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.
March, in the heart of Iraq, he was killed, leaving behind a wife who
expecting their first child.
Fittingly, Kiehl was buried April 14, the day after Palm Sunday and
before Easter, providing a reminder to the overflow crowd at Comfort
(Texas) Baptist Church of the glorious simplicities of the Christian faith.
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
to pass a message along to his friends and family members: Tell them
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
church celebrates this Easter weekend -- the death, burial and bodily
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
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
Author: Michael Foust
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