I prepared the following catechism originally for my children. It relies heavily on the Westminster Confession of Faith, but also diverges from that work on many points. The Early Church and Anabaptist perspectives have also had a significant influence on the subjects covered and how I arranged the materials. I have posted this in the past, but wanted to post it as a single post for those who wish to print it.
THE APOSTLES’ CREED
I believe in God the Father almighty, Maker of heaven and earth;
and in Jesus Christ his only begotten Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; descended to the dead; the third day he rose from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of God the Father almighty; from where he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit; the holy catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the dead and in everlasting life.
The Divine Attributes
- Are there more Gods than one?
There is only one true and living God, who exists in three Persons; the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; and these three are one God, equally sharing the same being, attributes and glory.
(Deuteronomy 6:4, 1 Peter 1:2, Matthew 28:19, 1 John 5:7)
- When did God begin to exist?
God has no beginning and no end, He is self-existent and eternal.
(Genesis 1:1, Isaiah 43:10, 1 Timothy 1:17)
- What are God’s limitations?
God is infinite in all His attributes; He is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent.
(Matthew 19:26, Hebrews 4:13, Psalm 139:7-8)
- Is there anything God cannot do?
There is only one thing God cannot do; God cannot do evil.
(James 1:13, Hebrews 6:18)
- Do God’s attributes ever contradict one another?
God is perfect, His attributes function in absolute harmony without competition.
(Psalm 85:10, Psalm 18:30)
- Does God change?
God does not change, He is immutable in His perfection.
(Malachi 3:6, James 1:17)
- Is God good?
God is good in all His attributes; He is holy, just, merciful, wise, wrathful, gracious, faithful, compassionate and loving.
(Nahum 1:2-3, Psalm 103:8-14, Exodus 34:5-7)
- Over what does God reign?
God is sovereign over all things, there is nothing outside of His control.
(Psalm 103:19, Psalm 135:6)
- If everything is under God’s control, does that mean that God determined all things, including sin?
God predetermined all things that take place; He determined what He would do & what He would allow free creatures to do.
(Acts 2:23, Genesis 50:20)
God the Father
- Who created all things?
God the Father created all things through and for His Son and filled creation with His Spirit.
(Genesis 1:1, John 1:1-3, Colossians 1:15-16, Genesis 1:3)
- What was God’s eternal purpose in the creation of the world?
God the Father determined to glorify His Son and through Him to display the immeasurable riches of His grace.
(Colossians 1:17-18, Ephesians 2:6-7)
- How did God determine to glorify His Son and display His grace?
The Father determined to call a people out of darkness, pardon, justify and adopt them as His children through the redemptive work of His Son, and grant them to rule and reign under the authority of His exalted Son forever.
(Colossians 1:13-14, Matthew 28:18)
- How did God determine whom He would adopt as His children?
God the Father, in accordance with the counsel of His own will, for His own eternal purpose, determined before the world began whom He would redeem through His Son.
- Did God the Father choose people because He foresaw something good in them?
God the Father didn’t see anything good in anyone except what He determined to work in them by His grace and for His purpose.
(Titus 3:5, 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5)
- If people were not chosen because of their good works, by what criteria did God the Father choose His people?
God the Father determined for His own eternal purposes, and in accordance with His eternal foreknowledge, to elect those who would through grace believe in His Son and persevere in faith until the end.
(Ephesians 1:4-5, Ephesians 1:11)
- If God the Father has already determined who will be saved, does that mean our prayers and evangelism are in vain?
God the Father has determined to bring people to salvation through the prayers and evangelistic efforts of His people; He has granted His people to be co-laborers with Him, therefore our laborers are not in vain.
(2 Timothy 2:9-10, 1 Timothy 2:1-4, James 4:2)
The Son of God
- Who is the Redeemer of God’s chosen people?
The only Redeemer of God’s chosen people is the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal and living Word of God, who became man and who continues to be God and man in two distinct natures and one person forever; He is the Son of God.
(1 John 2:2, 1 Peter 2:9, John 1:1-2, John 1:14, Romans 9:5)
- How did Christ, being the eternal Son of God, become human?
Christ, the eternal Son of God became human by assuming a real body and a reasoning soul, being conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Mary, who was a virgin, and being born of her, yet without sin.
- What offices does Christ execute as our Redeemer?
Christ, as our Redeemer, executes the offices of prophet, priest and king, both in His humiliation and exaltation.
- How does Christ execute the office of a prophet?
Christ executes the office of a prophet, in revealing to us, by His word and Spirit, the will of God for our salvation.
