A General Introduction to Catechisms
It is no secret that we are living in a time of increasing Biblical illiteracy in the West. This lack of knowledge of God’s Word and God’s ways has had devastating effects on the life of our families, the life of our churches, and the life of our nation. Increasingly we hear testimonies of young children who were raised in the Church, leaving their faith when they arrive at their young adult years. This is a tragedy, and does not need to be our children’s stories. In fact the wisdom of Proverbs suggests that if we labor in forming Biblical truth and the pursuit of godliness in our children, that we ought to expect our children to remain firmly in the faith (Proverbs 22:6). Parents ought to labor to see Psalm 102:28 fulfilled, “The children of your servants shall dwell secure; their offspring shall be established before you.”
A key responsibility assigned to the head of every household is the oversight of Biblical instruction and discipleship of their children. But one of the key ways that the Devil schemes is by distracting homes from this holy responsibility. Too often it is the case that when families do speak of Biblical ideas, they only speak in generalities, removing the glorious particulars of the Bible. If our families can be built on a general sense of god rather than a substantive worship of the trinitarian God, the devil will suffice. If our families can be built on a general sense of moral correction, rather than an utter dependence on the grace of Jesus Christ to transform our hearts from the inside out, the devil will rejoice. Therefore it is precisely in the particulars that Christians heads of households must labor in.
Historically, the method used to form these particulars in the minds of both adults and children, has been through a catechism. The term “catechism” simply means instruction. In Galatians 6:6 Paul writes, “Let him who is taught the word share all good things with him who teaches.” Similarly in Acts 18:25 Luke writes that Apollos, “has been instructed in the way of the Lord.” The Greek term used beneath our English translation is katecheo, from where our English term catechism originates. The term simply means to teach and instruct the Word of God in an organized way.
As our precious children grow up in today’s world, they will encounter and have access, through technology, to more ideas than any generation before them. We also know that “there are many deceivers” (1 John 2:26) who will attempt to lead our children astray. We know that doctrine can easily be twisted to people’s destruction (2 Peter 3:16). We know that we have been instructed 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), and that we are to take “every thought captive” in obedience to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). Our aim is not to shield our children from every bad idea (though sometimes that may be wisdom in shielding), but rather our aim is to lay a foundation of truth in the hearts of our children in order that they might be able to become discerning young men and women, who know and love God and abide in his word.
Why the New City Catechism?
There have been many catechisms written throughout Church history, and most take the same format of short questions and answers to address various theological truths. As a Church we have chosen to focus our attention on the New City Catechism for a few reasons.
First, the New City Catechism instructs from a historically Reformed theological perspective. This is the same doctrinal positions that Park South Loop is instructed in from the pulpit and through our Small Groups.
Second, the New City Catechism has quite successfully attempted to appeal to multiple denominational backgrounds while maintaining its Reformed orthodoxy. For example, the Westminster Shorter Catechism (one of the most well known historic catechisms) teaches that infants are to be baptized, in alignment with Presbyterian theology. The New City Catechism does not take an opinion on this issue and simply instructs in question 44 that, “Baptism is the washing with water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; it signifies and seals our adoption into Christ, our cleansing from sin, and our commitment to belong to the Lord and to his church.” In other words, the New City Catechism maintains its theological rigor while creating space for disagreement over some denominational differences, something our Church also strives to balance well.
Third, the New City Catechism, with only 52 question and answers, is quite a bit shorter than other more historic catechisms (Heidelberg’s 129, 1689 London Baptist’s 118, or Westminster’s 107). While this does mean the loss of quite a bit of potential material to educate our children with, the 52 questions provided are by no means watered down and cover a significant range of key theology. Further, the 52 questions are designed to coordinate with a calendar year, one question per week.
Fourth, the creators of the New Catechism have put together some wonderful resources, including an app with helpful songs for children to easily memorize every question. I have personally used the app with my own children, and found it a great aid in helping them memorize the responses.
How to Make the Most of this Catechism
As your church, we are going to come around you, and support you in your efforts to catechize your children. Our Sunday School programming will include touchpoints with the New City Catechism. But the hard work primarily rests on the head of each household.
We recommend finding a time every day for both family worship and catechism practice. For my own family, we do family devotions in the mornings before we head to school and work. We then utilize the car ride to rehearse catechism questions and learn new ones. You will find your own rhythms, but it will take diligence and intentionality to do this faithfully.
