Safe and Uncondemned for the Glory of God

Safe and Uncondemned for the Glory of God

It was almost nine years ago when Owen Shramek died. His parents, a young couple from Bethlehem Baptist Church, had moved to the Middle East to work as cross-cultural peacemakers. Owen was born at 24 weeks and the medical context reduced his chance of survival to 10 percent. He lived on this earth for only 20 minutes.

After Owen's parents flew back to the States for his burial, John Piper preached his funeral sermon and comforted his family with the truth of the Bible. Pastor John listed eight propositions about who Owen is and his legacy for the glory of God.

  1. Owen Shramek was and is a human being created in God's image.
  2. Owen Shramek was and is your son.
  3. Owen Shramek is safe and uncondemned in the presence of Jesus Christ.
  4. Owen Shramek was created to glorify God.
  5. The length of Owen Shramek's twenty-minute life on earth was virtually indistinguishable from the length of ours.
  6. Owen Shramek is happier today than the happiest person on earth has ever been.
  7. Owen Shramek was a test for your faith.
  8. Owen Shramek is a gift to you and the Middle East.

In his book, The Hardest Sermons You'll Ever Have to Preach, which includes this story and full sermon, Bryan Chapell writes:

Pastor Piper assumes two critical burdens in this message: 1) proving from Scripture that a newborn is incapable of expressing faith can, nonetheless, be eternally safe and uncondemned, and 2) proving from Scripture that the short life of a newborn can bring glory to God and change the world. (119–126)

Suffering such as this demands the voice of God be delivered with clarity and love. Along with Owen's parents, to honor Owen and for the glory of God, we commend this sermon to you in the hopes that "the truth here continue to speak grace and comfort from our good and kind Father."

Jonathan Parnell (@jonathanparnell) is a writer and content strategist at Desiring God. He lives in the Twin Cities with his wife, Melissa, and their four children, and is the co-author of How to Stay Christian in Seminary.