(John 6:15, John 1:9)
- How does Christ execute the office of a priest?
Christ executes the office of a priest, in His once offering up himself as a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice and reconcile us to God; and in making continual intercession for us at the right hand of God the Father.
(Hebrews 4:14-16, Psalm 110:4)
- How does Christ execute the office of a king?
Christ executes the office of a king, in subduing us to himself, in ruling and defending us, and in restraining and conquering all His and our enemies.
(Psalm 110:1-2, Matthew 28:18)
- In what way did Christ humble Himself?
Christ’s humiliation consisted in His being born as a man, and in that low condition, being made under the law, undergoing the miseries of this life, the rejection of man, the judgment of God for our sake, and the cursed death on the cross for our sin; in being buried, and continuing under the power of death for a time.
- In what way was Christ exalted?
Christ’s exaltation consists in His rising again from the dead on the third day, in ascending up into heaven, in sitting at the right hand of God the Father, and in coming to judge the world at the last day.
The Spirit of God
- When Christ ascended to heaven did He leave His people alone to work out their salvation?
When Christ ascended to heaven, He did not leave His people alone, but He poured out God’s Holy Spirit upon them.
- What is the primary ministry of the Holy Spirit towards God’s people?
The primary purpose of God’s Spirit on earth is to make God the Father known to His people by revealing Jesus Christ, Who is the express image of His Father, to them.
- What is the ministry of the Holy Spirit towards the world?
The Holy Spirit comes to convince the world about the sinfulness of sin, the righteousness of Christ and the eternal judgment to come.
- How is God’s Spirit involved in the conversion of sinners?
The Holy Spirit enables people in bondage to sin to turn from rebellion and place their trust in Christ, and so escape the wrath of God.
(1 Thessalonians 1:4-6, 1 Corinthians 2:4-5)
- What does the Holy Spirit do in those who repent and believe?
The Holy Spirit indwells all those who through enabling grace repent of their sins and trust in Christ, and by so doing transforms them into new creatures, giving them a firm desire to love and obey God.
(Ephesians 1:13, Acts 16:14, Acts 18:27, Philippians 2:13, romans 2:29)
- How does the Holy Spirit comfort the new believer?
The Holy Spirit comforts the new believer by pouring out God’s love into his heart and testifying to his spirit that he is indeed a child of God.
(Romans 5:5, Romans 8:14-16)
- What else does the Holy Spirit do for God’s people?
God’s Spirit progressively forms holiness in the believer by giving him the knowledge of God’s will through the illumination of the Scriptures, and by giving him both the willingness and ability to do obey God’s will.
(2 Corinthians 3:18, Ezekiel 36:26-27)
- Why is the Holy Spirit called the Spirit of Truth?
God’s Spirit is called the Spirit of Truth because He inspired and illuminates the Scriptures, and because He guards God’s people from error by guiding them into all truth; all truth is found in Jesus Christ alone through the Bible which testifies about Him.
(John 14:26, 2 Corinthians 3:18)
- What will the Holy Spirit do for those who continue trusting in Christ until the end?
At the return of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit will transform the corrupt bodies of those who by grace have persevered in faith until the end into glorious and incorruptible bodies; the same kind of body Jesus Christ now has.
(Romans 8:11, 1 Corinthians 15:52-53)
- How was man originally created?
God formed man by the dust of the ground and breathed into him the breath of life.
- Was man created good?
Man was created very good, he bore the image of God.
(Genesis 1:27, Genesis 1:31)
- What does it mean that man was created in the image of God?
God’s image in man was manifest in a righteous and holy character; a relational, reasonable and volitional constitution; and in the authority which was bestowed on man in his innocence to rule the earth as God’s representative.
- What is the primary purpose of man?
The primary purpose of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
(1 Corinthians 10:31, Psalm 63:5-6)
- Did man remain good?
The first man, Adam, became a rebel by transgressing God’s command, and for this reason was cast out of God’s presence and sentenced to death.
- Did the first man’s transgression affect his offspring?
Through the transgression of Adam, sin, separation from God and death entered the world and spread to all men.
- What is sin?
Sin is rebellion against God in general and transgression against His commands in particular.
(Romans 8:7-8, 1 John 3:4)
- Do all people commit sin?
Except for Christ, all people have not only sinned against God, but have become slaves to sin.
(Romans 3:23, John 8:34-36)
- If all men are slaves to sin, why does God hold them responsible for their sin?
Men are willful slaves to sin, they cannot obey God only because they do not want to obey God; they are self-centered and hostile to God, to His truth and to His ways.
(James 1:14-15, Romans 8:7-8)
- How will God punish sinful men?
