Will You Surely Die?
This fine sermon was preached by Pastor Scott Porath on Sunday, June 7 while Pastor Kuhlman was on vacation. Thanks Pastor Porath!
The only thing certain is “death and taxes” – or so, the saying goes. Our Lord has something to say about both – but today, we’ll focus on what He says about death. In the beginning the Lord told Adam not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – “for in the day you eat of it you shall surely die.”
For you descendants of Adam, far removed from the fruit of that tree, the Lord says – “the wages of sin is death.”
It’s obvious that death comes to all people – and yet, it’s amazing how often we live as if we will not die. That’s how great the delusion of the evil one is. When the devil says – “You will not surely die” – we should laugh and mock such a lie, but sadly, we swallow it hook, line and sinker.
Very rarely do we think about death. We ignore it. We certainly don’t dwell on it. We live as if that conversation in the Garden between the devil and Eve is just some kind of fairy tale that’s not real. And when we ignore the certainty of death – it shows the devil’s deception is working.
Of course, there is a more active denial of this truth as well. Some actively try to overcome death, or delay it as long as possible. The promises of long life through special diets and ways of living can be tools the devil uses to suggest there is some hope that you can escape death.
When death comes, and can’t be ignored – we do all kinds of things to hide the body which screams “death.” In extreme cases bodies are frozen and DNA samples are preserved – with the hope that someone will discover the secret to overcoming death — with the hope that we can, somehow, go on living.
Now, I suspect some of you are sitting there, silently protesting: “That’s not true – I am well aware of my mortality – I’m not living in denial!” Is that true? Let’s get to the root of the issue.
At the root of the devil’s temptation – of Adam and Eve, and you – is faith in the Word of God. There wasn’t something inherently deadly in the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – but rather – death comes from not hearing and believing the Word of God.
All life is dependent upon the Word of God. God had commanded the man not to eat of the fruit – because in the day that you set aside my Word, in the day when you think that my Word is not true – in that day you will surely die!
In order to attack your life – the devil attacks God and His Word. “Did God actually say …?” “That can’t be true.” “God is lying to you – you can’t trust Him – He’s holding you back from reaching your full potential – He’s just afraid that you will become like Him, and be the God of your own life.”
To deny God’s Word is to deny God Himself – to make Him out to be the Liar. If you separate yourself from God and His Word – then you end up like Adam and Eve – naked and afraid, hiding out in the bushes – and making excuses for your sin. Separated from God and His Word – there is no life in you – and just as He has said, “you shall surely die.”
In the beginning, the Lord God breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of lie – “and the man became a living being.” We would do well to pay attention to what comes from the mouth of the Lord – because life comes from His mouth. He gives life to Adam and Eve by telling them not to eat of the fruit. And just as He breathed life into Adam – so by His Word and Spirit He gives and preserves your life.
And what do we do with that life-giving Word and Spirit? We treat it as a nothing. We struggle to even listen to a whole Scripture reading – much less a sermon that preaches God’s Word. Come to Bible Class or Sunday School – speak and listen to God’s Word in our homes – what for – what good is that?
You see, we live as if God’s Word does NOT give life – as if we can live without it. In other words, we live as if we will not surely die – as if man does NOT live “by every Word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” Dearly beloved, we all have much to repent of.
Having cut themselves off from God and His Word – Adam and Eve live a life consumed with covering their nakedness, living in fear that God would find them. They were not living – they were dead – dead in their trespasses and sins.
The Lord did not, and does not, shun His rebellious children – but He seeks them out so that they might live. He breathes new life into them – promising that the Seed of the woman would crush Satan’s head – so that Adam and Eve could live by that Word – so that their death by deception might be overcome by the Promised One.
That Promised One is none other than Jesus – who by His death on the cross destroyed death – crushing Satan’s head – and plundering his house. By the fruit of that Calvary Tree – the Lord God redeems you – and gives you everlasting life.
Dearly beloved, do not be deceived – “you shall surely DIE.” It is as certain as pain in childbirth – as certain and sure as the sweat that drips from your brow when you toil. But to you the Word of Life has come.
Jesus, who died your death – was raised to life again on the third day. That resurrected Jesus breathes life into you today – for all who believe His Word and are baptized “shall be saved.” He administers to you the medicine of immortality in the Lord’s Supper – giving you His resurrected-and-never-to-die-again Body and Blood.
There is something more certain and sure than death and taxes – “Your sins are forgiven, you shall not die, but live.” And with His life-giving forgiveness – the promise that He will raise your body on the Last Day. This is most certainly true.
The peace of God which passes all understanding, guards your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.