Ray's Blog

How to preach under pressure

On 15 August 1937, under intense political pressure, Ernst Käsemann preached a sermon in Germany which led to his arrest.  His text was Isaiah 26:13 and these wonderful words, “O Lord our God, other lords indeed rule over us besides you, but we call upon you alone and on your name.”  His conclusion:

“God replaced our own wisdom and our despondency with his power and gave us courage through his own Spirit.  Thus we are glad and follow him wherever he wills.  We have learned again not to take earthly things so seriously and to fear, love and trust him before all things.  What comes from dust must also return to dust.  Only God and what is given up to him last on.  Thus anyone can take our positions, our possessions, our freedom and our earthly home.  That is only dust!  The devil with his demonic horde may yet be allowed further to smash the outward form of the church, if God so permits.  That is only dust!  He may swallow us entire with skin and hair, if his digestion permits.  That too is only dust!  Yet we, despite our own and everyone’s sin, confess: ‘We call upon you alone and on your name.’  And that is not dust!  That is spirit from the Spirit of God and life which is certain of the resurrection from the dead.  That is a piece from that rock on which the eternal church is grounded and against which the very gates of hell shall not prevail.

Blessed be our enemies!  For they teach us, with all their bluster, ever better to know what right faith, true peace and eternal joy are.  We do not want to change places with them, whatever they want to have, to plan and to do.  ‘Other lords besides you rule over us.’  Certainly, we know it and discern it afresh every day.  But they hold rule over what is merely dust of the earth.  And they themselves clearly know that, and the knowledge makes them furious.

Nevertheless we confess, in joy and thanks, the eternal Lord and we declare with the whole Christian family, ‘but we call upon you alone and on your name!’”

Quoted in “One Lord Alone,” The Expository Times (1999), page 251.

This post was originally published on The Gospel Coalition