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Archive for November 20th, 2018

Heather’s Grandmother from Texas made this banner for Heather’s Confirmation.  The Sermon Text is also Heather’s Confirmation verse which was hung on the Mission’s free standing cross made from last year’s Christmas tree.

Hebrews 10:  23:

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.   κατέχωμεν τὴν ὁμολογίαν τῆς ἐλπίδος ἀκλινῆ, πιστὸς γὰρ ὁ ἐπαγγειλάμενος:

The Greek word for “confession” is  ὁμολογία.  ὁμο” , homo, means the“same”.  “λογία” or “word”, as in the Word of God.  When we confess our hope we are saying thesame Word.  Heather is about to confessthe faith delivered to the saints once and for all.  This confession is not first our work. It always the very work of the Holy Spirit through preaching and teaching of the Word ofGod.  Heather will confess for her ownthe ancient words of the Apostles’ Creed. She will be saying the same words the Church has been saying for 2,000years, old and yet ever new and renewing. The confession of hope is the confession Jesus is the Lord.  “Jesus is the Lord” is seed of faith whichthe Holy Spirit waters with the Word to the glory of God the Father.  Our hope is in the Lord who made heaven andearth.  The confession of hope is theconfession of faith.

In Luke chapter 5, Jesus encourages Peter and his fellow fishermen to let their nets into the deep, after a night of catching nothing, Peter did so.  They found their nets breaking for the weight of the huge catch. They had to get another boat and yet both boats began to sink. When Peter, overwhelmed by the great miracle, Peter falls to his knees at the presence of Jesus, he addresses Jesus for the first time as “Kyrie”, LORD. This confession is at the same time a confession of his sinfulness: “Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Luke 5:8). In deepest humility only can we acknowledge Jesus as Christ and Lord. On the other hand, the confession of faith is praise of God. It is prayer.

Please note:  In the Bible, Confession of faith, the confession of sin the confession of the praise of God and these three confessions belong together and, “… a threefold cord is not quickly broken”.

There is an old saying which is true that “Confession is good for the soul”.   A character in a sci fi TV show said,  “They say confession is good for the soul. Good thing none of us have one anymore.”  That is a frightening quote as well it should be.

36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul?

Jesus is saying we can lose our soul which is eternal death. The world beckons with it’s allures and we make the devil’s bargain:  sell our soul. A man can give nothing in return for his soul. The Lord gives, and the Lord alone: The wrong has beent aken by Jesus, the lamb of God, upon the Cross. As it is also written in Hebrews: 

 “…He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.” 

In the confession of sin, we are saying, homologia, the same word which is about the iniquity of our sin.  Even more we are hearing the homologia, the same Word of Grace in the forgiveness of our wrong and trespassi n the Lord’s Holy Name because of Christ upon the Cross. And so in the Divine Service, immediately follows the Entrance Hymn, a hymn of praise. We praise You, we confess You to be the Lord.

  1. there is the Confession of faith, “Confession is good for the soul”
  2. and there is the confession of sin ,“Confession is good for the soul”
  3. and the confession of the praise of God, and “Confession is good for the soul”.

These days we need the encouragement to “hold fast the confession of hope”.  Why? Three aspects of hope that I came up with:

  1. Hope points us to the Kingdom come, not our rule, our fiefdoms and our anxieties over them. Will Australia and the United States last forever?  We sweat over this question. No, the Lord every week in the Divine Service points us away from ourselves.  Our Father who are in heaven Thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory forever and ever. 
  2. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.  Romans 5: 5 Hope does not fail, because the love of God as He is faithful does not fail, even when we do.
  3. Confession is verbal.  The confession of hope will encourage a fellow Christian, and the proclamation of faith can bring an unbeliever to faith.

Confession of faith is not only entwined with confession of sin and the praise of God, a three-fold cord, Confession is also in this world dangerous. Look at the martyrs and prophets.  All  the first church buildings were built where a saint in Christ made his or her good confession and was martyred. 

The confession of faith to confess Christ is dangerous. It involves a risk of life. Still more dangerous is it to deny Christ. This can happen very easily, as is indicated by the fact that Peter, the first confessor, became the first to deny his Lord, as in which later incurred ex-communication. More dangerous is it because eternal death may follow. For we confess not only before a human judgment seat, but also before the judgment seat of God. Confession and denial follow us into eternity. There the earthly confession will be followed by the heavenly confession, not only by the eternal praise of God in the church triumphant, but also by the confession of Christ: “Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.” As our confession is the answer to the question of our Lord,so His confession will be the answer to every faithful confession made here on earth.

A confirmand is asked a pointed question:  Do you intend to continue steadfast in this confession and Church and to suffer all, even death, rather than fall away from it? And there is only one answer, one confession of prayer:  I do, by the grace of God.  How can we answer such a question?   Only His grace can foil the tempter’s power.  This grace in which we stand is the only way we can make such a vow.  The three fold cord of the confession of faith, sin and praise is the Holy Spirit’s tether to hold us tight to the dear Lord Jesus Christ.  The before and after of today’s sermon text spells out the Lord’s amazing grace:

19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,

Not by the sacrificial blood of animals, your blood, not mine, not even the blood of the martyrs:  God’s blood.

 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,

The way has been paved, opened for us, into the house  of God, the living temple named by the Lord the Church, His body.  The kingdom of heaven is open to all believers.

 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God,

I’m not a priest.  I’m a pastor as are many who are called. There is one priest, a great priest, the great high Priest, who gives us the Sacrament of His very body and blood which Heather will receive for the first time this day. The great high priest presides over His house, not bishops and pastors, we are but stewards of His grace.

 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith,

The phrase from the confession of sin, Let us draw near with a true heart is gloriously plagiarized from Scripture. A true heart confesses his sin, confesses his faith in the One who by His blood washed us clean and praises Him for His amazing grace.

with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 

Heather, your mother and father had you baptized. And evil conscience cleansed, and body  washed with the pure water of His Name, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Lord’s baptizing us is  one way work to you, to us all.

23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

The Lord’s Word is profoundly simple as to the reason we can confess His Holy Name:  “he who promised is faithful”.  We will have doubts and misgivings and even denials…

 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. 

            Encourage,related in Greek to comfort, exhort, counsel. Let us do so as this little Mission moves to her new location.  We are all encouraged by this confirmation this day as a fitting way for the last Sunday here. The confession of the Fait hin the Holy Trinity who baptizes us points us ever in hope “and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

(The insight of the three fold confession of faith, sin, and praise is from an essay by Rev. Dr. Hermann Sasse which can be read here.)

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