In the guide below, I have included all the questions from the New City Catechism, along with helpful tips that I have used with my own children. These are intended to bless you and provide you with Pastoral guidance in your own diligent work of catechizing your children.
May God equip you for this wonderful work. May God protect your children from the deceptive attacks of the enemy. And may God grant you an overwhelming sense of joy in Him as you fulfill your task of instructing your children in the ways of God.
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”Deuteronomy 6:4-9
Section 1: God, Creation & Fall, Law
Question 1: What is our only hope in life and death?
Full Answer: That we are not our own but belong, body and soul, both in life and death, to God and to our Savior Jesus Christ.
Children’s Answer: That we are not our own but belong to God.
Scriptures: Romans 14:7-8
Pastoral Notes: The idea of not being “our own,” is full of significance. This is an excellent opportunity to lay a foundation for our children that we are not defined by our feelings, no matter how much the culture around us claims that we are. Our true hope is that we “belong to God,” every part of us.
Question 2: What is God?
Full Answer: God is the creator and sustainer of everyone and everything. He is eternal, infinite, and unchangeable in his power and perfection, goodness and glory, wisdom, justice, and truth. Nothing happens except through him and by his will.
Children’s Answer: God is the creator of everyone and everything.
Scripture: Psalm 86:8–10, 15
Pastoral Notes: You will notice quite a difference between the full answer and the children’s answer on this question. The full answer inspires awe and a sense of the grandiosity of God. If using the children’s answers, be sure to spend time reflecting with them on God’s vastness, eternality, perfection, and goodness. Let your children see that you yourself are in awe of God.
Question 3: How many persons are there in God?
Full Answer: There are three persons in the one true and living God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are the same in substance, equal in power and glory.
Children’s Answer: There are three persons in one God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 13:14
Pastoral Notes: Explaining the Trinity to our children can be difficult. It is okay for them to understand that there is some level of mystery to the nature of God. But on this question make sure your children understand that each person of the Trinity is truly God, and that there is only one God.
Question 4: How and why did God create us?
Full Answer: God created us male and female in his own image to know him, love him, live with him, and glorify him. And it is right that we who were created by God should live to his glory.
Children’s Answer: God created us male and female in his own image to glorify him.
Scripture: Genesis 1:27
Pastoral Notes: As your children get older, this question will provide a helpful basis for the questions surrounder gender they will come across as they engage with culture around them. But also, do not miss the opportunity to discuss with your children what it means to “glorify God.” Discuss with them how you aim to do this in your own life, and how they can do this in their own life.
Question 5: What else did God create?
Full Answer: God created all things by his powerful Word, and all his creation was very good; everything flourished under his loving rule.
Children’s Answer: God created all things and all his creation was very good.
Scripture: Genesis 1:31
Pastoral Notes: Imagine with your children how wonderful it must have been to live in Eden before sin and death entered the world. If done wisely, this can form both a true understanding of God’s original design, and a proper longing for what God will ultimately restore.
Question 6: How can we glorify God?
Full Answer: We glorify God by enjoying him, loving him, trusting him, and by obeying his will, commands, and law.
Children’s Answer: By loving him and by obeying his commands and law.
Scripture: Deuteronomy 1:1
Pastoral Notes: Following God is far more than simply obeying his rules, and yet it is not less than obeying his rules. There is an opportunity to instruct our children here on the beauty of obedience. God’s ways bring life to the full.
Question 7: What does the law of God require?
Full Answer: Personal, perfect, and perpetual obedience; that we love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and love our neighbor as ourselves. What God forbids should never be done and what God commands should always be done.
Children’s Answer: That we love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and love our neighbor as ourselves.
Scripture: Matthew 22:37-40
Pastoral Notes: Once again this question provides an opportunity to dig into the heart of obedience. God desires to form in us joyful obedience, not begrudging obedience void of the heart. We must help our children to understand that God is after the heart.
Question 8: What is the law of God stated in the Ten Commandments?
Full Answer: You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below—you shall not bow down to them or worship them. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Honor your father and your mother. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not give false testimony. You shall not covet.
Children’s Answer: You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Honor your father and your mother. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not give false testimony. You shall not covet.
