Questioning (Ps 1; Gal 5; John 15; Jer 17; 1 Cor 3)

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᛭ INI ᛭

To what shall we compare questioning and confirmation? What analogy can we use for it, so that we can understand its place properly within the life of Christian? I’m going to try to do that in a little bit. I’ll do so from St. Paul’s inspired words from 1 Corinthians 3:10–15. When we look at that passage we’ll all see—I hope that you six will especially understand—where all this confirmation, questioning, and Luther’s Small Catechism fits in the Christian life.

Before I can do that, we’ll consider a different question first. To what shall we compare faith? What does it mean to have faith? What’s an analogy or picture we can compare faith, true faith in Jesus to? We’ll that’s easy, especially considering our Psalm and our three readings this evening. Most of you, even you six, will understand this analogy far better than I do because you’re closely connected or closely related to farming and farmers, and well, I’m a city boy.

The analogy that’s constantly used throughout our readings to describe faith: either true faith or also lack of faith in Jeremiah 17, is one of agriculture. It’s all variations on a theme. Lack of faith is like being a shrub in the desert (Jeremiah 17) or a branch cut off from Jesus (John 15). Having faith in Jesus is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields fruit (Psalm 1), a vine connected and grafted into Jesus (John 15), the fruit that comes from the Spirit (Gal 5).

It’s all very simple. The tree that lives is one watered by God’s Word. (Psalm 1) The vine that lives and bears fruit is the one that abides in Jesus (John 15). The vine abides in Jesus through His Word (John 8) and through eating and drinking His flesh and blood (John 6). Apart from the Spirit there’s only the works of the flesh that lead to death (Gal 5), a death far worse than tree in the desert. “Thrown into the fire,” says Jesus. He means hell!

Now, I’m no farmer. In fact, the nitty-gritty stuff is hard for me to understand. Rotations, conservations, seeds, sprays, implements. What growth would you expect if you didn’t do anything else, not anything else, no spray, no anhydrous, no water—all you did was plant the seed. Yet, so often we through our own actions force Jesus to do that with us and our faith. He can work miracles, for sure, but He doesn’t promise that. He promises to work through His Word, His Sacraments. He promises: “Whatever does not produce fruit is cut off and thrown in the burn pile.”

“Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved.”

So here we are with questioning and confirmation. Where does it all fit? To what shall we compare questioning and confirmation? What analogy can we use for it, so that we can understand its place properly within the life of Christian? You’ve been grafted into Christ Jesus, planted into Him, through Baptism, His Word given, His body and blood given, to enliven and sustain you. What about the catechism? Let’s listen to St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:10–15:

According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

How can we relate this to confirmation? Christ is the foundation, and what’ve you learned in the catechism is like, sort of like, laying out the blueprints for the building. Continually receiving “preaching and His Word” like the 3rd Commandment commands, will frame up the house, the rooms. Continually receiving Jesus’ Word in devotions, bible study, and receiving His body and blood will add drywall, furniture, and additions on the building. Always more ways to grow! To forsake such things is “build your own house on the sand,” a house that will be swept away, Jesus warns.

To what else? It’s like batting practice, which even professionals do but also learn to do better. It’s like the basic dance moves that continually get used, to which more advanced moves get added. The failure of professional athletes comes when they forget the basics, that is, they forsake them, want to move past them, and ultimately lose.

“Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved.”

That’s exactly what he does. He did the saving—Calvary, death on a cross much. He did the healing—empty tomb, coming back to life much. He still does those things. He still heals and saves. He baptizes. He absolves. He fills you up with His Word in confirmation class, always more! 66 books, 1,189 chapters, 31,102 verses. A lifetime amount! He feeds you His body and blood for the forgiveness of all your sins to heal you, to save you.

Left to yourself your a shrub in the desert, a broken down homestead. But not in Jesus. He makes you His tree, His vine, His pleasant planting, today, everyday, always.

᛭ INI ᛭

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