From Your Pastor: The Biblical Importance of Catechizing

“If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed…Train yourself for godliness” (1 Tim. 4:6-7).

A friendly, pastoral reminder to remember to review and memorize your catechism this year! I especially encourage parents and officers to go through the Westminster Shorter Catechism as a helpful and important reminder of what you believe. “Catechize” comes from a Greek word that means to teach, to instruct, it can have the nuance of covenantal nurture in the faith, for both adults and especially children in the covenant.

Briefly, why should you catechize yourself and your family? A few reasons to get you thinking…

  • Meditation/Nurture of Your Soul: Good catechisms, like the Westminster Shorter Catechism teach Scriptural truth that we are called to meditate upon day and night and remember (Deut. 6:6-7; 11:18-19; Psalm 1; Eph. 6:4; 2 Tim. 3:15- Timothy’s catechizing was used to bring him to faith in Christ!).
  • Jesus was catechized: Jesus sought to understand the scriptures, sitting at the feet of His teachers, learning from an early age how to understand and interpret the Scriptures (Luke 2:40-52). (If Jesus needed to be catechized, how much more…?? Well, you get the idea!). Jews were catechized from the Law (see Rom. 2:18, lit. “catechized” from the Law).
  • Jesus catechized: Between Jesus’ resurrection and ascension into heaven, he catechized His disciples with the truth about His Kingdom (Luke 1:44-53; Acts 1:1-4; cf. Luke 1:4). Jesus is also teaching catechism when he says that disciples should be receiving constant teaching: “…Teaching them everything that I have commanded you…” (Matt. 28:20a).
  • Early believers were catechized: Luke knew Theophilus had been catechized (see Luke 1:4: “…Certainty of those things, you have been “catechized” or instructed in”). The great Apollos had been catechized in the Scriptures (see Acts 18:25).
  • Better hearing and “getting” of sermons: Catechism helps you to understand rich, theological, words that have been inherited from our forefathers and foremothers in the faith. Catechism is honoring our fathers and mothers in this way. You can better “hear” and understand sermons. It is an observed truth that those who “get” sermons the best in the Reformed tradition of preaching, are those who are catechized (see Nehemiah 8:8 and context).
  • Membership Commitments/parental responsibility: As a congregation in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, catechism is a very important way of covenantal nurture: “Do you promise to teach diligently to [name of child] the principles of our holy Christian faith, revealed in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments and summarized in the Confession of Faith and Catechisms of this Church?” (Book of Church Order, DFW, chap. III). If you’re a member of the OPC, we have vowed to do this in reliance upon God’s grace in Christ.
  • Meditation on Scripture: While you seek to be faithful in catechism, don not neglect the reading, memorization and meditation upon Scripture. Biblical truth is the foundation on which we build faithful catechism. Meditation on scripture is the parent of prayer and the care and ministry of others.

There are free copies of the Shorter Catechism in the front of church building available, and the catechism is also at the back of the Red Trinity Hymnals. Let me know if I can assist you in your pursuit of catechizing, and practically, let me know if I can purchase more copies for you to have to keep in your pockets.

For more information on catechizing and catechism, you may read these excellent articles:

http://www.ligonier.org/blog/blessing-catechizing-our-children/

http://opc.org/new_horizons/NH01/0001d.html

http://www.alliancenet.org/placefortruth/column/theology-on-the-go/catechizing-grounded-in-scripture

Your pastor and elders pray for you regularly to grow in your faith, this will help you to grow. If your child completes the memorization of catechism, please let your elders know and we will glorify God in praising Him by featuring this in the OPC’s ‘New Horizons’ issue. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask myself or one of your elders.

“The One who is taught [lit. “catechized”] the word must share all good things with the one who teaches [“catechizes”]” (Gal. 6:6).

“…What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2).

Lets’ begin now. Ketoctin Covenant: “Question: What is the chief end of man?” Answer: “_________________”

Now see, that wasn’t too difficult. Mediate on your answer today, and in Christ, you will be “blessed”; it is a promise of God (Psa. 1:1-3).

 

IN Christ’s love,

Pastor Biggs

 

From Your Pastor: The Benefits of Effectual Calling (WSC Question 32)

Question 32: What benefits do they that are effectually called partake of in this life?

