Rogate Sunday (Confirmation)| Rev. Rolf D. Preus| May 16, 2004
“And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (St. John 16:23-24)
In Jesus’ name our work must all be done
If it shall compass our true good and aim,
And not end in shame alone;
For every deed which in it doth proceed,
Success and blessing gains till it the goal attains
Thus we honor God on high
And ourselves are blessed thereby
Wherein our true good remains.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, especially you, Derek, Brittany, and Derek:
You were baptized in Jesus’ name. The minister said your name, poured water over your head, and said, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” That’s what it means to be baptized in Jesus’ name. It means that you are baptized by Christ’s authority and thereby become Christians. It means you take on Jesus’ identity. You are baptized into Christ and put on Christ. But Jesus never stands alone. The Father sent Him. The Father says of Him, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him!” Jesus stands with the Father. And Jesus sends the Holy Spirit who guides us into the truth in which Jesus wants us to place our trust. Since we cannot put our trust in the gospel by our own reason or strength, the Holy Spirit creates faith in our hearts. This faith, that was engendered in your infant hearts when you were baptized in Jesus’ name, you confess today before God and His church.
In Jesus’ name our work must all be done if it shall compass our true good and aim and not end in shame alone. This is because Jesus is our righteousness. In Holy Baptism we are covered with Christ’s righteousness. We are clothed with his innocence. This means that everything we do in Jesus’ name will be for our good and will serve a useful purpose. Whatever we do in Jesus’ name we do as His Christians, and so God accepts our work as being precious, even as His dear Son, in whose name we do it, is precious. Every deed we do in Jesus name brings us success and blessing. Maybe people close to us won’t think we are particularly successful or blessed. That doesn’t matter. Only God’s opinion matters. The life lived in Jesus’ name is a life that honors God and brings us true happiness. No other life is worth living. Our true and eternal good remains always in Jesus, our Savior. So we do all that we do in Jesus’ name.
When you were baptized you began to live a life in Jesus’ name. You were born spiritually dead. Your true and eternal life began at the font. Jesus said so. He said to go and made disciples of all nations by baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to observe all things that He commanded by taught. Today you confirm your baptism. You do it in Jesus’ name. This means confessing the truth. This means worshipping Him who is the way, the truth, and the life. To confess the truth of Jesus is not confined to what you say between these walls this morning or any other Sunday morning. It is what you confess every day of your life. You confess the truth by which you are forgiven and set free from sin and you confess this truth by means of praising God.
In Jesus’ name we praise our God on high,
He blesses them who spread abroad His fame,
And we do His will thereby.
E’er hath the Lord done great things by His Word,
And still doth bare His arm His wonders to perform;
Hence we should in every clime
Magnify His name sublime
Who doth shield us from all harm.
We praise our God on high and we do it always in Jesus’ name. There is no other name by which we can be saved. All religions that do not confess Christ as the Son of God and the Savior of sinners are godless religions. God cannot be known except through faith in Christ. It is only and always in Jesus’ name that we praise our God on high. This is what God wants us to do and He blesses us when we do it. To spread abroad God’s fame is to promote the pure and saving gospel of His dear Son. We do so by going to church every Sunday. We confess that the Lord does great things by His Word. He is strong and powerful to save and He does so by His Word. Many people don’t go to church because they don’t think they need to hear the Word of God preached to them. They lack confidence in its power. Or perhaps they have too much confidence in their own power. But the great things God does for us and in us and through us are always done by His Word. Take a Christian away from where the pure Word of God is proclaimed and you are taking a Christian away from Christ so that he can no longer do anything at all in Jesus’ name. But a life that is not lived in Jesus’ name is a wasted and tragic life. When we magnify Christ’s sublime name we are praising Him to shielding us from all harm. He does so by the almighty power of His Word.
