More / Book of the Month / Life before and after death - Matthew 5:1-12; 1 John 3; Revelation 7 / Pr. Lucas Andre Albrecht / Sunday November 6th, 2022 / Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Life before and after death - Matthew 5:1-12; 1 John 3; Revelation 7 / Pr. Lucas Andre Albrecht / Sunday November 6th, 2022 / Mount Olive Lutheran Church




Life before and after death - Matthew 5:1-12; 1 John 3; Revelation 7 / Pr. Lucas Andre Albrecht / Sunday November 6th, 2022 / Mount Olive Lutheran Church

 

 


Text: Matthew 5:1-12; 1 John 3:1-3
Theme: “Life before and after death”
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Intr – If you would make a list of forbidden topics for daily life conversations, where would you start?

-politics?
-other people’s life?
-Sexuality?
-Death?... Here I think we hit home.

        Death has become such a dreadful topic that euphemisms were created to keep the word at a safe distance. “Passing away, passing on; going to a better place”, and others. Somebody has once observed that we live in the opposite of the Victorian era -- when sex was a forbidden topic and death was a daily one.

        Are you comfortable talking about death? Maybe you aren’t; maybe a little. Or just on some occasions, like funerals. Perhaps it’s easier when it is a distant report than when it is close to home. Perhaps it’s less difficult when it is somebody whose absence in this world won’t be felt at all compared to a dear loved one.

        The Church has a date in its calendar where we talk about death, whether we like it or not. And I would say: there is no problem in liking to talk about it. Not the way you like your favourite dish or your favourite spot by the lake, but liking in terms of two main causes:

-It is unavoidable for all of us. It is a necessary talk.
-It is the point we look forward to. Death. Or better, life after death. When we Christians talk about death, we are underlining life. Jesus says in the Gospel today: “iRejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.” There is life after death.

But not only that. We can never forget that there is life before death as well.

1 – WHAT DEATH IS NOT

-You don’t become a star in heaven. After death, we continue to be who we are.
-You don’t become an angel. Angels and human beings are two distinct categories of God’s creatures.
-It is not a synonym to “going to a better place”, since there is also a worse place where to go, when faith in Christ is not present.
-Death is not the end of life. We will live forever.
-Death is not a friend. It is our worst enemy.

2 – WHAT DEATH IS

From a Christian perspective, Death is:

-Ceasing of bodily life on this side of heaven.
-An appointed time for us to leave life here and to go to be with Jesus.
To die means to have your soul and your body set apart from each other. The body is laid to rest. The soul rests in Jesus.
-The wages of sin.[1]This is the reason why everybody dies. This shows that little children need Baptism, since the fact that they may die reveals sin them too.

        One thing we should remember though is that when we die life eternal in its full sense has not begun just yet. Our soul is already immortal, so it doesn’t even die. The body dies and awaits for resurrection day. Life eternal, as we Christians teach it, will begin on the Last Day. For not only our soul was redeemed, but our body as well. We will enjoy the blessings of eternal life with our body and soul. Both will be in heaven.

        Speaking of heaven, on all saints day we think especially about those who are already there in Christ. The saints in heaven. They are people who have gone through the process of receiving the wages of their sin. Their bodies were laid to rest. Their souls are resting in Christ waiting for the last day. We are not supposed to pray to them, or expect any “help from beyond”, what we do is to render thanksgiving to God for their life in Christ.

3 – WHAT OUR LIFE IS

       There is life after death. But there is life before death too. While we are still waiting for our permanent home in Heaven, we live this life before death as sinners who are saints saved by Grace.[2]

      To this life here Jesus brings us the Beatitudes. He talks about faith in action.  Jesus shows some aspects of this life as saints in Christ here on earth.[3]  The tone of those Beatitudes is set right off the bat by Jesus, as Martin Luther puts it: “his is a delightful, sweet, and genial beginning of his sermon. For he does not come, like Moses or a teacher of law, with alarming and threatening demands; but in the most friendly manner, with enticements and allurements and pleasant promises.”[4] But note well: “But He shows with these words that no one understands this unless he is already a true Christian.” [5]

      As we live life before death with our faith in action towards the World, we are called “blessed”. Why so? Because actions are fruits of a living faith. When you live your faith active in love, you know that is a living faith, connected to Him. You live life before death in the perspective of life after death. You live life as a whole.

