St. Paul's Lutheran Church

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“For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised.  And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” – 1 Corinthians 15:16-17

There’s an old saying that goes, “Those who fear death are fools, for by doing so they lose their own life.” There is great truth to this saying, but no one but Hollywood actors following a script can say they don’t fear death. Now, there are those who, because of deep sadness and depression, can never be comforted no matter what we say or do. We could give them the most delicious “comfort food,” clothe them in fine robes, entertain them with their favorite music and show, but no matter what they just do not feel alive. They think of nothing but death because they are practically dead already, sort of like the series, “The Walking Dead.” But for most, there is always a lingering fear of death. We experience only once and there’s no time to practice or get comfortable with it.

And how do others tell us to throw such thoughts? They say that we must not fear death, to get it out of our minds and say to ourselves, “When I’m dead, I’m dead!” This is what the Corinthian people thought (1 Corinthians 15:32), and even Jesus mentions this mentality in one of his parables (Luke 12:16-21). Only, this advice also leads us to forget about God’s wrath, hell, and damnation, which is sadly what so very many do today, and yes even some who profess to be Christian, as they live lives believing there is no day of judgment or that God is too kind to judge or condemn anyone.

But true believers cannot do this or pretend like this. In fact, a heart that wants to believe in God cannot throw out the threat of wrath so haphazardly, as if judgment and hell is but a story told to children. True believers fear what is to come as their faith struggles and fights to grow, else it wouldn’t grow. And what believers must hear as much as possible isn’t silliness like, “eat, drink and make merry for once you’re dead, you’re dead,” but instead, “Oh Christian, if you feel miserable and have distress in your life, and if you struggle in life with fear of death and hell, it is only because you ARE a believer that you struggle so. Otherwise, you could no more fear wrath and hell than a rock fears falling off a cliff. But take comfort in the sure fact that Christ has already faced hell for you and God’s wrath is never against you again.”

Dear Father, guard my heart from apathy of judgment, and keep me in the one true faith through daily repentance so that I find my comfort and hope, not in the things of this life, but in the life to come. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Morning Chapel from Kramer Chapel

Concordia Theological Seminary
Ft. Wayne, Indiana
Every day at 9:00 AM