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We Are Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

Rev. Aaron J. Hamilton

2023 Synod Convention Essay

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

I’m glad God made you.

I once found that sentiment as an unexpected gift, waiting for me in a card from a friend, on my birthday. I was turning a nice, big, fat round number. At times like that, one might feel conflicted. The body keeps aging, and the mind grapples with the thought of fleeting youth. Faith on the other hand finds reason for thanksgiving: Thank you, God, for my body and life, and for all these years you have given me!

Still, as the dreadful day was approaching, I made sure to tell my wife to preempt her: I don’t want a party. I don’t want anyone to make a fuss. She listened. She smiled. Then she waited. Once a fair amount of time had passed, and hushed plans were already in the works, she said: “Yes, but you don’t reallynot- want a party, do you?” No, of course I don’t -not- want a party. So, party we did—with balloons and streamers, and all the reckless abandon that frozen boxed lasagnas, and cake and coffee in a borrowed fellowship hall at the church would allow.

People came! They brought cards and gifts, and gracious expressions of kind congratulation. Among them, this thought lodged in my mind for me to keep close, to take to heart for myself, and to express to my fellow Christians. I keep it too, for wanderers in the world with me, who do not yet know their Maker and all the good that He intends for them. I couldn’t think of a better way to greet all of you today. Beloved in the Lord, I’m glad God made you.

What a lovely thing to hear, affirming God’s work in creation—and not only His vast, glorious, finished work of “the heavens and the earth… and all the host of them.” (Genesis 2:1) Also, here below, and after the fall, God’s creating and sustaining hand extends even to this incomplete, fallen, and flawed creature: one that Almighty God was pleased—so to speak—to dirty His hands to make.1 And He was pleased to wound His hands, to scar them for it, to atone for us bodily, as the objects of His love in redemption.

What a lovely way, too, to affirm the divine gift of unique abilities and distinct callings that God gave, which always inhere in some person, in some body. God not only made heaven and earth and all the things which they contain, but personally and with perfect attention to detail, with loving care, He made you. He gave body and life and all, to you. He who made the world gave the gift of a place in it, to you. And about that, I’m glad!

My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:15–16)

We are naturally at a loss to express these things. “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,” Psalm 139:6. As little children learn, we begin to learn the language of confession and praise and thanksgiving as God gifts us with the words. He places His words in our hearts and minds, and on our tongues to use in conversation with each other, to confess them before the world, and to speak back to Him. In this way, we begin to reflect His glory, as we were made to do.

It is precisely in connection with our creation that the Psalmist says: I will praise you, Ps 139:14.

So let this be a little day of celebration for your day of birth, and for the day of your new birth, and for rejoicing in the hope that is in you for the life of the world to come. It is truly good, right and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks to God,2 through Jesus Christ our Lord, also for our body and life, for our times and seasons, and for the days and years He gives us to mark3 and enjoy. He also blesses us to share that joy with one another.

Beloved in the Lord, (as you hear it from your pulpits) or perhaps: dear fellow Redeemed, brothers and sisters in Christ: Grace, mercy and peace to you. God bless you! For it says in His Word: The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made. (Psalm 145:9)

Through your ears and eyes, God bless you bodily, to see and hear and receive His Word from heaven like a shower of rain and snow falling to you. It accomplishes its purpose to quicken you and bless your faith. Then it returns to Him again, ascending in praise: hymn and chant and high thanksgiving4 to the Lord our God.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
(Psalm 139:14 ESV)

What then are those things that my soul knows so well, and how do I know them? How shall we consider them? John Kleinig uses a three-part Trinitarian outline for roughly half of his book on the theology of the body. Several people I have consulted suggest the same. I also recall a conversation from several years back, with former Seminary President Schmeling, on the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. I can still hear him saying: “We’re losing it.” If in Western Christendom we are losing connection to our Trinitarian confession, it is good for us to stress that doctrine whenever we can: I believe in God the Father Almighty… and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord… I believe in the Holy Ghost.

Finding Him (or better, being found by Him), we see the world, ourselves, and our lives with unexpected and increasing clarity. Each human being, made by the one true God, is a remarkable creation. Each body exists as an entire set of interrelated systems, fully integrated and irreducibly complex5. That inspires me in some small way to layer this presentation, too. So, let’s reckon the body:

  • In relation to the one true God;
  • Built upon the Bones of the Biblical narrative, so to speak;
  • Given Thought and Feeling by the Creed;
  • Confronted by enemies as outlined in the Catechism,
  • Inspirated with the Gifts that the Holy Spirit gives.

Let’s recover a sense of wonder at what God has made. Let’s restore a positive, winsome picture of the life of faith that communicates Law and Gospel, and answers sinners’ need for identity, meaning, and purpose. John Kleinig suggests a lovely little prayer to lead us into our topic:

“Almighty God, I thank you that you sustain me and all creatures by your life-giving breath, and deliver me from death through Jesus, the Word of Life. Protect me from all evil, so that I serve you in all that I do and please you in my daily life. Into your hands I commit myself, my body and soul, and all that I possess, and all those who are dear to me; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord. Amen.”6

Part One: God the Father Created This Body

Late fall, and late afternoon. I pull my coat in tightly against the wind coursing through the old cemetery in Augusta, Wisconsin. With the Committal, another Christian funeral service is now concluded. I watch as the family visits the nearby headstones of loved ones, sharing memories, words of comfort, and even laughter. I watch them slowly breaking away, alone or in families, heading to their cars, driving off. Men with shovels hide in the distance, waiting to take up their assigned task. I wait too, standing at graveside until the last of the family has gone.

I don’t know where the custom comes from, or where I first heard of it. But this is one last, wordless sermon I am privileged to preach for my friend who is buried today. I stand there and keep watch, providing a bodily presence to teach a spiritual truth: This body matters to God. He will not forget it. He will stand vigil over it. With His final, gracious intervention on that Day, He will remember it, as He remembered Noah and his family in the ark, the holy box of wood that carried them safely over the waters of the flood. He will remember this body, with great and gracious works. He will vindicate it once and for all.7 God knows this place, and He will watch over and keep these remains: God the Father, who created this body; God the Son who redeemed this body; God the Holy Ghost who sanctified this body to be His Temple.

I Believe that God has Made Me and All Creatures

Dr. Luther’s explanations of the articles of our creed, found in the Small Catechism, are deeply devotional and profoundly personal. I believe.8 That means that though I have not seen, I am certain. Not that I have chosen it, but the truth has been impressed on me, preached to me, and shown to me, and the truth has won me over: that God has made me. I am not a product of random chance, or a happy accident. But when I was nothing, God designed and built and gave life to me as the object of His love. The Psalmist proclaims it to the mind and the heart: Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. (Psalm 100:3 NKJ, emphasis added.)

I believe that God has made me and all creatures: all the fish and birds, beasts and creeping things, along with the habitats that sustain them, the herbs and plants and trees, and everyone I meet who is like me. He has made all things, visible and invisible. All these owe their existence to Him. When we were nothing, God designed and built and gave life to us, objects of His love.

Life is a gift! Thank God! The body is a gift. Yet, just like it is with every gift, according to sin, it meets abuse. There are opposing extremes to this abuse. Sometimes we are careless in pursuit of sinful pleasures. We treat the body like a garbage can, or a thrill ride. We sin against it with gluttony, indulgence or neglect. Then we curse it when it breaks down or disappoints us. On the other hand, sometimes, something goes wrong, and we lose our minds with fear. We perceive a danger of some kind, and all courage fails us. We panic. Perhaps we hide. We’re suddenly terrified of what might happen to this body. Wouldn’t it be something to find a middle path?

The adult human body has 206 bones in it. My great-uncle, Uncle Andy, best guess, had 204. It’s not that he started life that way. One day, out in the field on the family farm, he got his thumb caught in a combine. He had to take it off with a pocketknife. Years afterward, I watched him. I can still see him waving that thumbless, cigar-wielding hand around. Without meaning to, it made a big impression on me. Wouldn’t it be something, to find grace and strength to do what you had to; to do it with courage; to wear the scars that come from it, and still give thanks to God, and enjoy a cigar, so to speak? Wouldn’t it be something—to handle the body with reverence rather than self-indulgence or carelessness… and even though we get damaged, grow old and die, to handle the body with hope and not despair? “No matter how damaged it may actually be, every human body is designed for perfection in eternity.”9

In the Beginning

The Biblical account of creation begins as God makes space for us to live in, time through which we move, and the material of which we are made and with which we interact. In the Beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth.10 The writer to the Hebrews comments on God’s act of creation out of nothing: “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” (Hebrews 11:3 ESV)

In the modern age, and now in post-modernism, faith and science are often set in opposition to each other. The perception is that science stands against those who profess a belief in special creation. Nothing could be further from the truth. In a recent Sunday morning Bible study on Creation,11 we had the occasion to review some basic Laws of Science:

  • Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. (This is called the Law of Conservation.)
  • The disorder of a closed system is always increasing. (This is the Law of Entropy.)
  • Life always derives only from life. (This is the Law of Biogenesis.)

