In Your Hearts, Set Apart Christ As Lord! (5/6/18)

Sermon Text: 1 Peter 3:15

Pastor Daniel Schmidt

Confirmation Day is a day that can be a day of mixed emotions.  I know that I am able to speak on behalf of your entire St. Matthew’s family when I say that we are so thankful to see you 11 young people reach this level of your Christian Education.  On a day such as today, we are happy and excited for you and your family members who have joined you here today.

But, Confirmation Day is also a day that raises a lot of concern for some.  There are some who are afraid that, after today, you parents won’t continue to carry out your God-given roles and see to it that your children continue in their study of God’s Word and attend worship on a regular basis.  Most likely, there are some here this afternoon that have a bit of sadness in their hearts because they are afraid they won’t see some of you again until maybe at our Christmas Eve Service.  They feel this way, because sadly they have seen this happen year, after year, after year.

But my prayer is that this year will be different; that your class will be different.  My prayer is that you, your parents, your entire family, will continue to come to worship on a regular basis; to continue growing in your knowledge of God’s Word and in your faith in Jesus as your one and only Savior.  On this Confirmation Sunday, the Lord of the Church offers a fitting word of encouragement not just to our 11 Confirmands, but to each one of us here today.  That word of encouragement if found in 1 Peter, chapter 3, verse 15:

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

During our Catechism classes we take time to study the 10 Commandments that our God has given to us.  The 10 Commandments summarize for us the Lord’s will for all people of all time.  And in the very first Commandment the Lord God tells you and me, “You shall have no other gods.”  One of the tools that we used during our study was The Small Catechism written by Dr. Martin Luther.  In his Small Catechism, Martin Luther wrote this simple, yet very clear explanation of the First Commandment: “We should fear, love and trust in God above all things.”  The Lord God’s will is very clear: He desires to be number one in our lives.  Using the Word of God before us, the Holy Spirit led Peter to write it this way, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.”

First, notice where the Savior-God wants to be first.  “In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.”  This means that Jesus Christ wants to be the most important part of your life.  But there are many things and many people of this sinful world that Satan will use to tempt you to push Christ out of your heart and mine.  And if we are honest with ourselves, you and I will confess that far too often we give in to the temptation, and we allow those things to take the #1 position in our lives.  God’s Word is clear that what you and I deserve for pushing Christ aside is to have him push us aside; to thrown us into the pit and flames of hell to suffer forever.

But this is not what Christ does to us.  Instead, when you and I come before our Savior with sorrow over our sin of pushing him aside, when you and I come to him with a repentant heart begging for our forgiveness, our one and only Savior reminds us of what his love accomplished for us.  A few verses later in 1 Peter chapter 3 we read this Good News, “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.”

At the time of your Baptism, the forgiveness of sins that Jesus Christ won for all people, became your very own gift to enjoy.  Again from 1 Peter chapter 3 we read that “baptism now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.”  Rejoicing in the Good News of forgiveness through the living and ascended Lord, you and I desire to make him #1 in our lives, so that all that we say, all that we do, even all that we think gives him the praise and glory only our Lord deserves.

This brings us to another point from the verse that is before us.  We read, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”  Are you and I always “prepared to give an answer to everyone”?  Are you and I always eager and willing to tell people about Jesus or to show others that we are Christians?

Again, taking an honest look at ourselves, you and I will have to confess that we are guilty of not taking advantage of every opportunity we have “to give an answer to everyone.”  Maybe we feel intimidated.  Maybe we feel embarrassed.  Maybe we fear the reaction of the person with whom we are talking.  But, you and I know that all these reasons for not talking about Jesus with others are simply excuses.  And the Lord Jesus doesn’t want to hear our excuses.  Instead, he wants to hear our confession.  He wants you and me to admit our guilt and then our loving Savior wants you and me to hear the Good News of the full forgiveness of all of our sins that he freely won for.

After filling our hearts with this wonderful Good News, our Savior then sends you and me out with that same Good News to share with others.  I would like to offer all of us a challenge this afternoon: This coming week, speak with a family member, a friend, a co-worker, a fellow student and “give the reason for the hope that you have.”  Share the Word of God with them.  Find someone and show them their sins and their need for the Savior.  Find someone and share with them the Good News of the Gospel that proclaims the forgiveness of all sins through the Lord, Jesus Christ.  Not just today, but in the days, weeks, months and years that follow…in your hearts, set apart Christ as Lord!

Each Confirmation Day is an exciting day in the life of a congregation.  We give all thanks and praise to the Lord of the Church who has brought the 11 of you to this point in your study of his Word.  For you, your families and for all of us who are here this afternoon the encouragement from God’s Word is to continue to live in the excitement of this day.  Stay close to the Lord and his Word by attending worship on a regular basis and by coming to his holy Supper when it is offered.  Not just today, but each day of his grace that the Lord gives to you, “In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”  Amen.