Dear Confirmands: Abide in Your Savior's Word!
Let me be Thine forever, Thou faithful God and Lord;
Let me forsake Thee never nor wander from Thy Word.
Lord, do not let me waver, but give me steadfastness,
And for such grace forever Thy holy name I’ll bless. Amen.
Our Creator God reveals His faithfulness to us through His Word. Through the study of that Word we receive understanding, and in that Word we find the light necessary to guide our paths into righteousness.
This life will prove difficult for anyone committed to following the Lord. The apostle Paul encourages us to hold fast to those things we have learned in the Bible, for it is inspired by God and profitable for our lives.
Text: John 8:31-32
Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My Word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
In Christ Jesus who is our Savior, our Light, and our Salvation, dear fellow-redeemed, but especially, dear Confirmands:
What is truth? That is the question Pontius Pilate asked Jesus after Jesus said that He had come to bear witness to the truth (cf. John 18:37). I am quite certain that you have at various times heard the same question. Perhaps it was parents, teachers, or others who asked you “What is the truth?” concerning a particular situation.
You have learned from your parents and others that to tell the truth is to be honest, to tell what is right, and what is sure. You have learned from Jesus that His Word is honest, right, and sure without fail. From your parents and also through your confirmation instruction you have learned what Jesus refers to as The Truth—God’s Word. He prayed to His heavenly Father, “Sanctify them through Your truth, your Word is truth” (John 17:17).
There are many other people in the world who will try to tell you that the truth is something other than what God says it is. There will be people whom you will meet through your coming years who will try to convince you that “this or that” is true. But they will be lying and they will be trying to dissuade you from what is really true and to deceive you. Jesus will never lie. He will never try to deceive you. He will never lead you down a path you ought not travel.
People who try to teach you something as if it were true when it really isn’t will always have their own interests at heart. Like a salesman trying to entice you to spend a great deal of money on what is ultimately junk, there will be those who will try to deceive you because of how it will benefit them if you believe their version of the truth. Jesus teaches you the real truth for your benefit. He wants you to have the truth in your heart for your blessing and for your eternal life.
Jesus told those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My Word, you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth.” You yourselves have been abiding in Jesus’ words as you have studied the Scriptures and Luther’s teaching of those Scriptures in his Small Catechism. You have learned the truth of the Scriptures as found in the Law and the Gospel. You have learned the truth of the Law summarized in the Ten Commandments from You shall have no other gods, all the way through to the tenth commandment—You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his workers, nor his animals, nor anything that is your neighbor’s. You know what God’s Law says. You know the truth. You know what He expects from each one of us namely, perfect thoughts, perfect words that are never sinful, and to have every action and deed in our lives follow God’s Word completely. You know what God says in His Law concerning punishment. You know the truth that if you sin just once—even just once in the tiniest thought—you are guilty of all and condemned to eternal death. You know the striking truth of the Law that condemns us because we are sinners. But you also know the truth of the Gospel.
You know that though we sin daily in thought, word, and deed, that Jesus came and lived a perfect life to fulfill God’s expectations for each one of you and for all of us and for the whole world. You know that Jesus came and laid down His life as a sacrificial offering to pay the price for all of our sins. He endured the full punishment of Hell so that we do not have to suffer in Hell at all. You know the truth that there is a heavenly home waiting for each of you. You know that Jesus your victorious Savior is even now preparing that place for you so that when He comes again He will receive you to Himself that where He is, there you may be also (cf. John 14:1-2).
You know the truth. There are many confirmands in past history who have known the truth but have falsely supposed that once knowing the truth, they didn’t need to keep learning. That is simply not the case. Jesus said, “You are My disciples indeed” when you abide in My Word. A disciple is a learner—people who continually go back to God’s Word to learn more. You know the truth, but there is much more truth that Jesus wants to teach you. You know how that truth applies in your life, but in the coming years you are going to face new things. Even the old things you’ve been experiencing all along will turn around in a different way so that you’ll need to apply that truth in brand new ways you’ve never seen or known or dreamed of, as well as in the same old ways you always have. Jesus says, “Abide in My Word and keep on being my disciples and keep on learning so that even as you now know the truth you will continue to know it and continue to apply it every day of your lives until the day you die and Jesus takes you to heaven.”
“If you abide in my Word you are my disciples indeed and you will know the truth.” Keep on studying, keep on learning, and the Holy Spirit will keep on blessing and building your faith and trust in Him. Then no matter what comes up in your lives, no matter who comes trying to deceive, you will know the truth. It is the truth of your Savior. It is the truth of the Holy Scriptures which you have known from childhood, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. It is the truth that in Holy Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that you may be complete and thoroughly equipped for every good work in service to your Lord and Savior. (2 Timothy 3:15-17).
