Confirmation Sermon on John 8:31-32
Text: Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
The Bible tells us that Jesus had twelve disciples. Can you name them? I would suppose that many of us could get a number of them. Well, just as a refresher, these are the names of the twelve: Simon Peter, Andrew, James, his brother John, Phillip, Thomas, Matthew, James the son of Alpheus, Thaddeus, Simon, Judas, and Bartholomew. However, do you know that Jesus had more disciples than these twelve men? In Luke 10, we read that Jesus sent out seventy-two disciples to get various towns and villages ready for his arrival. Yet, even that was not the sum total of disciples that Jesus had. Jesus has had disciples and continues to have disciples to this very day. The word “disciple” means “a follower or student of a teacher or a leader.” With that definition, we see that there are disciples today. You, my dear confirmation class, are disciples of Jesus. This morning, as we study this portion of God’s Word, I would encourage you, as well as the rest of the people here, to BE A DISCIPLE OF JESUS. 1. Continue In His Teaching. 2. Live In His Freedom.
Jesus talks about his teaching. What is this teaching that Jesus is referring to? It is what we have reviewed this morning during your examination. We started with the law, as summarized by the Ten Commandments. The law very clearly tells us exactly what God demands of every single human being. There can be no question about what God wants us to do. The law is equally clear about what happens if a person is able to keep all of the commandments. They will have earned their spot in heaven. Jesus said, “Do this and you will live.” (Luke 10:28) The law is also clear as to what the penalty is for those who do not keep the law. There is punishment. “The one who sins is the one who will die.” (Ezekiel 18:4) There is death, not only the physical end of life, but, also, an eternity of separation in hell.
Yet, in spite of God’s clear commands, in spite of his promises of life and threats of death, the law, also, point out the fact that we have all sinned. Paul puts it so plainly in Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” As we reviewed the commandments, if we were honest with ourselves, we see how time and again we have broken God’s commands. We have not loved God with all our heart. We have let other things become more important to us than our relationship with God. We have not loved those around us as we are commanded. We have said and done things to other people that hurt them. We have taken what has not belonged to us. The list goes on and on of the ways that we have failed. The law points at us and says, “Guilty!”
However, we thank God that this is not the only teaching that we have learned. We, also, have the beautiful gospel message, which points to Jesus Christ as our only hope of salvation. We were reminded that Jesus came to the earth to live perfectly for us. Jesus kept each and every one of those commands. We, also, saw that Jesus willingly went to the cross. It was there that he paid for all of our sins by the shedding of his blood. While on the cross, he paid the penalty for our sins by suffering the torments of hell in our place. We celebrated the fact that Jesus rose from the dead on Easter morning. This assures us that the Father accepted his Son’s payment for our sins. Through these acts of Jesus, the Father has declared all people, “Not Guilty!” We were further reminded that we could not come to Jesus on our own. However, the Holy Spirit created faith in your hearts. Through that faith, you receive all that Jesus has won for you. The gospel also points us to the eternal home in heaven that is waiting for all those who believe. This is the teaching that Jesus is talking about. This is what you have learned.
In essence, this teaching is quite simple. I am a sinner. Jesus came and paid for my sins. I am forgiven and am going to heaven. However, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.” (Verse 31) In other words, Jesus is telling us that we are to keep on holding to his teachings. There will be many things that will try to pull that teaching away from you. You will meet people who say that it really doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you are sincere about it. There will be people who will tell you that the Bible is full of antiquated ideas and doesn’t apply to today. There will be distractions that seem to be more important that what the Bible says. Realize that the devil is behind all of these different things. He does not want to spend your eternity with God. He wants you to spend your eternity with him.
How do we keep this from happening? The answer is, “Continue in the teachings you have learned.” In other words, we are not to look at our confirmation day as our graduation day. If we get lazy in holding on to God’s truth, it can slip from our hands. For that reason, it is so important that you continue to come to church and hear what God tells you. It is important that you take time to read the Bible for yourselves. We pray that God would keep us firm in his Word. We, also, receive strengthening for that faith through regular communing. We receive forgiveness of sins when we commune. We, also, receive strengthening of our faith. My dear friends, be a lifelong disciple of Jesus. Continue in his teaching.
Jesus continues by saying, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (Verse 32) These words of Jesus are found all over the place. You see them in libraries and universities. You hear them from the lips of intellectual and political leaders. The problem with many of these instances is that they don’t mean what Jesus meant by them. First of all, what it truth? To many, truth is what you want it to be. Truth varies from one person to another. Another misunderstanding of these words is seen by what is meant by freedom. Does it mean freedom from political oppression? Does it mean freedom from ignorance? What, exactly, is meant by these words?
First of all, we have already established the truth that Jesus is referring to. He means the truth that is found in his Word. It is the law and gospel message that is found there. It is the message that Jesus Christ is our Savior. That is the truth that we need to know to have freedom. The freedom that Jesus is referring to is freedom from sin. We are free from all of the accusations that the devil will make when we sin, because Jesus has paid for all of them. We are free from the punishment that we deserve. We will have eternal freedom when we are in our Father’s house in heaven for all eternity. We have freedom now and for all eternity.
We, also, have the freedom to serve God out of a thankful heart. Before we were set free, we lived in slavery to sin. Now, we have the freedom to say “No” to sin and “Yes” to serving God. There will be many who will tell us that serving God is another type of slavery. We have all of those things that we cannot do. You can’t live life the way that you want to. Serving God takes all of the fun out of life.
In reality, when we serve God, things do go better for us. For example, if you lie, you will always live in fear that your lies will be exposed. If you obey your parents and others in authority, your life goes better. In addition, since we have come to faith, we have the New Man in us that delights in doing things for God. This is the way that we can thank God for all that he has done for us. As John reminds us in his first epistle, “This is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3) The reason that these commands are not burdensome for us is that following them allows us the opportunity to love God, who has given everything to us. He has given us so many physical blessings. Even greater, he has given us forgiveness of sins, salvation, and eternal life. This is true freedom.
There will be many temptations to follow along with the crowd. You will want to keep quiet about your faith and not stick out. Dear friends, realize that the devil is behind all of these attacks. He wants to put you back in slavery. With God’s help, don’t let him. You know the truth and this truth has set you free. Live in this freedom.
Think back to those first days of confirmation class. Do you remember wondering if you would be able to learn everything that you were assigned? Do you remember looking at the eighth graders and asking yourself if you would be able to as confident as they were? Well, here we are. Your years of confirmation class are over. You learned a great deal. You were Jesus’ disciples. It is my prayer and the prayer of those here this morning that you would continue to be one of Jesus’ disciples. Hold on to the teaching that you have learned. You have come to know your loving God all the better. Having seen all that God has done for you, live in the freedom that Christ has won for you. It is also an encouragement for all of us. Be a disciple of Jesus. Amen.
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