Instructed In the Way of the Lord
Dear Church, over the last year we've used the New City Catechism as a guide for confessing our faith during our Sunday morning worship service. I hope that you grew in your knowledge of scripture and experienced significant encouragment through this practice. This year, 2020, we will continue the discipline. And the tool we'll be using as a guide is "A Baptist Catechism" by John Piper. A Baptist Catechism is a slight modification of the historic "Baptist Catechism" which was originally released in 1689 in conjunction with the London Baptist Confession. I thank God for the multitude of rich resources that are available to us today. Let's use them and pray that God blesses our systemtaic study of his word.
Soli Deo Gloria,
pdf copy of "A Baptist Catechism"
A BAPTIST CATECHISM
ADAPTED BY JOHN PIPER
WHAT IS A CATECHISM?
In 1 Corinthians 14:19 Paul says, “In the church I would rather speak five words with my mind, in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.” In Galatians 6:6 he says, “Let him who is taught the word share all good things with him who teaches.” Acts 18:25 says that Apollos “has been instructed in the way of the Lord.”
In each of these verses the Greek word for “instruct” or “teach” is katecheo. From this word we get our English word “catechize.” It simply means to teach biblical truth in an orderly way. Generally this is done with questions and answers accompanied by biblical support and explanation.
WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF THIS CATECHISM?
This is a slightly revised version of “The Baptist Catechism” first put forth by Baptists in 1689 in Great Britain. It was adopted by the Philadelphia Baptist Association in 1742. It is patterned on the well-known reformed Westminster Catechism. The few comments in the earlier questions are meant to help parents make things plain to their children.
IS THERE A BIBLICAL PATTERN OF DOCTRINE?
Several texts teach that there is. For example, in Romans 6:17 Paul gives thanks that “you have become obedient from the heart to the pattern of teaching to which you were committed.” 2 Timothy 1:13 says, “Follow the pattern of sound words which you heard from me.” Acts 2:42 says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching.” 2 Thessalonians 2:15 says, “Stand firm and hold to the traditions
which you were taught by us.” And Acts 20:27 says, “I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.”
So it appears that there was a body of authoritative instruction and even a way of teaching it in the early church.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
We are required to “continue in the faith, stable and steadfast” (Col. 1:23).
We are urged to “attain to the unity of the... knowledge of the Son of God...so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Eph. 4:13-14).
There are many deceivers (1 John 2:26).
There are difficult doctrines “which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16).
Leaders must be raised up who can “give instruction in sound doctrine and also confute those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9).
HOW SHALL WE BEGIN?
Make them part of your family routine or just use them for yourself. I am excited about being a partner with you in building a “stable and firm” generation who hopes in God.
Learning and teaching with you, Pastor John
Sometimes there are other ways to express a true answer to these questions. Feel free to use Scripture to formulate other true answers where possible and helpful. The aim of a catechism is not to be exhaustive but to give a solid tease from which to “keep growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”
(2 Peter 3:17).
QUESTION 1: WHO IS THE FIRST AND BEST OF BEINGS? Answer: God is the first and best of beings. Scripture: Isaiah 44:6; Psalm 8:1; 96:4; 97:9, 1 Samuel 2:2
QUESTION 2: WHAT IS THE CHIEF END OF MAN? Answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 10:31; Psalm 16:11; 37:4; 73:25-26; Isaiah 43:7.
Comment: “Glorify” does not mean make glorious. It means [to] reflect or display as glorious. Other words you could use for “end” are “goal” or “purpose”.
QUESTION 3: HOW DO WE KNOW THERE IS A GOD?
Answer: The light of nature in man, and the works of God, plainly declares that there is a God; but his word and Spirit only, do effec- tually reveal him unto us for our salvation.
Scripture: Romans 1:18-20; Psalm 19:1-2; 2 Timothy 3:15; 1 Corinthians 1:21-24; 2:9, 10; Matthew 11:27.
Comment: The question distinguishes two kinds of knowledge: one is natural and comes from conscience (“the light of nature in
man”) and from the works of God in nature; the other is spiritual or saving, and comes from the recognition of the true value of God and the beauty of his character. Natural knowledge is possessed by all people and thus makes all people accountable to honor and thank God. Spiritual knowledge is possessed only by those whose natural blindness has been overcome by the Spirit of God. (1 Cor. 2:14-16). Our children must come to see the difference between these lest they think they are saved by much natural knowledge about God—which the devils also have James 2:19).
