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EASTER 2003: A soldier's faith, baptism & Christ's resurrection 

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COMFORT, Texas. (BP)--Army Spc. James Kiehl did not know death was 
around the corner. No one did. No one ever does. 

But on that day in the Kuwaiti desert, with his unit preparing for battle, Kiehl responded to God's call and accepted Christ into his heart. He was saved. His baptism was captured by a television crew, providing joy for friends and family members back home. 

Kiehl's walk as a Christian, though, lasted not years, but mere days. In late 
March, in the heart of Iraq, he was killed, leaving behind a wife who was
expecting their first child. 

Fittingly, Kiehl was buried April 14, the day after Palm Sunday and six days 
before Easter, providing a reminder to the overflow crowd at Comfort (Texas) Baptist Church of the glorious simplicities of the Christian faith. God saves
sinners -- not through works of their own -- but through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. 

Man is saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. It is simple yet complex, and it is the core of Christianity. 

From the youngest to the oldest, God's grace and mercy are displayed whenever someone repents and believes. As Kiehl's testimony demonstrates, it is never too late. 

Before he went off to battle, Kiehl asked Dallas television reporter Robert Riggs 
to pass a message along to his friends and family members: Tell them I've 
accepted Jesus as my Savior. 

Kiehl's newfound faith provided hope for those at his funeral. 

"It was solemn, but there was Christian joy throughout because of the decision for Christ that he had made," said Comfort Baptist Church pastor Jim Holt, who preached the funeral message. 

Kiehl's faith, along with that of other believers, hinges on what the Christian 
church celebrates this Easter weekend -- the death, burial and bodily resurrection 
of Christ. Baptism is a picture of this. 

The Christian faith stands or falls on Christ's bodily resurrection, the Apostle Paul argued nearly 2,000 years ago. Responding to those who said the dead cannot be raised, he wrote: 

"But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is without foundation, and so is your faith," he wrote to the church at Corinth. "In addition, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified about God that He raised up 
Christ -- whom He did not raise up if in fact the dead are not raised" 
(1 Corinthians 15:13-15, HCSB). 

If Christ was not raised from the dead, Paul continued, then "your faith is 
worthless" and "you are still in your sins." 

But Paul concluded, "Christ has been raised from the dead.... O Death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting? Now 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!" 

Christ's death, burial and bodily resurrection are the crux of the Christian faith. Without them, Paul says, a Christian's faith is "worthless." 

This weekend, Christians in the small town of Comfort, Texas, are rejoicing, knowing that one of their own brave ones, James Kiehl, accepted Christ shortly before his death. 

They have the joy that the angel at Jesus' tomb expressed to the women in Matthew 28: "Don't be afraid, because I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here! For He has been resurrected, just as He said."

Author: Michael Foust 
 Baptist Press 

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