Lutherans are serious about instruction in God’s Word.
We begin before children can talk, telling Bible stories and singing Bible songs to them. We know what the Bible says. “From infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15).
Lutheran students in their middle school years often have intense study of the teachings of the Bible. They study Luther’s Small Catechism, and they learn the Ten Commandments and what the Bible says about them, the Apostles’ Creed and where every word of it is in the Bible, the Lord’s Prayer, and what the Bible says about baptism, confession of sins and forgiveness, and the Lord’s Supper.
Instruction before taking the Lord’s Supper is critical. “Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup” (1 Corinthians 11:27,28).
Students are often ready to confess their faith in public during their 8th grade year. There was a time when 8th grade was the last year of formal schooling for many people. Even though the senior year in high school is more commonly the last year of formal schooling for people in the United States, the practice of getting ready to make a public confession in 8th grade is still common among Lutherans.
When students are ready to make that public confession, they participate in “confirmation.” Confirmation gives students who have received basic instruction in the truths of God’s Word the opportunity publicly to confess their faith before the church, to “confirm” their internal faith by their external confession.
The confirmation rite informs the congregation that these students have enough scriptural understanding and spiritual maturity to participate in the Lord’s Supper. The congregation prays that the Holy Spirit will preserve them in faith to the end of their days.
After the rite of confirmation, students begin to take the Lord’s Supper regularly and to participate more fully in the life of the congregation. Lutherans view confirmation as one more step of growth in the study of the Scriptures.
By Rev. Paul Prange
Used with permission from www.wels.net