QUESTION 4: WHAT IS THE WORD OF GOD?
Answer: The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, being given by divine inspiration, are the Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice.
Scripture: 2 Peter 1:21; 2 Timothy 3:16, 17; Isaiah 8:20; Matthew 5:17- 18; 1 Corinthians 2:13; Psalm 19:7-8.
Comment: “Scriptures” is a special word for the “writings” of the OT and NT. Perhaps you will want to explain that the OT deals with God’s word that came before Jesus was born; and the NT is the word of God that came after Jesus was born. “Infallible” means it will never lead us astray in what it teaches. It is true and does not err. It can be trusted. “Faith” refers to right thinking and feeling; and “practice” refers to right doing. We measure our thoughts and emotions and actions by the rule of the Bible. “Inspiration” means that it is God-breathed: by his Spirit he guided his spokesmen to speak his word in their language.
QUESTION 5: HOW DO WE KNOW THAT THE BIBLE IS THE WORD OF GOD?
Answer: The Bible evidences itself to be God’s Word by the 5
heavenliness of its doctrine, the unity of its parts, and its power to convert sinners and to edify saints. But only the Spirit of God can make us willing to agree and submit to the Bible as the Word of God.
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 2:6-7,13-16; Psalm 19:7-9; 119:18,129; Acts 10:43; 26:22; 18:28; Hebrews 4:12; Romans 15:4; John 16:13,14; 1 John 2:20-27; 2 Corinthians 3:14-17; 4:4, 6.
Comment: “Heavenliness” refers to the fact [that] the teachings of Scripture are of such a nature that they cannot be explained by mere human resources. They bear the marks of the supernatural. “No man ever spoke like this man” (John 7:46). The “unity of its parts” has to do especially with the way all Scripture points to Christ. “To him all the prophets bear witness” (Acts 10:43). There are detailed and scholarly historical arguments for the reliability of the Bible, but these are generally beyond the acquaintance of ordinary Christians, and so do not serve as widespread support for Scripture. They are needed, however, in the scholarly arena. [See “Is the Bible a Reliable Guide to Lasting Joy” in Desiring God by John Piper (Multnomah Press, 1986).]
QUESTION 6: MAY ALL MEN MAKE USE OF THE SCRIPTURES?
Answer: All men are not only permitted, but commanded and exhorted, to read, hear, and understand the Scriptures.
Scripture: John 5:39; Luke 16:29; Acts 8:28-30; 17:11. QUESTION 7: WHAT DO THE SCRIPTURES MAINLY TEACH?
Answer: The Scriptures mainly teach what man is to believe about God and what duty God requires of man.
Scripture: 2 Timothy 3:16, 17; John 20:31; Acts 24:14; 1 Corin- thians 10:11; Ecclesiastes 12:13.
QUESTION 8: WHAT IS GOD?
Answer: God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.
Scripture: John 4:24; Psalm 89:14; 90:2; 147:5; James 1:17; Rev- elation 4:8; Exodus 34:6, 7; 1 Timothy 1:17; Numbers 23:19.
Comment: Ask what “infinite” means (there is no limit to how great he is!). What does “eternal” mean? (He never had a beginning and will never have an ending!) Talk about how God can respond to us and yet not be “changeable.” (His character never changes; he acts consistently on the same principles always. Even his responses to us are known and planned long before so that his purposes are unchanging.)
QUESTION 9: ARE THERE MORE GODS THAN ONE? Answer: There is only one living and true God. Scripture: Deuteronomy 6:4; Jeremiah 10:10; Psalm 96:4-5.
Comment: There are “gods” which are idols, but they are not “liv- ing”. And there are “gods” which are angels or demons, but they are not “true” God, that is they are not eternal, infinite and unchang- ing. Only one God is living and true.
QUESTION 10: HOW MANY PERSONS ARE THERE IN THE GODHEAD?
Answer: There are three persons in the Godhead: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one God, the same in essence, equal in power and glory.