You might think that grownups – especially pastors who are supposed to know so much about God and His Word – are stronger in their faith than you are. You would be wrong. Questions and doubts attack our faith. Our sins rise up in our conscience to challenge us. Will God forgive us? Can you trust His promise? Our natural desires fight against God’s will for our lives. We find ourselves caught between good and evil, right and wrong, God and the devil. I have been preaching the gospel for over twenty five years now and I must confess to you that my own personal faith is so weak that if I neglected to listen to the Word of God I would surely perish spiritually and be lost forever. God save me from that! God preserve me from ever beginning to think that I can live a life worth living except in Jesus’ name.
In Jesus’ name we live and we will die;
If then we live, His love we will proclaim;
If we die, we gain thereby.
In Jesus’ name Who from heaven to us came,
We shall again arise to meet Him in the skies,
When at last, saved by His grace
We shall see Him face to face,
Live with Him in Paradise.
The reason we can live in Jesus’ name is because we know that we can die in Jesus’ name. If we live, we proclaim God’s love for us in Christ. If we die we gain thereby. He that came to us from heaven will return to take us to heaven. Heaven is the home that was given to us when we were baptized by Jesus’ authority in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. As baptized children of God, we can ask for anything in Jesus’ name, and our Father in heaven will answer our prayer.
Will God give us whatever we ask? Yes! Whatever we ask in Jesus’ name, our Father will give to us. For when we ask in Jesus’ name, we ask as children of God. The whole world belongs to the One who created it and He has bound Himself to us. He has become our Father. Jesus bore in His sacred body all our sins and has washed them away by His blood. And by our baptism in Jesus’ name, this blood has washed us clean so we stand before God without fault or blame. We are righteous, justified by Jesus’ blood. If we live, we proclaim His love. If we die, we gain heaven. We cannot lose. That’s what it means to be a Christian. You cannot lose. You already lost your life when you died with Christ in Holy Baptism. Now the life you live by faith in the Son of God you live forever, nevermore to die.
We shall again arise to meet Him in the skies, when at last save by His grace we shall see Him face to face, live with Him in Paradise. It is grace that will bring us out of the graves on the last day to stand before our Savior in glorified bodies. It is grace that will bring us face to face with the One in whose name we prayed while we were living our lives on this earth. It is grace and grace alone that will bring us into eternal life in Paradise. There will be no need for faith anymore because our faith will give way to sight. All doubts will be gone. All questions will be answered. All sin will be purged from us and forgotten, even as God, for Christ’s sake, has already forgotten all our sins. Never again will there be any sadness, pain, or worry. All this is what our Lord Jesus guarantees to us. And we claim it all, in Jesus’ name.
“Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” This is what Jesus promises. Ask the Father in His name. He will never deny us any good thing. He loves to hear us ask Him for His help in every trouble of life. He never tires of hearing of our troubles and He never fails to answer our prayers that we pray in Jesus’ name.
Derek, Brittany, and Derek, you will shortly be promising that you will suffer all, even death, rather than fall away from the truth that you will be confessing this morning. You will also be promising to go to church faithfully because church is where you receive the Word and sacraments of Jesus and from these means of grace receive the Holy Spirit. He alone can keep you in the true faith until you die. You cannot live without God’s Word. A physical death is plain to see, but a spiritual death cannot be seen. Yet, it is far worse. Spiritual death takes Jesus away from us. And you die spiritually for one reason. You stop listening to the voice of your Shepherd. Don’t stop. Learn to recognize your spiritual poverty. You will see it every time you take an honest look at yourself according to the standards of God’s law. You will see that you have not loved God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind and that you have not loved your neighbor as yourself. You deserve God’s anger and punishment. Reckon with this. Then listen to the voice of the One who loved the Lord His God above all things and loved His neighbor and even His enemies with an uncompromising love. This Jesus took your sin upon Himself and He gives to you His own righteousness by which you stand before God today as sinless saints. This is what God’s word will teach you when you are a teenager, in your twenties, forties, sixties, and into old age. Don’t stop hearing this Word of God that you are confessing this morning. This Word will keep you in the grace of your baptism. Your name and God’s name will be intimately joined in a union that no power on earth can break. The Word you confess to be truth this morning is the Word that will guide you to heaven in Jesus’ name.