If energy can neither be created nor destroyed, then according to the Law of Conservation, the Universe ought to be eternal and cannot have a beginning. Then again, if disorder within a closed system is always increasing, then according to the Law of Entropy, the Universe must have a beginning and cannot be eternal. Without an Intelligent Designer, a Creator, an ordered universe is a contradiction. That these Laws even exist testify to the existence of a Lawgiver. Besides which, even without the Laws of Conservation and Entropy, the greatest question of all remains: Whence Life?

St. Paul writes to the Corinthians about the frustration of unbelief applied to the pursuit of knowledge:

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:20–24 ESV)

Mark Mattes recalls Martin Luther’s ‘Disputation Concerning Man’: “It is through scriptural revelation that we learn that ‘man is a creature of God consisting of body and a living soul, made in the beginning after the image of God, without sin, so that he should procreate and rule over the created things, and never die.’”12 God’s Word provides a narrative accounting for life in the body. God’s Word reveals the body’s fearful and wonderful creation. God’s Word accounts for our present state of moral degeneracy and bodily bondage to decay. God’s Word declares the reconciliation accomplished for us bodily, in Christ, by the cross, and promises true and lasting restoration in the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.

As a Shepherd watchfully keeping His sheep, the Lord Jesus said: “I have come into the world that they may have life and have it to the full.”13 In a voice we have come to know and recognize and love, He speaks to us: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” (John 11:25–26 ESV) For Him, by Him, and through Him, the heavens and the earth were created.

Darkness upon the Face of the Deep

God could easily create a Heavens and Earth in perfect order at the outset. In His wisdom and anticipatory grace, He chose not to do that. Instead, He created everything in a state of chaos, and only then did He impose His gift of order on it: the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep.14 He made a world in darkness. Then He shed light on it. He made it without form. Then He gave shape to it. He made a void. Then He filled it.

I doubt that I am alone in having conceived of the original formless void as mud. The text, however, goes on: Darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.15 St. Peter writes regarding the formless void: “The heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God.”16

It seems God was pleased to create the world as water, and from the water to draw out dry land, and from the dry land—from the dust of it—to draw out a man. Thank God for making us in just this way! When I fall apart, when my life seems void and formless, water and God’s word still remain, where God made a beginning for me and pledged Himself to me in a washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, Titus 3. I’m a mess. But I am comforted.

As a dove may be described when descending to feed her young, the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.17 Someone somewhere has observed that the Holy Spirit has given Himself as witness to the events of creation. Not only that: the Holy Spirit shows Himself concerned with and active in His creation in its material existence from the very beginning.

John Kleinig in his masterful work Wonderfully Made summarizes: “Most people see the spiritual as the opposite of the physical and material… in contrast, the biblical view is that what is spiritual has to do with the Holy Spirit.”18 So, it follows: “paradoxically, my spiritual life, the life that is created and sustained by the Holy Spirit, is always lived in the body.”19

God Thinks of Everything

By the gift of God, I am alive. I live in the body. I live in this biome. Looking around, I am perfectly suited to my surroundings. My surroundings are perfectly suited to me.

God said: “Let there be light.” And I was made to see. I have six to seven million cones and one hundred twenty million rods (more effective in low light) in my eye for seeing.20 With two eyes, I have depth perception. The eyes make up one percent of the weight of your head (give or take). They capture images, invert them, project them, and convert them to electrical impulses to be sent to the brain to decipher. Paul Brand reports: “Under optimal conditions, the human eye can detect a candle at a distance of fifteen miles.”21 God, when He made light, separated day from night. And I was made for resting and waking.

God made an expanse to separate water from water. And I was made to breathe in its atmosphere. Its oxygen sustains me. I will trade carbon dioxide for it in a wonderful exchange with the trees! The air carries waves of sound. And I was made to hear. “The eardrum vibrates: three miniature bones, informally known as the hammer, anvil, and stirrup, transfer that vibration into the middle ear… Inside an inch-long chamber known as the organ of Corti, twenty-five thousand sound-receptor cells line up to receive these vibrations, like strings of a piano waiting to be struck…The brain receives messages from sound receptors in on-or-off blips, sorts them out, and pieces together the meaningful result.”22

And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” It was so. And I have been made to eat: with teeth and tastebuds and a tongue for swallowing and a belly for filling. I was made to take from off the trees, and harvest what comes up from the ground to live on it. Now, we even butcher and live off death, and give thanks to God for it as a gift of providence.

My friend Pastor Tony Pittenger brought a poem to my attention, written by Robert Service. It reads in part:

I wish that I could understand
The moving marvel of my Hand;
I watch my fingers turn and twist,
The supple bending of my wrist,
The dainty touch of finger-tip,
The steel intensity of grip;
A tool of exquisite design,
With pride I think: “It’s mine! It’s mine!”23

“In order to allow dexterity and slimness for actions like piano playing, the finger contains no muscles; tendons transfer force from muscles in the forearm and palm. In all, seventy muscles contribute to hand movements.”24 I became aware of how wonderful my hand is when I cut the two tendons to the little finger on my right hand. Surgical repair and weeks of physical therapy could restore it, but not quite to its original condition. I was suddenly amazed to find I had nine other fingers in perfect balance that worked flawlessly and effortlessly. “Compliant tissues covering my bones assume the shape—awkward or smooth—of whatever I am grasping. I do not demand that the object fit the shape of my hand; my hand adapts, distributing the pressure.”25

“Then oh! but how can I explain
The wondrous wonder of my Brain?
That marvelous machine that brings
All consciousness of wonderings;
That lets me from myself leap out
And watch my body walk about;
It’s hopeless — all my words are vain
To tell the wonder of my Brain.”26

“In the human body, the sense of belonging extends two ways: a cell follows orders from the brain, while also recognizing a bond with every other cell in the body.”27 Brand builds up to that thought with these observations:

“Medicine has coined a wonderful word to describe how the body unites its many cells to serve the whole: homeostasis… All [its] operations—heart rate, fluid control, perspiration—adapt second by second as the body seeks the very best state. Hormone-like compounds, the prostaglandins, bathe the body’s cells: one lowers blood pressure, and another raises it; one initiates inflammation, another inhibits it… Until recently, anatomists believed that glands such as the adrenal and pituitary sent out their hormonal instructions independently. New discoveries point to reliance on the brain at virtually every point. Instructions on growth, on deployment of resources, and on how to meet a crisis all originate in the head, which senses the needs of the entire body…”28

Robert Service’s poem concludes:

If wonder is in great and small,
Then what of Him who made it all?
In eyes and brain and heart and limb
Let’s see the wondrous work of Him.
In house and hill and sward and sea,
In bird and beast and flower and tree,
In everything from sun to sod,
The wonder and the awe of God.29

All that God made unfolded in a series of evenings and mornings, that the Hebrew mind might start its day not with a shrill alarm, but with the setting of the sun, to find rest before all else. Then, being rested, you are given strength to face the morning. It somehow perfectly matches the Biblical pattern of faith and its fruits. Somehow God thinks of everything.

Carried along by the Holy Spirit to give us the inspired account of creation, Moses somehow thinks of everything, too. Moses anticipates challenges to our faith like Darwinism, even writing as he does, some 1400 years before Christ. Darwinism has a certain appeal because survival of the fittest can be used to justify nearly anything. Secular humanism appeals because in place of a transcendent God, such a view places at the top of the heap—me! A creature untold millions of years in the making, presumably answerable to no one. A secular worldview appeals because it places all things beneath the judgment of my proud human reason.

Moses, though, teaches as a law of nature that all living things reproduce “according to their kinds.”30 Scripture matches what our eyes tell us, which matches what sound judgment suggests, which matches the evidence in the fossil record: “Not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, another for fish.”—I Corinthians 15.39.

The Image of God in God’s Creation

The sacred text marks off something utterly unique, profoundly set apart from all other created things, when God takes counsel within Himself: Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let him have dominion. Who knows what all is comprehended in it, to be made in God’s Image? Immortality was certainly included. Dominion was gifted with it. Likewise, wisdom and mental acuity. Man experienced a state of being so attuned to God’s mind that with one look at each of God’s creatures, man could know it, and whatever he called it, that was its name. Bernard Lohse finds stress in Luther’s writings on cooperation with God, and the gift of reason.31

At the heart of the image of God is righteousness and holiness, gifted to man from his creation.32 St. John wrote, I Ep. 4.16: “God is love.” Not the malleable, selfish love that seeks to possess and use its object, but rather love characterized by self-giving and service. Bryan Wolfmueller has said: “The Lord has ordered this world according to the ten commandments.”33 That gives shape to the words: “be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer describes the Image of God this way: “The likeness, the analogy of man to God, is not [analogy of being] but [analogy of relation.] This means that even the relation between man and God is not a part of man; it is not a capacity, a possibility, or a structure of his being but a given, set relationship: Justitia (sic) passiva (Passive Righteousness).”34

Consistent with this, Mark Mattes paraphrases the Catechism to show that:

“Latent within the word ‘give’… is forensic justification. When Luther explains the First Article of the creed in the Small Catechism, he associates God’s creative work with giving. ‘I believe that God has created me together with all that exists. God has given me and still preserves.’ And this work of creation is tied to that of redemption: ‘All this is done out of pure, fatherly divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness of mine at all!’ That is, our creation (out of nothing) is not based on our ability to achieve merit through good works; instead, it comes entirely as a gift. Nor is it based on our worthiness.”35

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. The text repeats three times over: He created. The image in which He made man is His own. The divine image was instantiated in both male and female. And God blessed them. “The first humans are portrayed as priests presiding over the cosmic Temple and reflecting divine goodness and glory back to God; this constitutes the embodied divine image.”36

Of Dust from the Ground

It is a characteristic Hebraism (and not a late editorial blending of independent, unrelated traditions as some critics would have us believe) that emerges in the text at Genesis 2:4. The first chapter and opening verses of chapter two tell you what ultimately happened: God created man. What follows expands upon this with greater specificity and shows you how.

The LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground.

Nothing of all that God did up to this point compares with this loving condescension. God takes up and shapes with singleness of purpose. “This expresses two things. First, the bodily nearness of the Creator to the creature, that it is really he who makes me… secondly there is his authority, the absolute superiority in which he shapes and creates me, in which I am his creature.”37 God poured His heart into the work of His hands, with great care and delight in what He was making, when He made man. He is not ashamed to have us know it: But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. (Is 64:8 ESV)

Like the original garden home in paradise, the house that my father built for our family to live in also progressed in stages. Unlike the Garden that God provided, our house wasn’t entirely finished yet when we moved in. Up on the second floor, where a redwood deck was planned, there was a sliding glass door that opened to nowhere. My kid brother and I took the occasion to bundle up the youngest and throw him from the second story of the house into a snowbank. I did not see a problem with this. (To be fair, the little guy didn’t either.) I had witnessed firsthand how he could tumble down a flight of stairs end-over-end in what must have been a slow-motion parental nightmare. Only a big brother at the time, the lesson I learned was… how durable!

Much more than that: What balance. What symmetry. What complexity. What profound attention to detail is reflected in each human body! Even now we only scratch the surface. The human body consists of some six trillion cells, making up some thirteen distinct interrelated systems: the central nervous system, the skeletal system, the cardiovascular system, the muscular system, the respiratory system, the endocrine system, the reproductive system, the circulatory system, the excretory system, the urinary system, the lymphatic system, the integumentary system… These are just ones we know about.

Each Human’s DNA is an unthinkably small, unimaginably complex, self-replicating structure that bears information.38 Bio-resonance, some of us believe, gives shape and good health to organs and tissues. Meanwhile, if I come across so much as a crude arrowhead somewhere in the hills, I will conclude two things without any doubt in my mind: someone has been here, and someone had a purpose for this.

“The body matters much more than we usually imagine that it does. It matters because it locates me in time and space here on earth. It matters because we live in it and with it. It matters because through it we interact with the world around us, the people who coexist with us, and the living God who keeps us physically alive in it. It matters even though we rebel against our Creator and abuse our fellow creatures here on earth. It matters even though it is finite and doomed to die. Most of all, it matters to us because it matters so much to God. He is the supreme philanthropist, the lover of humanity (Titus 3:4).”39

The Breath of Life

Recall that according to the Law of Biogenesis, Life does not just happen. Life does not give rise to itself. Life derives from life, and only from life. Everything that lives, lives because God gives life to it. The distinctive, eternal, God-given spiritual and bodily life in our humanity begins—as the Image of God in His creation begins—with the words: “[The LORD God] breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” (Genesis 2:7 ESV)

I’m not only flesh but soul also, made to be eternal. I’m not only soul, but also flesh, made to subsist; made to see and hear, taste, touch, and smell; created to take it all in when God’s bounties are set before me. Even in the original, innocent creation, we find a blessed dependency, in the life of the body, primed to live by receiving everything from God, as gift. For us, in the beginning, God made day and night, breathable air, dry land and seas, vegetation and trees to bear fruit, and great lights to mark seasons and days and years and give light on the earth. God made sea creatures and birds, and land animals, all with our human life in mind.

After announcing all this goodness, God determined: It is not good for man to be alone. The marriage of Adam and Eve is the beginning of all marriage and family and of all human connection. Home and governmental authority derive from it, and the church is found there.40

There was a Serpent in the Garden

Long ago, there was a neighborhood barbecue. Two little girls were there—one with a helium balloon tied to her wrist. For her, the other little girl seemed like someone she might like to play with. But the other little girl was fixated only on her balloon. Somehow, she finally managed to get her hands on that balloon. When she did, of course, she popped it—because if she couldn’t have it, no one was going to have it. If you can understand that simple motivation, you have an insight into the spite of the serpent in Genesis chapter three.

Compounding matters is the Image of God in man. God, after all, repeatedly dubbed “The Enemy” in C.S. Lewis’ diabolical masterpiece The Screwtape Letters, is untouchable. He dwells in unapproachable light. The creature that bears His Image, though, is physical, approachable, and vulnerable. As if with a knife against a canvass, spray paint against a costly mural, or ropes in the attempt to pull a statue down and smash it against the concrete below, the dragon is bent on vandalism. Driven by nothing but spite and hatred for the Creator, he schemes to torch the Divine Image in effigy where he finds it, in man, with a rare madness that corresponds to a sentence of condemnation. Michael Caine once described such a mindset on film: “Some men just want to watch the world burn.”41

The Lord Jesus characterized the devil: He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44 ESV)

The Sound of the LORD God

Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary, #302, stanza 2:

The stillness of that sacred grove Was broken as the serpent strove,
With tempting voice to Eve beguile, And Adam too by sin defile.
O day of sadness when the breath Of fear and darkness, sin and death,
Its awful poison first displayed, Within the world so newly made.

They had come to know God in His gracious appearance to them, walking with them, in His Son. Now, they look down and see that the Glory of the Lord is lost to them. Shame compels a flimsy covering of leaves, to hide us from ourselves and from each other. Now at the sound of His coming, what sad cover we found for ourselves: wonderful for their green leaves and flowering beauty and for the fruits and berries and nuts, the bushes and trees of Eden were a poor place to conceal ourselves when everything was lost.

Then comes the Sound of His voice: Where are you?42 Those words echo down through history for our ears. Where are you?—When we wander where we ought not go; eyes gazing on things we ought not see; When we wander from safety, from the preaching and teaching of God’s truth; When we meander away from the path of a good conscience marked out by God’s words. Whenever we think to cover ourselves with boasting and proud works, or hide behind the sins, faults, and failings of others—you, He asks for. Where are you?

Recognize those words when you hear them. For by His words God is at work to seek and to save what was lost, even if His gracious purpose wasn’t clear yet to the man and his wife. I heard you and I was afraid because I was naked so I hid myself.

Isn’t it just like that, when we can’t look a parent or a spouse in the eye, yet they haven’t changed. Or when we’re called upon to answer for the way we spend our time and effort at work, or when we busy ourselves so we don’t think about what we’ve been doing, or when we hide from the services of God’s house because something in our lives leaves us feeling unworthy to come. But to tell the truth would kill me. So caught, trembling in the bushes, hiding amongst the leaves, This woman, (whom I didn’t ask for but) you put here with me, she gave me and I ate. The woman in turn said: The serpent deceived me, and I ate.

Ever since, we decline accountability. We find someone else to blame, and finding no one, we lay it all at God’s feet. The wonder of grace is that God does not refuse it. He knows how great the guilt and blame are. God knows the sin for what it is and still takes it up Himself—before we asked for His help, or we had ever said we were sorry.

The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her [Seed]; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

Standing in Adam’s shoes, called to account by our Creator, seeing the consequences that are falling to us and the judgment announced over the serpent, I cannot help but trace a connection between Genesis 2:7, 3:14, and 3:19.

Luther’s translation at 2:7 renders man’s creation aus einem Erdenkloß, from a clump of earth. At 3:14, after “crawl on your belly,” for “you will eat dust,” Luther has: und Erde essen, you will eat earth. This agrees with the Greek rendering, καὶ γῆν φάγῃ πάσας τὰς ἡμέρας τῆς ζωῆς σου (Gen 3:14 BGT), you will eat earth all the days of your life.

Some speculate that prior to this event, snakes had legs. Some take the eating of earth as a metaphor for defeat. What seems to be missing is a subtle juxtaposition of literal and figurative language in Genesis 3:14, of the sort that we use daily without giving it much thought. God addresses the serpent, that He might address the tempter in the serpent (or in the serpent’s form.)43

When did the Tempter crawl, and for what purpose? What was his intention in doing so, and what does it mean that God gives him up to this crawling and devouring all the days of his life? This paper takes the position that God gave the devil over to his sin in Genesis 3:14 with the words you will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust. His crawling is a metaphor for his compulsive tempting and accusing. The dust he eats is people bound for death. The Hebrew text at Genesis 2:7, 3:14, and 3:19 takes up the same word:

The Lord God formed the man of עָפָר֙dust, from the earth.

