Today Pastor Choi explains the meaning of confirmation: it is a life-long faith journey where God is fully committed to strengthen the believer’s faith and practice until s/he is transformed into Christ’s image (Ephesians 5:1). He exhorts God’s children to be Christ’s representatives to the world in this life and stand blameless in the day of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Following is a summary of the sermon:
Confirmation Sunday Message
2 Corinthians 2:14-17 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. 15 For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; 16 to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? 17 For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.
Congratulations! This is a great day for the confirmands who completed a three-month long class. I am very proud of you all. Thanks to the parents for their encouragement and support. Thanks to the congregation for your prayers. Today is also great day for our church because we received four new members to God’s family! Special thanks to c0-teachers , Randy and Vanessa Estelow: we had such a great fun teaching about God and about God’s Church. Also, special thanks to Rosemary Molinaro who provided each confirmand with a very special stole to wear this morning.
Let me begin my message with a question: What is confirmation to you? How would you explain to your friend if she asks you ‘what confirmation is all about’? A typical answer would be something like this: you complete a three-month (or a year) long class and you get confirmed on a Sunday (typically in June) and you become a full member of the Church of God. Let me tell you. Confirmation is much more than that.
I looked up the word ‘to confirm’ in the dictionary. This is what I have found: the word “confirm” is originated from a Latin word “confirmare” which has two parts: con—(together) and firmare—(to strengthen). Therefore, ‘to confirm’ means ‘to strengthen together.’ So, in the context of Church, ‘to confirm’ means ‘to strengthen together someone’s (typically youth) faith and practice.’
At the first confirmation class, I explained to the youth that confirmation is a life-long journey, not a three-month long class. By taking the class, I said, they are taking their first step in their faith journey to Heaven. I encourage the confirmands to continue their participation in the life of the Church after they are confirmed.
Sadly, however, that’s not the reality in America. A vast majority of confirmands, as soon as they are confirmed, drop out of the Church (statistics show that they don’t come back to the Church until they are married and have their own kids). My experience of 25 years of ministry testifies to that reality. It shouldn’t be. Let us remind ourselves that Confirmation Sunday is not the end, but the beginning of faith journey.
Remember the ‘together’ part? In this faith journey, no one travels alone. We go together. In fact, God assigns to us four travel partners: family, friends, Church, and God Himself. Families sometimes can discourage us. Friends at other times can abandon us. Even the Church of God can disappoint us as well. However, we do have one partner, eternal and divine, who never abandons or forsakes us. He is God. His name is Immanuel. He is with us forever. He is our faithful partner in our journey to Heaven. In fact, the Scripture says that God is fully committed to this journey of confirmation and sanctification to the end (through and through). He will carry out His work in us until we are transformed into Christ’s image (Ephesians 5:1). Listen to the promise of God: who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:8). We can trust in Him. We can rely on His commitment to make us whole and blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ—this phrase deserves our attention.
You see, our final destination in our journey is Heaven. Heaven is not a physical place like the USA or Australia. Heaven is a place where God is. We are going to this place where God is and we will be with Him in His presence for eternity.
To be with God, we must know who God is and His attributes. God is holy and righteous. Nothing impure/unclean is permitted in His presence. That means, to be with Him and in the presence of God who is holy, we too need to be holy like He is. That’s why God expects us to be perfect, pure, and blameless (1 Corinthians 1:8) not just in human standards but in His own. Of course, all of us would fail that holiness test before God due to our sin and iniquities. That’s precisely why God sent His Son Jesus Christ the sinless so that He would take care of our sin and its consequences (the Bible calls it ‘the wages of sin’). So, Jesus took our sins to the cross and paid the wages of our sins once and for all at the cross through His own death. Now, we are pardoned of our sins and we are free from the condemnation of our sins that culminates in eternal judgment in Hell. Because of Christ’s merit, not our own, and because of our faith in Him, we can stand in front of God with Christ’s righteousness that was imputed on us (like we are wearing Christ’s righteousness on us).
During our faith journey to Heaven, in this life God calls us to be His representatives to the world. The Scripture puts in the following four ways: we are the salt, the light, the letter, and the aroma.
Jesus says in Matthew 5:13, “You are the salt of the earth.” Imagine a food that is without salt. A right amount of salt brings out the best taste of the food. So do you. Be the salt where you belong (family, school, work, community and church) and bring glory to God.
Jesus also says in Matthew 5:14 that weare the light of the world. Imagine the world without God’s children—how dark it would be! E.g. A satellite picture of the earth at night with the background of pitch darkness studded with countless points of light. Brighten the corner of your place with the light of God.
Thirdly, each one of us is a letter of Christ to the world. People read us as if they read a letter. Listen to Paul: (to the Corinthian believers) he wrote “…you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Corinthians 3:3). When the people in the world read our lives, what would they think of us, of the Church, and of God? Would they think of Christ the author and give glory to God or would they be disappointed and stay away from the Church altogether? E.g. My bumper sticker: IXΘUS (Jesus Christ Son of God Savior) makes me a little more conscious of my driving behavior.
Lastly, the Bible says that we are a fragrance of Christ to God (2 Corinthians 2:14). I am sure we are a fragrance of Christ to the world as well. Let’s be an aroma of Christ, not a stench, to whomever we meet and interact.
One more thing before I am done. For our Heaven-bound journey God never leaves us unprepared. Rather, He fully equips us with essential tools (for lack of better terms)—things that we must have for the journey. There are two: God’s own Word and God’s own Spirit. The Bible and the Holy Spirit. First, the Bible. This morning we gave the confirmands God’s Word so that they may get into God’s Word daily. We also gave them a 365 day Bible reading plan. I pray that they diligently get into God’s living Word. I believe God’s Word is more important than ever before. Why? Because we are living in a perilous time where everything is relative and permissible. When everything is permissible, nothing is sacred including God’s Word. For instance, nowadays, people don’t want to offend each other, so they remove anything that is offensive to someone. E.g. An atheist sues the church to remove the sign board that posts God-references. He claims that he is offended each day as he drives by the church sign with God-references in it. The court sides with him! Why is the Bible more important than ever before? Because it is filled with absolutes and with God’s Word (not just human’s words). I give Psalm 119:9, 11 to all: How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word. Your word I have treasured in my heart that I may not sin against You.
For our Heaven-bound journey, God also provides us with His Holy Spirit as our constant companion. Who is the Holy Spirit? God’s own Spirit who dwells in our hearts (2 Corinthians 1:22). What is He doing in us and in our lives? He is the Helper and the Counselor. He comforts us in times of sorrow. In times of confusion, He guides us into the right directions. He even intercedes for us even when we don’t know what to pray for ourselves (Romans 8:26).
So, folks, and especially confirmands, we are taking our first step in our Heaven-bound journey. Our final destination is Heaven. Our family, friends, Church, and God are journeying with us. We do have the right tools—the Bible (map to Heaven) and the Holy Spirit (our guide)—that will guide us into the right paths and help us to stay on the course. May God help all of us to complete this journey and stand blameless in His presence on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. When we do, God will say to us, “Welcome Home!” That day would be the most glorious day of all. Amen. Let us pray.