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 2:11; 8:6; John 1:1; 10:30; 14:9; 20:28; Acts 5:3,4; Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:3.
Comment: The word “Godhead” is needed because we shouldn’t say that there are three persons in God. No, there are three persons who are God. Nor should we say that there are three Gods. There is one God. They are distinct persons with special roles in creation and redemption. But they are in perfect harmony and are (in ways beyond our comprehension) perfectly One God. (See The Pleasures of God, by John Piper, Multnomah Press, pp. 38, 42-44 for one explanation of the Trinity.)
QUESTION 11: WHAT ARE THE DECREES OF GOD?
Answer: The decrees of God are his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby for his own glory, he has foreor- dained whatsoever comes to pass.
Scripture: Ephesians 1:11; Romans 11:36; Daniel 4:35; Isaiah 46:10; Psalm 115:3; Amos 3:6.
Comment: You might shorten it to: “God’s decrees are his own plans for history. And they always happen.” His purpose for the world is eternal because there never was a time when he didn’t know what he was going to do. His purpose accords with the counsel of his will--that is he did not consult anyone else. He thought it all up. All plans were made in order to maximize the display of his glory. Nothing falls outside the decrees of God.
QUESTION 12: HOW DOES GOD EXECUTE HIS DECREES?
Answer: God executes his decrees in the works of creation and providence.
Scripture: Genesis 1:1; Revelation 4:11; Matthew 5:45; 6:26; Acts 14:17: Proverbs 16:9, 33; 19:21; 20:24; 21:1, 31.
Comment: Instead of “execute” you can say “perform” or “accom- plish” or “bring about”. The word “providence” will be taken up
in a later question. For now it refers to the way God preserves and governs all his creatures and all their actions (like the fall of a bird or the election of a president). It refers to God’s general rule over the world he has created.
QUESTION 13: WHAT IS THE WORK OF CREATION?
Answer: The work of creation is God’s making all things [out] of nothing, by the word of his power and all very good.
Scripture: Genesis 1:1, 31; Hebrews 11:3; Exodus 20:11; Romans 4:17.
Comment: Before creation there was only God in the holy fellow- ship of the Trinity. Therefore his creation is always different from ours: we start with something.
QUESTION 14: HOW DID GOD CREATE MAN?
Answer: God created man male and female, after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, with dominion over the creatures.
Scripture: Genesis 1:27-28; Colossians 3:10; Ephesians 4:24.
Comment: In saying that we were created after his image “in knowledge, righteousness and holiness,” we do not mean we know all God knows, nor that we are a fountain of righteousness and holiness the way he is. We mean that we were capable of sharing his knowledge and righteousness and holiness in a relationship of trust and love unlike any other creature under the angels.
QUESTION 15: WHAT ARE GOD’S WORKS OF PROVIDENCE? Answer: God’s works of providence are the holy, wise, and powerful acts
which he preserves and governs all his creatures, and all their actions. 9
Scripture: Nehemiah 9:6; Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3; Psalm 103:19; Matthew 10:29-30.
Comment: It would be helpful to discuss this with your child in relation to the common concept of “luck.” Is there such a thing as luck in a world ruled by the providence of God? “The lot is cast into the lap, but the decision is wholly from the Lord” (16:33). You will also need to stress that many of God’s acts of providence may not look “holy and wise” (like storms that kill thousands of people). But then stress that God has his secret purposes (Deut. 29:29) that we are never great enough to see, and the Judge of all the earth always does right (Genesis 18:25).
QUESTION 16: WHAT SPECIAL ACT OF PROVIDENCE DID GOD EXERCISE TOWARDS MAN WHEN HE WAS FIRST CREATED?
Answer: When God had created man, he made a covenant with him that he should live and enjoy all the benefits of creation, but that he would die if he forsook the obedience that comes from faith. God commanded him not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and thus forsake his child-like dependence upon God for all things.
Scripture: Genesis 2:15-17; Galatians 3:12; Romans 5:12.
Comment: The “knowledge of good and evil” is the ability to judge independently what is beneficial (good) and harmful (evil) for yourself. What God is forbidding is that man should choose to be independent from God in his evaluation of things. He is command- ing man to walk by faith in the wise and loving care of his heavenly Father. (See the use of this phrase in Gen. 3:5, 22; 2 Sam. 14:17; Is. 7:15; 2 Sam 19:35.)