Scripture: Exodus 20:3
Pastoral Notes: This is a longer one but don’t skip it. The 10 Commandments, often referred to as the Decalogue, are the foundations of Morality. As New Covenant Christians we are still bound by these laws. With my children they had already learned the Slugs & Bugs version of the 10 Commandments song. Use whatever resource works best for your family, but it is important our kids know the 10 Commandments in order.
Question 9: What does God require in the first, second, and third commandments?
Full Answer: First, that we know and trust God as the only true and living God. Second, that we avoid all idolatry and do not worship God improperly. Third, that we treat God’s name with fear and reverence, honoring also his Word and works.
Children’s Answer: First, that we know God as the only true God. Second, that we avoid all idolatry. Third, that we treat God’s name with fear and reverence.
Scripture: Deuteronomy 6:13-14
Pastoral Notes: Spend some time with this question explaining what idolatry is to your children. Anything we love more than God has become an idol in our hearts. Help them to understand how to bring potential idols to God in prayer.
Question 10: What does God require in the fourth and fifth commandments?
Full Answer: Fourth, that on the Sabbath day we spend time in public and private worship of God, rest from routine employment, serve the Lord and others, and so anticipate the eternal Sabbath. Fifth, that we love and honor our father and our mother, submitting to their godly discipline and direction.
Children’s Answer: Fourth, that on the Sabbath day we spend time in worship of God. Fifth, that we love and honor our father and our mother.
Scripture: Leviticus 19:3
Pastoral Notes: Yes, we are still required by God to maintain a Sabbath. So parents, if you are not maintaining your own Sabbath, know that your children will ask you questions about this. This may be a good time to spend time with God asking Him to help you organize your life to truly model keeping a Sabbath in order to honor God.
Question 11: What does God require in the sixth, seventh, and eighth commandments?
Full Answer: Sixth, that we do not hurt, or hate, or be hostile to our neighbor, but be patient and peaceful, pursuing even our enemies with love. Seventh, that we abstain from sexual immorality and live purely and faithfully, whether in marriage or in single life, avoiding all impure actions, looks, words, thoughts, or desires, and whatever might lead to them. Eighth, that we do not take without permission that which belongs to someone else, nor withhold any good from someone we might benefit.
Children’s Answer: Sixth, that we do not hurt or hate our neighbor. Seventh, that we live purely and faithfully. Eighth, that we do not take without permission that which belongs to someone else.
Scripture: Romans 13:9
Pastoral Notes: The full answer to this question provides some details that will be helpful in coaching your children through the depth of these commands.
Question 12: What does God require in the ninth and tenth commandments?
Full Answer: Ninth, that we do not lie or deceive, but speak the truth in love. Tenth, that we are content, not envying anyone or resenting what God has given them or us.
Children’s Answer: Ninth, that we do not lie or deceive. Tenth, that we are content, not envying anyone.
Scripture: James 2:8
Pastoral Notes: Make sure to not rush through these two commandments. Contentment is difficult for both adults and children. Be honest with your children about areas where you struggle to be content. Ask them if there are any areas in their life. Explain to them how Jesus will always be more than enough for us. Then spend time praying for contentment over your family.
Question 13: Can anyone keep the law of God perfectly?
Full Answer: Since the fall, no mere human has been able to keep the law of God perfectly, but consistently breaks it in thought, word, and deed.
Children’s Answer: Since the fall, no human has been able to keep the law of God perfectly.
Scripture: Romans 3:10-12
Pastoral Notes: This question is vital for a healthy understanding of the Gospel, and an excellent opportunity to lay the foundation of the gospel in your children’s hearts. No matter how hard any human tries, nobody can keep the law perfectly. This points us to our need of a Savior.
Question 14: Did God create us unable to keep his law?
Full Answer: No, but because of the disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve, all of creation is fallen; we are all born in sin and guilt, corrupt in our nature and unable to keep God’s law.
Children’s Answer: No, but because of the disobedience of Adam and Eve we are all born in sin and guilt, unable to keep God’s law.
Scripture: Romans 5:12
Pastoral Notes: There is an opportunity to retell the story of creation and the fall to your children, focusing specifically on Adam and Eve’s rebellion.
Question 15: Since no one can keep the law, what is its purpose?
Full Answer: That we may know the holy nature and will of God, and the sinful nature and disobedience of our hearts; and thus our need of a Savior. The law also teaches and exhorts us to live a life worthy of our Savior.
