Remember, Remember…

Remember, Remember…

 

12 So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. 13 I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, 14 because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things. -2 Peter 1:12-15

 

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What happens to a church that forgets the truth- it becomes a museum piece.

In the sermon last Sunday, we began by talking about the Vasa, the great warship that capsized and sank in Stockholm harbor, on a calm day in 1628, because it didn’t have enough ballast to keep it stable. Far too many churches are like the Vasa: they are unstable because they don’t have enough ballast. The ballast that we need in a church is memory. 2 Peter 1 tells us that we need to remember the truth that we already know. We often want church to be exciting: we want new ideas and exhilarating experiences. But instead Peter tells us to remember: to keep coming back to the core, fundamental truths of Christian faith, to fix them in our minds and to remember them. Otherwise, a church will be unstable and liable to be blown over by the first puff of false teaching.

 

I said that one way to remember was to learn a catechism, but a few people have told me that they have never heard of this before, and asked me what a catechism is. A catechism is a series of questions and answers that summarize the basic, core truths of Christian faith. In the past, it was very common for Christians to learn them by heart, and to teach them to their children. It is a very effective way of stabilizing a church. Sadly, the practice has fallen into disuse, but it is one that the church needs to 9780801068386recover, as J.I Packer and Gary A.Parrett argue in their book Grounded in the Gospel (links to all the books that I mention are at the bottom of this post).

 

Many catechisms have been produced across the years. Those who were brought up in German churches will know Martin Luther’s Small Catechism. Among Reformed churches, the two most widely used are the Heidelberg Catechism and the Shorter Westminster Catechism. The Heidelberg is known and loved for being very personal and heart warming. It begins:

 

  1. Q. What is your only comfort in life and death?
  2. That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him.

 

51mgdWn6VeLKevin De Young has written a great book called The Good News We Almost Forgot as a guide to the Heidelberg Catechism. With 52 short chapters, it is good reading for a Sunday evening, and would be a good book for homegroups.

 

The Shorter Westminster is the best known catechism in the English-speaking world, and is probably the best summary of Christian truth ever written. It famously begins:

 

1.Q. What is the chief end of man? A. The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him for ever.

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51EzzOYY6sL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_There is a very good guide to the Shorter Westminster Catechism by G.I Williamson, and Starr Meade has written a book of devotions based on it for families to read together called Training Hearts, Teaching Minds, which I am reading with my son at the moment.

 

More recently, Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York have produced the New City Catechism, which is a mix of the Westminster and Heidelberg catechisms, with shorter answers. There are excellent print and web resources for this, including a daily devotional, smartphone app, and memory cards. There is also a Catechism for Young Children, a simplified version of the Shorter Westminster Catechism, widely available as a pdf. Dana Dirksen’s Songs for Saplings are memory songs for small children based on itSongs-for-Saplings-Volume-1, and a great way of learning. Either of these would be a great place to begin. Donald Van Dyken’s book Rediscovering Catechism gives some helpful advice on how to do this.

 

 

imagesResources

Catechisms in general:

https://students.wts.edu/resources/creeds.html

https://www.amazon.de/Grounded-Gospel-Building-Believers-Old-Fashioned-ebook/dp/B00B853V1G/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1505387119&sr=8-1&keywords=packer+grounded+in+the+gospel

https://www.amazon.de/Rediscovering-Catechism-Equipping-Covenant-Children/dp/0875524648/ref=sr_1_cc_2?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1505387159&sr=1-2-catcorr&keywords=rediscovering+catechism

https://www.amazon.de/Creedal-Imperative-Carl-R-Trueman/dp/1433521903/ref=sr_1_1?s=books-intl-de&ie=UTF8&qid=1505387194&sr=1-1&keywords=the+creedal+imperative

http://www.intoxicatedonlife.com/2015/02/22/catechism-use-kids/

http://www.reformed.org/documents/index.html

 