QUESTION 17: DID OUR FIRST PARENTS CONTINUE IN THE GLAD 10
OBEDIENCE FOR WHICH THEY WERE CREATED?
Answer: No, but desiring to be like God, our first parents forsook the obedience of faith, ate of the forbidden tree, sinned against God, and fell from the innocence in which they were created.
Scripture: Genesis 3:1-7; Ecclesiastes 7:29; Romans 5:12. QUESTION 18: WHAT IS SIN?
Answer: Sin is transgression of the revealed will of God which teaches that we are to act in perfect holiness from a heart of faith to the glory of God.
Scripture: 1 John 3:4; Romans 5:13; 14:23; 1 Peter 1:16; Matthew 5:48; 1 Corinthians 10:31.
Comment Simplified: Sin is any attitude or desire or action that explicitly breaks a commandment of Scripture, or comes from a heart of unbelief or is not done for the glory of God.
QUESTION 19: WHAT WAS THE SIN WHEREBY OUR FIRST PARENTS FELL FROM THE ESTATE WHEREIN THEY WERE CREATED?
Answer: The sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created, was their eating the forbidden fruit
Scripture: Genesis 3:6, 12, 13. QUESTION 20: DID ALL MANKIND FALL IN ADAM’S FIRST SIN?
Answer: All mankind, descending from Adam by ordinary genera- tion, sinned in him, and fell with him in his first sin.
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 15:21-22; Romans 5:12, 18-19. Comment: God considered all mankind as being in Adam so that
when Adam went bad we all went bad in him. The nature that we 11
have by virtue of belonging to Adam’s race is morally corrupt. We are under the wrath of God “by nature” (Ephesians 2:3) from the time we were conceived in the womb. This is why conversion and salvation must be much more than a “decision” for Christ. It must be a new creation, a rebirth, an exchange of hearts.
QUESTION 21: INTO WHAT CONDITION DID THE FALL BRING MANKIND? Answer: The fall brought mankind into a condition of sin and misery.
Scripture: Psalm 51:5; Romans 5:18-19; 7:18; Isaiah 53:6; 64:6; John 3:6-7; Ephesians 2:1-3; 1 Corinthians 2:14.
QUESTION 22: WHAT IS THE SINFULNESS OF THAT CONDITION INTO WHICH ALL MANKIND HAS FALLEN?
Answer: The sinfulness of the condition into which all mankind fell is the guilt of Adam’s first sin, the lack of original righteousness, and the corruption of our whole nature (which is commonly called original sin), together with all actual transgressions which come from this nature.
Scripture: Romans 5:19; 3:10; Ephesians 2:1; Isaiah 53:6; Psalm 51:5; Matthew 15:19.
Comment: The Bible says that “in Adam all die” (1 Cor. 15:22) and that “one transgression yields condemnation for all men” (Rom. 5:18) and that “one man’s disobedience made many sinners” (Rom. 5:19). These statements lead us to conclude that God, in a way beyond our comprehension, established a unity between Adam and his posterity which makes it just for us to receive the imputa- tion of his guilt and corruption. He was in some sense our represen- tative head. We sinned in him and fell with him.
QUESTION 23: WHAT IS THE MISERY INTO WHICH ALL MANKIND FELL 12
THROUGH ADAM’S FIRST SIN?
Answer: All mankind, by their fall, lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all the miseries of this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever.
Scripture: Genesis 3:8, 24; Ephesians 2:3; Galatians 3:10; Romans 6:23; Matthew 25:41-46; Psalm 9:17.
Comment: Keep in mind that “liable to” means that these miser- ies will indeed befall all people unless a special work of God’s grace intervenes.
QUESTION 24: DID GOD LEAVE ALL MANKIND TO PERISH IN THE CONDITION OF SIN AND MISERY?
Answer: God, out of his mere good pleasure, from all eternity, hav- ing chosen a people to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace, to deliver them out of the condition of sin and misery, and to bring them into a condition of salvation, by a Redeemer.
Scripture: Ephesians 1:3-4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Romans 5:21; 8:29-30; 9:11-12; 11:5-7; Acts 13:48; Jeremiah 31:33.
