With all the stuff going on in the world their was quite a debate on the death penalty again on some stations that I listen to. I am frankly bored with the discussion and being as old as I am the same arguments come and go and it frankly gets old. Matthew Harrison always finds something interesting even in the old discussions. He has found and has posted a blog at “Mercy Journeys with Pastor Harrison” – August 1, 2012 – http://mercyjourney.blogspot.com/ It can be desribed as an instruction book for Pastors that are visiting prisoners on death row. Right in the middle of it is a great little section………………..
The preacher will surely be able to observe whether the fear and concern of the wretches is more on account of the disgraceful death than the conscience, that they especially direct their admonition to the end that the wretches should above all things consider that they may be reconciled in their consciences with God. This shall be taken from the doctrine of the gospel, that God does not desire the death of a sinner, that Christ bore the sin of the entire world [Rom 5:8] etc. And the people shall especially be reminded that right in their prison they can know and feel God’s grace toward them. For if they had gone free they would have remained in such sins and not troubled themselves much with God. If God with His judgement had come upon them too quickly, so that they had been choked to death immediately after the crime, they would then have been lost eternally. But now God has led them to repentance and brought them to such a place where they could be instructed and comforted with God’s word and still have time for conversion. If now the conscience is taught of true comfort, the absolution and the Lord’s Supper shall be imparted to them for the confirming and assuring of such comfort, and this a day or two before they are put to death.
The Gospel, as Walther said, “should always predominate”, and here this is shown even in the prison house among these “wretches”.
At the risk of sounding nasty after some of the conversations that I have had recently the “wretches” in the prison house if this author was listened to, have it better that some of the sheep in the pews of some churches. The Gospel it seems doesn’t predominate and preaching is back to that “trimming and pressing” we talked about before. The sermon is not a proclamation of Christ but a diatribe against all kinds of perceived “issues” that are causing problems in the congregation. The proper division of Law and Gospel is missing.
We all were on death row until the prison gates were open and the glorious light of everlasting life was shown into the cell blocks. Maybe our problem is that we are still blinking in the freedom and light of Christ and can’t get our bearings straight. All the more reason to “know nothing but Christ and Him crucified”.