Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Catechism anyone?

It's almost been a whole month since I last put some "musings" down on this blog.  Sorry for the delay.  My excuse has been a trip to England to be with the new Grandchildren, and the hectic end of a semester of teaching.
I am now in a countdown for the Reformation Lecture Tour that is now three weeks away.
I've been doing some reading over the last month in preparation for the trip.  I have a background of forty years of study in Church History, and I have enjoyed reading about John Calvin and Ulrich Zwingli...both of whom I know less of than Martin Luther.  The lecture tour is concentrating on these three who had such a profound effect on the Reformation.

One of the things that the Reformation produced is a new way of understanding our relationship to God.  Gone was the assumption that Salvation was our efforts to both work for righteousness and produce works that would convince God to free us, or even loved ones,  from Purgatory.

All of the Reformers made it clear - Salvation was by grace through faith - a gift of God through the righteous work of Jesus Christ in His death on the cross and his resurrection from the dead.  We did not save ourselves; but rather we're saved through the work of Christ on our behalf.

The Reformers all produced Catechisms - starting with Luther.  The goal of these were to serve as both instruction about the Faith, and also to re-introduce the Faith to all who now embraced the Reform of the Church.

I grew up with memorizing the small Catechism of Martin Luther.  I wished I could say I remember it.  At the time I did not care for the task of memorizing it.  What is as a child a loathsome task, becomes as an adult believer, and a pastor, something different.  I think we need some sort of instruction...it's missing from the church today.  We have an entire generation of believers who have nothing more than anecdotal experiences to live off of - and sometimes those experiences are nothing more than manipulative religious experiences that are used by preachers and church leaders to keep people involved and excited even though the average person could not connect the experience to either scripture or doctrine.

On the contrary, think about the words of the Heidelberg Catechism and then the scripture that are connected to them.

Question:  What is your only comfort in life and death?
Answer:

That I am not my own (1 Cor. 6:19-20)
but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death (Romans 14:7-9)
to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 3:23; Titus 2:14)            
He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, (1 Peter 1:18, 19; 1 John 1:7; 2:2)
and has set me free from all the power of the devil (John 8:34-36; Heb 2:14-15; 1 John 3:8)
He also preserves me in such a way (John 6:39, 40; 10:27-30; 2 Thess. 3:3; 1 Peter 1:5)
that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head (Matt. 10:29-31)
indeed, all things must work together for my salvation (Romans 8:28-35)
Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life (Romans 8:15, 16; Eph. 1:13,14)
and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him (Romans 8:14)

If you get the opportunity, take some time to look up the passages and check it all out.  I think we could gain much in knowing the truth of this in our hearts and minds.

Peace