Firm in the Faith … with Christ at the Center is our theme for the 2022-23 school year. It is based upon I Corinthians 16:12-13, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.” There’s a lot to unpack from this passage of Scripture, which provides a beautiful array of topics for our community to explore during chapel, Koinonia, and daily interactions within the classrooms and hallways throughout the year.
When Paul says, “Be on your guard,” we’re reminded of St. Peter’s warning in his first epistle, “Be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (I Peter 5:8). If Satan’s attacks were always so obvious, it would be easier to see him coming. For example, while on vacation this summer in Tennessee, I encountered several bears (three just outside our mountainside cabin and another crossing the hiking trail a few yards in front of us). None of these bears were seeking to devour me, but trust me when I say that I was cautious nonetheless. Because I was aware of the potential danger, I was on my guard (and captured some videos, of course, from a safe distance).
What about when Satan’s attacks are more subtle? What about those times when he comes disguised “as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). So often, we let down our guard and sacrifice the truth of God’s Word because the presentation of a false teaching seems acceptable or even good to us. This is why Paul chastises the Corinthians in his second epistle, “If someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough … such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:4,13). Subtle twists of the truth are often overlooked until, pretty soon, there’s nothing left of the pure doctrine of Christ and the false doctrine that’s being upheld jeopardizes salvation itself.
That’s why we teach the faith at Concordia Lutheran High School — that’s the faith with a definite article. There is only one faith which is revealed and given to us by God Himself. “The source of faith is Christ as the Word of God, it follows that anything called faith that does not come from that Word is not faith” (Alvin Schmidt, Faith Misused, CPH 2022, p. 10).
All truth is found in the real, actual person of Jesus Christ. Our feelings don’t make his crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection more true — that’s objective fact. Our belief doesn’t make Jesus the Way, the Truth, and the Life — that is who He is regardless of anyone’s belief.
Our heartfelt ideas about Christ (whether they are true or not) don’t make us Christians. Instead, it is the objective faith. It is the content of what a person believes. It is doctrine revealed by God; and it is the truth.
It is the faith that we (Christian individuals and families, churches, and schools like CLHS) need to contend for because it is the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. Because as Jude recognizes in his Epistle, “Certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jude 3-4). The same attacks and perversions upon God’s Word are happening in the Church today. Do we recognize them when we see them?
That’s what makes this theme so applicable for the 2022-23 school year. We have a unique opportunity to teach the faith at CLHS. It’s a faith that needs to be preserved and taught to future generations. After wandering in the wilderness for forty years, God instructs the people of Israel through Moses, “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deuteronomy 11:18-19).
We begin each day at Concordia Lutheran High School “in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” a reading from Scripture, and a prayer. Additionally, we meet for chapel weekly and join together in small groups for Koinonia. Every student takes at least one theology class every semester where we dig deep into the faith that we’ve been given. These are just the formal opportunities that we have at CLHS to stand firm in the faith. There are also informal opportunities for us to teach these words of God to our students, talking of them when we are sitting in our classrooms, and when we’re walking to the cafeteria for lunch, and when we bid them farewell at the end of the day, and when we see them at one of the many after school sporting events and activities. We are a Christ-centered community. We are Firm in the Faith. We can do no other.
Keeping the Faith,
Pastor Chad Hoover