Posted by: St. Mark Lutheran Church | June 5, 2011

Sermon on 1 Peter 5:6-11

Things to Remember Now that Confirmation is Done

  • Order of Service: Word and Sacrament (p26)
  • Lessons: Acts 1:1-14, 1 Peter 4:12-17, 5:6-11, John 17:1-11a
  • Hymns: 411, 443, “Called by God into His Grace“, 341

In the Name of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.

Confirmation is not graduation.  That’s not just for you, Sonia.  It’s addressed to every Christian everywhere.  And sadly it has to be said, because statistics tell us that something like 60-70% of young people end up leaving the church within four years of confirmation.  You could list many reasons for this phenomenon, but it boils down to forgetting what Peter asks you to remember in the closing words of his first epistle.

So, Sonia, even though four years of confirmation instruction are done, you’re not done.  And neither are the rest of you.  There are things to remember now that confirmation class is done.

Peter says, “You’re not God.”  Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand (1 Peter 5:6a).  Humbling yourself is nothing except the life that the first of Martin Luther’s famous 95 Theses called for, When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent,” he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance (Luther’s Works, Volume 31:25).  And repentance is really nothing more than knowing yourself. 

I am by nature sinful, you confessed this morning.  In other words, you aren’t God.  Your right hand isn’t all that mighty.  I can’t recall ever parting any seas or destroying any armies with my right hand as God’s right hand did to the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army.  And I’d bet all the money in my pockets against all the money in your pockets that you can’t either.  So, don’t think too highly of yourself.  Don’t pass up opportunities to lay yourself low.  Jesus said when you go to a wedding don’t sit next to the head table, sit in the back of the room, because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted (Luke 14:11).  Don’t put yourself in heaven based on your own merits, because your own merits aren’t that good.

Sitting in the back of the room, humbling yourself, means allowing reality to set in.  I deserve your punishment both now and in eternity.  That’s what the Scriptures reveal to you about you.  You confessed that, Sonia, in your public examination this morning.  Such confession, such repentance, such true sorrow, is based on faith in something else:  that He may lift you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on him because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:6b-7).  You’re not God, but He is.  And He lifts up because He cares. 

This is the humbling process, understanding that no matter how powerful your hands are, you can’t lift yourself up by your bootstraps.  Only God can.  So, treat Him like the God He reveals Himself to be.  He says in due time He will lift you up.  He works out all things for good for those who love Him.  He proved it by doing another sort of lifting up:  the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life (John 3:15).  And that same Son was lifted up again, after the resurrection, God exalted Him to His own right hand as Prince and Savior (Acts 5:31).  God the Father lifted up His Son for the forgiveness of man’s sins and to rule over man’s affairs.  And then says, “Cast your cares on me.  All of them.”  What an incredible thought:  You can throw your problems on God as easily as your throw your clothes on your bed.  And He wants them.  He desires them.  After all, He took the biggest ones already.  He made His Son sin in your place.  He laid on His Son the iniquity of us all.  That Son took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows.  That’s care.  That’s concern.  That’s your God, your Savior, Jesus, anxious for His sheep, willing to say, Not a hair of your head will perish (Luke 21:18).  You’re not God, and thank God, because you could never be what God reveals Himself to be.  Remember that now that confirmation is done.

Then Peter says, “You’ve got to watch out for the devil.”  Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith… (1 Peter 5:8-9a).  In confirmation class we wrestle with how evil can enter a perfect world.  Well, it did.  The milk’s spilt.  The can’s open, worms everywhere.  But, as they say, forewarned is forearmed. 

So Peter says, “Don’t get drunk!”  Because there’s an enemy, an opponent, an adversary, a killer, a murderer out hunting – not wabbits, but Christians.  He tempts, he tricks, he lies, he schemes.  He accuses, he slanders, he dredges up old and new thoughts and ideas.  He says, “Your family isn’t getting up for church, why should you?”  “Your friends don’t read the Bible, why should you?”  “No one else picks a school because it’s close to their church, why should you?”  “Nobody else waits until they’re married, nobody else believes this, nobody else does this, nobody, nobody, nobody…”  And they’re all wrong.  He says, “Jesus is far away and can’t see or hear you.  He doesn’t really care.”  Jesus says, “Don’t be like the servant who decided that when the boss was gone he would beat up his fellow servants, and then eat all the master’s food and get drunk with the master’s booze.  That master will return, the servant will be caught passed out drunk, and the master will put him to death.”  In other words, to quote another Lutheran teacher, He who has promised that he will always grant grace has not promised that you’ll still be alive tomorrow (Walther’s Axioms, “About Repentance,” #21, Wisc. Luth. Quarterly 108:2).  Thus you resist, you rebel, you fight against the Tempter, just as Jesus did (and won), just as Jesus exhorted, Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man (Luke 21:36).

But this devil is not just your enemy. [Y]ou know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings (1 Pet. 5:9b).  You’re not alone.  Fellow Christians throughout the world face this same enemy.  This is the sense of Hebrews, Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another, and all the more, as we see the day approaching (Heb. 10:25).  It is encouraging to see others fighting, to know that you are not battling alone. 

But that is not enough to help you win.  Not your thinking, not your choosing, not your trying, not your doing brought you to faith or keeps you in the faith, keeps you fighting.  They, and you, fight because there’s another Lion, the Lion of Judah.  The devil-lion seeks to eat you.  The Jesus-Lion uses His powers to save you.  And then the Spirit of God arms you with that.  He gives you sword and spear and shield and helmet and armor, He gives you faith, that blunts the force of the devil’s teeth, that weakens the strength of the devil’s grip.  You can resist the devil.  The Lion of Judah crushed him and the Spirit gives you the strength to say, “No!”  That’s your confirmation verse, isn’t it, Sonia?  I can do all things through Him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13).  And all things isn’t just playing well in band or scoring well on TAKS; it’s going through all the many hardships that lead up to the kingdom of heaven.  It’s rejoicing that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed (1 Peter 4:13).  Remember that now that confirmation is done.

Finally, Peter says, “You were called to eternal glory in Christ.”  And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ… (1 Peter 5:10a).  At the end, we always return to the beginning.  All of this has meaning because the free-gift giving God called you to faith in Christ, to eternal glory Peter said. 

Faith is the game-changer.  Faith means you understand that He’s God and you’re not.  Faith means that you turn to that God in humility confessing all your sins.  Faith means that you look to this God as love, the God who called you, not to taunt, but to announce, “Christ did it!”  He chose you.  He adopted you.  He redeemed you.  He reconciled the world to Himself…IN CHRIST!  And the Jesus who redeemed you lost, condemned creatures, who purchased and won you with the holy, precious, and innocent blood of Christ, says:  after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast  (1 Peter 5:10b).  The God who began the good work of faith and resurrection in you is the God who will bring it to an end.  An eternal end.  A glorious end.  After a little while.  In due time He lifts up the lowly.  Because He lifts the sins off your back.  He hides your sins.  He doesn’t credit them to your account.  Your God is minded to forget those things in Christ.  He’s God.  You’re not.  Thank God for that.  You were called into that grace, when you were called into Christ.  Remember that now that confirmation is done. Amen.

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