spurgeonThis past year our family began memorizing core doctrines together. Maybe you’ve always wanted to strengthen your theology? Maybe you wish the kids were better grounded in Scripture? Below is an abridged version of Charles Spurgeon’s Puritan Catechism. Tools like this are tremendously helpful for gaining a wide (cohesive) view of biblical doctrine. I’ve taken Spurgeon’s original and tried to import modern english when possible. I’ve also structured it in such a way that parents can lead their family through it in about a year, simply by tackling one question per week. There’s no greater gift you can give your family than God’s revealed truth. 

Charles Spurgeon’s Puritan Catechism (abridged)

  1. What is the chief end of man?
  2. Man’s chief end is to glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31), and to enjoy him forever (Ps. 73:25-26).
  1. What rule has God given to direct us in how we may glorify him?
  2. The Word of God contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments (Eph. 2:20; 2 Tim. 3:16).
  1. What do the Scriptures principally teach?
  2. The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe and obey God (2 Tim. 1:13; Eccl. 12:13).
  1. What is God?
  2. God is Spirit (Jn. 4:24), infinite (Job 11:7), eternal (Ps. 90:2; 1 Tim. 1:17), and unchangeable (Jas. 1:17) in his being (Exod. 3:14), wisdom, power (Ps. 147:5), holiness (Rev. 4:8), justice, goodness and truth (Exod. 34:6-7).
  1. Are there more Gods than one?
  2. There is but one only (Deut. 6:4), the living and true God (Jer. 10:10).
  1. How many persons are there in the Godhead?
  2. There are three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one God, the same in essence, equal in power and glory (1 Jn. 5:7; Matt. 28:19).
  1. What is the work of creation?
  2. The work of creation is God’s making all things (Gen. 1:1) of nothing, by the Word of his power (Heb. 11:3), in six normal consecutive days (Exod. 20:11).
  1. How did God create man?
  2. God created man, male and female, after his own image (Gen. 1:27), in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness (Col 3:10; Eph. 4:24) with dominion over the creatures (Gen. 1:28).
  1. What are God’s works of providence?
  2. God’s works of providence are his most holy (Ps. 145:17), wise, (Isa. 28:29) and powerful (Heb. 1:3), preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions (Ps. 103:19; Matt. 10:29).
  1. Did our first parents continue in the state wherein they were created?
  2. Our first parents being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the state wherein they were created, by sinning against God, (Eccl. 7:29) by eating the forbidden fruit (Gen. 3:6-8).
  1. What is sin?
  2. Sin is missing the perfect mark of God’s Law (1 Jn. 3:4).
  1. Did all mankind fall in Adam’s first transgression?
  2. The covenant being made with Adam, not only for himself but for all mankind descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him (1 Cor. 15:22; Rom. 5:12).
  1. Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
  2. The fall brought mankind into a state of sin and misery (Rom. 5:18).
  1. What is the misery of that state where into man fell?
  2. All mankind, by their fall, lost communion with God (Gen. 3:8, 24), are under his wrath and curse (Eph. 2:3; Gal. 3:10)
  1. Did God leave all mankind to perish in the state of sin and misery?
  2. God out of his good pleasure from all eternity elected some to everlasting life (2 Thess. 2:13) and entered into a covenant of grace to deliver them out of the state of sin and misery, and to bring them into a state of salvation by a Redeemer (Rom. 5:21).
  1. Who is the Redeemer of God’s elect?
  2. The only Redeemer of God’s elect is the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 2:5), who being the eternal Son of God, became man (Jn. 1:14), and so was and continues to be God and man, in two distinct natures and one person forever (1 Tim. 3:16; Col. 2:9).
  1. How did Christ, being the Son of God, become man?
  2. Christ, the Son of God, became man by taking to himself a true body (Heb. 2:14), and a soul (Matt. 26:38; Heb. 4:15), being conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary, and born of her (Lk. 1:31, 35), yet without sin (Heb. 7:26).
  1. What offices does Christ execute as our Redeemer?
  2. Christ as our Redeemer executes the offices of a prophet (Acts 3:22), of a priest (Heb. 5:6), and of a king (Ps. 2:6), both in his state of humiliation and exaltation.
  1. How does the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?
  2. The Spirit applies to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us (Eph. 2:8), and by it uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling (Eph. 3:17).
  1. What is effectual calling?
  2. Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit (2 Tim. 1:9) whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery (Acts 2:37), enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ (Acts 26:18), and renewing our wills (Ezek. 36:26), he does persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ freely offered to us in the gospel (Jn. 6:44-45).
  1. What benefits do they who are effectually called, partake of in this life?
  2. They who are effectually called, do in this life partake of justification (Rom. 8:30), adoption (Eph. 1:5), and sanctification (1 Cor. 1:30).
  1. What is justification?
  2. Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardons all our sins (Rom. 3:24; Eph. 1:7), and accepts us as righteous in his sight (2 Cor. 5:21) only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us (Rom. 5:19).
  1. What is adoption?
  2. Adoption is an act of God’s free grace (1 Jn. 3:1), whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges of the sons of God (Jn. 1:12; Rom. 8:17).
  1. What is sanctification?
  2. Sanctification is the work of God’s Spirit (2 Thess. 2:13), whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God (Eph. 4:24), and are enabled more and more to die to sin, and live to righteousness (Rom. 6:11).
  1. What are the benefits in this life which either accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification?
