The Value of Catechesis
Catechisms are almost as old as Christianity. In the early Christian centuries a catechism (from the Greek word meaning “teaching”) was a body of Bible truths to be taught to children and new converts. The form developed into a series of questions and answers, often to be recited aloud and committed to memory. The Reformation saw numbers of catechisms produced, and a good number of them are still used around the world today, as they put essential gospel teaching in clear and memorable language.
A catechism is an outstanding way of helping people to engage with and reflect on Christian truth. Pithily worded questions and answers lodge in the mind and sink into the heart. There they can take root, and over the years a believer can appreciate their meaning more deeply. It is interesting that in our word-crowded world, more churches are seeking out historic catechisms, or are writing their own, to enable them to enjoy and to pass on the message of the gospel.
43 Questions and Answers for Preachers
Q. What is God’s chief end in preaching?
A. God’s chief end in preaching is to glorify his name.
Q. How do we enjoy God?
A. We enjoy God as we submit our hearts to all that he tells us
Q. Who is God?
A. God is the one who perfectly lives, rules, loves, and speaks, all to his own glory.
Q. What do the Scriptures primarily teach?
A. The Scriptures are all about Jesus, the one to be proclaimed, trusted, and praised.
Q. What is preaching?
A. Preaching is declaring God’s truth in Jesus, to the praise of his name.
Q. What is the preacher’s chief end?
A. The chief end of the preacher is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.
Q. How can we rest in God’s power and purposes?
A. We are confident that God is in charge and at work through the joys and sometimes failures of preaching.
Q. Why do we believe that God called us to preach?
A. We know that God creates and calls preachers. His Word and our own experience tell us so.
Q. Why does God call us to preach?
A. God calls us to serve all of our hearers with his gospel.
Q. What else did God ordain?
A. God ordained that all things should be preached as being under the headship of Christ.
Q. How did the first preacher sin?
A. He took the fruit of preaching and ate it for his own pleasure.
Q. What is the good news for struggling preachers?
A. The gospel is true and always for us, especially on Mondays.
Q. Does Jesus love preachers?
A. Jesus loves us, and we see that love in his person and offices.
Q. Surely we preachers don’t have to suffer, do we?
A. We have no choice but every help as we follow the Jesus who chose to suffer.
Q. Where does our reward come from?
A. Our reward comes from the exalted Christ, and is Christ.
Q. But are we saved?
A. We must neither deceive ourselves about our salvation nor give in to despair.
Q. How can we know we really are saved?
A. Our true identity is found not in being busy preachers but in being called to be sons of God.
Q. How will we preachers grow?
A. We must live in God’s peace and pursue holiness.
Q. Will we ever stop preaching?
A. Our preaching will die, and so will we. That is good news!
Q. Must we preachers obey the law, too?
A. The law is the guide to our holiness, and an unholy preacher is a fraud.
Q. What ten things must every preacher know and do?
A. We must know God’s law and know why we both preach it and seek to obey it.
Q. What does the first commandment teach us?
A. You shall preach as a love expression to the Lord your God.
Q. What does the second commandment teach us?
A. You shall not make a preaching idol of your image or of anyone else’s.
Q. What does the third commandment teach us?
A. You shall honor the name of God as you preach.
Q. What does the fourth commandment teach us?
A. You shall rest from finding your justification in your preaching, and rest content and safe in the finished work of the living Word of God, Jesus Christ.
Q. What does the fifth commandment teach us?
A. You shall honor those who preached the Word of God to you, and obey what they taught you.
Q. What does the sixth commandment teach us?
A. You shall not use your ministry to harm in any way.
Q. What does the seventh commandment teach us?
A. You shall not be unfaithful to your ministry by failing to love those you preach to.
Q. What does the eighth commandment teach us?
A. You shall not withhold your heart and soul from the hard work of preaching.
Q. What does the ninth commandment teach us?
A. You shall not say anything untrue in your ministry.
Q. What does the tenth commandment teach us?
A. You shall not set your heart on another’s ministry and gifts.
Q. What is the summary of the Ten Commandments for preachers?
A. Loving the Lord your God and your neighbor, not your preaching, is the goal of the law.
Q. Why should we believe in our preaching?
A. Jesus offers himself through his Word in the gospel. Stand on the rock of this truth.
Q. What happens when we preachers actually believe in Jesus?
A. A preacher living close to the cross and relying on grace is a fearsome weapon in the hands of God.
Q. How can we treasure preaching, even when we feel like no one else does?
A. The Spirit can achieve whatever he wants through his preached Word. Believe it.
Q. Will we let the sacraments preach?
A. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper preach in ways we can’t, and that’s their very purpose.
Q. Why do we celebrate baptism?
A. When we honor God’s command we show its grace.
Q. Why do we share the pulpit with the Lord’s Supper?
A. The church tastes grace in our words and at the Lord’s Table.
Q. What is prayer?
A. Prayer is a heart open to God.
Q. Do we want God and his kingdom above all else when Sunday comes?
A. God’s glory and his kingdom focus our prayers and our preaching.
Q. Do we go home on a Sunday praying for God’s will to be done?
A. We must pray ourselves and our hearers into a trusting contentment.
Q. What’s the worst sin we might commit in a sermon?
A. We preachers can be the greatest sinners by failing to proclaim God for who he is. So pray.
Q. Will we pray ourselves into a glad submission to God?
A. Our preaching will never satisfy us. It isn’t meant to. Let’s give our hearts to God.
This article is adapted from The Preacher’s Catechism by Lewis Allen.
I owe more to the ministry of Martyn Lloyd-Jones than I can put into words.
The languishing come to drink at the fountain of God’s life-giving word. That too is worship. It magnifies the necessity and desirableness of God.
Our work, when earnestly undertaken, lays us open to attacks in the direction of depression.