You will crawl on your belly, וְעָפָ֥ר—and dust you will eat all the days of your life.

To the man: כִּֽי־עָפָ֣ר אַ֔תָּה וְאֶל־עָפָ֖ר תָּשֽׁוּבDust you are, and to dust you shall return.”

We are given over to the Devil’s tempting and accusing and given into his jaws. This is dreadful to hear until it finds resolution in the Seed of the Woman and in the bruising of His heel. It is for His sake that the promises come amid the consequences of sin: By the sweat of your brow, You will eat. With pain, You will bring forth children.

As for the serpent, he is given a glimpse of a tasty morsel, a would-be Victim he won’t be able to resist: a delicious Erdenkloß, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. (Colossians 1:15 ESV) He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power… (Hebrews 1:3 ESV) but now, so physical, approachable, and vulnerable.

The serpent will be driven, compelled to tempt Him in His hunger, suffering and weakness. That heel, so soft and fleshy, would be such a feast when He is despised and rejected. But we considered Him stricken by God, smitten and afflicted: He takes for us the whole curse.

To see Him suffer, this woman’s seed, to see Him die, to taste that heel, the serpent works. His offspring in their unbelief cooperate. A close friend of Jesus agrees to help. They drive Him to the top of the hill where finally the serpent bites and all his venom would go pumping into the heel of the only blameless One, ever. On that day, the serpent’s skull will break, for you. For the world. Who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counsellor?

Reason may run in any different direction. Reason my argue for or against the existence of God. Taking up philosophy, it may argue: eat and drink for tomorrow we die… or it may argue that bad company corrupts good character. Reason may argue for the eternality of the soul, or that animal life is all that there is. Reason informed by faith does better. Then it does not disregard natural law. It does not stifle conscience. It doesn’t miss the forest for the trees. It does not disregard valuable testimony or set aside many convincing proofs. In short, it believes better things.

By faith, David praised God in the Psalms: You formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. (Psalm 139:12–14 ESV) The real you according to the Bible is both body and spirit, dust of the earth and breath of life, joined together in one living being, given by God. In the secret place God knit you together and gave you tissues and organs and muscles and nerves and veins and vessels, all coming together to make you: a beautiful, purposeful creature. And about that, I am glad! This body is a creation of God the righteous, gracious Father.

Part Two: God the Son Redeemed This Body

A prayer from the LSB Altar Book:

Merciful and everlasting God, You did not spare your only Son, but delivered Him up for us all to bear our sins on the cross. Grant that our hearts may be so fixed with steadfast faith in Him that we fear not the power of sin, death, and the devil; through the same, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.44

In six natural days, the LORD God made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all that is in them. On the Seventh day, He rested from all His work. The original Sabbath was not an expectation of holy obedience imposed upon humanity. It was the Rest of God, which mankind was invited to join. God blessed the day and made it holy. God saw all that He had made. He viewed and considered it altogether, all at once—from the biggest big thing to the smallest small thing and everything in between. It was very good. Even now, after the Fall, and after the Flood, looking at a world which is a shadow of a shadow of what God first made it to be, you can still see His wisdom, His eternal power and divine nature reflected in what He has made, Romans 1. “For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.” (Hebrews 3:4 ESV)

Revisiting the Copernican Revolution

In 1616, the Roman Catholic Church placed on its list of banned books a certain work by Nicholas Copernicus entitled De Revolutionibus. It was regarded as a threat to the faith because it proposed a heliocentric model of the universe. The Sun, not the earth, was the center of the cosmos. This seemed to depose humanity from its favored position in Catholic Christian dogma.

Most of us are used to it by now. The earth orbits the sun, not the other way round. We have learned more about the order of things. As it turns out, we are situated in the habitable zone of the solar system: if we were much closer to the sun, life would not be possible because of the heat. If we were much farther away, life would not be possible because of the cold. This is the sweet spot. Not only that, but also the star that we orbit is of such a size, character, and composition as to be ideal for the support of life. We are also located on an arm of our spiral Milky Way, ideally situated to observe the skies, and at the same time kept safe from dangerous cosmic radiation emanating from the galactic core.

We can stand on the earth and look up and observe, because our atmospheric circumstances are of such an astonishing composition that what gets through narrowly and precisely frames the spectrum of visible light!45 We can look up in the sky and observe, in a wonder of mathematical precision, that the moon can eclipse the sun because they are of identical size when viewed from the perspective of the surface of the earth.46

On February 14, 1990, a famous photograph was taken by the Voyager 1 spacecraft, with the camera turned aft. The picture was taken from an unprecedented 6 billion kilometers. It shows the earth, from that distance a tiny blue speck in the sky, showcased in a beam of light. “The Pale Blue Dot,” as that picture has come to be called, has reinforced the opinion of some that the earth is utterly insignificant in the cosmos. Others view the same image with wonder, seeing in it how utterly unique, rare, and precious is the world that God made for us creatures of His to live on. Based upon what we know about the earth and its place in the solar system, and in the galaxy, and considering what little we know about all that exists, our pale blue dot seems to be situated at the sweet spot… of the sweet spot… of the sweet spot.

Minimally, then, you are a purposeful creation, lovingly woven by God, carefully knit together system-upon-system more than a dozen complex systems deep, situated within a system (which is the human family) within a system (which is the ecosystem) within a system (which is the geo-thermal system) surrounded at every level by phenomena that give every indication of having been designed expressly to be discovered, explored, and appreciated by you. And this whole arrangement is located at the sweet spot… of the sweet spot… of the sweet spot.

The mystery of this creation—that we are created, that we are preserved, and that the world continues to be blessed, even at the edge of the unthinkable void—C.F.W. Walther once addressed in a sermon for Christmas.

“The chief cause why human reason cannot explain the mystery of our existence is… that it cannot answer the question: Why did God create man, when for eternity He knew that man would fall into sin and through sin fall into misery and death, and that he would make himself miserable? …[T]he mind… cannot find a satisfying answer… it will inevitably violate the glory of the great God. For then man’s reason must either deny God’s existence; or His wisdom, might and love; or His holiness and righteousness. But the fact that God became man to redeem man sheds great light on this otherwise impenetrable darkness. As soon as this heavenly Morning Star dawns… then the night that had brooded over the entire creation with its sin, its misery, and its death, quickly gives way. There God appears again in the bright glory of His majesty. Then all creatures can and must chant again the “Glory to God in the Highest” of the heavenly host.”47

In Him, through Him, by Him, and for Him, then, (see Colossians 1:6–7) I believe that God has made me… that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears and all my members, my reason and all my senses and still preserves them. This body and soul are given by God. Specifically, “I am created not only together with the other creatures but in fact I come through them—most especially: through my parents. The fellow creatures are the medium. God works through them; they are the ‘means, through which God gives everything.’”48

Though corrupted by sin—accidentally,49 yet completely—still God acknowledges me as His creation. Though the eyes look with envy, greed and lust, and the ears strain to hear gossip and rumor, and all my members offend and rush into evil, yet God adds daily to all that He has done for me: He has not treated me as my sins deserve.

He preserves me: sustaining my being, and opening His hand to satisfy my every need. He richly and daily provides me with food and clothing, home and family, property and goods, And all that I need to support this body and life. He protects me from all danger, guards and keeps me from all evil—from fire and flood; from famine and disease; from violence; from theft and abuse of all kinds, and from the evil designs of the evil one. We pray in the Great Litany: From all sin, from all error, from all evil: Good Lord deliver us.50 Oswald Bayer parses Luther’s explanation of the Creed in the Small Catechism:

“The fact that God guarantees existence makes him good; the fact that he protects from nothingness makes him merciful. These are thus for Luther the two focal points for his understanding of the faith in God as Creator: his gift-giving ‘goodness’ and his ‘mercy’ that protects from evil, even to the point that he rescues from the power of death; not just redemption, but creation itself is a work of mercy by the triune God.”51

From Eden to Elm Street

Winter, around 1995. I was at our seminary when an ice storm hit Mankato. The 1979 Chevy Caprice Classic I obtained from my Uncle Jay was no match for the weather. I tried to take a left turn out of the driveway of the old seminary building, and I found myself stuck in a rut, right at the end of the drive. I had places to be, though—so I rocked it from the steering column, alternating forcefully between drive and reverse, until finally I felt myself break free. That’s when I realized, to my distress, that now I was sliding. Down Elm Street. Backwards. My reason and all my senses promptly informed me that this was not good. I find some commonality with Dr. Paul Brand in a harrowing experience of his own that he related from behind the wheel.

“Few parts of my body went untouched by the momentary crisis. My brain relied on a reflex response to direct my foot onto the brake pedal. At the same time, my hypothalamus ordered up chemicals, that, with lightning speed, equipped me to cope.

Vision intensified as my pupils dilated and my eyes widened to admit more light and a larger visual field. My heart beat faster and contracted more forcefully, even as vascular muscles relaxed in order to allow blood vessels to widen for increased blood flow. My muscles went on alert. The makeup of my blood changed: more blood sugars surged in to provide emergency reserves for those muscles, and clotting materials multiplied in preparation for wound repair. Bronchial tubes in my lungs flared open to allow a faster oxygen transfer.

