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Risen Redeemer: 'I Died, And Behold I Am Alive Forevermore, And I Have The Keys Of Death And Hades'

I really hope you enjoy this Easter sermon from C.F.W. Walther titled "The Keys of Death and Hell, the Real Fruit of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ," based on Revelation 1:18, and preached the First Sunday After Easter, because it really has so much substance to it...

Lord Jesus! You were dead; and behold, now you are alive forevermore and have the keys of death and hell. Death swallowed you up, but you were its plague; hell took you prisoner, but you were its destruction; the poisonous sting of the hellish serpent bruised your heel, but your bruised heel crushed its head. We therefore joyfully sing of the victory in the tents of the righteous. Your right arm, oh Jesus, has gotten the victory. And -- oh joy! -- yours was the struggle, but ours the booty; you wish to distribute it through your holy Word! Oh therefore open our hearts as the Word of that victory is preached to us again so that you will not pour out your Easter booty among us in vain. Awaken every dead person to life; grant grace, forgiveness, and righteousness to every one of us laden with guilt; strengthen every one who is weak and sick; fill all the sorrowing with joy; yes, give every one that Easter blessing which he needs so that henceforth we all by virtue of your resurrection can struggle against sin, death, and hell, be victorious in that severe struggle even here, and some day in all eternity triumph with you in heaven. Amen. 
My dearly redeemed hearers. 
"The Lord is risen; he is risen indeed!" is the message which 1900 years ago spread among the sorrowing, weeping, and lamenting disciples; and as the rising sun evaporates the dew, so this message quickly dried the tears of the weeping, filled their grief-torn heart with inexpressible joy, and turned their secret laments into loud cries of exultation. "The Lord is risen; he is risen indeed." Throughout all ages these words have also remained the password of Christians, the shining inscription of their banners under which confident and joyful in faith and hope they have continually suffered and struggled. "The Lord is risen, he is risen indeed" is the message resounding to this very day throughout city and country, throughout the entire Christian world, and everywhere it awakens once again festal joy and holy jubilation. Even the non-Christian sees himself irresistibly carried along by this stream of Easter exultation; he joins the hymns of triumph which believers today sing with joy-filled hearts. 
Why is it that Christ's resurrection has for thousands of years and still does move the whole world to such joy? Have not other people returned from the realm of the dead? Why is not the awakening of the widow's son at Zaraphath through Elijah celebrated? the awakening of the Shunamite's son through Elisha? the awakening of Tabitha by Peter, Eutychus by Paul, and the daughter of Jairus, the young man at Nain, and Lazarus by Christ himself? Why is it that again today Christians in spirit gather around Christ's empty grave and sing their united hallelujahs? 
True, there are especially in our days those who celebrate the Easter festival only because Christ's resurrection is such a glorious proof of the fact that despite all lies and malice, despite all hostile cunning and power, truth and innocence must finally conquer; they suppose that God the Father awakened Christ from the dead because he died for the sake of truth and righteousness. There are others who join the Christian's Easter jubilation only because Christ's resurrection is such an incontestable support for the fact that man's soul does not fly away in death, that man is immortal, and that even his body corrupting in the grave waits for a future life. 
As certain and important as all this is, they are merely lovely, green, scented leaves on the tree of life of our Savior's resurrection, not the real, sweet, golden, heavenly fruits themselves. 
What would it profit us if we would see in Christ's resurrection that truth and innocence must always conquer, since it is truth and innocence which we human beings lack? What would it profit us if in Christ's resurrection we would have merely the guarantee that the human soul is immortal and his body is not the grave's prisoner forever, since we do not have the guarantee that our immortality and our future resurrection will be a blessed one? The victory of truth and innocence, the immortality of the soul, and the resurrection of the body are comforting only for perfectly righteous and holy people; if we ponder this aright, this can only fill sinners such as we are by nature with terror. 
But praise be the name of the Lord forever and ever! The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a victory of truth and righteousness over lies and malice: But in this way, that it brings truth and righteousness to the very ones who are unrighteous. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is indeed the guarantee of the immortality of man's soul and the resurrection of man's body; and not that alone but also of a blessed immortality and a blessed resurrection. 
David already knew of these fruits of the Messiah's resurrection; listen to him exult: "The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous; the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly. The right hand of the Lord is exalted; the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly. Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will go into them, and I will praise the Lord. ... The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalm 118 15, 16, 19, 22-24). The Prophet Hosea also knew of the fruits of the resurrection; for thus the Lord spoke through his mouth: "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death; O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction." (Hosea 13:14). The Prophet Micah also knew that, writing: "The breaker is come up before them; they have broken up, and have passed through the gate, and are gone out by it; and their king shall pass before them, and the Lord on the head of them." (Micah 2:13). 
You see, victory over death and hell, the breaking of all bands of this power, that, that is the real fruit of the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is the subject of our Easter celebration. Since it is not enough merely to know the story of the resurrection and consider it to be true, since everything really depends upon being partakers of its glorious, blessed fruit, let us now examine that fruit so that everyone may be moved to stretch out his hand of faith confidently for them; for these fruits are forbidden to no one; on the contrary, it is only by partaking of them that the future partaking of the forbidden fruit of paradise will again be permitted. May the Resurrected himself now grant us his enlightening, life-giving, and blessed presence to do that!

That was merely an excerpt or just a small taste of this divine feast for our souls.

Please do take a few minutes to read the whole thing though.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, "Lord Jesus, You were dead; and behold, now You are alive forevermore and have the keys of death and hell!"

NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Corporate Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as an informal Public Journal of sorts about my own experiences and journey, and if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, 'Praise the Lord!' but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor." To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 3 years ago now. 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 inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. 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 they are not blasphemous/heretical, because I 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). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse footnotes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained under-shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!


About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.

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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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