“A Son of the Promise – Confirmed in the Faith”
(Colossians 2:6-12 – Isaac Smith’s Confirmation – May 16, 2021)
Colossians 2:6-12 – 6As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. 8Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. 9For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. 11In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
Your name comes from the Hebrew Yitzhak, which means, “He laughs.” True to your name, one of the things that I have come to identify with you is laughter. You often laugh, and your sense of humor causes others to laugh. There is more to your name than just laughter. There is a reminder of God’s promise in Christ your Savior, a promise that brings joy and even holy laughter.
A long time ago, there was another son named Isaac. He was born to Abraham and Sarah when it had seemed impossible that they could have any children. Yet God had promised that through the son to be born to them, the family line would continue until the birth of Christ, the Savior for all nations. When Abraham heard God’s promise, he laughed in holy joy at the miracle God would perform to bring about this child. Indeed, God told him to name his son Isaac; for what laughter and joy Isaac would bring as a son of the promise (Genesis 17:19).
Isaac, it puts a smile on our face to know that you have been made a child of God in Christ. This is not by natural birth through your earthly parents, but it is by the spiritual rebirth given to you by the miracle of God, through His Spirit and faith in His Son. Today we may rejoice, and laugh with you, knowing that you are “A Son of the Promise – Confirmed in the Faith.”
1) United with Christ through baptism and faith
First, as our text reminds us, you have been united with Christ in God’s promise of salvation and eternal life, given to you through baptism and faith.
When Abraham’s son Isaac was born, he was circumcised at eight days old. By this, all the sons of Abraham would receive the sign of God’s covenant. As sons of the promise, they looked forward in faith to the coming of Christ, the Savior of sinners. But now, that sign of the covenant is no longer needed, for Christ has come. He has fulfilled all the promises foreshadowed by that old covenant. He has taken away all our sins on the cross and won our salvation from sin, death, and Satan. He has risen to give us His forgiveness and eternal life.
After Jesus rose from the dead and before He ascended to heaven, He gave His Church Baptism. In place of circumcision for infants, He gave this Sacrament of promise under the New Covenant. Isaac, you were baptized as a baby. This was more than just an outward sign in the flesh. It was an inward circumcision and cleansing of the heart, in which God united you with His Son and all the benefits of His salvation.
Listen to what God has done for you in baptism, as Paul says in verses 11-12: “In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.”
Consider what a miraculous union God gave you with His Son in baptism. As Christ died to sin, bearing all your sins on the cross, so in baptism you were buried with Him in a death to sin. The old Adam, the sinful flesh which you inherited from your parents, was drowned and buried. Baptized into Christ, you were cleansed of all sin by the power of His Word with the water (Ephesians 5:26). And as Christ was raised from the dead by His Father, so in baptism you were raised with Him to new life. God the Father raised you up and claimed you as His holy child in Christ. By a miracle of God, You born again of His Spirit, who gave you saving faith and filled you with spiritual life. This is the life you have in Christ, as a son of the promise. And this life will culminate one day in your resurrection with Christ to the glories of heaven.
2) Built up and established in the faith through His Word
Baptism is not a one-time event. It is a lifelong union with Christ; it is a daily walk in Him by faith. Paul reminds us of this in verse 6, when he exhorts us: “As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.”
Now that God has united us with His Son as believers, these words describe us like a sturdy building, set on a solid foundation; or like a healthy tree, deeply rooted in good soil. But how do we remain so firmly rooted and built up in Christ? The faith which God has given to you by His Spirit needs to be fed and strengthened daily through His Word and promises in Christ.
Therefore according to Christ’s command, not only were you baptized in the name of the Triune God; but you have continued to be taught all things that Jesus has commanded in His Word (Matthew 28:19-20). Concerning that Word, Paul reminded the young man Timothy: “from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). From the earliest days of your life, God has continued to instruct you as His child in Christ through His Word – through daily devotions, through weekly church and Sunday school, and through Catechism. The Spirit of God, through whom all Scripture was breathed, continues to breathe into you that spiritual life He began in you, strengthening your faith through His Word of life in Christ.
So you have come to this day, as a baptized son of the promise, united with Christ in baptism, and confirmed in the faith. And now, having been instructed in His Word, you are also prepared to receive Holy Communion. This too is a means of grace by which God’s Spirit will continue to strengthen your faith. For as you have been taught from His Word, in this Sacrament Christ gives you His precious body and blood, once sacrificed on the cross; and with His body and blood, He gives you the forgiveness of sins they purchased for you.
