Thursday, October 13, 2011

Historical Church Writings #11: Martin Luther on death

Today is Historical Church Writing Thursday. Each Thursday will feature the writings of the church fathers, reformation fathers or other church writings. Today's Historical Church Writing is from Martin Luther:

     St. Paul exhorts the Thessalonians [I Thessalonians 4:13-18] not to sorrow over the dead as others who have no hope, but to comfort each other with God's Word as having a certain hope of life and of the resurrection of the dead.
     It is little wonder if those are sad who have no hope. Nor can they be blamed for it. Since they are beyond the pale of faith in Christ, they must either cherish this temporal life as the only thing worthwhile and hate to lose it, or they must expect that after this life they will receive eternal death and the wrath of God in hell and must fear to go there.
     But we Christians, who have been redeemed from all this by the dear blood of the Son of God, should by faith train and accustom ourselves to despise death and to regard it as a deep, strong, and sweet sleep, to regard the coffin as nothing but paradise and the bosom of our Lord Christ, and the grave as nothing but a soft couch or sofa, which it really is in the sight of God; for he says, John 11[:11], "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep," and Matthew 9[:24], "The girl is not dead but sleeping."
     Thus, too, St. Paul in I Corinthians 15[:42-44] bans from his sight every ugly aspect of death in our mortal body and brings to the fore a wholly delightful and joyous picture of life when he says: "What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable.... It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body."
     -- Martin Luther
Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

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