Children’s Answer: That we may know the holy nature of God, and the sinful nature of our hearts; and thus our need of a Savior.
Scripture: Romans 3:20
Pastoral Notes: The keyword that I encourage you to focus on is the “holy nature of God.” Our children can handle great thoughts about God, they are designed for it. Talk about God’s holiness and perfection, and how even the slightest sin is such a stark contrast to the wonder and beauty of God.
Question 16: What is sin?
Full Answer: Sin is rejecting or ignoring God in the world he created, rebelling against him by living without reference to him, not being or doing what he requires in his law—resulting in our death and the disintegration of all creation.
Children’s Answer: Sin is rejecting or ignoring God in the world he created, not being or doing what he requires in his law.
Passage: 1 John 3:4
Pastoral Notes: We want to make sure that our children really understand that sin is more than just outward actions, it begins in the heart. The Puritans spoke about the ‘first motions’ of sin, referring to the near instinctual sinful desires that we experience before our will is even applied to it. Oh how deep our sin goes.
Question 17: What is idolatry?
Full Answer: Idolatry is trusting in created things rather than the Creator for our hope and happiness, significance and security.
Children’s Answer: Idolatry is trusting in created things rather than the Creator.
Passage: Romans 1:21, Romans 1:25
Pastoral Notes: Again, if using the children’s answer, be sure to reference the full answer for a few keywords to help develop this for your children: happiness, significance, security.
Question 18: Will God allow our disobedience and idolatry to go unpunished?
Full Answer: No, every sin is against the sovereignty, holiness, and goodness of God, and against his righteous law, and God is righteously angry with our sins and will punish them in his just judgment both in this life, and in the life to come.
Children’s Answer: No, God is righteously angry with our sins and will punish them both in this life, and in the life to come.
Passage: Ephesians 5:5-6
Pastoral Notes: This question is an excellent opportunity to instruct your children on why you are catechizing them. You want them to know God and abide in Christ so that it will go well with them, and they will not fall underneath the judgment of God, either in this life or the next. Explain to them the heart of parenting in pointing them to Jesus.
Question 19: Is there any way to escape punishment and be brought back into God’s favor?
Full Answer: Yes, to satisfy his justice, God himself, out of mere mercy, reconciles us to himself and delivers us from sin and from the punishment for sin, by a Redeemer.
Children’s Answer: Yes, God reconciles us to himself by a Redeemer.
Passage: Isaiah 53:10-11
Pastoral Notes: Depending on the age of your children, ‘reconciles’ may be a word that you need to unpack for them. This is one of the great foundational truths of the Gospel. God has made a way for sinners to be made right with God. Lean in here parents. Lay this foundation well.
Question 20: Who is the Redeemer?
Full Answer: The only Redeemer is the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, in whom God became man and bore the penalty for sin himself.
Children’s Answer: The only Redeemer is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Passage: 1 Timothy 2:5
Pastoral Notes: The full answer provides some important details. In fact, the only place in this catechism where the idea of substitution is mentioned is in this full answer, “and bore the penalty for sin himself.” Explain the Gospel in full to your children. Jesus was punished in our place!
Section 2: Chris, Redemption, Grace
Question 21: What sort of Redeemer is needed to bring us back to God?
Full Answer: One who is truly human and also truly God.
Short Answer: One who is truly human and also truly God.
Passage: Isaiah 9:6
Pastoral Notes: This question sets up our kids for the following two questions which highlight the need for Christ’s full humanity and full divinity. You can spend a moment with this question discussing the awesome reality that Jesus was both fully God and fully man.
Question 22: Why must the Redeemer be truly human?
Full Answer: That in human nature he might on our behalf perfectly obey the whole law and suffer the punishment for human sin; and also that he might sympathize with our weaknesses.
Short Answer: That in human nature he might on our behalf perfectly obey the whole law and suffer the punishment for human sin.
Passage: Hebrews 2:17
Pastoral Notes: There are so many elements of the gospel in this question. Be sure to slow down and make sure your kids understand. I might highlight particularly that Christ’s humanity allows him to sympathize with our weakness. Jesus once was a kid. He likely had scraped knees and got out of breath playing. He had to learn at school and study the law just like us. He can relate to all of our challenges in life.
Question 23: Why must the Redeemer be truly God?
