Sermon — Pr. Martin Noland — Facing Death Without Fear or Sorrow

Text: Luke 7:11-17 [3rd Sunday afte Pentecost]

Steadfast Sermons GraphicWhat will you do when you are personally faced with death?  Death could stare you in the face with a diagnosis of incurable cancer.  Death could stare you in the face with a diagnosis of extremely risky surgery.  Death could stare you in the face, as you see your mother, father, spouse, or child in a hospital–in intensive care with breathing tube, intravenous feeding, and other life support–then the doctor comes in and says, “I’m sorry, there is nothing more we can do for him–and there is no hope of recovery. I’m very sorry.”

The people of the town of Nain in Galilee were filled with sorrow that day when Jesus happened to meet their funeral procession.  There was not a dry eye in the crowd.  No one was more sorrowful than the deceased’s mother, who was a widow.  Not only was she living with the sadness of the loss of her husband, without remarriage, but here she lost her only son.  She had thought he would provide and care for her until her old age.  Now she had no one–she was a “widow” in every sense of the term.  Only poverty, sadness, and fear of the unknown were in front of her into the distant future.

Jesus’ first words to the widow was “Don’t weep!”  That certainly does not sound very sympathetic.  Everyone expected her to cry; anyone with a bit of empathy cried with her.  But Jesus saw things differently, because he saw things that neither they, nor you, nor I can see.  The people of Nain and the widow saw death, with lots to fear and sorrow over.  Jesus saw the soul of the young man, which was not extinguished, although the body was absolutely dead.  So Jesus called to the soul of that young man and said, “I say to you, arise,” and the soul returned to its body.  Jesus then gave the living young man to his joyful mother, and the crowds were amazed.  This was one of three resurrections that Jesus accomplished, not including his own, which was a fourth.

What will you do when you are personally faced with death?  If you are a believer in Jesus and His words, you really don’t need to fear or have sorrow.  If you are the one who has received the diagnosis of death, then you know that when you die, your soul will be with Jesus and with all the departed believers who wear “white robes” in heaven (Revelation 7:9).  If you are the one who is going to die, then you know that your soul will return to your own body on the Last Day and then you “will always be with the Lord” (I Thessalonians 4:17).  If your loved one dies, and he or she is a believer, then he or she has gone to a far better place; as Saint Paul desired “to depart and be with Christ which is far better” (Philippians 1:23).  It is true that we believers feel sorrow over our loss of loved ones this side of the grave, but there is no reason to fear.  There is no good reason to fear death at all!

There are wrong reasons to fear death.  Those wrong reasons to fear death come from false doctrines found in various Christian churches.  These doctrines explain, among other things, what happens to you after death, and how you can be sure that you will be saved.  These false doctrines of salvation are the primary reason that I could not, in good conscience, become a pastor or priest in those churches.

This does not mean that every member of these churches believe these doctrines, but they are the official doctrines in those churches.  You need to know about these false doctrines, because your friends or loved ones may be members of these churches or influenced by them.  You can offer them real comfort and hope when their doctrine fails them.

In the Eastern Orthodox churches, their doctrine teaches that the souls of the dead, both the believers and the damned, go to an intermediate state called Hades.  They teach that believers in Hades are sorrowful and suffer pain, because they are separate from God and their bodies.  Thus people facing death in these churches are sad, because they think that believers are going to a worse place than here on earth, before the Last Day.

In the Roman Catholic churches, their doctrine teaches that the souls of the dead believers enter purgatory.  According to Thomas Aquinas, the least pain of the poor souls in purgatory is worse than the greatest pain on earth.  These churches teach that souls in purgatory suffer for a long, long time, but will eventually be purged of their sins and enter heaven.  They teach that you may shorten or lessen your loved one’s suffering in purgatory by obtaining a novena or by obtaining an indulgence on their behalf.  If I was Catholic, I would certainly be afraid to die, no matter how “good” or “pious” I was.