On the skin, blood vessels contracted, bringing on a pale complexion (‘white as a ghost’); the reduced blood flow lowered the danger of surface bleeding in case of injury and freed up more blood for the muscles. The electrical resistance of skin changed as a protective response against potential bacterial invaders. Sweat glands activated to increase the traction of my palms on the steering wheel.

Meanwhile, nonessential functions slowed down. Digestion nearly came to a halt—blood assigned to that and to kidney filtration was redeployed for more urgent needs… And what skilled executive coordinated the different responses of trillions of cells? A single chemical messenger called adrenaline… just one of many hormones at work in my body coaxing a cooperative response from diverse cells.”52

I am fearfully and wonderfully made—even now, far from Eden, late in time, and in my fallen state. But it is a fallen state: from original grace, from the gift of original righteousness, from the perfect garden home of Eden. In terms of directionality, and as to its character, a fall is always down, and a fall is always bad.

This bears repeating, because—even when we know better! —we are always looking for something redeeming about us, compulsively scouring our choices, actions, or experiences for moral value. We evaluate our own sins and sins of others based upon whether we find them to be a good kind of naughty, or a bad kind. We assign merit to our sufferings. We compare ourselves favorably with others, and with our former selves. In short, sin accounts not only for our basest animal instincts. Sin is also the defining characteristic in our spiritual aspirations. The man has now become like one of Us. Luther calls these words a kind of Divine sarcasm.53 Bonhoeffer comments on these words in association with the expulsion from paradise:

“Wherein does man’s being like God consist? It is in his attempt to want to be ‘for God’ himself, to ordain a new way of ‘being for God,’ in a special way of being religious. And this religiousness consists in man’s going behind the given Word of God and procuring his own knowledge of God. This possibility of knowing about God beyond His given Word is man’s being like God; for whence is man to take this knowledge if not from the springs of his own life and being? This means that for his knowledge of God man renounces the Word of God which constantly descends upon Him out of the unenterable middle and limit of life. Man renounces life from this word and snatches it for himself. He is himself the middle. Therefore man’s being like God is disobedience in the form of obedience, it is will to power in the form of service, it is desire to be a creator in the form of creatureliness, it is being dead in the form of life.”54

Mark Mattes, exploring Luther’s theology, comments: “[N]ature as created good needs not perfection as a human endeavor but liberation—from sin, death and the accusations of the law.”55

Meanwhile, the fall into sin bears fruit when I do not like what I see in a mirror. In relation to the world,56 I am envious of those who look better than me, or seem stronger, prettier, shapelier, or in any way more able. If I feel judged because of how I look, I wonder why the world is so shallow. At the same time, I gravitate toward mere external beauty. And if I find a look I think I can pull off, I will get as much mileage out of it as I can. If I can’t pull it off—I’ll photoshop it.

In relation to God, I am frustrated with God that He didn’t make me differently. If I can, I shall have to fix it for Him. Yet, to my own eye, this body is never beautiful enough, strong enough, tall enough, slim enough, clear-skinned, thick-haired, or accomplished enough—unless perhaps for a fleeting moment it seems like it is. Then proud self-satisfaction takes over. Otherwise:

“We are ashamed of our bodies and cover them up because we have an uneasy, guilty conscience… [We] cover up our bodies in order to hide our guilt and inner ugliness… Consequently we are not just alienated from God and each other, but also from our own bodies.”57

Sometimes you will feel driven to appease your sinful appetites. Sometimes you will feel like you want to punish yourself. Sometimes, you will feel inclined to recklessness. Sometimes, you want to pack yourself in bubble wrap, to insulate yourself from uncleanness, danger, sickness, and disease. You may get the sense that your physical condition is somehow sliding downward. Maybe you don’t know if you have what it takes to fully embrace it. So, you order a powerful adaptogenic mushroom coffee substitute for energy and weight loss. It tastes like foot.

Sometimes you may feel envious because the world at least can be real. In his book (Dis)ordered, Chris Esget identifies authenticity as a new kind of righteousness.58 He writes:

“God made man for a specific purpose: to reflect His image and likeness, to be an embodiment of God’s goodness, and ultimately to enjoy communion with Him. True authenticity is embracing our own givenness, including the time and location where God has placed us and the gifts and limitations He has bestowed… We don’t need to create (or re-create) ourselves to find our authenticity. It is found in the One who is our Author.”59

On the other hand, this is what the devil wants to accomplish in you: to make you ashamed of God’s work, and shameless when it comes to sin. His intent is that you be sorry over what God made when He made you, yet not sorry over a rebellious heart. Grieve over what embarrasses you before the world, not your real need before God. “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” (2 Cor. 7:10)

Flesh and Spirit, in Body and Soul

A tempting counterfeit gospel would segregate and minimize sin. It would isolate the body with all that is done in it and to it. It would insulate against death. It would be tempting to believe that all that physical weakness, sin and death is not really me. Importing Eastern mysticism into Western pop culture in the 1980s, Frank Oz would say it this way: “Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.”60 That brief sentiment preaches quite a bit: that this matter (the body) is crude, and that what we really are is a transcendent creature which is a creature of inherent light.

Christians think like this when we imagine that the sinful and dying body isn’t really us, or that what we do in it and with it does not really matter. We absorb the error when we imagine that the sins we commit in and with our bodies do not involve our souls or touch our faith.

The opinion persists: when I sin, I sin—but only with my body. When I abuse and neglect or overindulge myself, it’s only the body. When I die, it will not really be me that dies, but only the body. Yet—and here’s the rub—when you abuse or insult or slap my face, you didn’t insult or hit this inconsequential mortal coil in which I temporarily reside. You hit me.

Gustav Wingren writes in Creation and Law:

“It is nowhere suggested in the [Scriptures] that there is a contrast between body and soul, as if these were two constituent parts possessed by men, but ultimately two opposed parts. Whenever the Bible speaks of a contrast between body and soul (or body and Spirit), it is man or the creature that is being contrasted with God, who is the giver of life… Man, who receives his life from God, cannot set himself up against God in defiance without dying.”61

In the Bible’s terms, what Flesh and Spirit are to each other is not the same as Body relates to Soul. Flesh is—not always, but perhaps most often—used as a name for sinfulness, in both soul and body. Spirit, when contrasted with flesh, also comprehends both soul and body, since the sanctifying Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, animates both body and soul with His Word and through faith. As Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller expresses it, “The distinction between spirit and flesh cuts across the distinction between soul and body.”62

Sin and death involve both soul and body. So do help and blessing. If I was hungry, you gave food to me. If I was thirsty, you gave drink to me. If I was a wandering stranger, you bodily welcomed me. When I was naked, you clothed me. I was sick and in prison. You came to me. (Cf. Matthew 25.35–36) Above all: when I find myself unable to escape my sin, anxious because of what I did, or failed to do, and my eyes could only look down and turn red from sleeplessness and tears, and my body bends under the weight of some shame or sadness; when appetites fail me… with soothing words of comfort, forgiveness, and peace coming to my heart through these ears, you brought help to me.

Sin and Grace and the Seminary President’s Discretionary Student Support Fund

Sliding down Elm Street backwards on glare ice in a Chevrolet, my best option seemed to be my only one. I ditched in a snowbank. There was a rope in the back. I used it to lash the car to a phone pole. Then I called in to the police: My car is tied to a pole. A nice lady working dispatch explained to me: “You can’t leave it there.” I said, “I know, ma’am, that’s why I’m calling the police.” She said she would send an officer. I waited by the roadside. After several hours, Heather encouraged me to get out of the cold for a while, and find some dry clothing and hot soup. It was in that short time that one of the locals phoned in a complaint to the police. That’s when my vehicle was winched… and towed, and impounded. In this case the law—so to speak—was under no obligation to help me. Somehow, I ended up on the wrong side of it.

It took an act of mercy. It was my sainted friend President Wilhelm Petersen who saw what happened. He was angry. He stepped in for me. With his own supply of funds, he redeemed my Caprice Classic from the impound. He gave it back to me. All I could do was thank him.

Gratitude was the entire life of Eden before the fall of man. Nothing was done to try and earn anything, or escape anything, merit anything, or pay for anything. Everything we did was a sacrifice of thanksgiving, an expression of gratitude to God who gave us everything. We never get back to that except through faith in Jesus.

With a definition for Life that fits the definition of death as we learned it in Eden, the Lord Christ speaks from the Burning Bush: “I Am the God of your father, (Not the God of the dead, but of the living), the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Then He gives us the terms by which He wants us to know Him, recognize Him, believe in Him, and rejoice in Him forever: I have seen. I have heard. I have come down.