Answer: They that are effectually called do in this life partake of justification,(1) adoption,(2) and sanctification, and the several benefits which in this life do either accompany or flow from them.(3) (1)Rom. 8:30 (2)Eph. 1:5 (3)1 Cor. 1:26,30

 

Scripture Memory: “He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30).

 

An Explanation: Glorious benefits are found in Christ Jesus! Jesus Christ is full of grace and truth: “And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (John 1:16-17). Jesus is a Storehouse of benefits and blessings for the believer! Jesus is the True Treasury of God’s riches. “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness…” (2 Pet. 1:3a). “…To reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:2b-3).

Although we are impoverished by nature, Jesus is rich! Although we are weak, Jesus gives strength! Although we are sinful, Jesus grants grace, abundant, wonderful grace for every need! “For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.…Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more…” (Eph. 1:15-23; 2 Cor. 8:9; Rom. 5:6-8, 5:15, 20).

When the Spirit unites us to Jesus Christ in our effectual calling, we are recipients of great and glorious blessings and benefits! What are the blessings and benefits of union with Christ which in this life either accompany or flow from them? Specifically, justification, adoption, and sanctification! Hallelujah, to the Lamb!

Justification: God legally declares us as righteous in Christ, imputing our sins to Christ, and imputing Christ’s righteousness to believers by faith alone apart from works (Rom. 4:5, 8, 11-12, 16). There is no condemnation for us in Christ Jesus! (Rom. 8:1). We are declared righteous by Christ’s blood (Rom. 3:24-26). Our consciences no longer condemn us (1 Jo. 3:20). We are reconciled to God, and we have peace in our union with Jesus (Rom. 5:1). We have confidence for the day of judgement because of God’s love for us in Christ (1 Jo. 4:17-18).

What a benefit to know that God has legally declared you righteous in Christ—there is no condemnation, no judgment awaiting you! We will face the Judgment Seat of Christ clothed in the perfect righteousness of Christ, and though our every word, thought and action has been tainted with sin, the Lamb without blemish has loved us and given Himself for us! (Gal. 2:20; 2 Cor. 5:14-15). We are spotless in Him! We can rejoice with the Psalmist: “…Blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

Adoption: God legally declares us righteous before Him, but also (very importantly!) legally adopts us into His family, giving us His name, granting us privileges of children, and granting us a rich and eternal inheritance in Him, and with Him (The Westminster Confession was the first confession of faith to formally make the proper biblical distinction between justification and adoption). Our adoption is because of the Father’s love from before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4-6), it is because of the Son’s redemptive work in willingly coming as our big brother to redeem us and to obtain for us the Spirit of Sonship (Gal. 4:4-7), and it is the Spirit’s work to seal and further reveal this reality to our hearts (Rom. 8:15-16, 26; cf. Eph. 3:16-19).

We are called heirs of God, and His dearly and beloved children. “What manner of love has God the Father bestowed upon us that we are called the children of God, and that is what we are!” (1 Jo. 3:1-2). We can call on God as our Father: “Abba, Father!” because we have received the Spirit of Sonship (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6). We are heirs of all that is His! We have a big brother who gave Himself for our redemption so that we could take on a family resemblance (Heb. 2:11-18). What joy should characterize us as God’s children, because one day we will be like Him fully (1 Jo. 3:2-3; Rom. 8:23).

Sanctification: We are resurrected by the Spirit and set free from slavery to sin and self to live the life that God has created us to live: “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his… So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus…For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace” (Rom. 6:5, 11, 14). We are free from our sins so that we can live for Him: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1).

We are given a faith in our effectual calling that is a working faith that seeks to work through love (Gal. 5:6). In fact, we are created in Christ for good works: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10; 2 Thess. 2:13).

 

A Prayer: What manner of love is this that I should be called a child of God, dear Abba, Heavenly Father!! Thank you, kind king for your amazing love and benefits for sinners in Christ! Thank you for the Spirit of Sonship that makes my life joyous in Christ, and helps me to live for you, and to be like my elder brother, the Lord Jesus! You love me, let me be controlled by that love, kind king! (2 Cor. 5:14-15).

 

In Christ’s Love,

Pastor Biggs