I Cor. 16:9 ‘For a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.’

August 29, 2008

Catechetical Instruction – part 1 of 2

Biblical instruction as a foundation for church membership dates back to the very beginning of the Christian church. In the early days of the church this instruction generally preceded baptism. We have many examples of this in the book of Acts. In Acts 2, the people who had gathered to celebrate the Old Testament festival of Pentecost were instructed by Peter and the other apostles in basic Christian doctrine: They were taught about the work of the Holy Spirit (2:16-21, 33); the life of Jesus of Nazareth (2:22); His death (2:23); resurrection (2:24-32); and ascension into heaven (2:33-36). Then we are told: “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:41-42).

Similarly we are told of the Ethiopian eunuch to whom Philip “preached Jesus” (Acts 8:35), after which he made a confession of his faith and was baptized; the family of Cornelius whom Peter instructed in the Christian faith (cf. Acts 10:34-43) and then were baptized; the jailer of Philippi to whom Paul and Silas “spoke the word of the Lord” (Acts 16:32) and believing, were baptized; as well as many others (cf. Acts 8:12, 13; 9:18; 16:15; 18:8; and 22:16).

Over time this changed. The adults who came to know Jesus as the Christ, their Savior, through the preaching of Jesus’ followers are described clearly in the book of Acts. (Note: The Protestant churches often focus too much on a confession of faith as an adult, because of this emphasis in the book of Acts, even though entire families or “households” are mentioned often in the above sections.) The first generation of Christians passed on to their children what they had come to know. Succeeding generations in Christian homes were baptized in their youth or infancy and then instructed in the Christian faith as they grew older.

But even before the close of the first century, the apostles already began to warn against the intrusion of false teaching. Peter wrote: “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed” (2 Peter 2:1). Just as the confessions of the church grew in strength and detail, so did the need for more detailed instruction, in order to combat these many destructive heresies.

Martin Luther was not the first to compile a catechism (i.e. book of instruction). Books of instruction in the Christian faith have been around since the first century (they can be found in the Old Testament as well). The early church writing entitled The Didiche (“the teaching”) was a catechism from the late first or early second century. It’s focus was on teaching the 10 Commandments. Over time, instruction was expanded to include the Apostles’ or Nicene Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, as well as the Sacraments, and various other aspects of Christian training.

Luther’s Catechism

During the Middle Ages, such instruction in the Christian faith was almost completely lost, and the majority of people, even within the church were very spiritually ignorant. During a visitation of the churches in Saxony (1527-1529), Luther discovered that the majority of the people and their pastors did not even have a basic knowledge of the Christian faith! This instilled in Luther the need for a book of instruction teaching the basics of Biblical doctrine. The Roman church had such books, but Luther realized that they were full of Roman teachings, and what Luther himself calls “unchristian follies.” So Luther made it a priority to publish a simple book of the Bible’s teachings which could be used in the church, schools and home to instruct the people in these truths.

(submitted by Pastor Nathanael Mayhew)

Parables – 2

Our Lord used the teaching method of parables so that people could understand spiritual truths better by seeing illustrations of them in everyday life. Think of the birds of the air and the lilies of the field…We can still do as our Lord did by taking illustrations out of everyday life.
Another interesting teaching method is in Jotham’s fable of when the trees went forth to anoint a king over them. By having the trees talk he got the peoples attention and then explained. Judges 9:7-21
A Pastor Stubenvoll wrote some modern examples of the parable and Jotham’s fable which we will look at. Consider also how you could use these methods in preaching and teaching.

The Beggar and the Toad

There was a poor beggar who had no home and no friends. People would give him suspicious side-glances and would look at him over their shoulders. One day he kneeled at the side of a road and complained to the dear Lord about his misery and misfortune. “But you are more fortunate than I,” cried a toad that was sitting next to him. People avoid and hate me because of my ugliness, and I have no one to comfort me in my misery. But right now you are comforting yourself in prayer to your God. Your adoption by God is worth more than both your life and mine. You complain about your fate, but I am satisfied with mine in spite of the fact that I am a poor toad. How rich and fortunite you are compared to me! You have every reason to be satisfied.

THE CLC and Sister Churches
One clear indication of how much the CLC values its overseas brothers is shown in the planned visits overseas in the upcoming months.

* September 5-12 – Pastor Koenig visits Congo
* October 10-Nov. 14 – Pastor Mayhew visits Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda.
If the graduation for St. Peter’s Seminary is moved, Chairman Naumann of the Miss. Bd., and Larry Hansen would hope to go for that.
* October 20-Nov. 1 -Larry Hansen(Mission Bd. member), Mark Bohde(former missionary in Thailand) and Koenig visit Myanmar
* Nov.- Pastor Ude visits Nigeria and in Dec. Ghana and Togo
* Jan. ’09 – Pastors Ohlmann and Ude visit Nepal
* And of course Ude and Koenig are in India on and off.

Our prayer is that these times of visitation will be times of refreshing fellowship as the Word of God is studied together.

Pastor Koenig