Fathers, Instruct Your Children!
Being raised in an unbelieving home, I had no idea how to instruct my children in the faith. When my wife and I had our first child, we were attending a Pentecostal church. We were taught how to demand God do certain things for our daughter, and we were taught how to chase away those pesky demons, but we were never taught the faith once and for all delivered to the saints. So what were we to do except to book another trip to the next Benny Hinn crusade?
After six years of demon chasing, loud suits, and big hair, God providentially brought us out of Pentecostalism and into the Reformation. On my first Lord’s Day in the Reformed church I was awarded a Heidelberg Catechism. I devoured it! What a treasure I had found; not only for my own growth—learning to worship the right God rightly—but also for my children’s. Now I had a tool to instruct my children, a tool that has been tried and tested for 400 years.
What is a Catechism?
To catechize a child is to instruct her in the faith using questions and answers. It’s a method that traces its history back to Scripture (Mat. 16:13, 22:42). The catechism I use in my home is the Heidelberg Catechism. Completed by Zacharius Ursinus and Caspar Olevianus in 1563, the Heidelberg Catechism offers 192 questions and answers and is divided into three parts: man’s guilt, God’s grace, and our gratitude. Here’s a sample:
Q. What is your only comfort in life and death?
A. That I, with body and soul, both in life and in death, am not my own, but belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ, who with His precious blood has fully satisfied for all my sins, and redeemed me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me, that without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must work together for my salvation. Wherefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me heartily willing and ready henceforth to live unto Him.
If you are raising children, or if you're just a Christian who wants to better understand his faith, I recommend a good catechism—it’s a tried and true method of learning the faith that has stood the test of time.