From the earliest chapters of Scripture,63 we find Christology: that Jesus is the Hero. Inseparably related to Christology is the paradigm of Law and Gospel—from the Fall and Promise to Judgment at Deliverance at the flood (when we chose external over internal beauty, 1 Peter 3.4, and external over internal strength), to Slavery and Exodus, to Babylon64 in Exile and Restoration. For “‘Thus it is written, [says the Lord Jesus], that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations.” (Luke 24:46–47 ESV) That leads directly to a third related theme: It is Christ and His Word of Law and Gospel over which the world truly divides, after the pattern of Cain and Abel (which is works-righteousness and righteousness of faith), Ishmael and Isaac (natural birth and birth of promise), Esau and Jacob (pretense and blessedness).65

John Bombaro summarizes for us:

“The events of Biblical history are not a bunch of random happenings, nor are they universal (occurring to all people equally.) If that were the case, it would be difficult if not impossible to distinguish any meaningful action or characteristic of God. Instead, the events are particularized, consciously bound to one another, as an organic whole, and articulated within the pages of the Bible as of a piece comprising a single grand narrative.”66

At the heart of it is Jesus—crucified, dead and buried. The Third Day He rose again. He is Risen! Each year the celebration of that event fills His believers with joy. Somewhere along the road I stumbled upon the idea of celebrating Easter with Lazarus.

Holy Easter with Lazarus

Lazarus lived at Bethany close to Jerusalem. He and his two sisters Mary and Martha were friends of Jesus. Lazarus had gotten sick. They sent for Jesus, but He did not come right away. Lazarus’ condition grew worse, and finally he died. Four days later Jesus finally arrived.

The sisters met him with tears: “Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Jesus said: Your brother will rise again. Martha said to Him: I know, at the last day. That’s when Jesus said: I Am the Resurrection and the Life. For such claims as this the Chief priests and elders opposed Him in jealous rage. There were others who couldn’t hear it—they wanted something else from Him. But Jesus said to Martha: Do you believe this? She said: Yes Lord, I believe. Jesus said: Roll the stone away from the entrance to his tomb.

Lord, by now he stinketh. Think then of every embarrassment, every shortcoming, every fault and failure that inheres in these bodies of ours, even your worst day. This is where it all ends up. Jesus said: Roll the stone away anyhow.

Jesus called out in a loud voice: Lazarus, Come out. Then the air was fresh and clean. And Lazarus, still wrapped in a shroud, came out into the light. The Lord said: Loose him and let him go. It was done in the open, out in public, and everyone was amazed. These are the events that led up to Palm Sunday and drew such a crowd. There was even a conspiracy to kill Lazarus since people were believing in Jesus because of him. The Elders saw this and said: Now the whole world is going to go after Him. It will look like a rebellion. The Romans will destroy everything. That’s when Caiaphas said: “It’s better that one man die for the people, than the nation perish.”

Lazarus, who was dead, lived to see the day when Jesus was bound and taken away. He lived to see it, Jesus suffering at the hands of His enemies. Jesus, the Innocent one, bruised and bleeding. In the body, “Sixty thousand miles of blood vessels link every living cell.” Dr. Brand goes on:

“A renewable supply of oxygen, amino acids, salts and minerals, sugars, lipids, cholesterols, and hormones surges past our cells, carried on rafts of blood cells. In addition, that same pipeline ferries away refuse, exhaust gasses, and worn-out chemicals.”67

In the body, blood brings oxygen from your lungs to all the parts of you, and then it carries away all waste and impurity. Somehow the Sacred writers knew: life is in the blood. Usually you want to wash blood out, along with grass stains and chocolate and spaghetti sauce. In this instance, it is the blood of Jesus [God’s] Son [that] cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7 ESV)

Lazarus lived to see it, as Jesus shed His blood and poured out His life. Lazarus saw Jesus crucified, dead and buried.68 Lazarus rests at home on the Sabbath, while Christ takes his place in death and the grave. Though the Scriptures say nothing about it, if I put myself in his shoes, there is one thought I cannot escape. “Is this all because of me?”

Imagine: to live through that Sabbath; to sit at rest wondering what it means; that Jesus saved my life; more than that, that He gave life back to me—all so that because of jealousy they crucify Him? Wouldn’t it have been better for everyone, to just leave me there? How can I even thank Him? How can I say how sorry I am for all that it cost Him?

“And all the prophets saw this, that Christ was to become the greatest thief, murderer, adulterer, robber, desecrator, blasphemer, etc., there has ever been anywhere in the world. He is not acting in His own Person now. Now He is not the Son of God, born of the Virgin. But He is a sinner, who has and bears the sin of Paul, the former blasphemer, persecutor, and assaulter; of Peter, who denied Christ; of David, who was an adulterer and a murderer, and who caused the Gentiles to blaspheme the name of the Lord (Rom. 2:24). In short, He has and bears all the sins of all men in His body—not in the sense that He has committed them but in the sense that He took these sins, committed by us, upon His own body, in order to make satisfaction for them with His own blood.”69

All of us together take up Lazarus’ question: Is this all because of me? At Easter, we find the righteousness hidden in His condemnation, and the beauty of grace hidden in the ugliness of the Cross. Surely, He has born our griefs and carried our sorrows. It is after all, all on account of you, all because of you, all for you, and all for your sake!

“And it is the sweetest comfort that sin, which made its habitation in human flesh, was condemned in the same human flesh, in the person of Christ. Our body is the body of death, but in the same body of ours which the Son of God assumed for us, death was again destroyed. Although our sins have separated us very far from God (Is. 59:2), so that we have been alienated from the grace, righteousness and life of God (Eph.2:12), yet the Son of God has brought very close to us those heavenly blessings which had been removed far from us (Eph.2:13–19), laying them before us through His incarnation in the flesh which is of the same substance with our own, so that of His fullness we have received grace for grace (John 1:16). This is the most comforting and salutary exchange, that the Son of God has received from us a human nature and sanctified and blessed and exalted and glorified it in His own person.”70

He carried your sins in His own body on the tree. He died for you and in your place, the bodily death of the cross, because He loved you. He took your place in death and judgment, so you are forgiven in Him! Just as He promised: Whoever believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live! And, whosoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.

As the object of your faith: Jesus was declared with power to be the Son of God by resurrection from the dead. For your Ransom: He was delivered up for our offenses & raised again for our justification. For your future: Christ is risen from the dead, the first fruits of them that sleep.

“Through baptism, Jesus unites us physically with Himself, like a husband with his wife in marriage (Eph 5:25). By his bodily union with us, we not only become one flesh with him (Eph 5:31–32) but also one spirit with him (I Cor 6:17).”71 “Jesus… interacts with me physically with his spoken word that I hear with my physical ears, his audible word that animates me with his Holy Spirit… Jesus also gives Himself to me physically in his Holy Supper. There I receive his life-giving body and blood with my mouth and in my whole body.”72

This body, in which I live, in which all my sins are committed, is still God’s good creation. However despoiled by sin, it is (or better, we are) purchased and won at the cost of the Savior’s suffering and death. Christ has redeemed this body, and made it a member of His glorious body, the Church. However broken, it is (or, we are) nevertheless still—once again—set apart for God’s good purposes and bound for the joys of everlasting life with Him in heaven.

Part Three: God the Holy Spirit Sanctified This Body to Be His Temple

At some point in my preparations for this paper, my son asked me: “Dad, if it says we are fearfully and wonderfully made, why fearfully? What does that mean?” What a good question. It also suggests more questions, such as: How do fearfully and wonderfully relate to each other?

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

–Psalm 139:13–15 ESV

Histology is the study of microscopic structures in the body—woven human tissues, organs and ligaments knit together and carefully suspended on the human skeletal frame. My wife works in a newborn intensive care unit. Legal issues prohibit discussing her work with me with any degree of specificity. Suffice it to say she understands far better than I do the awe and urgency involved in caring for human beings whose weight is measured in grams. Caregivers huddle together to ascertain whether their proposed ministrations can do more help than harm.

Each human baby has priceless hidden value and great purpose in the heart and mind of God. Each is precious and worthy of prayer, protection, and acceptance as a gift from God. Each needs grace. And where these little ones have been sinned against by us—to whatever degree— Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart… Cleanse me!

Scripture calls the fear of the Lord “the beginning of wisdom.” It says in that connection that “to shun evil is understanding.” Fear is the first word that Dr. Luther uses to describe the disposition of a heart rightly directed toward God—when it is combined with love and trust. This is the spiritual meaning of the First Commandment. All the commandments derive from this first one and return to it again, for “God threatens to punish all who transgress [His] commandments, therefore we should fear His wrath and not do contrary to them. But He promises grace and every blessing to all who keep these commandments. Therefore, we should also love and trust in Him and willingly do according to these commandments.”

When the fear of God is separated from love and trust in Him, it will easily descend into terrors: “There they were overwhelmed with dread, when there was nothing to dread.” Then again, it may become brazenly fearless: “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” In either case, it is simply the image of Adam at work. God has chosen to deal with us patiently, “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

“He said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’” (Hebrews 10:5–7 ESV)

Wonderful in Psalm 139, (as in Wonderfully Made) reaches back to Judges chapter thirteen and reaches forward for connection to Isaiah chapter nine. In each case the root word is the same. In Judges, the Angel (or Messenger) of the Lord—who is Himself God—replies to Manoah and his wife: “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is Wonderful?” In Isaiah, the people walking in darkness have seen a great light… for unto us a Child is born; unto us a Son is given. And His name shall be called Wonderful.