Full Answer: That because of his divine nature his obedience and suffering would be perfect and effective; and also that he would be able to bear the righteous anger of God against sin and yet overcome death.
Short Answer: That because of his divine nature his obedience and suffering would be perfect and effective.
Passage: Acts 2:24
Pastoral Notes: With this question be sure to slow down and sit with your kids. In my own family, my children had lots of questions around how Jesus could be fully God. It opened up conversations about the Trinity. These are big topics, that might even force you as the parent to do some homework to be able to simply answer your children’s questions.
Question 24: Why was it necessary for Christ, the Redeemer, to die?
Full Answer: Since death is the punishment for sin, Christ died willingly in our place to deliver us from the power and penalty of sin and bring us back to God. By his substitutionary atoning death, he alone redeems us from hell and gains for us forgiveness of sin, righteousness, and everlasting life.
Short Answer: Christ died willingly in our place to deliver us from the power and penalty of sin and bring us back to God.
Passage: Colossians 1:21-22
Pastoral Notes: “In our place!” This is the key phrase that we want our children to understand. It is hard to imagine it, but every sin, even sins of the heart like anger and jealousy, are ultimately against God. And the true and right punishment is eternal separation from God. Make sure your children don’t just know this answer, but help them to understand what it means to believe it by faith.
Question 25: Does Christ’s death mean all our sins can be forgiven?
Full Answer: Yes, because Christ’s death on the cross fully paid the penalty for our sin, God graciously imputes Christ’s righteousness to us as if it were our own and will remember our sins no more.
Short Answer: Yes, because Christ’s death on the cross fully paid the penalty for our sin, God will remember our sins no more.
Passage: 2 Corinthians 5:21
Pastoral Notes: The big word is “all.” You can play a game with your little children to reinforce this idea. Ask them, “What about if you get angry at your sibling, will God forgive that.” They yell in response, “Yes!” Ask them, “What about if you say something disrespectful to mom and Dad, will God forgive you for that.” You get the idea. Get them to see how amazing and extensive his forgiveness is.
Question 27: Are all people, just as they were lost through Adam, saved through Christ?
Full Answer: No, only those who are elected by God and united to Christ by faith. Nevertheless God in his mercy demonstrates common grace even to those who are not elect, by restraining the effects of sin and enabling works of culture for human well-being.
Short Answer: No, only those who are elected by God and united to Christ by faith.
Passage: Romans 5:17
Pastoral Notes: This, and the following few questions can be very difficult for our children. But lean in. Do not avoid these. We want our kids to have a truly Biblical worldview. We must receive Christ’s offer of forgiveness through faith.
Question 28: What happens after death to those not united to Christ by faith?
Full Answer: At the day of judgment they will receive the fearful but just sentence of condemnation pronounced against them. They will be cast out from the favorable presence of God, into hell, to be justly and grievously punished, forever.
Short Answer: They will be cast out from the presence of God, into hell, to be justly punished, forever.
Passage: John 3:16-18, 36
Pastoral Notes: Again, your children will certainly have questions on this. Do not shy away. Hell is real. And we want to warn them of the reality of hell. Explain to your children how you don’t want them to go to hell, and that is why you are so insistent on teaching them to love and enjoy Jesus.
Question 29: How can we be saved?
Full Answer: Only by faith in Jesus Christ and in his substitutionary atoning death on the cross; so even though we are guilty of having disobeyed God and are still inclined to all evil, nevertheless, God, without any merit of our own but only by pure grace, imputes to us the perfect righteousness of Christ when we repent and believe in him.
Short Answer: Only by faith in Jesus Christ and in his substitutionary atoning death on the cross.
Passage: Ephesians 2:8-9
Pastoral Notes: The full answer actually provides a key detail in the great chasm between Catholicism and Protestant Christianity. Notice the phrase, “imputes to us the perfect righteousness of Christ.” We are saved by Christ’s righteousness, not our own. Catholic theology teaches that at baptism we are “infused” with our own righteousness, and that then becomes the basis of our salvation. No, it is Christ’s righteousness alone!
Question 30: What is faith in Jesus Christ?
Full Answer: Faith in Jesus Christ is acknowledging the truth of everything that God has revealed in his Word, trusting in him, and also receiving and resting on him alone for salvation as he is offered to us in the gospel.
