What is the chief end of the catechisms?
To help us glorify God and enjoy him forever.

The primary purpose of catechesis is to help men and women, boys and girls, know and delight in God more deeply. When we study the catechisms, individually or as a group, we are doing so in the pursuit of finding greater satisfaction and joy in God.  
Parents will sometimes say that they just want their kids to be happy. As a Christian, I can support that statement provided it is accompanied by an essential qualification: the greatest happiness that my children could ever know is the happiness that comes in possessing Jesus, the Savior of Sinners, by faith. Because it is only in Jesus that we know the gladness of the forgiveness of sins (Romans 4:7), acceptance with God through Christ’s righteousness (Romans 4:5), the thrill of holiness (1 Corinthians 1:29), and the hope of eternal life with God, his angels, and all the glorified saints (Hebrews 12:22-24).
It’s only through a living fellowship with Jesus that my children can know true, abiding happiness that will endure though heaven and earth pass away. Joy in the triune God is a joy that you and I and our children were made for; hence, the Shorter Catechism’s first answer, “Man’s primary purpose is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.”   
But how do the catechisms help us live into this purpose? Here’s how I tried to explain it this past week. We find great enjoyment in understanding how things work. As humans, we’re wired to understand the meaning, purpose, and how things fit together. We love the ‘Ah-ha!’ moments where suddenly something clicks and we begin to understand. Like the student in the classroom or the person watching a movie who suddenly “gets” the plot development. Knowledge enriches our appreciation of an object’s qualities. The person who understands the complexities of a baseball game will appreciate the beauty of the game more than the casual observer; meanwhile, the person who has studied the enslaving realities of poverty should hate it more.
That’s how Christian doctrine—and more specifically the catechisms as a summary of Christian doctrine—are meant to work. These short statements about who God is, who we are, what God has done, and how we are called to respond are meant to lead us into a deeper, more awe-filled understanding of how the gospel “works” (for a biblical example of how doctrine leads to delight, just look at how Paul’s exposition on sin, justification, sanctification, and election in Romans climaxes in the praise at the end of Romans 11). It should also bring the grotesque realities of sin into clearer focus too.
During a house visitation this week, I likened the catechism to the work of a mechanic. A mechanic has studied how the pieces of an engine fit together. He has an appreciation for how a good engine works. And, when things are not working, he also understands potential causes for the problem. By helping us understand how God saves sinners and what the Christian life is meant to look like in response to our salvation, we not only deepen in our praise for what God has done but we’re better equipped to run a “spiritual diagnostic” when we’re experiencing breakdowns. You might think of the work of catechism then as not only setting us up for the discovery of greater joy but the re-discovery of joy when things go wrong.
This is just one reason why I’m really finding delight in going through the catechism with our children. With the Holy Spirit’s blessing, I believe that I’m setting up my children to discover greater joy in God as they begin to understand who he is and what the gospel is.

So, I hope you and your family are joining us in our year-long effort to lead our families through the catechism using From the Lips of Little Ones or Training Hearts, Teaching Minds. It's never too late to start, so please be encouraged to start now, not ultimately because it’s a duty, but because it is a duty that leads us to godly delight.
In His Service,

Pastor Wayne

1 Comment

Thanks for the reminder.

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