Today Pastor Choi explains the biblical meaning of confirmation. It is more than just for the youth. It is for all God’s children. It is also a daily, on-going, life-long process of strengthening one’s faith in Jesus Christ. It is a must for all believers so that they may not lose their salvation. Every believer is called to work with God for daily confirmation both for their own sake as well as for the future generations. They are encouraged to support their faith with virtue, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, kindness, and charity.
Following is a summary of the sermon:
Pass It On 2 Peter 1:3-11
- The Christian’s Call and Election
- 3 His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature. 5 For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, 7 and godliness with mutualaffection, and mutual affection with love. 8 For if these things are yours and are increasing among you, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For anyone who lacks these things is short-sighted and blind, and is forgetful of the cleansing of past sins. 10 Therefore, brothers and sisters,be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble. 11 For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you.Introduction
- Today is Confirmation Sunday. Four youths will be confirmed at the 11 a.m. service and will officially join as members of the United Methodist Church and of our congregation. It is a great day for those who are confirmed after three months of lesson. It is also a great day for us to welcome them as a part of Christ’s Body. Please keep them in your prayers and care.
- Since I don’t do a message on confirmation often, I would like to take this opportunity to explain the biblical meaning of confirmation. The Greek word for confirmation is bebaio/s. It literally means to strengthen/verify/sustain. So, confirmation in the Bible means a process to strengthen/sustain your faith. Keep that in mind.
- It seems to me that there’s a wide spread misunderstanding, or myths, on confirmation among God’s people. I can identify at least two.
- Myth 1: Confirmation is just for the youth. Truth: It is for everyone. God is in the confirmation business (1 Corinthians 1:8). He has every child of His registered in it. Even Jesus was in it (Hebrews 2:9, 18). It is for those members in their 90s and it is also for the toddlers. It is for the pastor and for the laity. It is for the choir director and for the members in the choir. It is for the youth and their leaders. It is for the Sunday school teachers and students. It is for the life-long members and for the beginners. It is for you. It is for me. Everyone is in.
- Myth 2: Confirmation is a graduation from the Church. Truth: It goes on life-time. Like there’s no graduation from the Church, there’s no graduation from confirmation until we get to Heaven. As long as you remain a follower of Christ, your confirmation continues until you pass onto the eternal life. Confirmation doesn’t last only three months, or six months or a year. It lasts a life-time.
- Reality Check: This notion of “done with the Church” is prevalent especially among the youth. In my 24 years of ministry, I have confirmed about 50 youths so far. Five of them (about 10%) are active within the Church beyond confirmation Sunday (Praise God for that!). Sadly, however, the majority of them disappeared from my sight into the world. Statistics say that those youth who leave the church after confirmation class are likely to come back when they are married and have children. This means about 20 years of lost years in their lives! That’s when as parents, they feel inadequate themselves to raise their children in a godly home, so they bring back their children to the Church. Then, the cycle of confirmation, getting lost, and coming back repeats in the next generation.
- Of course, our God is very merciful and gracious to welcome them back anytime. But in my opinion, this is unhealthy and a huge loss to the Kingdom of God, because we lose 20 years in their 20s and 30s—the most productive time in the believer’s life! As long as this cycle continues, we cannot build strong Christian families who are dedicated to God’s Kingdom work. I would like to see the reversal of this vicious cycle, and that begins with the right understanding of what confirmation is all about. The right understanding comes from the Word of God, the Bible. So, let’s listen to what it says about confirmation.Contents
- First, confirmation is a daily, on-going, and life-long process of getting to know who God is and what Jesus has done for us. Confirmation Sunday is a beginning of our faith journey, not the end of it. Yes, you get confirmed, you get a certificate for it, and become a full member of God’s Church, but it doesn’t mean that you have mastered the knowledge of God. In fact, you’ve just started. E.g. Let’s say Sally just got a doctorate degree in biology. That doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have to study anymore, because she got the highest academic degree in her field. Rather, now she is equipped with and knows how to use all the tools, so she can start studying by herself. Her life-long learning just begins. So does your confirmation. You never stop learning of God’s Kingdom and His salvation as long as you breathe. The Scripture says, “God shall confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (NASB, 1 Corinthians 1:8). He promises a thorough confirmation (through and through). He starts confirming you today, and His eyes are already set on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Last Day. You can count on His faithfulness.