Short Answer: Receiving and resting on him alone for salvation as he is offered to us in the gospel.
Passage: Galatians 2:20
Pastoral Notes: Faith is a difficult idea to communicate to little ones. You can see faith or touch faith. And so a definition like this helps solidify the concept for them.
Question 31: What do we believe by true faith?
Full Answer: Everything taught to us in the gospel. The Apostles’ Creed expresses what we believe in these words: We believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from there he will come to judge the living and the dead. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.
Short Answer: We believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from there he will come to judge the living and the dead. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.
Passage: Jude 3
Pastoral Notes: The answers above are essentially the Apostle’s Creed, an ancient Church document that summarizes some of the main teachings of the Gospel. We, as adults, regularly repeat the Apostle’s Creed in our Sunday gatherings.
Question 32: What do justification and sanctification mean?
Full Answer: Justification means our declared righteousness before God, made possible by Christ’s death and resurrection for us. Sanctification means our gradual, growing righteousness, made possible by the Spirit’s work in us.
Short Answer: Justification means our declared righteousness before God. Sanctification means our gradual, growing righteousness.
Passage: 1 Peter 1:1-2
Pastoral Notes: This is some really precious theology. Yes, your kids can handle this. Work this response into their heart so that they really do have a sense of what justification and sanctification means.
Question 33: Should those who have faith in Christ seek their salvation through their own works, or anywhere else?
Full Answer: No, they should not, as everything necessary to salvation is found in Christ. To seek salvation through good works is a denial that Christ is the only Redeemer and Savior.
Short Answer: No, everything necessary to salvation is found in Christ.
Passage: Galatians 2:16
Pastoral Notes: Take time to explain to your children that many people who do not believe in Jesus believe that we have to prove to God how good we are in order to get his approval. Some people think that the more they pray, or the more they do good deeds, the more God will approve of them. Praise God, God loves us fully if our faith is in Christ. He couldn’t love us any more, and he will never love us any less, even on our worst days.
Question 34: Since we are redeemed by grace alone, through Christ alone, must we still do good works and obey God’s Word?
Full Answer: Yes, because Christ, having redeemed us by his blood, also renews us by his Spirit; so that our lives may show love and gratitude to God; so that we may be assured of our faith by the fruits; and so that by our godly behavior others may be won to Christ.
Short Answer: Yes, so that our lives may show love and gratitude to God; and so that by our godly behavior others may be won to Christ.
Passage: 1 Peter 2:9-12
Pastoral Notes: Help your children understand what a “good work” is, and that all of our good works as Christians flow from the love of God, and not in an effort to earn the love of God. A person who has really been loved by God through the Gospel cannot help but want to love other people well.
Question 35: Since we are redeemed by grace alone, through faith alone, where does this faith come from?
Full Answer: All the gifts we receive from Christ we receive through the Holy Spirit, including faith itself.
Short Answer: From the Holy Spirit.
Passage: Titus 3:4-6
Pastoral Notes: The next few questions will talk more on the Holy Spirit. But what is important here is that we help our children see that even the ability to believe in Jesus is a gift given to us by God the Holy Spirit. So we can never boast about it, as if we are something special. Rather, we must pray that God will grant the wonderful gift of faith to others who do not yet have it.
Section 3: Spirit, Restoration, Growing in Grace
Question 36: What do we believe about the Holy Spirit?
Full Answer: That he is God, coeternal with the Father and the Son, and that God grants him irrevocably to all who believe.
Short Answer: That he is God, coeternal with the Father and the Son.
Passage: John 14:16-17
Pastoral Notes: Again, your children surely will have many questions around how God can be three persons in one God. There is mystery here. But there is also beauty. All three persons are fully God, yet there is only one God.
Question 37: How does the Holy Spirit help us?
Full Answer: The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin, comforts us, guides us, gives us spiritual gifts and the desire to obey God; and he enables us to pray and to understand God’s Word.
Short Answer: The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin, and he enables us to pray and to understand God’s Word.
Passage: Ephesians 6:17-18
Pastoral Notes: There are three separate ideas in this answer. Go through each of them with your children. Explain what “convicts us of our sin” really means. Perhaps share a story where the Holy Spirit convicted you of your sin.
Question 38: What is prayer?
Full Answer: Prayer is pouring out our hearts to God in praise, petition, confession of sin, and thanksgiving.
