In our Word of the Week this week, Pastor Rob Sauers takes us through the word “confirmation.” The focus of this study is on the purpose of confirmation instruction.
The word itself means, “to establish the truth, accuracy, validity, or genuineness of something. To acknowledge with definite assurance. To make firm or more firm; add strength to; settle or establish firmly.” The King James Version uses the word to describe what Paul did at the conclusion of his first missionary journey in Acts 14:22, “Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” Most other English translations translate the word "confirming" as "strengthening" and that really gives us a good definition of the most basic purpose of confirmation – to confirm or strengthen faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior.
To that end, it only makes sense that this would involve a period of instruction in God’s Word. If we are going to be confirmed or strengthened in the faith, that is only going to happen through God’s Word. We know that from such familiar passages as Romans 1:16 where Paul tells us that the gospel “is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.” And Romans 10:17, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Confirmation, then, is really the work of the Holy Spirit, working through the Word.
Though not commanded in Scripture, we can see the benefits of having this time of formalized instruction in God’s Word for our youth. In the Lutheran Church, Luther’s Small Catechism is used as the basis for this instruction. Among the goals of this instruction is to help young Christians distinguish between the Law and the Gospel and to prepare them to receive communion for the first time. 1 Corinthians 11:28 says, “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” Through confirmation instruction, our youth are prepared to examine themselves and properly receive this sacrament.
We should not think of confirmation as a graduation from learning God’s Word. Christian education is a lifelong endeavor.
We pray that the Lord will bless those beginning their confirmation classes so that they will indeed become more confirmed and strengthened in their faith.