So confirmation is not a graduation. As a son of the promise, confirmed in Christ, you will never outgrow your need to be in His Word and Sacrament. Even to old age, you will never outgrow your need to have your faith strengthened by His life-giving Spirit and truth.
3) Watching against those who lead away from Him
This is true because, for one thing, we are surrounded by many false spirits. That evil spirit, Satan, is always seeking to lead us away from Christ. And the false teachers he employs in this world would lead us astray by teaching other than God’s Word teaches. Paul warns in verse 8: “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.” Therefore as a son of the promise, continue to watch against those who would lead you away from Christ.
As you go into the world, there will be those who seem so holy in their man-made religion, which is built on the tradition of men and the basic principles of the world. They may appear so humble and devoted in following their faith – promising to open your eyes to new paths that lead to God. They will tempt you to doubt whether salvation is through faith in Christ alone, or if it may rather depend on the goodness of man, and your efforts to live a holy life before God.
As you go into the world, there will be those who seem so wise in their human philosophies. They may present ideas that sound so full of knowledge – promising to open your eyes to new ways of thinking about such things as the origin of the universe and life, whether there is a God to whom we are accountable, and whether His truth can be known. They will tempt you to doubt the truth of God in Scripture alone, and the eternal meaning He gives your life in Christ.
As you go into the world, there will be those who seem so carefree in their godless living. They present new ways of thinking of what it means to live a full life – promising to open your eyes by unholy kinds of fun and laughter in which this world finds its joy. They will tempt you no longer to walk in Christ according to Spirit, but to walk according the sinful nature; and to seek first the passing things of this world, instead of Jesus’ eternal Kingdom and righteousness.
This side of heaven, there will always be a daily struggle against the temptations of the devil, the world, and our sinful flesh. This is no laughing matter. By whatever false spirits Satan seeks to tempt us, his goal is always the same. He wants to cheat us out of our faith by empty deceit. He wants to lead us away from Christ and eternal life, by other paths that lead to eternal death. Therefore, as a son of the promise, continue to walk in Christ and His truth. Return to your baptism daily, dying to sin by repentance, and rising with Christ in faith and life.
4) Knowing Christ is your all sufficient Savior
When we have the very best, why would we want anything less? If we had $1 billion worth of genuine gold, why would we trade it in for counterfeit bills? As you continue to walk in Christ and His truth, you will see that nothing else in this world can replace Him. As a son of the promise, you have the incomparable riches and glory of a heavenly inheritance awaiting you. Along the way, you have Christ with you as your all-sufficient Savior. You lack nothing in Him. As Paul says in verses 9-10: “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” As you walk in Him, remember who He is for you, and what He gives to you every day as your all-sufficient Savior.
In the Person of Jesus, God lives in bodily form as your Savior. He has taken to Himself your human flesh to do everything it took to save you. As sinners, we are unable to keep the holy Law of God and deserve the wages of sin which is death (Romans 6:23). But as true Man, Jesus was able to take our place under the Law and fulfill it all for us. He took our place on the cross, suffered and died to take away all our sins. And as true God, Jesus’ perfect life and innocent death in our place truly is sufficient to count for us. As God sees us through His Son, He counts us His holy children. As the God-Man, Jesus conquered death and rose to give us His gift of eternal life. In Christ, your salvation is complete; nothing more is needed.
Now as our ascended Savior, Jesus rules all principality and power for the good of His Church. As a son of the promise, He rules for your good. Therefore, He is your all-sufficient Savior in every need. As we pray in Jesus’ name, He understands as a Brother and can sympathize with all our weaknesses. And as God, He is powerful to help us in every need. He intercedes for us at the right hand of His Father (Romans 8:34. As children of the promise, our prayers are heard by our Father who art in heaven. For Jesus’ sake, He answers according to His good and gracious will, for our temporal and eternal good.
Therefore Isaac, as a son of the promise, confirmed in the faith, you may join the company of Abraham, Isaac, and believers through the ages, who have laughed and rejoiced in all God’s promises in Christ. You are united with Christ through baptism and faith. You are alive by the Holy Spirit poured out on you. You are loved as a child of your heavenly Father in Christ. Continue to walk in Him, built up and established in the faith by His saving truth in Word and Sacrament. And one day, when faith is turned to sight, we will laugh and rejoice together with our Savior, and with all the family of God, in His heavenly presence.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. Amen.