God, in His holy wrath, will cast all unredeemed people away from His presence to a place of eternal punishment called hell.
(Matthew 25:46, 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9)
The Church and Salvation
- Who is God’s holy and chosen people?
The Church of Jesus Christ is God’s chosen people and is made up of all true Christians.
(Ephesians 2:19-22, 1 Corinthians 1:2)
- What does it mean that the Church was chosen in Jesus Christ?
The Church was chosen in Jesus Christ: this means that we have not been adopted as God’s children because of our good works but because God has accepted the redeeming work of Jesus Christ on our behalf.
- How did we come to share in the redeeming work of Jesus Christ?
We enter into Christ and share in His redeeming work on our behalf by trusting that His atoning sacrifice alone covers all of our sins and reconciles us to God; this is saving faith.
(Romans 5:1-2, Ephesians 2:8-9)
- Can someone be reconciled to God without repentance?
A person must out of a true sense of their sin, with grief and hatred towards it, turn from sin to God, and pursue an obedient life; without this repentance they cannot be reconciled to God because those who live in rebellion to God cannot fellowship with Him.
(Luke 13:1-5, Luke 24:46-47)
- How did God deliver us out of darkness?
God delivered us out of darkness and bondage to sin by converting our hearts through grace; God, by prevenient grace, led us to genuine repentance and saving faith.
(1 Thessalonians 1:4-9, 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14)
- How does God sanctify the Church?
God sanctifies the Church by writing His eternal and holy law on our hearts by the Holy Spirit; our hearts are purified through the renewing power of the Holy Spirit.
(Titus 3:5-6, Ezekiel 36:25-27)
- What has God promised His people?
God has promised to resurrect us from the dead and give us eternal life, and to faithfully guard us and bring us into that life.
(John 6:40, John 10:28-29)
- What condition does God put on the promise of eternal life?
God promises to give us eternal life if we hold our original faith firm until the end.
(1 Peter 1:5, Hebrews 3:14, Matthew 24:13)
- Can someone who has saving faith consciously live in habitual sin?
Saving faith always leads to a lifestyle of obedience; faith that does not produce habitual obedience is not saving faith.
(1 John 2:3-4, 1 John 3:4-10)
The Holy Scriptures
- What has God given men in order to teach them how to glorify and enjoy Him?
God gave men the Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, in order to teach them how to glorify and enjoy Him.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17)
- What do the Scriptures primarily teach us?
The Scriptures teach what man should believe about God and the salvation that is in Jesus Christ; they also teach us what God requires of man.
(2 Timothy 3:15-16)
- How are the Scriptures used for the salvation of sinners?
The Spirit of God uses the reading, and especially the preaching of God’s Word, to convict sinners of their sin, lead them to repentance and give them wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ.
(Romans 1:16, Romans 10:17, Hebrews 4:12)
- How are the Scriptures used for the sanctification of believers?
The Scriptures teach believers what God has done for them in Jesus Christ and what He has promised to do in them through the Holy Spirit so that they might know and trust in the sanctifying grace of God.
(2 Peter 1:4, Psalm 119:105, 2 Timothy 3:15)
- How else are the Scriptures used for the sanctification of believers?
The Scriptures warn believers about the dangers of sin and teach them what God has commanded them through Jesus Christ; they also instruct believers how to walk in those commands by the sanctifying grace of God’s Spirit.
(1 Corinthians 10:11-12, Psalm 119:11)
- How should we read the Scriptures so that they will be useful to us?
We must diligently read God’s Word with a prayerful and attentive heart; we must receive it with faith and love, lay it up in our hearts, and practice it in our lives.
(James 1:2, Hebrews 4:2, Psalm 119:11)
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The Law of Christ
- Upon what kind of people does Christ pronounce a blessing?
Christ blesses those who are poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, peacemakers and those who are persecuted for righteousness sake.
- What is the summary of the Law of Christ?
The Law of Christ is summed up in two commands: we are commanded to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love others, including our enemies, as much as we love ourselves.
- How do we show love for God?
We show our love for God by worshipping Him alone, entrusting ourselves fully to Him, obeying Him in all things, serving Him with a pure and fervent heart, and rejoicing in His goodness and glory.
(Exodus 20:3, Proverbs 3:5, Psalm 119:4, Habakkuk 3:18)
- How do we show love for others?
We love others by doing good to them, praying for them, forgiving them and blessing them.
(Luke 6:27-28, Galatians 6:10, 1 Timothy 2:1, Mark 11:25, Romans 12:14)
- How else do we show love for others?
