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Thursday, January 08, 2009 

Death And Doubt

A coworker’s father passed away after being ill for some time last weekend and as I’m wont to do on occasion I’ve been thinking about how those outside the faith perceive the doubt that the Christian may feel when he knows death is near.

Dr. Luther wrote this; “When temptation assails you on your deathbed and your spirit becomes oppressed and does not know which way to turn, you should above al things center your attention on the External Word and cling to it; otherwise there is no help.” (W 27,499)

Uh, that’s supposed be comforting? Yes, yes it is.

It is natural that we fear death, as we know that the wages of sin is death. We were never created to die, but through our first parents in the garden, death entered the world. Thankfully the Lord didn’t deal with His disobedient and fallen creatures in a manner in which they deserved. Instead, He graciously sent His Son as a sacrifice for our transgressions, a perfect love expressed but hidden on a cross.

I remember that when I came back to the faith, after fifteen long years as an atheist, I was terrified to even step inside a church. I felt such guilt for denying God that I thought that the unbelief could never be forgiven no matter how much or strongly I did believed.

Thankfully I was finally able to cling to that External Word; Jesus the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, even mine. fortunately I have a pastor who faithfully preaches that External Word and administers His Sacraments in which faith and forgiveness are obtained through no work of my own but rather that of the work of Holy Spirit.

This doesn't mean that the evil one won’t twist the fact that we can’t do anything to merit heaven by our own means into fear and doubt. Satan is the father of lies and he’s the very best at what he does. It’s not all that hard to go from half a truth to full fledged doubt with the prince of this world whispering in your ear.

So at the end of the day, we do what Dr. Luther suggests; we trust God’s Word and put aside our doubts and temptations and cling to Christ because sin, death, and the devil are already defeated and crushed by the Word made flesh, by Jesus on a cross nearly two thousand years ago. Through that cross death itself has been defeated and destroyed. May doubt and temptations be defeated as well for all those who call Jesus Lord.

Amen. The gift of faith is our only comfort in the face of inevitable death.It alone allows us to die only once. Born once,die twice;born twice,die once.

Great post. I'd also add that we were created for His Glory. We glorify Him here on earth as well as in heaven. Make the most of it while you're here by putting your trust in the Savior.

Thanks guys. I think there is a misperception (among many folks and even among the faithful) that Christians never experience any doubt. This just isn’t the case. We know the Gospel’s comfort but that old man, the old Adam likes to rear his ugly head and turn us away from Christ. It’s why we remember the drowning of the old man in our baptism DAILY!

I like this one Frank....in most of your blogs, they are beyond my lowly level of comprehension haha. I have enjoyed reading through them however.

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  • I'm Frank Gillespie
  • From The Haut South
  • Confessional Lutheran
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