Columbia, SC 29205
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The following questions and answers were written to help the parents and small groups of Riverside as we dig down deep into the Ten Commandments. Teaching the faith using this conversational, back-and-forth method was done by the earliest Christians and took its name—catechism—from the Greek language in which the gospel of Jesus first spread. Since then, Jesus’ church has used catechisms to explain the gospel in the context of community. To use it, parents and teachers simply ask the questions regularly until the answers are memorized and understood.
What does this catechism aim to do? Three things:
(1) To show how the Ten Commandments are a mirror. They show the perfect righteousness and goodness of God—and then immediately confront us with the question, “You must do these things—do you?” An honest reading of each commandment shows how good God is and how we’re not. So as you use the catechism, don’t let your partner walk away confident in their obedience—but don’t leave them despairing because of their sin, unsure what to do with them. If evangelism is hard for you, this catechism is your friend! It starts conversations where you can say with the authority of the gospel, “None is righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10)—and, imitating Paul, follow up that confession with the glorious truth that there is good news for everyone who trusts in Christ to take away the condemnation of the law (Romans 3:21-28; 8:1-4)!
(2) To show how the Ten Commandments are a map. They show what it looks like to turn away from sin and toward loving obedience. Because of the commandments, those who have trusted in Jesus to save us from the wrath of God don’t have to guess what repentance looks like. The Ten Commandments reveal to us a high calling that, with the Spirit of Christ helping us, we can grow to fulfill. The holiest person will never walk away from the Ten Commandments unconvicted; but the least holy believer can be confident that, knowing the Ten Commandments, he or she understands how to get from here in our sin to there in greater obedience.
(3) To show how the Ten Commandments are a model. By understanding more of the goodness, truth, and beauty of the law, we understand how good, true, and beautiful is the Giver of the law. And as “the exact imprint of God’s nature” (Hebrews 1:3), the Lord Jesus gave us a flesh-and-blood picture of the holiness of the Ten Commandments. Each of the Ten Commandments paints a picture of the perfect plan of God for humanity, and each of the Ten Commandments was perfectly fulfilled in the life of Jesus. So if the mirror leads to evangelism and the map leads to discipleship, the model leads to worship! What a great God, who himself is the glory to which the commandments point!
Our hope is that using the catechism won’t feel burdensome or wooden. If, in the process of memorizing and explaining each question’s answer, you start talking about related topics, you’re doing it right! When catechisms are used well, it invites everyone into a conversation in which the gospel is explored—and enjoyed—as the answer to our deepest needs. May it equip your family and small group to engage in the mission of Jesus, the greater Moses and our sinless Savior.