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August 2016 - Growing In Christ by Using the Catechism

Growing in Christ by Using the Catechism

           As you may have heard, we have been emphasizing the use and learning of the Small Catechism in our Sunday school classes – and for good reason!  We are commanded by our Lord in His Word that we are to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18)  And one of the great tools we have for this growth is the catechism.  Contrary to what some have thought, the Small Catechism is not just a confirmation text book or something suitable only for kids, or something that has already been studied and no need to bother opening it now.  Here’s a test for you: Do you know where your catechism is right now?  If you have to think about that, you may not be using it as much as you should, nor as Luther intended for you to use it: 

 

As for myself, let me say that I, too, am a doctor and a preacher — yes, and as learned and experienced as any of those who act so high and mighty. Yet I do as a child who is being taught the Catechism. Every morning, and whenever else I have time, I read and recite word for word the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Psalms, etc. I must still read and study the Catechism daily, yet I cannot master it as I wish, but must remain a child and pupil of the Catechism, and I do it gladly…

Therefore, I once again implore all Christians, especially pastors and preachers, not to try to be doctors prematurely and to imagine that they know everything. Vain imaginations, like new cloth, suffer shrinkage! Let all Christians exercise themselves in the Catechism daily, and constantly put it into practice, guarding themselves with the greatest care and diligence against the poisonous infection of such security or vanity. Let them continue to read and teach, to learn and meditate and ponder. Let them never stop until they have proved by experience that they have taught the devil to death and have become wiser than God himself and all his saints.

If they show such diligence, then I promise them — and their experience will bear me out — that they will gain much fruit and God will make excellent men of them. Then in due time they themselves will make the noble confession that the longer they work with the Catechism, the less they know of it and the more they have to learn. Only then, hungry and thirsty, will they truly relish what now they cannot bear to smell because they are so bloated and surfeited. To this end may God grant his grace! Amen.

 

            So, what are some practical ways of using the Catechism to grow in your knowledge and trust of Jesus Christ?   Surprising to some is the fact that the Small Catechism isn’t just a book of instruction, but is actually meant to be a prayer book for individuals and families.   Individually we can spend some of our devotional time prayerfully reading and meditating over portions of the Catechism, looking for instruction from God, for areas to thank Him for His blessings, for what we need to confess to God, and how we can joyfully live according to His Word. 

            Families can use the Catechism in their daily devotions by using the suggested prayers at meal time or for members of the family to pray the suggested prayers when they go to sleep and when they wake up.   Families can use the Catechism to pray the Lord’s Prayer together, and then say the Apostles Creed.  They then can read new sections together and discuss their meaning every day.  Over time, the entire family will be able to recite the Catechism, and more importantly hold onto that faith proclaimed.  

            Some have discovered that the Catechism is a wonderful resource for witnessing to others about Jesus Christ.   Imagine, you don’t have to learn complex systems or master theological arguments, but simply by knowing the Creed and its explanation, you can clearly share with others what Jesus is all about and how one receives salvation in Christ.

            My prayer is that all of us make better and more frequent use of this treasure passed down to us, that we may indeed “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”  God’s blessings on your prayerful study!

 

Pastor Reiser

 

 

 

 

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