In the Calvinist churches, which includes the Presbyterians and Reformed, their doctrine teaches that the souls of dead believers enter heaven.  But according to John Calvin and his followers, you will never really know if you truly believe, because only those elected by God before the foundation of the world have true faith.  Calvin taught that many think they have faith, and say they have faith, but they really don’t–they are self-deluded.  So you could die and wake up in hell; or you could die and wake up in heaven–you will never know until you get there!  Which is kind of too late, in my opinion!

In the Arminian churches, which includes most Methodists, Baptists, Evangelicals, and Pentecostals, their doctrine most commonly teaches that the souls of dead believers enter heaven.  But according to these churches, mere faith is not enough to receive the “blessed assurance” of salvation before you die.  They say you also need to have some sort of experience of conversion and/or evidence of a renewed life in good works, sanctification, and/or a life of virtue.

The problem with this doctrine is that you never know when you have done enough good or feel pious enough.  It is the same problem that Martin Luther faced in the monastery before his discovery of the Gospel.  As these Evangelical Christians face death, they often fear that they have not done enough good, or that their conversion was counterfeit.  There is no “blessed assurance” in the face of death for such Christians, especially when they feel the pangs of conscience and their own sinfulness.

One of the best parts of being a Lutheran is being able to face death without uncertainty, fear, or sorrow, because you have the sure and certain confidence of live everlasting.  Because of the Lutheran church’s insistence on sola Scriptura, we long ago rejected the old pagan ideas of Hades and purgatory that crept into the medieval church.  Because of the Lutheran church’s insistence on sola fide, we long ago rejected the common idea that you have to make a contribution of some sort to your own salvation.  All you need to do to be saved is to “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

Because of the Lutheran church’s insistence on sola gratia, we long ago rejected the idea that God is a wrathful judge who enjoys sending the vast majority of humanity to hell.  We teach that “God wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:4). The only reason that some people are not saved is their own stubborn rejection of the Gospel.  Those who want to be saved through the merits of Jesus Christ obedience, suffering, and death will most certainly be saved.  They have no reason to fear death, because being with Jesus is far better than this “valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4).

May you always remember why you can face death without fear or sorrow, so that you may help those who do fear or sorrow; and so that you may be joyfully ready to be with Jesus when he calls you home.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.


Comments

Sermon — Pr. Martin Noland — Facing Death Without Fear or Sorrow — 4 Comments

  1. I’ve occasionally wondered if we aren’t met after death by St. Peter, who says “Ok, where do _you_ think that you should go”, to which we must answer totally honestly, and then you are sent there.

    Seriously, this is the entire reason for faith. We cannot know empirically what will happen after death, it is beyond the realm of science, and it is forbidden for us to call spirits and ask them (even if we could trust the results).

  2. @Paul of Alexandria #1
    I’ve occasionally wondered if we aren’t met after death by St. Peter, who says “Ok, where do _you_ think that you should go”,…

    I sincerely hope not! Unless we can say, “Christ is expecting me; He paid.”