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made means I am given an ordered life, ordered according to the Ten Commandments, by Him and in His Name, who has Redeemed me, who gently brings me (who brings us) back on His shoulder into the perfect, unbroken unity of His fear and love and trust in His dear Father in heaven.

A Gospel Tryptic

My friend, Pastor Jerry Gernander, once proposed to me a Bible study on comparative Christian religions. He suggested that rather than comment on my own impressions of the various denominations, I should interview local clergy and let them speak for themselves. I found that a great idea. I prepared a slate of questions and started scheduling appointments.

I remember one of these visits quite vividly. I arrived at the church and parked beneath a huge cross in the parking lot. As it turned out, that was the only cross I was able find in, on, or around the entire building. The worship space might have been a comedy club or a venue for live music. The pastor’s pores oozed with the gospel of Cool. His demeanor didn’t bother me, though. What nagged me was the absence of the Cross. And there were no pictures of Jesus. Anywhere. They did have a life-sized depiction of the Beatles’ Abbey Road album cover painted on the wall just adjacent to the in-house coffee shop which they called Hallebrewjah.

I returned home inspired—to go a completely different way. It was as if I had heard the people in the Gospel with my own ears: Sir, we wish to see Jesus. I was proud and delighted to see the members of our congregation responding to the idea that we put up pictures, prints and paintings of the stories and truths of our Lord. Among other things, we put together a little tryptic showing the Lord Jesus in His tender care for three women: the woman with the costly perfume (Luke 7.36–50), Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5.35–43), and the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4.1–26), to depict the Gospel as you have come to know and confess it.73 As Jesus dealt with the women, so He deals with us. As we hear about His dealing with them, He is Himself present and at work in dealing with us. Jesus draws near to us, so that He might draw us near to Him.

Location is one of the blessings and benefits of this bodily life. Locations take on the significance of events that transpire there. With location come the gifts of orientation and directionality. This helps us. We can conceptualize heaven above us, and hell below. We understand impenitence and unbelief as turning away from the living God. Reverence and faith also find bodily expression: O Come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker. Repentance and welcome into His kingdom are described in terms of locality: “Come unto me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest;” and grace announces the reversal of the Expulsion from Paradise: “Whosoever comes to me I will never cast out.” We ourselves become the dwelling place of God: “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”

Knowing God, in His Son, by His Spirit

I was made to see. Before my eyes, God portrays His Christ as crucified. I was made to hear. God causes His word of grace to sound in my ears. I was made out of water and through water, and now through water—not simple water only but water comprehended in God’s command and connected with His Word—I am born again. I was made for resting and for work; God’s gospel sanctifies for me a Sabbath rest from sin and its condemnation, and from the unbearable burden of laws and works. I was made touchable and to respond to touch—and with the touch of a hand that matches the voice in my ear, God assures me of His pardon and peace. I was made to breathe. He breathes into me the word of grace and truth, that I might breathe out to him the prayers that are signs of life. I was made to subsist. Now at His gracious invitation I come to His table and take and eat—Him who comes off the tree of life for me, and I drink the blood He shed for me. I live on Him who came up from the ground for me that I might live and not die.

We locate the Holy Spirit always in connection with the Lord Jesus, and in His physical, audible, and tangible dealings with us. We come into the Presence of God, sinful and unclean, defiled by our sins and by sins committed against us.

“‘But I am baptized! And if I am baptized, I have the promise that I shall be saved and have eternal life, both in soul and body.’ This is the reason why these two things are done in Baptism: the body has water poured over it, though it cannot receive anything but water, and meanwhile the Word is spoken so that the soul may grasp it. Since the water and the Word together constitute one Baptism, body and soul shall be saved and live forever.”74

“God [also] gives us an edible word. In the sacrament of the altar, God joins his word to the elements of earthly bread and wine so that the sacred cup is a participation in the blood of Christ once shed for the forgiveness of sins, and the bread of the Lord’s Supper is a participation in the very body once laid low in death to forever remove the sins of all the world.”75

As Jesus deals with us like this in terms of forgiveness, life, and salvation, we learn from Him to treat the body with love and respect, because Jesus handles it that way—even in its weaknesses and mortality, defilement and failings and shortcomings. He honored the body. He gave it a dignity borrowed from Himself. The body is not for immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And: You are not your own, you were bought with a price. Therefore, honor God with your body. After all, it’s the temple of the Holy Spirit; the dwelling of the Triune God.

This is sanctification of our bodies, not in terms of holy deeds done by us, but in terms of holiness given to us through gracious contact with God, by His Spirit, in His Son—the Vine to our branches, and thus, the fount and source of all good works.

“It is the Christian ‘created… by [God’s] Word’ who lives freely to God’s glory and constantly praises God. A new creation is a work of the Holy Spirit, who implants a new intellect and will and confers the power to curb the flesh and to flee the righteousness and wisdom of the world. This is not a sham or merely a new outward appearance, but something really happens. A new attitude and a new judgment, namely a spiritual one actually come into being.”76

The new creation doesn’t worry. Not because it is intrinsically brave, but because the Lord Jesus says: do not be afraid. He joined together for us the petitions: “Forgive us our trespasses,” with “Give us this day our daily bread.” By this we know again: His heart’s desire is to forgive. Daily bread comes from Him. We should seek it from Him and thank Him for it.

He knows we need it. He delights to provide it, and delights in our thanksgiving over it. If not for this word, I would think of it like Jimmy Stewart in the great film Shenandoah: “Lord, we cleared this land, we plowed it, sowed it, and harvested. We cooked the harvest. It wouldn’t be here, we wouldn’t be eating it if we hadn’t done it all ourselves. We work dog-bone hard for every crumb and morsel but we thank you just the same anyway Lord for this this food we are about to eat. Amen.” It really was a miracle. Along with that, God has given me a neighbor whose needs shape my vocation and give direction and meaning for my daily life, all of which runs in the way of gift.77 God help us to see it that way!

“Presently, we are confronted with so much physical, social, moral, and spiritual ugliness that it is easy for us to be enraged and deranged by it. As we consider how badly the body is used and abused, we can all too easily side with the cynics rather than the angels. But if we listen to what God has to say about it, we can see it as he sees it, both in its potential, eternal glory and in its actual, present misery…”

John Kleinig would persuade us:

Christian faith and Christian moral teaching are best communicated positively, by providing an attractive vision of what is right and good and true, a theological vision of the beauty of physical human life and of the world as God’s creation, an appealing vision of the beauty of marriage and sexual intercourse between husband and wife, a persuasive vision of the beauty of sexual chastity and marital faithfulness—and all of that personally by example, rather than by argument!”78

God save us from an ecclesiology that has mere defensiveness and self-preservation at heart. It is the Lord who says: Do not be afraid for I am with you, be not dismayed for I am your God. I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. God save us from pining away after lost cultural ground, to love lost souls instead. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart: I have overcome the world. And surely, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

In His Hand are the Deep Places of the Earth

O Come, let us worship the Lord! For He is our Maker.
O Come, Let us sing unto the Lord. Let us make a joyful noise to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto Him with Psalms. For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
In His hands are the deep places of the earth.

The Psalmist beautifully connects the original creation with the womb of my mother, and in turn with the narrow chamber where I will rest in the hope of the resurrection of all flesh. For My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.—Psalm 139. Again, You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again.—Psalm 71:20.

These locations, the ground of the original creation, which was cursed because of us, the womb, and the grave, are blest and sanctified because the Lord Christ sanctified them. He pressed His blessed face to them, wept and poured out His bloody sweat over them. He opened His heart, just like He said He would, pouring out blood and water. “On that day”—the Good Friday that Christ Died for us—”there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness.” (Zechariah 13:1 ESV)

“[T]hrough God’s Son, who took on a human body to reclaim us bodily for fellowship with God the Father, our bodies once again become what they were meant to be. By our faith in Jesus and in union with Him, our bodies share in his holiness by being filled with the Holy Spirit. They become temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19). As shrines where God resides, they share in his hidden glory and display it by word and deed to the world.”79

In Him, you belong. You belong—here in the family of believers on earth, and there in the company of the saints and angels in heaven. That belonging is not based on what you offer, bring or do to impress or entertain the group. It took the coming of the Son of God to turn such an arrangement upside down.

Christ imparts everlasting priceless value to you—not just vague, idealized impersonal humanity, but you. Christ is your belonging and He is why you belong. You are one whom He has redeemed—not with gold or silver, but with His Holy precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, that you should be His own. And about that, I’m glad! It wouldn’t be the same without you.