- Next, confirmation is a must so that we may not lose our salvation. It is like daily meals that would keep us healthy and strong. It keeps us going strong and well-founded in our faith. Peter the Apostle urges us to confirm our call and election from God (v. 10). Why is it necessary for us to make every effort to confirm our call and election from God? Because by doing so we pave the path and build steps to Heaven accessible both for us and for the future generations of believers (v. 11).
- Peter also points out that there’s a huge difference between those folks who keep confirming their call and election and those who don’t. Those folks who confirm their call and election will be effective and fruitful in their walk with God (v. 8). He also warns about those folks who don’t: they are near-sighted and blind (means don’t see the future—only wrapped up with the earthly life and don’t see what awaits us next after we die), and even forget of the cleansing of their past sins (v. 9). Whoa. Listen again. Forgotten that they have been cleansed from their past sins. Yes, if we neglect the on-going confirmation, the worst thing will happen to us. What is it? We may forget we have been cleansed from our sins. We may forget we are sinners in need of forgiveness from our sins. We may forget who has redeemed us from our sins. We may even forget who Jesus is and what He has done for us on the cross.
- What’s the benefit of confirmation? What happens when we are diligent in confirming our call and election from God? It keeps us from being blind and near-sighted in our journey to Heaven. It keeps us from forgetting that we were sinners and that Jesus redeemed us from God’s judgment by His own blood. It keeps us from getting corrupt with worldly lust and evil desires (v. 4). It keeps us pure and blameless until the Day of the Lord. It keeps our life as believers rich and effective and fruitful that benefits everyone around us. When we are diligently engaged in confirmation, it prepares our path to Heaven straight and strong. It equips us to travel with confidence. We will never stumble (v. 10). It paves our road to Heaven solid. No one wants to travel on an unpaved and muddy road, though. Do you? That leads me to the final point.
- The question is who’s going to do that job of confirmation for us. “I will,” God says, “but, you have to work with Me, too.” Like a coach promises the championship, yet, he asks for the commitment from the players. God begins the confirmation and He will finish His good work for us. However, in between, you need to work with Him. It’s like God provides the daily bread, but you have to cook, eat, and clean yourself. Nobody else will do it for you. You’re called by God to self-confirmation that requires awareness and discipline. Here’s why I say so. Look at verse 10. “Therefore, brothers and sisters,be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble.” Here, Peter uses an imperative sentence to make effort, be eager, and be diligent to make sure your calling and election. Who’s going to do the job? You. God will help you. So will the Church. So will the pastor. But, eventually it is you who needs to work. God provides all the materials you need for your eternal life and godliness (v. 3) to build up the steps to Heaven, but it is you who need to get on your knees and get your hands dirty to lay one brick at a time on your path to Heaven.
- Very briefly, Peter points out seven steps to Heaven’s door. Seven things we need to ensure in our confirmation process. They are: virtue (moral excellence, basically anything that is pleasing to the Lord). Add knowledge to your moral excellence. The knowledge here, of course, is the knowledge of Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord. Therefore, we cannot neglect getting into the Word of God, the Bible, for this task. Thirdly, add self-control to the knowledge. Then, you add endurance/patience to the knowledge. Then, add godliness to endurance. Next, you add kindness to godliness. And, on top of everything, you add charity, the divine love–agape. Today, I don’t have time to expound on these seven steps in life-long confirmation, but you get the picture.Closing
- What is Confirmation? It is a life-long process for God’s children not only to stay in salvation but also to pass on the message of salvation to the next generation. You are in. Let’s get on with it today.
- After the message: Form rows of believers (those who have been a believer 50+, 30+, 10+, and the rest). Ask them to lay a hand on the person’s shoulder before them. Proclaim with me: “Lord Jesus. I confirm your love for me today. Thanks for loving me. Thanks for choosing me. Thanks for saving me from my sin. Thanks for the eternal life. I believe and confirm that the gospel message is true. I pass it onto the next generation. In the name of Jesus, I proclaim.” Amen.