Call it a case study if you will... He grew up attending Sunday School and Sunday worship. In later grade school, he studied the teachings of the Bible in catechism class. He continued increasing his understanding in Bible Class. This Christian man even served as an elder in the congregation, giving special attention to the spiritual life of his fellow believers. He made it his regular habit to take in God’s teachings and to live God’s teachings.
Now, this Christian leader had three children: one daughter and two sons— and he cared for their spiritual life. He carried each child up to the baptismal font. He made Sunday School their regular spiritual diet, while he learned in adult Bible class. He faithfully drove each child to catechism class, where they studied the teachings of the Bible. Eventually, each child was confirmed.
Now, after confirmation day, this Christian father let his first two children— a daughter and son— decide if they wanted to worship on Sundays. If they wanted to wake up Sunday at 8:00am and join him for worship, they could. Can you guess the decision those teenagers made? They stayed home in bed, sleeping every single Sunday. Can you guess how that affected them spiritually? The daughter grew up, moved out, and stopped attending worship. God was no longer important to her. He did not occupy a place in her life; she could not even give him one measly hour of her week. She created her own teachings for living. The son also stopped worshipping. He married a lady who [honestly!] created her own strange religion. Unfortunately, he floundered in his marriage because he had no firm footing on God’s truth.
One final son. The father woke him up every Sunday at 8:00am. Bible Class remained their spiritual diet. He encouraged his son to sing in the church choir and help maintain the church property. Can you guess how that affected this son spiritually? He started studying for the pastoral ministry. Even though he did not become a Pastor, he still assists his congregation every Sunday as a musician.
Do you comprehend the results of this case study? Confirmation is not graduation! Confirmands, you are not finished learning what Scripture teaches you! Parents, your child is not graduating (or completing) church! Your life in the Word of God never ends! Each of you will face new challenges that come with the many changes of life. You must Continue Your Training! Your sinful nature constantly fights God, but God keeps you on the way of life.
The words for our hearing this morning come from Proverbs 22:6: Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.
Do you know why you must train a child? Confirmands, you know the answer to this question; in just a few minutes you will describe the natural condition of the human heart. Everyone else, you have witnessed baptisms; in fact, every Sunday you admit: God, I am by nature sinful. The human heart is not naturally good; the human heart is naturally hostile to God. That means, the very moment you (and I) are conceived, we are God’s enemies. You do not submit to God’s law, nor can you do so (Romans 8:7). You do not want to obey God; you fight God. You see, every single child born has a “way.” His “way” leads to death in hell.
So God commands: Train a child in the way he should go. A child needs someone to start him on a different “way,” a “way” that leads to life in heaven; a child needs someone to teach him Jesus. Who is that person? You.
[Grand]Parents (and Christian examples), you have done that as you carried your child to be baptized into the family of God. You have done that as you brought your child to catechism class. But you are not done yet. You must Continue Your act of Training because the sinful nature continues fighting God.
Parents, the devil is still out to destroy the faith of your children. Do you know who he will use to help him? You. He will stoke your own sinful nature to adopt the oft-repeated beliefs of this world. The excuses are many: “I’ll let my child decide what to believe…” “I brought my child to church; I’ve done my part. Now my child will decide what to believe….” “My child is too old to be encouraged to worship…” “Oh, she will come back later…” Do you know what those are? Lies. God explicitly says: Train a child! The devil says: “Why bother?” The devil knows if he can make you— spiritual leaders(!)— indifferent to the spiritual life of your child, he will have removed one more obstacle keeping your child in faith and on the way to life with God. You must Continue Your act of Training because the sinful nature continues fighting God.
Confirmands and students, you are walking on this path that leads to life. What you learned in catechism class provides a firm foundation on which to build your life. You will find peace and comfort and strength from God. But you are not done yet. You must Continue Your Training because the sinful nature continues fighting God.
The devil’s working hard to destroy your faith. Do you know who he will use to help him? You. He will dangle alluring temptations to snag you away from the teachings you have learned. The temptations are many. Your world will entice you into following its manmade gods of money, pride, and arrogance. Your sinful nature will create fantastic excuses as to why you may ignore what God so clearly teaches. The devil will push you to self-worship: you are the reason for success, you hold all-wisdom, you control life! You must Continue Your act of Training because the sinful nature continues fighting God.
Dear friends, Continue Your Training. The sinful nature continues fighting God, but the sinful nature has been conquered. Jesus has opened the way to life. Continue Your Training because God keeps you on the way of life.
Parents, do you see where you have ushered your child? Confirmands and children, do you see where you stand? You are walking on the way that has led to the cross of Jesus. This visible reminder preaches God’s love for you. Jesus marched to fight your sinful nature— and did that by resisting every temptation. He makes worship his regular routine. He urges his disciples to follow the words of Moses and the prophets. He puts God in the number-one spot of his heart— and did all this for you.
That perfect life trickled out on the cross for you. Jesus paid off the debt of your sin for you. Jesus rises to announce forgiveness to you. Jesus rises up into heaven to make it a home for you. Your faith in Jesus as Savior has placed you on the way of life.
So, Continue Your Training. Do not forfeit what you have begun.
Parents and Christian friends, Continue Your act of Training. God has set you in charge over the spiritual health of your child (and other Christian friends). You are the people God uses to bring others to him. It is not always the guy next to you. It is not always the Pastor. It is not always a stranger. It is you. That’s why, parents, you Continue Your Training, your act of training up a child. Statistically speaking, these children have about another 70-years to their life. They have much life left and much ahead of them. They have college, marriage, children, parenting, work, retirement, older age, and the thought of approaching death. Those are some serious life hurdles, but hurdles they overcome with God. So, bring them to worship; do not even offer skipping as an option. Encourage them to read their own devotions. Speak your faith to them. Continue Your Training.
Children and confirmands, Continue Your Training. God has begun a good work in you; he has brought you to faith. You have a foundation on which to build. So, build on it. Grab God’s promises and find peace in trouble. Run to God in prayer on the day of trouble. Lay anxiety and worry to rest because God is in control. Stand confident of eternal life in heaven because Jesus has won it for you.
When you do step off the way, God will use his Word to draw you back. He will expose the error of your walking and the foolishness of you heart. He will walk you up to the foot of the cross and reveal Jesus who died for you. Continue Your Training because God keeps you on the way of life.
Our case study demonstrates that truth. One Christian leader. One daughter and two sons. Two spiritually neglected neglect their faith. One spiritually strengthened strengthens his faith.
Do you understand the results of this case study? Confirmation is not graduation! It never was; it was the devil who leads us to believe it is. That means, confirmands, you are not finished learning what Scripture teaches you. Parents, your child is not graduating church! Your life in the Word of God never ends! Each of you will face new challenges that come with the many changes of life. So, Continue Your Training! Continue Your Training in the Word of God because Your sinful nature constantly fights God, but God keeps you on the way of life.