Short Answer: Prayer is pouring out our hearts to God.
Passage: Psalm 62:8
Pastoral Notes: We often make prayer far more complicated than it is. The short answer on this question is wonderful for our littlest kids. The full answer includes some great ideas for godly training in prayer. Teach your children how to praise God, how to petition God, how to confess sins, and how to thank God. Make a regular habit of practicing this with your children.
Question 39: With what attitude should we pray?
Full Answer: With love, perseverance, and gratefulness; in humble submission to God’s will, knowing that, for the sake of Christ, he always hears our prayers.
Short Answer: With love, perseverance, and gratefulness.
Passage: Philippians 4:6
Pastoral Notes: We never want to bog our children down in prayer. We want them to see that prayer is a wonderful gift of God. It is an invitation that should be received and embraced with our heart, not just our lips. Make sure your prayers with your children model this kind of gratefulness.
Question 40: What should we pray?
Full Answer: The whole Word of God directs and inspires us in what we should pray, including the prayer Jesus himself taught us.
Short Answer: The whole Word of God directs us in what we should pray.
Passage: Ephesians 3:14-21
Pastoral Notes: Teach your children that it is wonderful to pray for specific needs we have on a day to day basis. But we must also let the Bible inform and shape how we pray. This is also why daily Family Church is so important. Heads of house ought to be leading a daily time of Bible Study, song, and prayer with the whole family so there is a constant source of Scripture to pull from in prayers.
Question 41: What is the Lord’s Prayer?
Full Answer: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Short Answer: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Passage: Matthew 6:9
Pastoral Notes: Jesus is not necessarily teaching that our prayers need to be memorized like this prayer (though the Lord’s Prayer is a wonderful prayer to memorize). Rather, the various ideas present in the Lord’s Prayer provide a basis for the general flow of our own prayers. Take a moment to discuss the meaning of the different ideas present in the Lord’s Prayer.
Question 42: How is the Word of God to be read and heard?
Full Answer: With diligence, preparation, and prayer; so that we may accept it with faith, store it in our hearts, and practice it in our lives.
Short Answer: With diligence, preparation, and prayer; so that we may accept it with faith and practice it in our lives.
Passage: 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Pastoral Notes: Lord willing, you are demonstrating this passage with your own reading of Scripture before your children every day. If you are diligent, prepared, and prayerful, your children will see it and learn it from you.
Question 43: What are the sacraments or ordinances?
Full Answer: The sacraments or ordinances given by God and instituted by Christ, namely baptism and the Lord’s Supper, are visible signs and seals that we are bound together as a community of faith by his death and resurrection. By our use of them the Holy Spirit more fully declares and seals the promises of the gospel to us.
Short Answer: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
Passage: Romans 6:4, Luke 22:19-20
Pastoral Notes: These two sacraments were both commanded to be practiced by our Lord in the Gospels, and then regularly practiced by the early Church in the book of Acts and the early New Testament letters.
Question 44: What is baptism?
Full Answer: Baptism is the washing with water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; it signifies and seals our adoption into Christ, our cleansing from sin, and our commitment to belong to the Lord and to his church.
Short Answer: Baptism is the washing with water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Passage: Matthew 28:19
Pastoral Notes: One of the best ways to give your child a working knowledge of baptism is to show them baptisms taking place. Find out when the next baptisms are at your Church, and make sure your kids see them. If your Pastor does not teach the children directly, be sure to explain each thing to them as they watch. We are aiming to build an excitement in their hearts for the day when they too get baptized as a believing Christian.
Question 45: Is baptism with water the washing away of sin itself?
Full Answer: No, only the blood of Christ and the renewal of the Holy Spirit can cleanse us from sin.
Short Answer: No, only the blood of Christ can cleanse us from sin.
Passage: Luke 3:16
Pastoral Notes: This is vital for our children to understand. We are saved, cleansed, and regenerated the moment we placed our faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Baptism is an outward sign of that inward reality.
Question 46: What is the Lord’s Supper?
Full Answer: Christ commanded all Christians to eat bread and to drink from the cup in thankful remembrance of him and his death. The Lord’s Supper is a celebration of the presence of God in our midst; bringing us into communion with God and with one another; feeding and nourishing our souls. It also anticipates the day when we will eat and drink with Christ in his Father’s kingdom.
