Chapel - October 22, 2018 - 10:00am

Preacher 
Chaplain Don Moldstad
Other service participants 
Student organist: Nathan Madson

Order of Service

 * Organ Prelude

 Human beings have often been intrigued with the potential of spirits returning to interact with the living after the grave, sometimes called “crossing over.” Egyptians would prop open the mouth of a corpse believing a person’s ghost could come and go while living in the body. In Haiti where voodoo is practiced, it is believed the spirits of ancestors remain with you to guide you in life. The Yin-Yang theory believed that dead spirits linger on earth to stir good and evil. Centuries ago in Norway, people feared that a ghost continued to haunt their community so they would dig up the man’s body and re-bury it. In some cultures, a body would be dismantled, or burned to ashes and scattered to prevent spirits coming back. We occasionally hear stories of supernatural appearances or inexplicable sounds that cause people to believe the spirits of the dead haunt the living. However, in His holy Word, God instructs us regarding the souls of the departed, with these words:

 Then the dust will return to the earth as it was,  And the spirit will return to God who gave it. (Eccl. 12:7)

  As in the account of the Rich Man and Lazarus, we are told that a great chasm  - a gulf or expanse - has been put in place between heaven and hell which prevents the souls of the departed from returning (Luke 16:19-31). Like the Rich Man, those who die in unbelief are condemned to hell, and the believer in Christ is welcomed into heaven by grace. God never commands us that we may contact the souls of the deceased, but instead we are to hear “Moses and the prophets” - God’s own Word - for the salvation of our souls.   For this reason God forbids that His children dabble in those things that may be harmful to the precious faith in Christ that He has worked in our hearts by His Holy Spirit:

 When they say to you, ‘Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,’ should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? To the Law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them. …. Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God.”                            (Isaiah 8:18-19 & Leviticus 19:31)

  However, the devil and his co-workers are very real, and God warns us to have a healthy respect for them in the spiritual realm of our lives, as in these words from St. Paul:

 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Eph. 6:10-12).

  There is a great danger of being drawn into deeper practices and beliefs through an interest in spiritism, divination and mediums. God would have us understand the serious nature of these evil forces. You cannot dabble in a little sin, as if it won’t hurt you. Such evil will always do some harm, somewhere, in some way. We also run the risk of endangering others by our involvement and possibly misleading another weak Christian (Romans 14:13). The Holy Ghost commands that we concern ourselves with the devil tempting us spirit-ually, but never instructs us to be fearful of human spirits returning from the grave to haunt us. Nevertheless, Satan and his demons may use various supernatural delusions to deceive, if possible, even those who are chosen for salvation. This means we should be on our guard not to chase after these things, since Satan will use them to destroy our faith, as Jesus Himself has warned:

 False christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.(Matthew 24:24 & 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10).

 * Hymn, 518, vv. 1 & 2, Rise! To Arms! With Prayer Employ You

 To ignore the power of the devil means opening yourself to his deception. The German author Johann Goethe writes, regarding those who deny Satan’s existence, “They never feel the devil near until he has them by the throat.” On the other hand, we should not become so focused on Satan and his forces of evil that they cause us unnecessary fear. Our Lord Christ, Emmanuel – God with us - triumphed over these evil forces by His resurrection, and possesses all authority in heaven and on earth. The demons are under the hand of our Almighty God, just as Jesus demonstrated by casting the legion of demons into the herd of swine in the region of the Garasenes (Luke 8:30-33). The Son of God’s incarnation – taking on our human nature – was for the defeat of these enemies:

  Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. (Heb. 2:14-15)

  How wonderful that our Savior has entered our world to confront Satan and the powers of his kingdom directly. Immediately upon entering His public ministry Christ took aim at these powers of darkness through His temptation in the wilderness, where He was triumphant. For this reason, when God instructs us to prepare for battle with the devil, we are told to arm ourselves with Christ and the heavenly weapons of war as our defense against these fallen angels, already defeated by our Lord. St. Paul encourages us:

 Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.   Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to  stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6)

 * Prayer: Lord, we beseech You to keep Your household, the Church, in true godliness, that through Your protection we may be free from all adversities, and devoutly dedicated to serve you in good works in gratitude for your saving grace, through the merits of Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God now and forever. Amen.

 * Hymn, 518, vv. 3 & 4, Wisely fight…

 * Blessing

 * Organ Postlude