Lententide, 2006. It was a Tuesday. The following Sunday we were set to hear the miraculous bodily feeding of 5000. It was shaping up to be a very important week for us, after which, nothing would ever be the same. I carefully washed my hands and put on a robe—this time, the less familiar garb of hospital wear. I walked into the Newborn Intensive Care Unit at the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake and stepped up to the light streaming down onto a tiny bed, which held an even tinier baby boy. At 3lbs 15oz., in NICU terms, he was huge. I could still hold him in one hand. He was scarcely three hours old. The nurse brought me water. Standing at his bedside, I said a prayer that somehow, I still remember. It distills my thoughts on Holy Baptism, and our great need for it.

Lord Jesus, because you have said: “Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not,” I bring You my son. The life I have passed on to him is fallen and short and running out. Bless him to share in Your Life.

In all God’s precious thoughts (how vast are the sum of them!), He thought of you. His thoughts toward you are good, and more than the sand. Peace extends to you, body and soul and all. Peace attends you as you go your way.

It was one of Luther’s contributions to our liturgics when he said: you could use a Psalm or a prayer or some other dismissal or benediction at the end of the Divine Service. But in Numbers, there’s a blessing, where it says: So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them, Numbers 6:27. Why not use that? So, our worship, which began in the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit, concludes in His Name, Who has come for you, even for thee (which is you in the singular), that thou mightest belong.

The Lord Bless thee and keep thee;
The Lord make His face shine upon thee & be gracious unto thee;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, & give thee peace
. –Amen.


Bayer, Oswald. Martin Luther’s Theology: A Contemporary Interpretation. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2008.

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Creation and Fall, Temptation. New York, New York: Touchstone, 1997.

Brand, Paul and Philip Yancey, Fearfully and Wonderfully: The Marvel of Bearing God’s Image. Updated. Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1973, 2011.

Esget, Christopher S. (Dis)ordered: Lies about Human Nature and the Truth that Sets Us Free. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2023.

Kilcrease, Jack. Creation’s Praise: A Short Liturgical Reading of Genesis 1–2 And the Book of Revelation. Pro Ecclesia Vol. XXI, No. 3.

Kinnaman, Scot A. (Ed.) Treasury of Daily Prayer. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2008.

Kleinig, John W. Wonderfully Made: A Protestant Theology of the Body. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2021.

Lohse, Bernhard. Martin Luther’s Theology. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2006.

Maas, Korey D. and Francisco, Adam S. Making the Case for Christianity: Responding to

Modern Objections. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2014.

Mattes, Mark C. Martin Luther’s Theology of Beauty: A Reappraisal. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2017.

Senkbeil, Harold L., The Care of Souls: Cultivating a Pastor’s Heart. Lexham Press. Copyright

Harold L. Senkbeil. 2019.

Tappert, Theodore G. The Book of Concord. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1959.

Walther, C.F.W. The Word of His Grace: Sermon Selections. Lake Mills, IA: Graphic Publishing Company, Inc., 1978.

Wingren, Gustaf. Creation and Law. Tr.: Ross Mackenzie. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1961.


1 God is not diminished in any way by the work He undertakes in creation. Rather, according to sin on our side, “Whoever teaches and lives other than God’s Word teaches profanes the Name of God among us. From this, preserve us Heavenly Father!”—SC III.

2 The Preface to the Service of Holy Communion, ELH p. 51, 73, 99.

3 Cf. Genesis 1:14.

4 ELH Hymn #181, stanza 7.

5 Irreducible complexity is a technical term, identifying a system of integrated parts which have no reason to exist and serve no purpose apart from the whole.

6 Kleinig, XV

7 “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” (1 Corinthians 15:26 ESV)

8 SC II.

9 Kleinig, p.4.

10 Genesis 1:1, ESV. Cf. Kent Hovind.

11 Source Materials included materials produced by D. Moldstad; Out of Nothing: The Word, Creation and Faith Bible study, LHM Men’s Network, available from CPH; and Universe Battles available from Evidence Press.

12 Mattes, p.31.

13 John 10:10, emphasis added. –to Bodily Life He adds new Spiritual Life and the Life everlasting.

14 Genesis 1:2a, NKJ

15 Genesis 1:2b, ESV, emphasis added.

16 2 Peter 3:5, ESV, emphasis added.

17 And God spoke. The Biblical record begins with God and the Spirit of God and the Word of God, in one shared divine life. The Threeness of God with which the ancients were familiar from the beginning may well necessitate the stress on His Oneness that formed their daily creed: “Hear O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is One.”

18 Kleinig, p.3–4.

19 Kleinig, p.3.


21 Brand, p.33.

22 Brand, p.56–57.


24 Brand, p. 159.

25 Brand, p.72.


27 Brand, p.51

28 Brand, p.50–51.


30 Genesis 1:11, 1:12, 1:21, 1:24, 1:25; also 7:14.

31 Lohse, p. 243 ff.

32 Compare Ephesians 4.24, Colossians 3.10.


34 Bonhoeffer, p.41.

35 Mattes, p. 130.

36 Kilcrease, p. 318.

37 Bonhoeffer, p. 50.

38 Information necessarily presupposes Intelligence.

39 Kleinig, p.13.

40 “For Luther… three ‘estates’ or ‘hierarchies’ have greatest weight: the priestly office, the estate of marriage, and the temporal authority, and not necessarily in that order. It is significant that among these three hierarchies or estates none is ranked above or over the others. Luther broke with the medieval idea that the spiritual estate is above the temporal, that the latter must serve the former. To the contrary, all three estates are equally foundational, though in the given instance each has a different task in the preservation of life. And, respecting their honor, they are equal. To oppose them means to open the door to unrighteousness. Even after the fall these estates, hierarchies, or orders of creation are altogether in force. Naturally, they too are affected by sin, so that there is continual danger of perversion.” –Lohse, p. 246.

41 The Dark Knight.

42 This is a form of sound words.

43 Luther: “When two diverse beings become one being, grammar embraces these two things in a single expression, and as it views the union of the two beings, it refers to the two in one term.”—Confession Concerning Christ’s Supper, LW 37:30. Referenced in Mattes, p. 38.

44 Quoted from the Treasury of Daily Prayer, p. 151.

45 Per, approximately .0035% of the total Electromagnetic Spectrum.

46 The Moon. is 1) on a plane with the earth and sun, 2) optically 400 times smaller than the sun, and 3) exactly 400 times closer.

47 Walther, p. 198–199.

48 Bayer, p. 167, emphasis original. “Not only my parents have given me my DNA but also under the motto of “it takes a village to raise a child,” it is also true that a number of circles of others have shaped me and continue to shape me. They are, or at least many are, good gifts of God.” –Robert Kolb, in private correspondence.

49 Sin is complete corruption, but not essential to humanity. God is not the author if sin. So also, Christ was made man, like us in all things, sin excepted. Human and sinful are not synonymous terms.

50 ELH p.137, TLH #601.

51 Bayer, p. 172.

52 Brand, p.49–50.

53 LW 1: 222.

54 Bonhoeffer, p. 81.

55 Mattes, p.25.

56 “[Luther discovered] based on his study of Paul… that there are two kinds of righteousness, active and passive. Before God (coram deo) we are rendered passive. We suffer the death of the old being, so that God might be allowed to be our God and to redeem us in Christ. Before the world (coram mundo) faith lends itself to good works, to actively help our neighbors and the world [like] good fruit flourishes on a good tree.”—Mattes, p. 53

57 Kleinig, p.62.

58 “On the search for authenticity, I become my own author when trying to determine what is authenticity or integrity for me, and thus this is the ultimate playing of God’s role. I may not worship myself, but I exercise the power to determine in what I put that Large-Catechism-First-Commandment ultimate trust.” –Robert Kolb, in private correspondence.

59 Esget p. 26

60 Star Wars, Episode V.

61 Wingren, pp. 19–20.


63 Professor Deutschlander’s lectures stress four themes: Original sin, Justification, Means of Grace, and the Cross.

64 This paper takes the position that the essential, defining error of post-Exilic Judaism was an error of Law and Gospel.

65 This paper proposes that the patriarchal blessing pronounced over Esau is fulfilled in Herod, as the promise to Jacob is fulfilled in Christ.

66 Maas and Francisco, p. 123.

67 Brand, p. 127.

68 For further insight into the physical aspects of Christ’s passion, read The Day Christ Died by Jim Bishop, especially p.207 ff.; also On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association March 21, 1986, Volume 256.

69 LW 26, p. 277.

70 Martin Chemnitz, quoted in the Treasury of Daily Prayer, p.162.

71 Kleinig, p.79.

72 Ibid, p.3.

73 From left to right: The Forgiveness of sins, the Resurrection of the Body, and the Life Everlasting.

74 LC IV 44–46. Tappert p. 442.

75 Senkbeil, p.14. Emphasis added.

76 LW 27:140, quoted here from Mattes, p.131.

77 This turn of phrase comes to us from Norman Nagel.

78 Kleinig, p.16–17. Jordan Peterson is on record with a similar sentiment: “You tell people that you love how to avoid the road to hell. You don’t do that because you’re shaking your finger at them or because you’re a moral authority. You do it because you don’t want them to burn. And I think there’s too much of the moral authority still in the church, and not enough of the love that helps people avoid the fire.” a2lBjqmqU8M

79 Kleinig, p.15.

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