Friday 26 October 2018

God's gospel of mercy and grace to ex-Nazi leaders in 1946

We must never lose sight of a sense of awe and wonder at the gospel of God's free grace. Paul the apostle, late in his life writes to Titus and the letter oozes with an emphasis on the lovingkindness towards him and others through the gospel. Do you have that sense of thankfulness and appreciation to the LORD for the forgiveness of sins? A wonder and awe towards the LORD for saving you personally is a mark of genuine Christianity. Listen to Paul in Titus 3:4-8.

"But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works".

In recent months, my wife and I have been reading a wonderful book written by Don Stephens called "War and Grace: Short Biographies from the World Wars" published by EP. It is the last chapter I would like to mention, one which I found tearful and thrilling. It is called Henry Gerecke, chaplain to the Nazi war criminals. It is about his work as a chaplain in Nuremberg, Allied Occupied Germany (then) from early November 1945 to the 16th November 1946. During this time he ministered the gospel for a year, to some of the top Nazi leaders who were by this time imprisoned. 11 were eventually condemned to death by hanging (Hermann Goering cowardly committed suicide but would otherwise have also hung among the other 10). However, the story of some of the Nazi leaders coming to a genuine faith is awesome.

Over that year of chaplaincy work by the Lutheran pastor, 8 former Nazis were carefully examined and admitted to the Lord's Supper by the chaplain. The chaplain was not interested in mere hollow professions and he was not a man impressed by 11th hour phoney reformations. The Nazi leaders who professed genuine faith were 8 in total and they were:

Fritz Sauckel: Once head of labour supply
Baldur von Shirach: once head of Hitler youth
Hans Fritzsche: part of Goebels' propaganda machine
Albert Speer: minister of armaments
Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel
Admiral Raeder
Joachim von Ribbentrop, former Nazi foreign minister
Field Marshall Kesselring

If you want to learn more, you must buy the book. But one excerpt is from the profession of faith by von Ribbentrop. He responded slowly to the gospel through the chapel services and cell visits. Gerecke believed that he had put all his trust in Christ. At his death by hanging, his last words were: "I place all my confidence in the lamb who made atonement for my sins. May God have mercy on my soul". Then he turned to Gerecke the chaplain and said "I'll see you again" (page 269).

How about you? Who are you trusting in for salvation? We all need the Saviour. We leave the judgement of people's lives to the Lord, but we are assured from the Scriptures, that the only door into heaven is through dependence upon the mercy of Christ.

Acts 17:30-31 "... but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

No comments: