St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

God’s Word Is Truth

Confirmation Sermon on John 17:17
(Max Bowman, Trevor Kapke, Koen Krueger, and Connor VanLaningham)

Text: Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.

When Jesus was on trial before the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, he said, “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” (John 18:37) In reply, Pilate asked, “What is truth?” (John 18:38) The question that he asked has been asked in many different ways over the years. People are searching for the truth. Surveys have shown that people are becoming less inclined to believe what other people tell them, whether it be advertisers, politicians, doctors, or others in authority. Some people have said that truth is relative. What may be true for you isn’t necessarily true for me. Because of the uncertainties of life, people are looking for something that they can count on. They are looking for truth. This morning, as we consider the words of our text, we find where truth actually exists. GOD’S WORD IS TRUTH. 1. By It We Are Taught. 2. By It We Are Led.

The first thing that we want to look at is the fact that the Bible is truth. Some are willing to say that the Bible contains the truth. At first, that may sound like a good statement. However, we you look at the statement more closely, you see a hidden thought. When I say that it contains the truth, I am also intimating that it contains other things that are not true. In this way, I can dismiss those things that are hard to understand. I can overlook those things that I don’t like. Also, the Bible is more than just a true book, like a history book or a math book. No, the Bible is the truth. It is God speaking to us through those pages. The apostle Peter reminds us, “Prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:21) As Jesus said so clearly, “Your word is truth.” Since this is true, we know that we can put our trust in what we find in his Word.

What are the truths that we learn from God’s Word? The first truth that we studied together during our classes was the truth of God’s Law. In all those weeks that we studied God’s Ten Commandments, we were reminded again and again of all the places and times that we went against God’s Will. We studied the Third Commandment and talked about our attitude toward God’s Word. We studied the Fourth Commandment and looked at our respect for those whom God has placed in authority over us. We saw that hating someone was just as bad as killing them. We talked about greed and lying. Through the Holy Scriptures, we learned of our Old Adam that delights in doing the exact opposite of what God would have us do. Here you learned Bible passages like, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and “The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23) The Bible, God’s Word, is very clear about whom and what we are by nature. We were lost and condemned creatures, who deserved nothing but God’s wrath and punishment both now and for eternity. God’s Law shone, exposing our sins for what they were. This is the first truth that we learned from the Bible.

The second truth that we focused on was the beautiful message of the Gospel. While we saw it in various places, we took our deepest look at the answer to this as we studied the Second Article. While we were still sinners, God in his love for us, sent his Son to be our Savior. We studied what Christ did for us, using terms like Christ’s Active Obedience, as Jesus lived the perfect life that we could not live. We talked about Christ’s Passive Obedience, as he suffered and died to pay for the sins of all people, including you and me. The main theme of that Second Article was Redemption, that is, Christ paid the ransom price for us. The price that he paid was his holy, precious blood and his innocent suffering and death. Jesus paid for all our sins. We also talked about the working of the Holy Spirit, who created and strengthened the faith in our hearts through the Means of Grace, the Gospel in God’s Word and the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Through this faith in Jesus Christ, we can accept all the gifts that Jesus has won for us. This is the truth that we have learned from God’s Word.

Jesus began this verse by saying, “Sanctify them by the truth.” As you recall from our classes, the word “sanctify” means to “make holy.” Through the faith that was created in your hearts, you have been made holy. We also talked about our life of sanctification. This refers to our life of thanksgiving in response for all that God has done for us.

In a few moments, you are going to make a confession of your faith. Through the words of the Apostles Creed, you will confess your faith in the Triune God. You will say that you wish to become a communicant member of this church. More than that, you are going to make a vow before God and in front of all these witnesses. That vow is this: that you will remain faithful to this faith, as long as you live. You are going to vow that you are willing to suffer anything, including death, rather than fall away from this faith. Just think about that for a moment. This is for the rest of your life. That almost seems overwhelming, doesn’t it? This is especially true because we don’t know what lies ahead of us in the future. You probably have some plans and hopes, but you don’t know for sure what the future holds for you. How can you make that vow?

You make that vow, asking God for strength and courage. God promises to always be with you. For example, go back to Matthew 28:20, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” God repeats that promise in Hebrews 13:5, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Through all the changes ahead of you, God promises to be right by you, guiding you and keeping you close to himself.

You are going to be traveling down life’s path. Throughout the years, you are going to be faced with choices, some large, some small. Some of those choices will be win-win situations. Some of them will be more sinister as Satan tries to lead you down the wrong path. How can you be sure that you are making the right choices? God’s Word is there as the truth that you can look to. With God’s Word, we clearly see those things that are pleasing to him and those that are not. Out of love and thankfulness for all that God has done for us, we want to make the right choices with our lives. We want to do things God’s way. God’s Word is the truth that shows us the way. In these things, we can see clearly what God does and does not want us to do.

There will be other times when the choice is not as clear. For example, nowhere in the Bible does it say what your career is going to be or who will be a part of your family. What about those choices? Is God’s Word still that light for our path? The answer is still “Yes.” God has invited us to come to him in prayer. He promises to hear and answer all those prayers for our benefit. He has also promised that he is in control of all things and, as it says in Romans 8:28, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” God says to us in Isaiah 30:21, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” God promises to be with you every single day of your life. God’s Word is the truth that you can rely on.

This reminds us of the importance of God’s Word. There is a great need for us to learn it more and more, as we ask God to direct our lives through it. We will no longer have the privilege of getting together to study God’s Word in Confirmation Class. I will no longer be assigning you passages to memorize every week. For that reason, there is, sometimes, a tendency to think of confirmation as graduation. Nothing could be farther from the truth. You are still learning. God still has a great deal to say to you, especially as you come to the various crossroads of your life. Continue to learn his Word. Read that Word for yourself. Come and hear God’s Word regularly. Take the opportunity to receive the Lord’s Supper as often as you can. Through that wondrous meal, you will be assured again and again that your sins have been forgiven and your faith will be strengthened. God’s Word is the truth that you can count on. If, however, you replace the truth of God’s Word for something else, you will spend your life looking for something that is solid, something that you can count on. For that reason, see God’s Word as the truth, through which God will guide and direct your path.

So, what is truth? By God’s grace you have been learning the truth for years already. When you were little, you sang “Jesus loves me this I know.” How does the second line of that song go? “For the Bible tells me so.” How thankful we are to God that you have been taught the truth of his Word. You could answer Pontious Pilate’s question, “What is truth?” with ease. The Bible is the truth. It is also our prayer that you would continue to follow the truth of God’s Word for the rest of your lives. Our prayer for you this morning is this: “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” Amen.