the most widely attended meeting of any meeting we ever have in the McDonald Road church. People ought to be here because this is very important. This is where we renew our wedding vows, our spiritual covenant with Jesus Christ.

So we must die to our old ways of life before we can experience a new life here today at this communion service. Would you agree with that? We don't want people to come and experience this service and go away unchanged. And to do that, the first thing you need to do is to pray that God will slay, mortify, kill, the old way of life and extract it from your life and give you a new life. And so, when you place your feet under the water at the foot washing service here today, you are in effect burying your old life. That is what that means. That is a symbol of baptism. Make sure that you are not buried alive! Make sure that before you ever enter this service, that you ask the Lord to bless you. That you ask the Lord to take away the sins of the old nature. Have you been struggling with sin lately? Are there some sins in your life that you are a terrible time with? Maybe that needs to die. Maybe you need to just turn that over to the Lord and let Him be an executioner of that old way of life, and then you can be raised to a brand new life. You can do that.

Could it be that the reason some do not experience new life from this service is because they were buried alive? And they never do die to the old way of life? The old ways of sin must die. Self must be certified dead and buried and only then can we come up in the newness of life.

Look at John 13:14-15. It says that If I then your Lord and Master have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet, for I have given you an example that ye should do as I have done for you. So here is an example from the Bible itself, from Jesus Christ, that we as Christians today should wash one another's feet. In the Seventh-day Adventist church we have open communion. We invite anybody to participate in this service. You are invited and welcome to participate, even though you are not a member here, or not a Seventh-day Adventist. This is something that is designed by Jesus, patented by Jesus, so that you can experience the full life that He intended for every Christian to have. This service helps to contribute to that.

I want to give you to take some time before we go into the foot-washing service for you at your pew to bow your head just to close your eyes and to ask the Lord to eradicate, to rid you of the old way of life, to kill, to mortify the old way of life. Would you just bow your head and pray that prayer of surrender right now, just quietly to yourself?

"Dear Father, please get rid of the bad things in our life. Kill the old man of sin, the old woman of sin inside of us. Give us the new spiritual nature of Christ. Help us to experience something dramatic, something different today, the strength, the spiritual strength that only You can give. We surrender the old life to You, asking You to slay it and bury it, and asking that we might come up today in a newness of life that maybe we have never experienced this before. For we ask this in the precious name of Jesus Christ our Savior, Amen."

(We go to the different rooms for the foot-washing where chairs, towels , pan and water are furnished. Many couples, mixed or the same gender, speak softly to each other as they wash each other's feet. Some have confessed to their partner their faults and have asked forgiveness. There are some tears. As the couples finish washing, some couples bow in prayer, thanking the Lord for this service.)

(Then all return to their places in the Sanctuary where soft music is being played on the organ. Finally two elders lead the deacons in to their places at the front of the church and all sit down together. There is a solemn hush in the congregation. Brother Fred Elmendorf Asks us to all kneel in prayer and he thanks God for this service and the renewing of our lives. He also asks that we be blessed as we partake of the bread and the wine.)

(The two elders stand and face the communion table. When they reach out and open the top tray, the deacons all stand. When the elders finish breaking the bread, they pass the trays to the deacons who take their positions in the audience. At a signal, they pass the bread and the wine to the congregation. And return to their positions in front. Each deacon in turn hands his tray to the elder to place on the stack, the elder holding the tray for the deacon to get his bread and wine. Then the deacons all sit down.

Pastor Gettys: "You have just returned from the foot-washing service, which is a miniature baptism. Christian McClung was baptized this morning. You would call him a new Christian, a new member of the body of Christ. This is his spiritual birthday today, and tomorrow, his physical birthday.

"One of the first things a baby wants when he gets through crying is food, nourishment. You have just been reborn. We've got some nourishment here (the bread and the wine). What better could you have than the body of Christ and the blood of Christ? Spiritual; Food.

"Concerning the bread, Jesus said, 'Take and eat.'" 2 [And we all eat the bread together.

Pastor Gettys: "I don't know how you do it at your home, but food is very important. It doesn't do us any good unless we partake of it. It can't become a part of us unless we eat it or drink it. Jesus can't become a part of you, His blood and His body, unless you actually assimilate it, assimilate Jesus Into your life. While I'm drinking of the cup, while I'm eating of the bread, and I know you probably do the same, I'm praying, 'Lord, give me the power that's in this, You Spiritual Power that I need. Give me a transfusion of your blood.' There is power in the blood. We need that power. Jesus again said, 'Drink from it, all of you.' 3 [And we all drink of the cup together.] Amen."

"After this service, the disciples went out and they went to the Mount of Olives. Before they did that, they sang a hymn. What a rich experience they had in that upper room. Some day we will be in an "upper room" where Jesus will taste of this cup once again after two thousand years. What a great experience that will be.

"If you have been blessed today, and I hope you have, if you would like to share a blessing with someone else, as you go out today, the deacons will be at the door. You could give an offering today that would be used to assist folks that needs some help. And I hope you will also go out today and give some spiritual strength to somebody else. Take your family out and knock on somebody's door. Go in and give them a loaf of bread or something. Help them."

"Let's sing our closing hymn, number 412."

For your Information: (not a part of the sermon)

To the victorians, the fear of premature burial became all-consuming, and many bizarre measures were taken to prevent it. Thanks to the Society for the Prevention of People Being Buried Alive and other concerned citizens, death was handled more tentatively than ever before. For example, the deceased were left lying in their caskets for days or weeks on end before being deemed sufficiently dead to bury. When the Duke of Wellington died in 1858, this macabre postponement ritual reached an extreme. The Duke was not buried until two months after his death.

A simpler method of allaying premature-burial anxiety was to place crowbars and shovels in the deceased's caskets; if they revived, they could dig their way out. Also, in use was a pipe that went through the ground and into the casket, to be used for emergency communications. Wealthy families even hired servants to wait by the pipes and listen for calls for help. Wealthy families who wanted their dead to stay that way had yet another option: coffins fitted with special nails that, when driven, punctured capsules of poison gas.

The most popular device by far, however, was the Bateson Revival Device, advertised ' a most economical, ingenious, and trustworthy mechanism, superior to any other method, and promoting peace of mind amongst the bereaved in all stations of life. A device of proven efficacy, in countless instances in this country and abroad.'

The device, patented by George Bateson, came to be known as the Bateson's Belfry. It consisted of an iron bell mounted on the lid of the casket just above the deceased's head. The bell was connected to a cord through the coffin that was placed in the dead person's hand, 'such that the least tremor shall directly sound the alarm.' Although there is no record of this device actually saving someone's neck, it did, nevertheless, enjoy brisk sales for many years and made Bateson a rich man.


1. Matthew 28:12.

2. Matthew 26:26 last part.

3. Matthew 26:27.

Hymn of Praise: #246, Worthy, Worthy Is the Lamb
Scripture: John 13:5-10
Hymn of Response: #412, Cover With His Life

Email us at our Sermons Contact Page

Return to McDonald Road Sermons Index

Return to McDonald Road SDA Church Home Page

McDonald Road Sermons converted to HTML and
last updated March 20, 2005 by Bob Beckett and Eric Koester