WORSHIP VIDEO LINK
WORSHIP AUDIO LINK
SERMON AUDIO LINK
SERMON TEXT BELOW
Easter 5 2023 – Confirmation Sunday
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
May 7, 2023
Acts 6:1-9, 7:2a, 51-60, 1 Peter 2:2-10, John 14:1-14
Text and Audio: immanuelhamiltonchurch.com click “sermons”
Full Service Audio: bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship
When a baby is baptized we speak together for the infant. We renounce the devil and all his works and all his ways. We declare faith in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The baby is brought into the family of God through the water and word of Holy Baptism. Many do not understand why we baptize babies. They cannot do anything. They cannot say anything. Why would you baptize them? Because Jesus said so. Matthew 28:19 (ESV) 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”
Today five of our young people will make a confession of their own, confirming what was spoken for them at baptism. I will ask them if they renounce the devil and all his works and all his ways. I will ask if they believe in God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
After they confirm what was spoken for them at baptism I will ask a few more questions.
One of our confirmands let me know that during the elder examination he answered many of their questions with, “Because Jesus said so.” Why do we baptize? Why do we have Holy Communion? Why should we follow the Ten Commandments? Because Jesus said so. How do we know what Jesus said? It is written in the Bible. So I will ask, “Do you hold all the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures to be the inspired Word of God?” Do you believe the Bible, written by the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament apostles, is the Word of God?
This is a critical question for all of us in this time and in every time. Is the Bible the Word of God? The devil’s first lie is an attack on God’s word, Genesis 3:1 (ESV) 1 …[The serpent] said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” Eve protests that God said they would die, … Genesis 3:4–5 (ESV) 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
You will be like God….. Wow! Eating the fruit will make you like God. And isn’t that the great temptation for all of us for all time. The devil wants you to forsake the true God and make yourself god. Then you can declare things to be true and they are true for you. You can have your own truth. You can take charge of your own life so it does not matter what Jesus says, it only matters what you say. If you are your own god you can forget about what Jesus says because your feelings become the ultimate authority.
So the answer to this question is vital and has eternal consequences. Do you believe the Bible is the Word of God?
The next question is, “Do you confess the doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, drawn from the Scriptures, as you have learned to know it from the Small Catechism, to be faithful and true?”
What do you believe the Bible teaches? There are many different denominations and church bodies and independent churches out there. There is great confusion. Should we baptize babies or not, is Jesus’ Body and Blood present in the bread and the wine or not. What do I need to do to be saved? 500 years ago, Martin Luther wrote the Small Catechism to give a simple explanation of what we believe. He goes over the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, Baptism, Confession and Absolution and the Sacrament of the Altar. Our young people will confess that they believe what Luther has written about each of these because it is in agreement with the Bible.
“Do you intend to hear the Word of God and receive the Lord’s Supper faithfully?” This is a question of commitment. In our Gospel reading today Jesus declares, John 14:6 (ESV) 6 … “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” There is no other way of salvation except Jesus Christ. So an, “I do by the grace of God,” answer to this question is a promise to not let yourself be separated from the means by which God delivers grace to you. Why do we go to church? Why do we receive the Lord’s Supper? Because Jesus said so. Do this, in remembrance of me.
In our Epistle lesson today Peter writes about being the Church. 1 Peter 2:4–5 (ESV) 4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” The Church is the collection of living stones; the followers of Jesus gathered together. Alone and apart from the Church a stone will cease to be a living stone.
There is a lot of competition for your time and attention. In Jesus’ parable of the sower and the seed, the seed that falls among thorns gets choked out by the busyness of life and the deceitfulness of wealth. This is an ongoing temptation. The devil tempts us to allow hearing the Word of God and receiving the Lord’s Supper to fall lower and lower on our list of priorities. So we ask our young people today to commit to faithfulness by the grace of God, because Jesus said so.
The next question is absolutely counter cultural. “Do you intend to live according to the Word of God, and in faith, word, and deed to remain true to God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, even to death?” The culture you live in tells you to follow your feelings, do what you want to do, focus on yourself, live according to your own wants and wishes. In answering this question our young people will reject the ways of the world and commit to the ways of God. They will commit to love God and love their neighbor – Because Jesus said so.
Final question, “Do you intend to continue steadfast in this confession and Church and to suffer all, even death, rather than fall away from it?”
Now sometimes the white confirmation gowns can be mistaken for graduation gowns as if something is concluding. Instead, the robe symbolizes the white robe of Jesus’ righteousness that covers all your sin.
What a question. Will you abide in Jesus and His Church even if it costs you your life? We see in our reading today from Acts how the crowd turned on Stephen as he taught about Jesus. They threw rocks at Stephen until he was dead silent. Peter had preached a similar message on Pentecost and the people repented and were baptized. Stephen is rejected by the crowd and killed. Over the centuries many, many people have died because they are Christian, and not just long ago; millions in the 20th Century, and far too many in this millennium. Our young people today will boldly declare that they are willing to join the company of martyrs, if necessary. How can they be so bold? Because Jesus said so. Jesus said, Matthew 10:28 (ESV) 28 … do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” This is not something anyone can do by their own strength. The answer acknowledges our weakness, “yes, by the grace of God.”
As our confirmands publicly answer these questions I encourage all of you to answer along with them and reconfirm your own confession of faith; your own commitment to the Word of God and the Sacraments of God; your own willingness to suffer death rather than fall away from Christ’s Church. Be bold with our five young people.
Now sometimes the white confirmation gowns can be mistaken for graduation gowns as if something is concluding. Instead, the robe symbolizes the white robe of Jesus’ righteousness that covers all your sin. There is a tradition of wearing white for baptism, for confirmation and at your funeral as your casket is covered by the white funeral pall. At a wedding the groom and bride are a picture of Christ and His bride the Church. A bride wears white showing that the Church is made holy by Jesus.
If confirmation is like any type of graduation it is like graduation from military boot camp. When you graduate boot camp you are not finished; you are just getting started. Now you are ready for the fight, and life as a Christian is indeed combat. As the confirmands come forward, picture for a moment that their robes are not white, but rather camouflage as they confess their faith and prepare to do battle with the forces of evil. Ephesians 6:12–13 (ESV) 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
Today, these five young people will renounce the devil and confess their Christian faith. This brave confession will put them at odds with the prevailing culture. This confession will make them enemies of the mainstream forces of power and influence in our nation. It would be easier for them to go with the flow but they know, the flow leads to destruction. So they will take the difficult way, because Jesus said so. Matthew 7:13–14 (ESV) 13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
Jesus’ way is not the easy way, but it is the way to eternal life. So confess the faith and live life clothed in the white robe of Christ’s righteousness. Live life, wearing the armor of God, standing your ground against the devil and his lies. Live life as living stones in Christ’s Church. Wield the sword of the spirit; the Word of God. And forever proclaim the greatest good news of all time, Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia. Give thanks that you are a forgiven child of God because Jesus said so. Amen.