By Nick Bibile
The word catechize seems to be foreign word for most evangelical Christians. They have no idea what it means. Some think this is a mysterious Roman Catholic word and others say I want the Bible alone and I do not want any part of the catechism. Let us see what it really means.
The Greek word is katechiso and it comes from the Greek word katecheo, and if you break down this word kata in Greek is down and echeo means sound. Literally to teach by sound. Generally, in Christianity, it means to teach someone the important basics of Christianity using question and answers.
Catechism serves as a guide to better understanding of scripture. What is wrong with that? Catechism is a great value to our children. At the beginning of the reformation, parents had family devotion with their children and grounded them with sound doctrine asking them the basic important questions of Christianity and giving them answers. The Reformation spread so fast as Christian families, the homes were grounded in the word of God and evangelism went forth from the very roots – Christian homes.
Let me see if you can answer the first question of the Heidelberg Catechism.
Question 1. What is thy only comfort in life and death? Those who say catechisms are not important but only the Bible is important, then answer the question from the Bible, as it is an important valid question. I bet many evangelical churches going Christians cannot answer because they are not grounded in the basics of Christianity. Let us see the answer. The answer is based on scriptures.
Answer: That I with body and soul, both in life and death, (a) am not my own, (b) but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; (c) who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, (d) and delivered me from all the power of the devil; (e) and so preserves me (f) that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; (g) yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, (h) and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, (i) and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him. (j)
Today parents have no knowledge of scripture and no desire to teach their children. Parents are busy making money and spending money. Instead of family devotion, there is family entertainment. The result is alarming as teenage crime is rising rapidly.
On April 20, 1999. Twelve students and a teacher were killed that day and 23 others were wounded before their teenage assailants took their own lives.
Blacksburg, VA. A 23-year-old Virginia Tech student, Cho Seung-Hui, killed two in a dorm, then killed 30 more 2 hours later in a classroom building. His suicide brought the death toll to 33, making the shooting rampage the most deadly in U.S. history. Fifteen others were wounded.
Who is to be blamed? The churches. The pulpits are corrupted with worldliness. Ministers/pastors preach what the congregation wanted to hear, a sugar coated, entertainment gospel, which tickles the flesh. This is the rising of apostasy.
God’s commandment is that the families will be strong; God’s word will be proclaimed and preserved from one generation to the other. God told Abraham, “Moreover, I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.” (Gen 17:7)
You can ask a general church going Christian to name the Ten Commandments? Name the twelve apostles? What is justification? What is sanctification? People have no idea.
In the Old Testament, the 12th and the 13th chapters of Exodus God commanded the Israelites to give particular instruction to their children and families in relation to the Passover. In the 6th chapter of Deut., God instructs the laws and commandments and to rehearse them continually to our children. (Deut 6:1-7) Then in Deut., chapter 11 instructs parents to teach their children the history of the law. (Read from Deut 11:1-21)
But Moses and his generation could not enter into the promise land except Joshua and Caleb. Due to disobedience, they perished in the wilderness. But God gave leadership to Joshua. Instructed Joshua to obey all his commandments and to meditate his law day and night. The next generation under Joshua were able to conquer the Promise Land. They were a strong generation as they obeyed the laws of God except the defeat of Ai due to the sin of Achan.
Although this generation was strong in the Lord they neglected in catechizing their children, they did not teach their children the ways of the Lord. Then came another generation that did not know the Lord.
Jg 2:10 And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.
We may be strong in doctrine but it is our duty to teach the youth, the next generation, witness and evangelize the youth, ask them questions and give the right answers.
In the New Testament we see how Christ Jesus laid hands upon little children and blessed them, commanded that they should be brought unto him. “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:14)
Heart of man is depraved and evil from youth, we need to catechize the children in early years. Children like questions and they want answers, catechisms are made with question and answers. Catechisms are packed with doctrine. Instead of giving them only Bible stories, train them up in doctrine in early years so when they grow up it is the doctrine that will help them. Today we hear we do not want doctrine but what we need is discipleship. Doctrine means teaching. True discipleship is doctrine.
Joh 8:31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
C. H. Spurgeon said, “Catechism is of infinite value to our children.”
One puritan asked a child “Who was Isaiah?”
“He was that prophet who spoke more of Jesus Christ than all the rest.”
The family of Matthew Henry, very often when unconverted visitors went to his house during their first visit they came out converted.
Remember God spoke to Samuel when he was only a child. Hannah’s prayers were granted when she desired a child. She gave the child back to the Lord. (1 Sam 1:26-28) We need to more Samuels, where the Lord speaks to children. “Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth”
If we will not catechize the next generation the devil will catechize them.