Questions with Answers – Volumes 5 & 6

Excited children and happy parents.

Songs for Saplings have been extremely busy and have now released Volumes 5 & 6 of their Questions With Answers series of albums.  Volume 5 covers Prayer and the Sacraments while Volume 6 has songs on Christ and His Return.

It’s a great way for children (and adults) to learn the catechism and lots and lots of Scripture.

Click on the video below to hear Dana singing a version of The Lord’s Prayer, and click here to download volumes 1 -6 of this excellent resource.

Your will be done on earth as in heaven

We’ve been making our way through the prayer Jesus taught His disciples to pray on recent Sunday evenings as we come to a close of our consideration of the Westminster Shorter Catechism.  This coming Sunday we’ll be looking at the request, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Although we may have said these words literally hundreds of times, when we stop and think what we are asking for, it’s a huge challenge to our self-centred lives where so often we want our will to be done.  Praying that God’s will be done on earth – here and now in my life, is a prayer for change; for painful, costly change.

In thinking on this, my mind wandered to John Newton’s old Hymn I asked the Lord that I might grow. It’s a great hymn, giving testimony of how God works in us to achieve his will and purpose.

I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek, more earnestly, His face.

‘Twas He who taught me thus to pray,
And He, I trust, has answered prayer!
But it has been in such a way,
As almost drove me to despair.

I hoped that in some favored hour,
At once He’d answer my request;
And by His love’s constraining pow’r,
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry pow’rs of hell
Assault my soul in every part.

Yea more, with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

Lord, why is this, I trembling cried,
Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?
“‘Tis in this way, the Lord replied,
I answer prayer for grace and faith.

These inward trials I employ,
From self, and pride, to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou may’st find thy all in Me.”

Catechising Kids

One of the really helpful features of the New City Catechism is that it has been developed with both children and adults in mind.  For example, the first question and answer

Q. What is our only hope in life and death?

A. That we are not our own but belong, body and soul, both in life and death, to God and to our Saviour Jesus Christ.

The bold parts of each answer are meant for young children to learn (I wonder how old before graduating onto the whole answer?).

I’m looking forward to starting these with at least some of our children later this week.

Kathy Keller talks about catechism with kids – the reasons, joys and pitfalls on  the other side of this link.

 

Like firewood in a fireplace

Over here, Tim Keller and The Gospel Coalition are about to launch the New City Catechism.

In the article Keller notes,

Superficial smatterings of truth, blurry notions about God and godliness, and thoughtlessness about the issues of living—careerwise, communitywise, familywise, and churchwise—are all too often the marks of evangelical congregations today.  (J. I. Packer and Garry Parrett, Grounded in the Gospel)

How can we reshape the lives of people who have grown to breath the evangelical air that Packer and Parrett describe above?

Since May this year we have been looking through the Westminster Shorter Catechism on Sunday evenings and we are now three quarters of the way through the one hundred and seven questions.  During that time I’ve heard comments like, Why are we looking at this again?, and Westminster Shorter Whatichism?

Catechisms are however  a great tool for learning the basic Biblical plot-line, Christian doctrine and practice and have been used throughout the last 500 years of the church with both young children and new adult converts.

Keller lists a number of reasons why catechesis can be a particularly helpful in understanding better the faith once delivered to the saints, but I particularly like what he says concerning catechising children.

Catechesis done with young children helps them think in biblical categories almost as soon as they can reason. Such instruction, one old writer said, is like firewood in a fireplace. Without the fire—the Spirit of God—firewood will not in itself produce a warming flame. But without fuel there can be no fire either, and that is what catechetical instruction provides.

I’ve mentioned before that a great way of getting children to know great gospel truths found in the WSC are the 4 Questions with Answers CD’s that are available for download from Songs for Saplings.

If you don’t know, don’t shoot

This coming Sunday evening we’ll be considering the 6th Commandment, You shall not murder.  Below is a link of Dr Peter Kreeft on why even those who are not convinced by pro-life arguments, have no reason at all to support the abortion of the unborn foetus.

You’ll need to pay attention to the argument and maybe watch it a few times over but the logic is undeniable.

The Fifth Commandment: Frame on Family

On Sunday evening we will be thinking about the fifth commandment as we continue our way through the Westminster Shorter Catechism.  John Frame in his excellent The Doctrine of the Christian Life, shows how the narrow application of the command within the context of family relationships, is rightly to be broadened to the other areas of authority in life – church and state.  He also gives a timely warning against one sphere of authority encroaching upon another.

So the family is the basic unit of human society. … all the institutions of society—prophetic, priestly, and kingly—begin in the family. To children, parents are rulers, educators, providers, and evangelists. All other forms of authority are extended forms of fatherhood and motherhood. Historically developmentally, and logically, the family is, I said in the previous chapter, “the fundamental sphere from which all others are derived.”  Honor in all spheres is derived from parental honor.

The family is also crucial to economic well-being. Honor to parents brings inheritance. It brings long life and prosperity. Rousas Rushdoony points out that “throughout history the basic welfare agency has been the family.”  Government policies that weaken the family lead to poverty and cultural decline. (Frame, Doctrine of the Christian Life, 595)

What are the decrees of God?

Tomorrow night we’re continuing with our study of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. We’ve reached question 7.

What are the decrees of God?

The decrees of God are His eternal plan based on the purpose of His will, by which, for His own glory, He has foreordained everything that happens.

History has purpose, meaning, direction and hope because God has planned and deteremined everything before he ever created anything in order that all things might work to bring glory and praise to His name.

How great is God!

Compare that with the meandering futility and uncertainty of the theory of evolution as C. S. Lewis sarcastically highlights in his Evolutionary Hymn.

Lead us, Evolution, lead us
Up the future’s endless stair;
Chop us, change us, prod us, weed us.
For stagnation is despair:
Groping, guessing, yet progressing,
Lead us nobody knows where.

Wrong or justice, joy or sorrow,
In the present what are they
While there’s always jam-tomorrow,
While we tread the onward way?
Never knowing where we’re going,
We can never go astray.

To whatever variation
Our posterity may turn
Hairy, squashy, or crustacean,
Bulbous-eyed or square of stern,
Tusked or toothless, mild or ruthless,
Towards that unknown god we yearn.

Ask not if it’s god or devil,
Brethren, lest your words imply
Static norms of good and evil
(As in Plato) throned on high;
Such scholastic, inelastic,
Abstract yardsticks we deny.

Far too long have sages vainly
Glossed great Nature’s simple text;
He who runs can read it plainly,
‘Goodness = what comes next.’
By evolving, Life is solving
All the questions we perplexed.

Oh then! Value means survival-
Value. If our progeny
Spreads and spawns and licks each rival,
That will prove its deity
(Far from pleasant, by our present,
Standards, though it may well be).

;

What is man’s primary purpose?

At church last night we began looking at the Westminster Shorter Catechism, a series of questions with answers focusing on the Christian faith which were completed in 1647.

If you want to look at / print off the 107 questions of the catechism for yourself you can find the original version here, and if you are really cool you’ll find an updated English version here.

The first question and answer of the catechism is also without doubt the most well know

Question: What is the chief end of man? (What is man’s primary purpose?)

Answer: Man’s primary purpose is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.  

And as John Piper has helpfully stated,