  2. The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification (Rom. 5:1-2, 5), are assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17), increase of grace, perseverance in it to the end (Prov. 4:18; 1 Jn. 5:13; 1 Pet. 1:5).
  1. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at their death?
  2. The souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness (Heb. 12:23) and do immediately pass into glory, (Phil. 1:23; 2 Cor. 5:8; Lk. 23:43).
  1. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection?
  2. At the resurrection, believers being raised up in glory (1 Cor. 15:43), shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the day of judgment (Matt. 10:32), and made perfectly blessed both in soul and body in the full enjoying of God (1 Jn. 3:2) to all eternity (1 Thess. 4:17).
  1. What shall be done to the wicked at their death?
  2. The souls of the wicked shall at their death be cast into the torments of hell (Lk. 16:22-24), and their bodies lie in their graves till the resurrection, and judgment of the great day (Ps. 49:14).
  1. What shall be done to the wicked at the day of judgment?
  2. At the day of judgment the bodies of the wicked being raised out of their graves, shall be sentenced, together with their souls, to unspeakable torments with the devil and his angels forever (Dan. 12:2; Jn. 5:28-29; 2 Thess. 1:9; Matt. 25:41).
  1. What is the sum of the ten commandments?
  2. The sum of the ten commandments is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind; and our neighbour as ourselves (Matt. 22:37-40).
  1. Is any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God?
  2. No mere man, since the fall, is able in his life perfectly to keep the commandments of God (Eccl. 7:20), but does daily break them in thought, (Gen. 8:21) word (Jas. 3:8), and deed (Jas. 3:2).
  1. Are all transgressions of the law equally heinous?
  2. Some sins in themselves, and by reason of various aggravations, are more heinous in the sight of God than others (Jn. 19:11; 1 Jn. 5:16).
  1. What does every sin deserve?
  2. Every sin deserves God’s wrath and curse, both in this life and that which is to come (Eph. 5:6; Ps. 11:6).
  1. How may we escape his wrath and curse due to us for sin?
  2. To escape the wrath and curse of God due to us for sin, we must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (Jn. 3:16), trusting alone to his blood and righteousness. This faith is attended by repentance for the past (Acts 20:21) and leads to holiness in the future.
  1. What is faith in Jesus Christ?
  2. Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace (Heb. 10:39), whereby we receive (Jn. 1:12), and rest upon him alone for salvation (Phil. 3:9), as he is set forth in the gospel (Isa. 33:22).
  1. What are the outward means whereby the Holy Spirit communicates to us the benefits of redemption?
  2. The outward and ordinary means whereby the Holy Spirit communicates to us the benefits of Christ’s redemption, are the Word, by which souls are begotten to spiritual life; Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, Prayer, and Meditation, by all which believers are further edified in their most holy faith (Acts 2:41-42; Jas. 1:18).
  1. How is the Word made effectual to salvation?
  2. The Spirit of God makes the reading, but especially the preaching of the Word, an effectual means of convicting and converting sinners, (Ps. 19:7) and of building them up in holiness and comfort (1 Thess. 1:6), through faith to salvation (Rom. 1:16).
  1. How is the Word to be read and heard that it may become effectual to salvation?
  2. That the Word may become effectual to salvation, we must attend to it with diligence (Prov. 8:34), preparation (1 Pet. 2:1-2), and prayer (Ps 119:18), receive it with faith (Heb. 4:2), and love (2 Thess. 2:10), lay it up into our hearts (Ps. 119:11), and practice it in our lives (Jas. 1:25).
  1. How do Baptism and the Lord’s Supper become spiritually helpful?
  2. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper become spiritually helpful, not from any virtue in them, or in him who does administer them (1 Cor. 3:7; 1 Pet. 3:21), but only by the blessing of Christ (1 Cor. 3:6), and the working of the Spirit in those who by faith receive them (1 Cor. 12:13).
  1. What is Baptism?
  2. Baptism is an ordinance of the New Testament, instituted by Jesus Christ (Matt. 28:19), to be to the person baptized a sign of his fellowship with him, in his death, and burial, and resurrection (Rom. 6:3; Col. 2:12), of his being ingrafted into him (Gal. 3:27), of remission of sins (Mk. 1:4; Acts 22:16), and of his giving up himself to God through Jesus Christ, to live and walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4-5).
  1. To whom is Baptism to be administered?
  2. Baptism is to be administered to all those who actually profess repentance towards God (Acts 2:38; Matt. 3:6; Mk. 16:16; Acts 8:12, 36-37; Acts 10:47-48), and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and to none other.
  1. What is the Lord’s Supper?
  2. The Lord’s Supper is an ordinance of the New Testament, instituted by Jesus Christ; wherein, by giving and receiving bread and wine, according to his appointment, his death is shown forth (1 Cor. 11:23-26), and the worthy receivers are, not after a corporeal and carnal manner, but by faith, made partakers of his body and blood, with all his benefits, to their spiritual nourishment, and growth in grace (1 Cor. 10:16).
  1. What is required to the worthy receiving of the Lord’s Supper?
  2. It is required of them who would worthily partake of the Lord’s Supper, that they examine themselves of their knowledge to discern the Lord’s body (1 Cor. 11:28-29), of their faith to feed upon him (2 Cor. 13:5), of their repentance (1 Cor. 11:31), love (1 Cor. 11:18-20), and new obedience, (1 Cor. 5:8) lest coming unworthily, they eat and drink judgment to themselves (1 Cor. 11:27-29).

Posted by Anthony Wood

Anthony is Pastor of Mission Bible Church in Tustin, CA, and has authored the books Defining Church & Defining Family. He’s married to Bre, and they have three children. More @AnthonyGeneWood

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