Coffee & Catechism: The Content we Confess
The Content we Confess as Christians
Several weeks ago I began to make it a practice that in the morning as I sit in the living room on the couch I have my first cup of coffee along with reading through Luther’s Small Catechism and it’s explanation (Concordia House Publishing has this Edition here: http://tinyurl.com/yajpl5o3) This has become one of the precious times as I pray using Martin Luther’s Morning Prayer:
“I thank you, my Heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray that You would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.”
After prayer and reciting the Apostles Creed, Luther tells Christians to go on their way joyfully.
For me, as a new Lutheran, I decided that going on joyfully meant learning more about the faith handed down to us (Jude 1:3). Irenaeus, an Ancient Church Father, wrote in his work Against Heresies, We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the Gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith (AH 3.1.1).
Since the Bible is the ground and pillar of our faith, as Paul wrote to Timothy, “…the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth…” (1 Tim. 3:15) it is then wise to learn from the Church, since its founding, from those who remained faithful. Such is the reason for me to go through Luther’s Small Catechism, researching the scriptures referenced and studying the explanations for each section.
So we pray:
Blessed Lord, since You have caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning, grant that we may so hear them, read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, You Son, our Lord, who live and regns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
As many know I have come from being Pentecostal/Charismatic to Reformed Baptist, then Dutch Reformed (Three Forms of Unity: Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism and Canons of Dordt) and now Lutheran.
The results are that there are many things I have had to UN-learn while learning (sometimes what seems for the first time ever) what the Bible plainly and actually says. There are days in which it feels like much of what I was taught is so stuck deep that it must be pulled up, root and all. Other times it feels like simple water washing away the chalk writings of some teaching and others still as if it is so etched in me that the mason must grind away at the false or erroneous teaching so that the truth may be engraved there. Sometimes there is the frustrating realization of, “Why didn’t I see that before!!!” and often, “I know I’ve read that time and time again, why does it make sense only now?”
Such is the process of God’s Holy Spirit, through His Holy Word working sanctification in the very understanding of His Written Word. While I am sometimes frustrated with both what I believed and taught, I have learned, most especially from the Ladies Bible Study at Faith Lutheran, that I only believed what I was taught and I was taught wrong so I shouldn’t beat myself up about it, just be grateful that God has brought me to a clearer understanding of His Word. They have taught me not only how to be gracious to others but also to myself at those times and that is one reason I am truly grateful for the friendship and love.
So now, as I begin to study from Luther’s Small Catechism I embark on this new, hopefully weekly, blog post titled: Coffee & Catechism. The goal is to write on those that are teaching me, clarifying teachings and strengthening me in the most Holy and True Faith which mean it may not be on every section, but we’ll see.
What is the Christian faith?
It is very interesting that Martin Luther begins with this question in the Introduction (if you’re following with the CPH 2017 version I’ll give page numbers), pg. 43:
“What is the Christian faith?”
The Christian faith is the confession that Jesus Christ is the world’s only Savior and Redeemer.
§ John 14:6: Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
§ Acts 4:12: There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.
§ 1 John 5:11-12: This is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
Note: Christian was first called ‘the Way’ (Acts 9:2; 24:14, 22). The term Christian was first used at Antioch (Acts 11:26). This question speaks of the content of the faith that we confess as Christians…
It is the Christian Faith