You know the truth. Abide in it! Learn it! Treasure it! It is the truth that gives each of you life. Amen.
—Pastor Wayne C. Eichstadt
Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
In Christ Jesus, whose precious promises instill within our hearts both joy and confidence, dear fellow redeemed and especially our Confirmands:
This past Thursday I asked the confirmands who attend our Immanuel School to list for me their first two thoughts upon hearing the word “freedom.” I had assumed that the most popular answers would be something like “summer vacation” or “no homework.” Instead the answers most commonly given referred to our country and the basic rights guaranteed us by our constitution. I must say, that I was pleasantly surprised and most impressed. Political freedom and the rights guaranteed us as a result of that freedom are indeed precious gifts from God. We will speak directly of those gifts this coming Thursday at our special National Day of Prayer service.
Today, however, we want to address the topic of freedom, but from a different perspective. We want to speak of spiritual freedom—that spiritual freedom promised to us by Jesus as His disciples. Yes, dear friends in Christ, and especially DEAR CONFIRMANDS: ABIDE IN YOUR SAVIOR’S WORD, for then you will indeed be His disciples and be free!
Spiritual freedom is tied ever so closely to the truths revealed in Scripture, for such freedom is the fruit of such truth. For instance, the Bible reveals to us the nature of the one true God, identifying God as the Holy Trinity—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It further reveals the truths concerning God’s work—creation, redemption, and sanctification. These truths free us from spiritual blindness and the worship of false gods or idols. They allow us to know God as He really is, to draw close to God as our dear Father and blessed Savior, to worship God, and to serve Him with great confidence, for we can be certain both of His true identity and His will. King David writes, “Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands! Serve the LORD with gladness; come before His presence with singing. Know that the LORD, He is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture” (Psalm 100:1-3). Note the joy, the confidence, and the complete freedom expressed by David—all the fruits of a truth that David then identifies as “enduring to all generations” (Psalm 100:5).
As we dig deeper into God’s truth of redemption, we discover freedom from the uncertainty and fear, which is so much a part of the lives of those who do not know Jesus. Jesus invites us to “come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29). All who have been told that their salvation is dependent upon their own efforts; all who are disheartened by their sins and are burdened by its guilt; all who long for the assurance of God’s love—are encouraged to come to Jesus. We do not find in Jesus a tyrant, who will enslave us and motivate us with fear. Rather our blessed Savior lovingly draws us to Himself. He urges us to confess our sins with the full assurance that His blood has washed them away. In view of the truths of our salvation, the writer to the Hebrews tells us that we are free to approach God with great boldness in view of the blood of Jesus Christ (cf. 10:19).
As we consider the truths regarding our sanctification and Christian lives, we find that we enjoy great freedom. But, some will say, “Wait a minute…the Bible is filled with all sorts of laws that hem people in and curtail their freedom. Doesn’t Jesus say, ‘if you love Me, keep My commandments’ (John 14:15)? That doesn’t sound like freedom to me!” Yet, the truth of the matter is that God’s law of love, does not enslave, but rather enables us to experience genuine freedom. The absence of law does not lead to freedom, but rather to complete chaos and the loss of freedom.
Permit me to give you a practical example. My wife and I just returned from a vacation, in which we drove a thousand miles through six different states. Compare the interstate highway system upon which we drove to the laws of God. As long as we stayed on the highway, my wife and I were free to go anywhere we wanted. If, however, I had decided that the interstate highway system was too restrictive and confining and that in order to be truly free I would have to drive off the road and into the ditch, through the fences and into the woods and fields beyond, what would have happened? I would no doubt have gotten my car stuck in the cornfields of northern Iowa, or trapped in the ravines of the pastures of eastern Kansas, or wrapped around a tree in the woods of southern Missouri. I would have perhaps enjoyed the illusion of freedom for a few hundred feet, but our car and we would have suffered greatly for it. In the same way, when we understand this truth, that God’s law of love is intended for our blessing and the blessing of all around us, and that if we are committed to living our lives in accordance with those laws, we will find a true and tested system of moral order within which we can live our lives with the complete freedom to love, encourage, build, and enjoy all of God’s blessings.
My dear friends, and especially you, my dear confirmands—our study of God’s word has given us truth and has led to freedom. We possess freedom from the spiritual ignorance of error and false doctrine. We have been freed from the fear and uncertainty or work righteousness. We are free to love, to serve in accordance with our Savior will and certainly with His blessing. Therefore, DEAR CONFIRMANDS: ABIDE IN YOUR SAVIOR’S WORD, for then you will indeed be His disciples and be free! Amen.
—Pastor Paul D. Nolting