We love others by obeying God’s commands; we do not commit adultery in thought or deed, we do not entertain hatred in our hearts or take vengeance on those who do evil to us, we do not steal or covet, we do not lie but speak the truth and we do not take advantage of others but serve them in humility.
- What other general command did Christ give to us besides the commands to love God and others?
Christ also commanded us to love other Christians in the same way that He loves us.
- How do we show love to other Christians?
We show love to other Christians by bearing their burdens with them, weeping with those that weep, rejoicing with those that rejoice, guarding the unity of the saints through humility, patience and forgiveness, building them up in the faith by speaking the truth in love and sharing with those that are in need.
(Galatians 6:2, Romans 12:13-18, Ephesians 4:3)
- How do we walk on the road that leads to life?
We walk on the road of holiness which leads to life by obeying the commands of Jesus Christ; by the leading of the Holy Spirit we walk in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
(Matthew 7:14, 24-25, Romans 8:13-14)
- How does one walk on the road that leads to destruction?
Someone walks on the road that leads to destruction by living in disobedience to the commands of Jesus Christ; they refuse to put to death the misdeeds of the flesh, instead they walk in sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar to these things.
(Matthew 7:13, 26-27, Galatians 5:19-21)
- What will Christ say on the Last Day to those who walked in the narrow way of His commands?
On the Last Day Christ will tell those who walked in His narrow way, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy!”
- What will Christ say on the Last Day to those who walked in the wide way of rebellion?
He will announce to them, “I never knew you, depart from me, you lawbreakers!”
THE LORD’S PRAYER
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
The Lord’s Prayer
- What is prayer?
Prayer is presenting our desires to God, for things that are in accordance with His will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of His mercies.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Philippians 4:6-7)
- What standard has God given for directing us in prayer?
The whole Word of God is useful for directing us in prayer; but the special standard for directing us in prayer is the form of prayer which Christ taught His disciples, commonly called the Lord’s Prayer.
(Luke 11:1, Matthew 6:9-13)
- What does the preface of the Lord’s Prayer teach us?
The preface of the Lord’s Prayer, which is, “Our Father which is in heaven,” teaches us to draw near to God with all holy reverence and confidence, as children to a father, able and ready to help us; and that we should pray with and for others.
- What do we pray for in the first petition?
In the first petition, which is, “Hallowed be Your name,” we pray that God would enable us, and others, to glorify Him through our lives; and that He would cause all things to glorify Himself.
(Matthew 6:9, Matthew 6:33)
- What do we pray in the second petition?
In the second petition, which is, “Your kingdom come,” we pray that Satan’s kingdom may be destroyed throughout the earth; and that the hearts of all men would submit to, and confess, the lordship of Jesus Christ, either through conversion by the gracious persuasion of God’s Spirit, or by divine force at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
(Matthew 6:10, 1 Timothy 2:1-4, Philippians 2:9-11)
- What do we pray for in the third petition?
In the third petition, which is, “Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven,” we pray that God, by His grace, would make us able and willing to know and obey His will in all things just as the angels in heaven do.
(Matthew 6:10, Luke 22:42)
- What do we pray in the fourth petition?
In the fourth petition, which is, “Give us this day our daily bread,” we pray that by God’s grace He may give us, and others, all the things we need for our daily life in this world.
(Matthew 6:11, Matthew 6:25-34)
- What do we pray in the fifth petition?
In the fifth petition, which is, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” we pray that God, for Christ’s sake, would pardon all of our sins; we are encouraged to ask this because by His grace we have been enabled to forgive others from our hearts.
(Matthew 6:12, Matthew 6:14-15, Matthew 18:21-35)
- What do we pray for in the sixth petition?
In the sixth petition, which is, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one,” we pray that God would either keep us from being tempted to sin, or support and deliver us when we are tempted; this is a prayer for persevering grace.
(Matthew 6:13, Matthew 26:40-41)
- What does the conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer teach us?
The conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer, which is, “For Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever, Amen,” teaches us that since God is sovereign and powerful, and we have prayed all these things for His glory, we can be confident He will answer our prayers; and it also reminds us that we should worship Him because He is over all things.
(Matthew 6:13, Psalm 135:6)
- What is a sacrament?
A sacrament is a ceremony established by Christ, through which Christ and the benefits of the New Covenant are represented, sealed, and applied to believers by visible signs.
(1 Corinthians 11:23)
- What are the sacraments of the New Covenant?
The sacraments of the New Covenant are Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
(Matthew 28:19, 1 Corinthians 11:20 1 Corinthians 11:26)
- What is Baptism?