Short Answer: Christ commanded all Christians to eat bread and to drink from the cup in thankful remembrance of him.
Passage: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Pastoral Notes: What a blessing the Lord’s Supper is. Like baptism, make sure that you yourself are excited about this sacred sacrament. Jesus intends to use this as a regular seal in our life, confirming the work of the Gospel in our lives.
Question 47: Does the Lord’s Supper add anything to Christ’s atoning work?
Full Answer: No, Christ died once for all. The Lord’s Supper is a covenant meal celebrating Christ’s atoning work; as it is also a means of strengthening our faith as we look to him, and a foretaste of the future feast. But those who take part with unrepentant hearts eat and drink judgment on themselves.
Short Answer: No, Christ died once for all.
Passage: 1 Peter 3:18
Pastoral Notes: Just like baptism, the Lord’s Supper is only a sign and a seal of our faith. It is not effective in removing sin.
Question 48: What is the church?
Full Answer: God chooses and preserves for himself a community elected for eternal life and united by faith, who love, follow, learn from, and worship God together. God sends out this community to proclaim the gospel and prefigure Christ’s kingdom by the quality of their life together and their love for one another.
Short Answer: A community elected for eternal life and united by faith, who love, follow, learn from, and worship God together.
Passage: 2 Thessalonians 2:13
Pastoral Notes: What an opportunity this question is to instill a wide eyed sense of wonder in our children about our Church. Make sure they realize that Church is not a building, or a place you go to. The Church is your community that has been saved by grace and thar are united together. Tell them stories about how wonderful your Church is, and how you see God at work in and through your Church. Build an excitement in their little hearts.
Question 49: Where is Christ now?
Full Answer: Christ rose bodily from the grave on the third day after his death and is seated at the right hand of the Father, ruling his kingdom and interceding for us, until he returns to judge and renew the whole world.
Short Answer: Christ rose bodily from the grave on the third day after his death and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
Passage: Ephesians 1:20-21
Pastoral Notes: Jesus rose “bodily.” He was not some kind of ghost or illusion. Jesus’ physical body raised from the dead, and He is in that physical body now, as He sits at the right hand of the Father.
Question 50: What does Christ’s resurrection mean for us?
Full Answer: Christ triumphed over sin and death by being physically resurrected, so that all who trust in him are raised to new life in this world and to everlasting life in the world to come. Just as we will one day be resurrected, so this world will one day be restored. But those who do not trust in Christ will be raised to everlasting death.
Short Answer: Christ triumphed over sin and death so that all who trust in him are raised to new life in this world and to everlasting life in the world to come.
Passage: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14
Pastoral Notes: Here you have a wonderful chance to instill a sense of wonder and anticipation in your children about heaven. Discuss heaven with them. Tell them how excited you are to be in heaven, Lord willing with them. Make sure they realize that the center of heaven is Jesus, and that to be there we must truly believe in Christ.
Question 51: Of what advantage to us is Christ’s ascension?
Full Answer: Christ physically ascended on our behalf, just as he came down to earth physically on our account, and he is now advocating for us in the presence of his Father, preparing a place for us, and also sends us his Spirit.
Short Answer: Christ is now advocating for us in the presence of his Father and also sends us his Spirit.
Passage: Romans 8:34
Pastoral Notes: What a promise this questions holds. No matter how difficult a day or a season gets, we have an advocate with the Father. Ask your child about a difficult time they have experienced, and teach them how helpful it is to know that Jesus is advocating for us right now, if our faith is in Him. Explain to them how this has encouraged you during your own difficult seasons.
Question 52: What hope does everlasting life hold for us?
Full Answer: It reminds us that this present fallen world is not all there is; soon we will live with and enjoy God forever in the new city, in the new heaven and the new earth, where we will be fully and forever freed from all sin and will inhabit renewed, resurrection bodies in a renewed, restored creation.
Short Answer: That we will live with and enjoy God forever in the new heaven and the new earth, where we will be forever freed from all sin in a renewed, restored creation.
Passage: Revelation 2:1-4
Pastoral Notes: Similar to question 50, overwhelm your children with hopes of heaven. You cannot overdo it. Talk of heaven. Sing of heaven. Make sure they understand that heaven is a real place, “new earth.” We will have physical bodies, even stronger than ours are now. We’ll run and jump and play, and most importantly, we’ll be near to Jesus always.