The Heidelberg Catechism:

https://www.amazon.de/Heidelberg-Catechism-Faith-Christian-Resources/dp/1592557872/ref=sr_1_1?s=books-intl-de&ie=UTF8&qid=1505387243&sr=1-1&keywords=the+heidelberg+catechism

https://www.amazon.de/Good-News-Almost-Forgot-Rediscovering/dp/0802458408/ref=sr_1_1?s=books-intl-de&ie=UTF8&qid=1505387309&sr=1-1&keywords=the+good+news+we+almost+forgot

 

The Shorter Westminster Catechism:

https://www.amazon.de/Westminster-Shorter-Catechism-Study-Classes/dp/0875525210/ref=sr_1_16?s=books-intl-de&ie=UTF8&qid=1505387382&sr=1-16&keywords=the+shorter+westminster+catechism

https://www.amazon.de/Westminster-Shorter-Catechism-Kids-Questions/dp/0983724911/ref=sr_1_15?s=books-intl-de&ie=UTF8&qid=1505387421&sr=1-15&keywords=the+shorter+westminster+catechism

 

https://www.amazon.de/Training-Hearts-Teaching-Minds-Devotions/dp/0875523927/ref=sr_1_1?s=books-intl-de&ie=UTF8&qid=1505387446&sr=1-1&keywords=starr+meade

 

The New City Catechism:

http://newcitycatechism.com/

https://www.amazon.de/New-City-Catechism-Questions-Coalition/dp/1433555077/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1505387622&sr=8-1&keywords=new+city+catechism

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/a-catechism-with-our-kids

 

/Catechism for Young Children:

http://songsforsaplings.com/

https://www.monergism.com/catechism-young-children-ebook

 

 

Resources

Catechisms in general:

https://students.wts.edu/resources/creeds.html

https://www.amazon.de/Grounded-Gospel-Building-Believers-Old-Fashioned-ebook/dp/B00B853V1G/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1505387119&sr=8-1&keywords=packer+grounded+in+the+gospel

https://www.amazon.de/Rediscovering-Catechism-Equipping-Covenant-Children/dp/0875524648/ref=sr_1_cc_2?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1505387159&sr=1-2-catcorr&keywords=rediscovering+catechism

https://www.amazon.de/Creedal-Imperative-Carl-R-Trueman/dp/1433521903/ref=sr_1_1?s=books-intl-de&ie=UTF8&qid=1505387194&sr=1-1&keywords=the+creedal+imperative

http://www.intoxicatedonlife.com/2015/02/22/catechism-use-kids/

http://www.reformed.org/documents/index.html

 

The Heidelberg Catechism:

https://www.amazon.de/Heidelberg-Catechism-Faith-Christian-Resources/dp/1592557872/ref=sr_1_1?s=books-intl-de&ie=UTF8&qid=1505387243&sr=1-1&keywords=the+heidelberg+catechism

https://www.amazon.de/Good-News-Almost-Forgot-Rediscovering/dp/0802458408/ref=sr_1_1?s=books-intl-de&ie=UTF8&qid=1505387309&sr=1-1&keywords=the+good+news+we+almost+forgot

 

The Shorter Westminster Catechism:

https://www.amazon.de/Westminster-Shorter-Catechism-Study-Classes/dp/0875525210/ref=sr_1_16?s=books-intl-de&ie=UTF8&qid=1505387382&sr=1-16&keywords=the+shorter+westminster+catechism

https://www.amazon.de/Westminster-Shorter-Catechism-Kids-Questions/dp/0983724911/ref=sr_1_15?s=books-intl-de&ie=UTF8&qid=1505387421&sr=1-15&keywords=the+shorter+westminster+catechism

 

https://www.amazon.de/Training-Hearts-Teaching-Minds-Devotions/dp/0875523927/ref=sr_1_1?s=books-intl-de&ie=UTF8&qid=1505387446&sr=1-1&keywords=starr+meade

 

The New City Catechism:

http://newcitycatechism.com/

https://www.amazon.de/New-City-Catechism-Questions-Coalition/dp/1433555077/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1505387622&sr=8-1&keywords=new+city+catechism

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/a-catechism-with-our-kids

 

/Catechism for Young Children:

http://songsforsaplings.com/

https://www.monergism.com/catechism-young-children-ebook