Comment: The term “covenant of grace” is filled with sweet and precious hope. It refers to the free decision, commitment and oath of God to employ all his omnipotence and wisdom and love to res- cue and glorify his people from sin and misery. It is wholly initiated and carried through by God. It cannot fail.
It is valid for all who believe. Whosoever will may come and enjoy this grace! And, since this “believing” and this “willing” is a work of God’s sovereign grace, those who believe and come are the elect, “chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4). Thus the covenant was sealed in the heart of God before the world was.
This “covenant of grace” is the cry of victory over all the battle strife in missions. The grace of God will triumph! He is covenant- bound, oath-bound to save all those who are foreordained to eternal life (Acts 13:48)! “Jesus died for the nation (of Jews), and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad” (John 11:52).
The battle cry of missions is, “The Lord has other sheep that are not of this fold: He must (covenant-bound!!) bring them also. They will (sovereign grace!!) heed his voice!” John 10:16.
QUESTION 25: WHO IS THE REDEEMER OF GOD’S ELECT?
Answer: The only Redeemer of God’s elect is the Lord Jesus Christ, who, being the eternal Son of God, became man, and so was and continues to be God and man, in two distinct natures and one person, forever.
Scripture: Galatians 3:13; 1 Timothy 2:5; 3:16; John 1:14; Ro- mans 9:5; Colossians 2:9.
QUESTION 26: HOW DID CHRIST, BEING THE SON OF GOD, BECOME MAN?
Answer: Christ, the Son of God became man by taking to himself a true body and a reasonable soul. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and was born of her, yet without sin.
Scripture: Hebrews 2:14; 4:14; 7:26; Matthew 26:38; Luke 2:52; John 1:14; 12:27; Luke 1:31, 35; 2:52; Colossians 2:9.
Comment: I am typing this on a Personal Computer. I have virtu- ally no idea how it works. That it works I am certain: I have typed hundreds of sermons on it. So it is with the “incarnation”--the “how” is (as the old theologians used to say) “ineffable”. We believe it because the Scriptures teach it and because it “works” to make
sense out of God’s whole redemptive plan.
QUESTION 27: WHAT OFFICES DOES CHRIST PERFORM AS OUR REDEEMER?
Answer: Christ, as our Redeemer, performs the offices of a prophet, of a priest, and of a king, both in his condition of humiliation and exaltation.
Scripture: Acts 3:22; Hebrews 5:6; Psalm 2:6. QUESTION 28: HOW DOES CHRIST PERFORM THE OFFICE OF A PROPHET?
Answer: Christ performs the office of a prophet, in revealing to us, by his Word and Spirit, the will of God for our salvation.
Scripture: John 1:18; 14:26; 15:15. QUESTION 29: HOW DOES CHRIST PERFORM THE OFFICE OF A PRIEST?
Answer: Christ performs the office of a priest by once offering him- self as a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice, and to reconcile us to God; and by making continual intercession for us before God.
Scripture: 1 Peter 2:24; Hebrews 2: 17; 7:25; 9:28; Ephesians 5:2; Romans 8:34.
QUESTION 30: HOW DOES CHRIST PERFORM THE OFFICE OF A KING?
Answer: Christ performs the office of a king, in subduing us to himself, in ruling and defending us, and in restraining and con- quering all his and our enemies.
Scripture: Psalm 110:1-2; Matthew 2:6; Luke 1:32-33; 1 Corinthians 15:25.
QUESTION 31: WHAT DO WE MEAN BY CHRIST’S HUMILIATION?
Answer: By Christ’s humiliation we mean that he was born, and that in a low condition; that he was made under the law, and un- derwent the miseries of this life, the wrath of God, and the cursed death of the cross; that he was buried, and continued under the power of death for a time.
Scripture: Luke 2:7; Galatians 4:4; Isaiah 53:3; Luke 22:44; Mat- thew 12:40; 27:46; Philippians 2:8; Mark 15:45-6.
QUESTION 32: WHAT DO WE MEAN BY CHRIST’S EXALTATION?
Answer: By Christ’s exaltation we mean his rising again from the dead on the third day, ascending up into heaven, sitting at the right hand of God the Father, and coming to judge the world at the last day.