Immortal Life
Thursday of Pentecost 11
4 August 2016
A truly blessed life must be eternal. Then we can have the full experience of God in both intent; by seeing Christ face to face, and in extent; without ever being parted from that vision. The true love affair that God has with us humans means that He wants never to be parted from us, just as the lover does not want to be apart from the beloved in the first bloom of affection. Unlike human lovers, God's love does not wax and wane, but is always full and complete as expressed by Christ's incarnation, death, and resurrection. This is God's passionate desire for His beloved.
We might easily doubt that God wants us to have a perfect and unending life with Him in body and soul. Certainly human philosophy has, through careful reasoning and by using the gifts of God, determined that the soul is in some way immortal. But the bodily resurrection and immortality of the body, now that is another thing. Generally, human philosophy has scoffed at the idea of the resurrection of the flesh and immortality of the body. The pagan philosophers of the Areopagus scoffed at Paul when he attempted to talk to them about the resurrection of the flesh (Acts 17:32).
Yet the faith of the Christian church is certainly that the flesh shall be raised and that at that resurrection the body will enjoy its full compass finding its complete joy in God the Savior. Such a thing cannot be assured by human reasoning, but only by God's Word. It is in God's Word that God's passionate desire to save us in both body and soul for eternal life is disclosed to us in the simple and sublime words, "The Word became flesh" (Jn 1:14). That God the Word should take on our mortal flesh makes certain to us that we, who are flesh, though mortal now, will be immortalized at the resurrection.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Augustine of Hippo

"In no way can life be truly blessed unless it is eternal. Whether human nature can receive this, which it confesses to be desirable, is no small question. But if faith is present, which is in those to whom Jesus has given power to become the sons of God, then there is no question.
"Certainly, of those who endeavor to discover it from human reasonings, scarcely a few, and they endued with great abilities, and abounding in leisure, and learned with the most subtle learning, have been able to attain to the investigation of the immortality of the soul alone. And even for the soul they have not found a blessed life that is stable, that is, true; since they have said that it returns to the miseries of this life even after blessedness. And they among them, who are ashamed of this opinion, have thought that the purified soul is to be placed in eternal happiness without a body.
"But faith promises, not by human reasoning, but by divine authority, that the whole man, who certainly consists of soul and body, shall be immortal, and on this account truly blessed. And so, when it had been said in the Gospel, that Jesus has given 'power to become the sons of God to those who received Him;' and what it is to have received Him had been explained by saying, 'To them that believe on His name;' and it was further added in what way they are to become sons of God, namely, 'which were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.' And lest that infirmity of men which we all see and bear should despair of attaining so great an excellence, it is added in the same place, 'And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us' (Jn 1:12-14) that, on the contrary, men might be convinced of that which seemed incredible. For if He who is by nature the Son of God was made the Son of man by mercy for the sake of the sons of men--for  this is what is meant by 'The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us' (Jn 1:14)--how much more credible is it that the sons of men by nature should be made the sons of God by the grace of God, and should dwell in God, in whom alone, and from whom alone, the blessed can be made partakers of that immortality? That we might be convinced of this, the Son of God was made a partaker of our mortality."

Augustine, On the Trinity, 13.9
1 Corinthians

I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
"Death is swallowed up in victory." 

"O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?"
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. 
Lord Christ, You have become mortal by taking on mortal flesh. Grant to us a quiet and confident hope in the life of the world to come in which we shall enjoy Your presence forever in body and soul. Amen.
For Olivia Taylor, that she would be granted a full and complete recovery from orthopedic surgery by the Lord who knits together our bones and sinews
For all pastors in small and struggling parishes, that they would be encouraged by the example of the saintly preachers of all generations and see that they possess heaven itself for Christ's sake
For Cathy Pierson, that the Lord Jesus would be with her in midst of therapy for cancer that she might be of good courage and strengthened in her body
Art: Durer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2016
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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