July 14th, 2017 by Carl Buffington
WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT CONFIRMATION?
Q WHEN DID IT FIRST BEGIN?
n With the Apostles
n With Constantine
n With the Reformation
Q WHAT IS THE FOCUS OF THE RITE?
n Adult dedication
n Sealing of the Holy Spirit
n A personal statement about baptism
Q WHY DO WE DO IT?
n To get members
n Jesus said to
n To complete baptism
Q WHAT IS ANOTHER NAME FOR CONFIRMATION?
n Adult baptism
Q WHAT DO WE PRAY FOR THOSE TO BE CONFIRMED?
n To be strengthened
n To be empowered
n To be sustained
SOME NOTES ON CONFIRMATION
Confirmation fits in so closely with our Lord's teaching and was so clearly the practice of the Apostolic Church that it has been widely understood to be one of "the things pertaining to the kingdom of God" which He discussed with the Apostles just before his ascension.
Acts 1:3 After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.
Soon after the church began its work, St. Philip the deacon went to preach the Gospel in Samaria. He made converts and baptized them. But that was not enough, the Laying-on-of-Hands followed the baptism, but Philip, as a deacon, was not qualified to do this. So he sent to Jerusalem for St. Peter and St. John, who were Apostles, and they laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.
Acts 8:17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
Later St. Paul was preaching in Ephesus. He also made converts, who had previously known only the teaching of St. John the Baptist. St. Paul baptized them but that was not enough.
Acts 19:6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.
This became common practice in the Apostolic Church. The author of Hebrews includes it is one of the 6 fundamental practices:
Heb. 6:1 Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
Shortly after the Apostolic age this rite is found to be a regular feature in the churches work. Tertullian, who was born about 150 A.D., writing of Baptism, adds: "Next to this the hand is laid upon us, calling upon and invoking the Holy Ghost through the blessing."
St. Cyprian, who was born about 200 A.D. says, "They who have been baptized
in the church are brought to the Bishops of the church, and by prayer and the laying on of hands they obtain the Holy Ghost and are consummated with the seal of the Lord."
Until the fourth century Confirmation was called the seal or anointing. St. Augustine of Hippo is the first one to use the title Confirmation, which came to be generally accepted in the west, but in the east it has continued to be known as the seal or the anointing to present day.
Notice the words from the service in our Prayer Book for Confirmation this Sunday.
Almighty God, we thank you that by the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ you have overcome sin and brought us to yourself, and that by the sealing of your Holy Spirit you have bound us to your service. Renew in this your servant the covenant you have made with them at their Baptism. Send them forth in the power of that Spirit to perform the service you set before them; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Confirmation is the completion of baptism. By baptism one is admitted into the Kingdom of God in confirmation; in confirmation one receives spiritual strengthening and spiritual gifts are conveyed, all to live a Christian life empowered by the Holy Spirit within God's kingdom.
It is important to note that we do not confirm ourselves. We are confirmed.
So in summary, Confirmation comes to us as an Apostolic rite administered by the Bishops of the church, grounded in the Holy Scriptures and the steady practice of the church, a sacramental means of receiving spiritual strengthening.
Again, from the Prayer Book liturgy where the bishop lays his hands on the person:
Strengthen, O Lord, your servant Christine Faith Subrahmanyam with your Holy Spirit; empower her for your service; and sustain her all the days of her life. Amen.
Let's pray for Christine and for our own strengthening, empowering, and being sustained by the Holy Spirit!