What is it?
In 1 Corinthians 14:19, Paul says, “In the church I would rather speak five words with my mind, in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.” In Galatians 6:6, he says, “Let him who is taught the word share all good things with him who teaches.” Acts 18:25 says that Apollos “has been instructed in the way of the Lord.”
In each of these verses the Greek word for “instruct” or “teach” is katecheo. From this word we get our English word “catechize.” It simply means to teach biblical truth in an orderly way. Generally this is done with questions and answers accompanied by biblical support and explanation.
Is there a biblical pattern of doctrine?
Several texts teach that there is. For example, in Romans 6:17 Paul gives thanks that “You have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed.” 2 Timothy 1:13 says, “Follow the pattern of sound words which you heard from me.” Acts 2:42 says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching.” And 2 Thessalonians 2:15 says, “Stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us.”
So it appears that there was a body of authoritative instruction and even a way of teaching it in the early church.
Why is this important?
- We are required to “continue in the faith, stable and steadfast” (Colossians 1:23).
- We are urged 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” (Ephesians 4:13-14).
- There are many deceivers (1 John 2:26).
- There are different doctrines “which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16).
- Leaders must be raised who can “give instruction in sound doctrine and also confute those who contradict it” (Titus 1:8).
How shall we begin?
In each Star newsletter I will include (in a section called Catechism) one or two questions for the week. I hope that you will make them part of your family routine or just use them for yourself. I am excited about being a partner with you in building a “stable and firm” generation who hopes in God.
Learning and teaching with you,
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. ©2013 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org