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What Luther Says

Celebrity Deaths: Truth We Can't Escape

Death is inevitable.

Every single day the news gives us story after story involving the death of someone or some group of people somewhere in the world.

Sometimes it involves people we know (as in a celebrity or even a beloved family member or friend), most times it involves complete strangers. Either way, death is often a sudden and surprising event to us even though it's the one thing we all have in common regardless of our current social status in this world.

Yesterday, the world was shocked to hear about the death of the famous Actor and Comedian, Robin Williams, by suicide.

Social Media has been buzzing about this for the last 24 hours and the common response seems to be "I am really disturbed by this sad news! I mean, he was so funny, and he seemed so happy all the time! Plus, he's famous and people loved him so much too! I just don't get it."

As sad as this news is, I'm afraid it's really not all that surprising (at least, it shouldn't be). This is what happens when we base the purpose and quality of our lives on our own circumstances, emotions, feelings, and material worldly success, which are all subject to change. There needs to be a firm foundation rooted in truth that is unchanging regardless of how often people change in response to the changing spirit of the age.

Personally, I believe that celebrity deaths like this one involving an admired and beloved cultural icon like Robin Williams expose the spiritual reality behind real world events.

"Jesus, Key of David, I have tried to open the gats of heaven by clever reason. I have pounded them by my own strength. My efforts always end with a frustrated mind and a battered conscience. Open to me Your Word. Take away my burdens of body and soul and bear me feather-light over the threshold of heaven. Amen." 
*- The Lord Will Answer: A Daily Prayer Catechism Drawn From Holy Scripture, The Church Fathers, And Luther's Small Catechism With Explanation, p. 37

Romans 6:23 (ESV) For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Hebrews 9:27 (ESV) And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,

Ephesians 6:12 (ESV) For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

We know that Robin Williams suffered from "severe depression" his entire life just as millions of regular have and still do.

In fact, my family has experienced a suicide within the past 5 years and I even have several loved ones who still battle anxiety and depression on a daily basis so I know that this is an aspect of this story that cannot be overlooked.

Truth is, there are millions of people worldwide who are being treated for various mental and psychological ailments, which is why I want to share this piece from Pastor Todd Wilken's Facebook page.

When I came to suicide, Luther blamed the devil, he said: 
"I don’t share the opinion that suicides are certainly to be damned. My reason is that they do not wish to kill themselves but are overcome by the power of the devil. They are like a man who is murdered in the woods by a robber… They are examples by which our Lord God wishes to show that the devil is powerful and also that we should be diligent in prayer. But for these examples, we would not fear God. Hence he must teach us in this way." 
Jesus calls the devil "a murderer from the beginning." And, like every serial murderer, the devil is an opportunist, targeting the most vulnerable, when they are weakest. This is especially evident in suicide. 
I remember sitting in the radio studio with Pastor Will Weedon when the subject turned to a fellow pastor’s recent suicide. Will echoed Luther’s pastoral perspective perfectly. He simply said, "Satan is a such a bastard!" 
Yes, he is. 
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly," Jesus promises. 
Lord Jesus, give your life to us and have mercy on us all, in the midst of the devil’s attacks, in the midst of despair, in the midst of death.

What Satan intends to use to create fear, hopelessness, and panic, the Lord uses to remind us of some key truths about ourselves, about Him, and about His Word and the promises He makes to us throughout it.

One great thing (yes, "great") to come from the constant wall-to-wall news coverage about the death of a celebrity is that it forces people to come face-to-face with their own mortality.

Some might think it's "morbid" of me to point this out, but I hope that others see it as a compassionate gesture. We all die. Eternity is a long time. To live like we'll never die, or to act like it all doesn't matter in the end one way or another, is a tragic state to be in, my friend.

I would argue that what we believe about what happens to us when we die determines how we live our lives while we still have them to live. Now, this doesn't mean that we can save ourselves or gain favor with God by our actions (our "good works") here on earth. Besides, God's Word gives us the answers we seek about both this life and the life to come.

"O almighty Father, lead us to Your Word, that we may find healing of heart, soul, and mind in the Gospel of Jesus. Be near us as we read for ourselves that Jesus has indeed died and has risen again for us. Keep us steadfast in Your grace and mercy, that we may spread Your love to those who haven't heard the Good News and to those who have head but have forgotten it. Let us do all we can to win souls for You, that they may go out and do the same. In Jesus' most holy name, we pray. Amen." 
*- Linda Flechsig / Lutheran Study Bible "Lead Us To Your Word"


Romans 5:19-21 (ESV) 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

John 3:16-18 (ESV) 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.


John 14:6 (ESV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.


Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV) 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

For non-believers who are reading this, do you believe the truth though?

For Christians who are reading this, are you ready to give a confession of the truth to those who ask and challenge us about it (2 Timothy 4:2) when these topics come up in casual conversation because of the news about this celebrity death?

God's Word pulls no punches.

Hebrews 9:27 (ESV) And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,

The great equalizer in this life is death.

It doesn't matter where you come from, or what your life on this planet consists of, because we will all die one day. However, Who you know can actually save you.

I love reading the next verse that follows the one we opened with above.

Hebrews 9:27-28 (ESV) And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

And so we discover that salvation from sin (and death that is the wages of sin) is actually possible...but only through repentance and faith in God's Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

In a nutshell...

-- Psalm 51:5
-- Isaiah 64:6
-- Romans 3:10-12
-- Romans 6:14-20
-- 1 Corinthians 2:14
-- Philippians 1:29
-- Acts 11:18
-- 2 Timothy 2:25
-- Ezekiel 36:26-27
-- John 6:44
-- John 3:16
-- Romans 5:8
-- 1 Peter 2:24
-- John 1:12-13
-- John 3:8
-- James 1:17-18
-- Romans 3:28
-- Romans 4:5
-- Romans 5:1
-- Luke 13:3
-- Acts 2:38
-- Acts 17:30-31
-- Ephesians 2:8-9
-- 1 Peter 1:16

Acts 17:30-31 is crystal clear: "The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead."

"Lord Jesus Christ, with us abide, For round us falls the eventide. O let Your Word, that saving light, Shine forth undimmed into the night. In these last days of great distress Grant us, dear Lord, true steadfastness That we keep pure till life is spent Your holy Word and Sacrament. Amen." 
*- Melanchthon And Selnecker, Lutheran Service Book 585:1-2


2 Peter 3:9 (ESV) The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, repent and trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.

NOTE: As you know, I am a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is not consistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a "Book of Concord" containing our Confessions even existed. In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by common Evangelical concerns/criticisms that aren't that big a deal for us Lutherans. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because we now have this disclaimer and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Finally, please know that any time we engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible unless otherwise noted. Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!


About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.


  1. Great information. Thanks for providing us such a useful information. Keep up the good work and continue providing us more quality information from time to time. Celeb

  2. It was embracing news for everyone that Robin Williams his death occur due to suicide, he was well known for the comedy and my family always watches his show, he was a great entertainer, may his soul rest in peace. Elena Gilbert Jacket


Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums and social media is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all arrive at the truth of God's Word (myself included), then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!

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