    [This idea of St Peter as “Gatekeeper” is rather Roman, isn’t it!?] 🙁

  3. @Paul of Alexandria #1
    The scientific proof of the existence of God also proves the natural mortality of the soul.
    There are two things in the universe: energy; and, information, which is the conformation of energy. This conformation, differentiation, of energy is in closed circuitry, that there be something to move out of the way and fill in behind, in the absolute density of the one substance, energy. Differentiation causes consciousness, so that, in turn, the matrix of energy is thereby differentiated and therefore energy is conscious, and better known as God.
    “In Him we live, move, and have our being”. God was called “Him” perhaps due to the ancient Israelite assignment of authority to males, or, the fact that energy is seen as active. Such “positive” attributes were attributed to males due to the fact that such was the male viewpoint. Like polarities repel and cause “positive” (like the confrontation of solid “posited” objects) effects.
    In actuality, counterclockwise circuits are male, and clockwise circuits are female. These are the real polarities. Even the tiniest subatomic particles are made of closed circuits. The magnetic fluxes of the iron in the cytochromes of all male cells are counterclockwise, and in females, clockwise. Some of us can see the repulsion of like polarities as bright white light, from repelling the magnetic fluxes in the cytochromes of the cells of the optic nerves.
    Opposite polarities, circuits confluent to ours, are seen as peaceful darkness (“the thick darkness where God is”) in which we can experience moments of the satisfaction of all desires, known in the East as “nirvana’. Everything is running down, or stressed up by that which is running down; all pushing into ultimate confluency and peace.
    The consciousness of energy is infinite and eternal. If we were energy we would never sleep. We are only information, each a closed circuit, alpha code information. Energy creating eternally is a consequence of theophysiology. The infinitessimal point nothingness, . , is rastered by time into timespace, U, which being one, exerts its oneness in one direction, /, which stirs closed circuitry, O, which all going the same way, vO^XvO^, repels, X, forcing confluency, =, which allows undfferentiation, and it starts all over again.
    Critics have criticized that the exertion of the oneness is equal on both sides. The answer to that is that as this manifestation happens the value of pi is going from zero to higher values, thereby leaving one side of each circuit more pressured than the other, thus, the circuit circulates. Also, the friction of the circuitry is from the Planck’s volumes that compose everything. Nothing can be smaller than Planck’s volume. Without this friction there would be no consciousness.
    But, by the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the exact same circuits never differentiate again. The smallest thing is Planck’s volume. The same Planck’s volumes never reassemble again into the same closed circuit, but each proceeds out toward infinity, by circuits through circuits of the infinite continuum.
    There is a psudo-scientist trying to prove a proposed law of the conservation of information to enforce Plato’s belief in “immortality of the soul”, but, fortunately, he has failed miserably. Those who have a wish for immortality actually seek to have continued satisfactions, but, all satisfactions are only moments of more undifferentiation. Pains are times of acute differentiation. All reliefs, pleasures, are moments of more undifferentiation of the closed circuit we call “I”.
    But, so many people cried for immortality that God incarnated as Jesus Christ to give directions on how to become immortal. But, actions bring reactions that return with equal worth. That which we cause is on the way back by the ultimate closed circuitry; which is called “karma” in the East.
    Fire world? The fifth dimension has been defined as that direction through variously bent timespaces. In the direction of timespaces with pi values less than 3.14159265…, globally bent timespace, there are faster and faster polarity cancellation rates. Fire is a very fast polarity cancellation rate. But there, undifferentiation with the opposite polarity is much more probable, undifferentiation back into nonexistence, “nirvana”. In the East, this world has been called “dharmaloka”, where “nirvana” is most easily attainable,
    We know that that with a fast velocity has a field of globally bent timespace around it. In mechanics, power is force times velocity; in electricity power is voltage times current, and, in thermodynamics power is temperature times entropy production rate. The entropy of the universe is the proportion of photons to nucleons, therefore, entropy is an extent of polarity cancellation, therefore, entropy production rate is polarity cancellation rate. The Philadelphia Experiment, which was actually accomplished, showed that there was no gravitational component with the electrical analogue.
    There is no gravitational component with the thermodynamic analogue, which is so easy that any free person can do it. Gravity itself bends timespace globally. Timespaces with pi values higher than 3.14159265… are miserable, and called “saddle” timespace due to its geometry being parabolichyperboloidal. As unbearable as it is, “saddle” timespace is not the place originally called “Hell”. Fire is impossible there. And, it has been called “bound astral light”; whereas, globally bent timespace is called “quickened astral light”.
    Now we know where it’s at; and can figure the reasons for all the lies to keep power and wealth in the hands of the authors of intimidating lies. Also, for every possibility there is a probability timeline sideways in time, which could be called the “sixth dimension”. If more that fifty percent of your brain believes anything possible, that strong thought will draw you to the probability timeline where it is reality.
    And, that which wakes up the brain makes your mind more powerful to draw you to the probability timelines where your thoughts are reality. With between thirty and forty percent brain use everything you write will become your reality. And, between forty and fifty percent brain use everything you say will become your reality.” If you have the faith of a mustard seed and say to this mountain move, it will be moved”. You go to the probability timeline where the mountain is elsewhere.

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