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Evidence of death and of life

Romanos 6:1-11

Pastor David Ernst

Sixth Sunday after Trinity
Epiphany Lutheran Mission of La Caramuca  
Barinas, Venezuela

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Sun, Jul 11, 2021 

Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

The burial of the dead reminds us of a life that once lived. Also, it is evidence of the end of earthly life. If a person simply disappears, there are always doubts about his exit from this world. Years may pass, but there is always the possibility, even the hope, that the missing person is still alive. Burial and the presence of a marker acknowledge that a person has completed his pilgrimage here.

And his fate after physical death? In this matter, we have a hope that does not fade over the years, but lasts until our own demise. We have the promise of eternal life. Our funeral practices reflect our belief in the resurrection of the body. We believe that at the moment of physical death, the soul returns to God and for those who die in saving faith, they are in paradise that day, as our Lord promised to the thief on the cross. But on the last day, our souls and bodies will be reunited forever in the resurrection.

We do not believe that the body is a temporary shell for an immortal spirit that can reincarnate in another form, but body and soul together is God's design. Our Lord was born in the flesh and ascended to heaven as true man and true God. In this way, God has blessed our bodies. Spirituality does not consist in the denial of the flesh, in fasting and celibacy, but in our witness to the love and mercy of God in our work, in marriage and in the family. In anticipation of the resurrection, we deliver the mortal remains to the earth, as a seed is planted in the hope that flowers, fruits or grains will sprout from the ground.

The Scriptures do not command a specific way to treat corpses. God's people in the Old Testament as a rule practiced neither embalming nor cremation, although there were exceptions. In the last chapter of Genesis, from what I read on Sunday, June 27, the bodies of the patriarch Jacob and his son Joseph were mummified in the Egyptian way to transport them back to the Promised Land. The prophet says in 1 Samuel 31:12 that the bodies of King Saul and his sons were burned. Perhaps those bodies were too many mutilated or decomposed to be buried in the proper way. Typically, the Jews washed the body, wrapped it in clean linen, anointed it with preservative spices and placed it on the ground within 24 hours, as the evangelists describe the burial of Jesus.

In Romans 6: 3-5 we traverse the entire territory from baptism to eternal life. Paul comes to a conclusion about what happens to the Christian at baptism. Verse 4 promises that we will walk in a new life. And verse 5 says that those who have experienced a Christ-like death will experience a Christ-like resurrection. Whenever Christ predicted his death, he also predicted his resurrection. If we are united with Christ in death, we will certainly be united with Him in life. The apostle draws this conclusion from the fact of our participation in the death of Christ.

By taking our sins upon Him and paying the full price for them with His suffering and death, Christ has freed us not only from guilt and punishment, but also from the power of sin. And since we have become the property of Christ by baptism and have been baptized into his death, we are freed from the power of death; His authority and sovereignty over us has come to an end. The salvation in which we are partakers of baptism works sanctification in us.

This is the answer to the most common objection to the doctrine of justification by faith alone is that it allows men to continue to do evil. From the early days of the Church to more recent times, the argument has been that the doctrine of justification by grace through faith fosters by removing the motivation for moral behavior. Only those who do not know anything about grace will speak like this. Believers have tasted the richness of God's mercy, therefore they can no longer live in sin.

The fact that we die to sin and, therefore, are free from sin, must result in our hatred of sin, in avoiding all transgression of God's holy will. God freed us from the bondage of sin, and this fact is the foundation of Christian sanctification. The Christian life is a state of freedom from sin, its guilt, and its power.

Christians must know and remember at all times that they have shared in the death of Jesus on the cross. One who is dead is free from sin, for he is declared righteous. Sin has now lost dominion over us, and we are no longer obligated to serve and obey sin.

That is the wonderful blessing and benefit of baptism. We have the hope of eternal life and with this hope we have the peace that passes all understanding. Amen.

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