DEVOTION – CONFIRMATION
The Comfort of Your Confirmation
“Be faithful until death and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).
“This certifies that (fill in your name), having received a thorough instruction in the sacred teachings of the Christian religion as found in the Holy Scriptures and confessed by the Lutheran Church, and having vowed before God and this Christian congregation to be faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ and His saving Gospel, was received into communicant membership by the solemn rite of CONFIRMATION.”
Recognize those words? If you’re a high school-age Lutheran or older, you probably have them printed on a document tucked safely away somewhere at home. If you’re a younger Lutheran attending middle school or junior high, they are words you will likely see printed on a document that will be given to you on your confirmation day.
Confirmation is a rite that has been observed in the church for many years. It usually takes place when our young people are about fourteen. As they reach an age when they are able to learn about the Christian faith into which they were baptized, they are enrolled in catechism class. Over a period of two or three years, they are provided thorough instruction in the main parts of Christian doctrine (the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, Holy Baptism, the Office of the Keys and Confession, and the Lord’s Supper), as summarized in Martin Luther’s Small Catechism. Upon completion of their studies, they are invited to make a public confession of their faith and to pledge lifelong faithfulness to Christ and the teachings of His Word.
The rite of confirmation is not mandated in the Bible. It is a fine custom, though, and something from which Christians of every age can draw comfort for their lives as disciples of Jesus. The comfort of our confirmation isn’t based, however, on the vows we made (or will make) to Him on that special day. Rather, it is based on the vow that our heavenly Father made to us long before, on the day of our baptism. It was then that He adopted us as His children and dressed us in robes of holiness by bringing us to faith in Jesus, washing away our sins, and promising to keep us as His own through time
A key Gospel truth that confirmation students learn during their years of studying the catechism is that when our heavenly Father makes a promise, He keeps it. When Adam and Eve fell into sin, God promised to send a Savior to repair the broken relationship that existed between Him and sinful mankind by crushing Satan (Genesis 3:15). And He did! When the Savior embarked on His ministry, He promised to carry through to completion the great work of redemption His Father gave Him to do for us (John 4:34). And He did! When He entered upon the road that would lead to His crucifixion on Calvary, He promised to restore Himself to life after three days (Mark 8:31). And He did! So, too, we can rest assured that Jesus will keep the promise He has made to stay with us through our days of pilgrimage, to nurture and sustain our faith in the face of the attacks made on it by Satan, the world, and our flesh. By what means? Through the Word that we hear proclaimed at His house from week to week. By the Sacrament of Communion we receive regularly, as from His hand, for the remission of our sins. By the reading of and meditating on His Word that we do, during the years following our confirmation. Every Christian, built up and confirmed in the faith through Christ’s Word and the Sacrament of His body and blood, has the solid comfort that “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). We may pray with all confidence:
“Thine forever, God of Love!
Hear us from Thy throne above;
Thine forever may we be Here and in eternity!
Thine forever! Oh, how blest
They who find in Thee their rest!
Savior, Guardian, heavenly Friend,
Oh, defend us to the end!
Thine forever! Thou our Guide,
All our wants by Thee supplied,
All our sins by Thee forgiven; Lead us,
Lord, from earth to heaven.”
(The Lutheran Hymnal, 338:1-2,5)
Thomas Schuetze is pastor of
St. Paul Ev. Lutheran Church in Lakewood, Colorado.