Invitation: ‘Come and Die’…

…but then live!

That will be our focus this Lenten season in our church. I t is our focus every Lenten season.

We will have a large wooden cross right behind the altar. We will have dead, dried up branches all around the baptismal font. We will focus on the death of Christ and the reason that there was to be no other outcome for Him. You and me. We are the reason for that death. We had a hand in it. We still have a hand in it.

God’s Law will be there in full force. It will be unforgiving and ruthless and relentless.

It will put us to death, yet once more.

But the gospel will be there, also.   Come and die…but then live!

We know that the self actualized, up and coming, independent, success oriented types in the Corona del Mar, Newport Beach area of Southern California are not used to this  type of a message from many of their churches.

But we don’t know of any other message that they need to hear more than this one.

We may not pack ’em in…but the ones that do show up during Lent will not be mollycoddled. Their comfort level will not be catered to. Their old sinner will not be given any wiggle room whatsoever.  And when they die, the living Christ will once again give them Himself, that they might yet live again…in Him… and Him alone.

Is focusing on death a bit too harsh, or do you agree with us that this is the only way to go?

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15 Responses

  1. Steve,
    I will be the first to chime in and say that you are right on target. You could paraphrase Jesus’ call to His disciples as, “Follow me and . . .Prepare to die! It’s the only way to live.” Of course, I hear the prepare to die in a Spanish accent, but that is probably just me. Without death, there can be no life. The Scripture never leaves any doubt about that.
    Jeff

  2. Jeff,

    You are so right, my friend, we are called to die.

    “If you would gain your life , you must lose it.”

    The scriptures leave no doubt, but the old Adam/Eve just refuse to do it. So He has to kill us off, Himself.

    Thanks Jeff!

    – Steve

  3. “We may not pack ‘em in…but the ones that do show up during Lent will not be mollycoddled. Their comfort level will not be catered to. Their old sinner will not be given any wiggle room whatsoever. And when they die, the living Christ will once again give them Himself, that they might yet live again…in Him… and Him alone.”

    Perfect! –

  4. Hey Steve,

    I agree that it is the best way to go. It communicates the reality so that the Gospel is seen. The Law must be as much preached 200 proof as should be the Gospel. The reason many don’t see the critical issue of the Gospel in the Word and Sacraments, the reason so many are so accepting of various doctrines on these is that they don’t see the death aspect nor take it seriously. They say they do but they don’t. Walther says something to this that a man who is under a pastor who will not preach the Law, not “can do law”, is in danger.

    It’s like this, I’ve discussed this with my wife to show the deadliness of other messages and other views on the sacraments – it gets right down to death and out of the theoretical and into the very earthy real. I told my wife to show just why it’s not harsh to insist on these precious doctrines and we SHOULD eschew them like fleeing hell its self, because it is, these delusions, “One day me, you, my wife, yours, our children; one day for us in a very individual way our deaths will be finally upon us. Some of us will die suddenly and some slowly. And it will be me or you there, not some other guy or gal. You will be, say, laying there wracked with cancer, dying, a thousand yard stare on your face and the room may be FILLED with friends and family. But YOU will be ALONE because 30 minutes from now they are going to be off at Applebees eating supper and going on, but it is YOU (me) dying. Utterly forlorned and lonely in a room full of friends and family. And all that worthless crap these monsters use to preach, these demonic views on the sacraments you were told were true, these deluded ideas about “sanctification” to you will be utterly worthless if that’s all you had. The hour is finally upon you, the wicked “clean up” programs are now dog vomit and useless, you cannot get out of your bed much less do a so called “good work”, much less know “that you have faith”. When the devil comes then, and he certainly will, and begins playing the lawyer with you and brings up things like election and predestination, if you don’t have real Gospel which is precious which was made real to you because the Law was preached real to you, if you don’t have that “for me” (because what Jesus did must be for you or you won’t believe it), for in that day you will MOST certainly want to know without a shadow of doubting “is it for me” – if you don’t have that you’ll have no comfort in the most crucial hour of your life, your very death.”

    Luther tells of a true story of one of the dying early church fathers who was a most splendid saint in all his life and works. Upon his death bed he was in dread and utter terror of heart. His students attempted to comfort him saying, “Look at all the things you’ve done good, and promoted the faith surely these are signs that you are in the faith and will go to heaven”. But these merely tormented the church father’s soul all the more and he replied back, “Oh no, you do not understand at all. God judges differently than man.” Luther says that there he saw the reality.

