The Promises of the Gospel in Christ’s Deepest Humiliation (Lord’s Day 16)
Death can be a difficult thing to speak about. Many people today would rather avoid the harsh reality that some day your heart stops beating. Part of that is undoubtedly because they don’t want to think about what follows. To cope, some sentimentalize death and they say things like “Death is just a natural part of life.” Others cope by making the most of the here and now, since this life is all we have. Still others are just calloused to the reality and the prospect of death. When it comes to death, they have the attitude of “whatever.” Albert Camus portrayed these people in his book The Stranger, “Today mother is dead. Or maybe yesterday; it doesn’t matter.”
Obviously, we’ve just been speaking about physical death. It’s an ugly, frightening reality for many people. But there is another sort of death that many Christians also find it difficult to speak about. They can speak about it perhaps in general terms, with impersonal theological language. But when it comes to actually speaking about how it is happening in their own lives, many have a hard time finding the words. This is the death of the old nature. The reasons for our difficulty in speaking about this are quite varied, no doubt. And most likely the older you are the more difficult it is – there is a generation gap at work here.
This afternoon, we’re going to speak candidly about death, both physical death and the death of our old nature. The Catechism summarizes the teachings of the Bible about these subjects and brings us to the right words that we need to begin thinking about and speaking about these matters. Most importantly, the Catechism brings our hearts to the right place – to the promises of the gospel in Jesus Christ. Remember, that’s what the Apostles’ Creed is all about: “all that is promised us in the gospel.”