Speak the Truth to One Another
Pastor Eugene explains how we will be using the New City Catechism to affirm the faith together at our worship services.
As God’s people, we are to speak God’s truth to one another. In Ephesians 4, Paul
urges every believer to help build up the body of Chris this way: “Speaking the truth in
love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom
the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when
each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
What does this look like in practice? Speaking the truth happens in a variety of ways in
the life of the church: such as preaching the Bible, teaching Equip or a Sunday school
class, leading a small-group study, singing at corporate worship, reading Scripture with
someone else, or sharing godly counsel through our conversations with one another.
We disciple one another towards Christ-like maturity through these different avenues.
In the new year, we will have another opportunity to speak the truth to one another at
our worship services. We will be affirming the truths of the Christian faith together by
using the New City Catechism.
This catechism is a helpful summary of what we believe as a church. It is based on and
adapted from John Calvin’s Geneva Catechism, the Westminster Shorter and Larger
catechisms, and especially the Heidelberg Catechism. Comprising 52 questions and
answers, the catechism begins with this query: “What is our only hope in life and
death?” The response: “That we are not our own but belong, body and soul, both in life
and death, to God and to our Saviour Jesus Christ.”
The catechism is divided into three parts:
- Part 1: God, creation and fall, law (20 questions)
- Part 2: Christ, redemption, grace (15 questions)
- Part 3: Spirit, restoration, growing in grace (17 questions)
Covering one question-and-answer pair weekly at our worship services, it will take us a
year to go through the entire catechism.
As we do so, we will be adopting a practice that has a rich heritage in church history.
Scripture contains examples of how early Christians would affirm the faith. In 1 Timothy
3:16, for example, Paul includes an excerpt from a confessional statement concerning
Jesus Christ: “Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the
nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.”
The word “catechism” comes from the Greek katechein, which means “to teach orally or
to instruct by word of mouth”. The ancient church understood this to be an important
part of discipleship, so that Christians might have a firm foundation in the faith.
Catechisms are helpful teaching tools. What’s more, their question-and-answer format
lends itself to memorisation and interaction.
In his book, Grounded in the Gospel: Building Believers the Old-Fashioned Way, J. I.
Packer wrote, “Historically, the church’s ministry of grounding new believers in the
rudiments of Christianity has been known as catechesis. It is a ministry that has waxed
and waned through the centuries. It flourished between the second and fifth centuries in the ancient church. Those who became Christians often moved into the faith from
radically different backgrounds and worldviews. The churches rightly took such
conversions seriously and sought to ensure that these life-revolutions were processed
carefully, prayerfully, and intentionally, with thorough understanding at each stage.”
In the 16th century, the Protestant Reformers revived the use of catechisms in the life of the church. They were convinced that catechisms played a vital role in instructing
believers about the faith. Calvin even declared: “The church of will never be preserved
without catechesis.” In fact, Protestant catechisms were so successful that the Roman
Catholic Church began producing its own.
It is my prayer, along with the rest of the elders, that as we speak God’s truth to one
another through the New City Catechism, we will grow in our knowledge of the truth and unity of the faith. And may God help us to live out our identity as his people: We are “the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15).