    NOTHING we do makes us die. We must have God operate on us, He must have His way with us, not our self appointed “to die” schemes which are just the opposite. So preach it 200 proof, Law and Gospel, I agree whole heartedly, all else is not Christian at all.

    Blessings,

    Larry

    PS: As we are in transition to a solid LCMS church down here we will for the first time take part in the Good Friday Tenebra (sp??) service. I’ve never been to one but heard a little of it and am looking forward to it.

  5. Waynedawg,

    Glad you are feeling better! (I hope).

    Yes, we must die. But He promises that we will live again. He is perfect and His Word is perfect!

    Thanks Wayne!

    – Steve

  6. Larry,

    God’s Law will bring us to the realization that we do deserve death and that we MUST DIE.

    More than that, His Law will actually DO DEATH to us. It will delivet to us that death which we rightly have coming.

    But that Word of the gospel will ACTUALLY DO LIFE to us.

    Not these touchy feely versions were we feel this or that or imagine this or that. God’s Word DOES TO US.
    That’s why we are sacramental Christians. We actuallt trust that God is the Actor in His Word.

    Glad you found a good church to go to, Larry. Don’t ever let them, or anyone else put any handcuffs on you.
    If they ever try to, remind them that someone died for all of that!

    His Grace and Peace to you, my friend!

    – Steve

  7. Excellent idea. How often does the old me try to make a comeback. I say “Die, pig!” to the old self. Might draw a few “Oh, my”s from the older ladies in the crowd but I think the message is, well, the gospel.

  8. Jim J.,

    “… Might draw a few “Oh, my”s from the older ladies in the crowd but I think the message is, well, the gospel.”

    You’d think right, Jim!

    “Oh my!”

    ‘Death ain’t pretty, lady…but you’d better face up to it!’

    Thanks Jim!

    – Steve

  9. Born once,die twice. Born twice,die once. The wages of sin is death. We all die once. The eternal question is: will be reborn?

  10. The Gospel is meaningless without death.

  11. What timing! Just yesterday I learned that my mom has cancer. Details are not yet complete as to type and degree, but we had a very good conversation. She knows that she has already died in her Baptism, and she trusts that she will be free from this fallen world and in perfect peace sooner than she anticipated (though she will have whatever suffering that may come til then). A year ago, we sisters were praying that she would return to the Body of Christ. She did last October, and she is assured that Christ is for her.

    Lent is a wonderful season. The world seems to avoid the reality of death. Or makes up fictions on what it is and means. But, we hear the Law and learn of its power to convict and kill, and leave us with the realization that only God’s mercy can then give us the Gospel – Life as God always intended to bestow upon His creatures.

    This hope is MUCH better than reincarnation or becoming one with the universe! MUCH BETTER!

  12. Raggedy Lamb,

    I am very sorry to hear about your Mom.

    I can’t think of anything tougher in life than to have your loved ones get news like that and to face and go through the battles that await you all.

    My heart goes out to you. My wife and I will keep your Mom, and you, and the rest of your family in prayer.

    Death is the elephant in the room that no one wants to acknowledge. But we must.

    Thanks be to God that your Mom understands what Christ has done for her in her baptism, and that she is regularly hears His promises.

    Maybe the Lord is not ready for her just yet, but this is a trial that she and you will have to go through.

    I pray that she will be healed. The Lord does heal all our diseases. If not here..then there in Heaven.

    Thanks Raggedy Lamb.

    You are in our prayers,

    Steve

  13. been studying galatians with the students at church and its interesting to watch the parents who sit in with us cling to the law like its a life raft in a stormy sea.

    the teens are asking great questions about whether the law is still applicable or not and i keep sending them to the text while the parents keep sayings things such as: of course we cant just dismiss the ten commandments…

    its a southern baptist church so i darent speak too loudly of freedom in christ or people will end up drinking and dancing.

  14. Graceshaker,

    Yep so true! As a good friend of mine once said, and accurately having been there myself, S. baptist and Reformed baptist seem “to be on guard against the Gospel”.

    I’m not the least surprised, they paint a different picture of God that is not God and thus hone another god. This is how all idolatry starts.

    When I was a very young child in my SB SS class (read: ethics for children class), lookng back on it, there was little difference between the juice and crackers they divvied out to us for a snack in SS and the juice and crackers served in the service. No gifts given, just morals, ethics and instructions to follow, juice and crackers in both.

    Larry

  15. “…its a southern baptist church so i darent speak too loudly of freedom in christ or people will end up drinking and dancing.”

    That cracks me up!!! 😀

    Thanks, Graceshaker!

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