Baptism is a sacrament by which we identify with and put on Christ; it signifies our union with Christ, our partaking of the New Covenant, and our commitment to follow the Lord Jesus.
(Romans 6:1-4, Galatians 3:27, Acts 19:1-5)
- How does Baptism signify our union with Christ, with the New Covenant and our commitment to Him?
In Baptism a person is immersed in water signifying that he has been buried with Christ and has died to sin, and then he comes up out of the water signifying that He has been risen with Christ to live a new and holy life for God.
- Who can partake of the sacrament of Baptism?
Baptism is not permitted to anyone until they repent of their sins and profess faith in the Lord Jesus, placing their trust in Christ alone for salvation.
(Acts 2:38, Acts 8:37)
- What is the Lord’s Supper?
The Lord’s Supper is the sign of the New Covenant by which the Lord’s sacrificial and atoning death for His Church is signified through the giving and receiving of bread and wine.
- How does the Lord’s Supper signify the sacrificial and atoning death of Christ?
In the Lord’s Supper the bread is broken signifying the body of Christ that was broken for our spiritual healing on the cross, and the wine signifies the blood of Christ that was shed for the forgiveness of our sins.
(1 Corinthians 11:23-25, 1 Peter 2:24-25)
- What does the eating of the bread and the drinking of the wine in the Lord’s Supper signify?
Through the eating of the bread and drinking of the wine in the Lord’s Supper Christians signify that they receive by faith the atoning work of Christ on their behalf, and they signify their commitment to take up their cross daily and follow Him.
(1 Corinthians 11:23-25)
- How should believers partake in the Lord’s Supper?
Believers should examine themselves to make sure they are taking the Lord’s Supper in a worthy manner; they must make sure they are not consciously living in habitual sin, and they must make sure they are eating and drinking in faith, trusting in the atoning sacrifice of Christ.
(1 Corinthians 11:28)
- Who can partake of the Lord’s Supper?
Only those who have repented of their sins, trusted in Christ, been baptized, and are in good standing with the Church can share in the Lord’s Supper.
- If the believer partakes of the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner what will be the result?
If the believer partakes of the Lord’s Supper in unbelief or while living in conscious habitual sin, they will eat and drink judgment to themselves.
(1 Corinthians 11:27-32)
The Lord’s Day
- On which day do Christians weekly celebrate their redemption?
Believers rejoice in their redemption through Christ on a daily basis, but they set aside the first day of the week, Sunday, as a special day of celebration; this is called the Lord’s Day.
(Revelation 1:10, Acts 20:7)
- Why did God command the nation of Israel to celebrate the seventh day of the week under the Old Covenant?
God commanded the nation of Israel to celebrate on the seventh day of the week to remind them that He created the world in six days and rested on the seventh day.
- How did the nation Israel under the Old Covenant celebrate the seventh day of the week?
The nation of Israel commemorated the creation of the world, and God as the Creator, on the seventh day of the week by resting from all their labors as God had done on the seventh day of creation.
- Why do Christians celebrate on the first day of the week?
Christians celebrate their redemption on the first day of the week, the Lord’s Day, in order to commemorate the resurrection of Christ which took place on that day.
- What does celebrating on the first day of the week signify?
Christ rose from the dead on the first day of the week, and by so doing redeemed the old creation which had fallen in Adam; by celebrating on the first day of the week Christians commemorate the beginning of the new creation and God as the Redeemer.
(2 Corinthians 5:17-19)
- How do Christians celebrate the Lord’s Day?
Christians celebrate the Lord’s Day by gathering together for corporate worship; they praise God, pray together, listen to the preaching and public reading of God’s word, and they share the Lord’s Supper.
- How else do Christians celebrate the Lord’s Day?
Besides corporate worship, Christians also set aside the Lord’s Day for family worship and personal devotion.
The Great Commission
- What commission has Jesus Christ given to His Church?
Jesus Christ commanded His Church to proclaim the Gospel to everyone and to make disciples everywhere.
(Mark 16:15, Matthew 28:19)
- What is the Gospel?
The Gospel is the good news that Jesus Christ was crucified for the sins of the world, died, and rose again on the third day, and that anyone who repents of their sins and trusts in Christ will be forgiven of their sins and receive the gift of eternal life.
(1 Corinthians 15:1-4, Luke 24:47, John 3:16)
- In what way does Christ instruct His Church to make disciples?
Christ instructs His people to make disciples by baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that Christ has commanded.
- How can the Church fulfill this commission?
The Church can fulfill this commission through the power of the Holy Spirit, knowing that Christ goes with them, and that He has all authority in heaven and on earth.
(Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:18-20)