4 – LIVING FOREVER

      Christ has killed death. We have life in Him, new and full life. Still, facing death in this life is not an easy thing. Especially, when by our human standards, someone was too young, or went too early, as we say. When we must be separated for a while from our loved ones, while we await the blessed reunion on the last day. You may feel uncomfortable and unease with death. That is normal. If you don’t like death, you are a human. Death is our enemy, and we don’t like to think about that battle. For those times, the promise of the Life that never ends resounds from God’s Word, and especially in today’s readings:

1st John: "2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”[6]

Revelation: "a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.[7]

Jesus: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God… Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”[8]

       These Bible passages and many more, assure us we don’t need to fear death. It is a once in a lifetime event. All the rest is life. There is life before death. There is life after it.

      Once Rev. Dr. Criswell, on an airplane flight, "was sitting beside and visiting with a well-known theologian. The man told how he had lost a son who, one day, had come home from school with a fever that he and his wife thought was just a childhood sickness. Sadly it turned out to be meningitis. The doctor gave no hope for the boy's survival.

     Near the end when the professor was sitting at his son's bedside, the child said, "Daddy, it is getting dark isn't it?"  The professor answered, "Yes, son, it is getting dark, very dark." "Daddy, I guess it's time for me to go to sleep isn't it?" the boy continued. "Yes, son, it's time for you to go to sleep."

     As the child fixed the pillow on his bed the best he could in his weakened condition and, putting his head on his hands, said, "Good night, Daddy. I will see you in the morning." Those were the last words the professor's son said as he closed his eyes in death and passed from this life to enter God's heaven.

     For a long time, Dr. Criswell said, the professor just sat looking out the window of the airplane. Later he turned again and, looking at Dr. Criswell, with tears in his eyes, said, "Dr. Criswell, I can hardly wait till the morning."[9]

    There is life after death. There is life before death. We don't know how much time we have left with our loved ones. But we know that we can enjoy every second as a present and thank God for the time a life lasts before death. What matters most, more than the time of a life,  is how God brought his blessings through it. And that that life continues on after death, in the morning of God’s New Earth and New Heavens.

Cc – There is a cartoon that that got it right in two sentences. One person says “We will all die one day.” And the other replies: “Yes, but we will live all the others.” We know what death is. We don’t like it. That’s why is so comforting e promising to know what life is. Who life is. Jesus Christ. Death has no longer power over us. We are blessed saints who live a life where Christ has killed death and assured us. We will all die one day. But we will live all the others. On this side of heaven. And on the other side too.

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[1] Romans 6:23
[2] Philippians 1:21
[3]“Here  the evangelist with a formal stately preface declares how Christ disposed himself for the sermon he was about to deliver; that he went upon a mountain, and sat down, and opened his mouth; so that we see he was in earnest. These are the three things, it is commonly said, that mark a good preacher; first, that he take his place; secondly, that he open his mouth and say something; thirdly, that he know when to stop.”  Martin Luther. Commentary on the Sermon of the Mount http://www.godrules.net/library/luther/37luther1.htm  Visited Nov 1st,2019
[4] Martin Luther, web link cit. “Then there would be plenty of money forthcoming to build a good road, and every one would boastingly glory how he had heard or read the very words that the Lord Christ had spoken. O what a wonderfully happy man would he be held to be who should succeed in this! That is just the way it surely would be if we had none of our Savior’s words written, although much might have been written by others;”
[5] Martin Luther, web link cit.
[6] I John 3
[7] Revelation 7
[8] Matthew 5
[9] “I'll See You in the Morning “ http://www.actsweb.org/articles/article.php?i=739&d=2&c=1

 

 

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