Three things: first that I would turn to Christ and renounce evil; second, that I would put all my trust in God, and third, that I would strive to live as a disciple of Christ all my days.
At our Baptism our parents and godparents promised three things on our behalf, ie. they entered into a covenant, an agreement, on our behalf, in the hope that one day we would confirm these promises for ourselves.
i] That we should "turn to Christ and renounce evil"
ii] That we should believe in God.
iii] That we should seek to keep God's holy will.
The word "repent" is an important Bible word, but a little unclear in its meaning, so the Catechism tries to explain it in the words "renounce" and "turn to Christ." We are told in the Bible that a person becomes a Christian when they repent and believe in the Lord Jesus. Repentance involves a turning away from a life lived without God, a renouncing of that life, and a turning to Jesus.
A life lived without God, or as the Catechism puts it, a life of "evil", is described in the Bible as a life of "sin." "Sin" is one of those words that has lost its full meaning today. It simply means a life lived for our own enjoyment, with little or no concern as to whether it is honouring to God or not. The sad fact is we are all sinners; we all ignore God, intentionally or unintentionally.
Sin separates us from God. We have all told a lie and we all know how that lie raised a barrier between ourselves and the other person. In the same way, our many sins raise a barrier between us and God. Sin also hurts other people, nearly always the innocent ones. Sin renders us unfit for the great purpose God has for us in the age to come. Because of our sin we are lost.
God does the only thing you would expect him to do. He sets about fixing up our problem. He does this through Jesus' life, death and resurrection. So, now he calls on everyone everywhere to turn back to him - to "renounce" or turn away from evil, and turn to Christ, or as the Bible puts it, to "repent". In the end, if we want to stand with Jesus in heaven we must turn away from darkness and turn to the light, "turn to Christ and renounce all evil".
How? We must tell God we are sorry for being against him and ask for his forgiveness.
We see therefore that on our behalf, our parents and godparents accepted the Bible's call to repent. "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins", Acts 2:38. "In the past, God has overlooked our ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when we will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed (Jesus). He has given proof of this to all by raising him from the dead." Acts 17:30-31.
The second thing our parents and godparents promised on our behalf was to believe, to trust Jesus. Belief or trust is a simple reliance on Jesus, on who he is and what he has done for us. It is not perfect trust, that is, free of all doubts. It is trusting Jesus despite all our doubts.
This trust in God is something we affirm at our Confirmation. We confirm that we do believe that there is a God and that he has revealed himself in the person of Jesus Christ, and that Jesus, in his life death and resurrection, has made it possible for us to enter the kingdom of heaven. With all our doubts and questions, we willingly rely on this truth. Of course, we must never forget, as Jesus put it, that faith as small as a mustard seed can move great mountains. So, our faith may be little, but God's purposes are great.
So then, the first step is to turn from self to Jesus (repent) and then rely on him for our salvation (believe). If you haven't already made this step don't worry. Take your time to think it all through. It is best if you have made this move before your confirmation, but at the same time, it is not wise to push yourself into an act of repentance and belief when you aren't quite ready.
You may well find that you make little moves in the repentance and faith department. Sometimes you feel you believe, at other times you don't. There will always be times of doubt, sometimes great doubt. A person's spiritual development is much the same as the rest of life, a step at a time. Take time to think it through.
We don't get to heaven by obedience. In fact, neither our obedience nor our disobedience has any affect upon our standing in the sight of God. If Jesus is our friend, then God is our friend. When our Creator looks at us, he doesn't see us the way we are, he sees us the way Jesus is.
None-the-less, because we are Jesus' friend we will want to live in a way that is honouring to him. The Bible tells us how to live as a disciple of Christ and as the years go by we will grow in an understanding of these truths. Day by day we will try to live in a way honouring to Jesus. The later chapters in these notes will detail what is expected of us.
Yet remember, we will fall on our face from time to time. Sometimes we will make a real mess of our lives. It's usually the longer we live the bigger the mess. Still, none of this will change the way God sees us. There is nothing we could do to make God love us less, nor is there anything we could do to make him love us more.
Yes I am; and by God's help I intend to keep these promises. I thank our heavenly Father for calling me to salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord. And I pray for God's grace that I may continue in this way to my life's end.
God's invitation, or if you like "call", is that we accept the "salvation" which is freely ours "through Jesus Christ our Saviour." The word "salvation" comes from the word "saved". Jesus is able to save us from our state of sin and loss in the sight of God and make us God's friend forever. This is why Jesus is called our "Saviour" - he is able to rescue us from the curse of never knowing God as our friend. He can save us from the judgement of eternal separation from God.
Our parents and godparents accepted that invitation ("call") on our behalf. They promised, in our name, to do the following:
turn from self to Jesus,
trust Jesus for our salvation,
try to live a life honouring to him.
These promises set before each of us a worthwhile path to follow. Now all of us are invited to "keep these promises" ourselves. We are invited to take up what our parents and godparents claimed for us.
At the Confirmation service you will be asked, "Do you stand firmly to the confession and commitment you made at your baptism?" The revised service uses slightly different wording: "Do you turn to Christ? Do you repent of your sins? Do you reject selfish living and all that is false and unjust? Will you strive to live your whole life as a disciple of Christ, loving God with all your heart, and your neighbour as yourself?" You will be asked to affirm these questions
Most feel they can't answer 100%. That's OK. I was Confirmed when I was 14 years old, but couldn't finally answer any of these questions until I was 24 years old. None-the-less, know that in the end everyone must personally "repent and believe". Only then can we share in God's "salvation." Only then will we be able to pray "for God's grace that I may continue in this way to my life's end"
The third part of the Apostles Creed beginning "I believe in the Holy Spirit."
Revise the first three questions and be able to answer them in your own words.
Lord Jesus, I am far from you and I just want to be your friend. Please forgive me for ignoring you and being against you. Amen.