FOR THE INSTRUCTION OF CHRISTIANS
Written to assist new Christians in understanding the basic doctrines of the Faith and as a tool of instruction for the use of Sunday Schools and Bible Study groups
Pastor David Th. Stark
©1998David Th. Stark, all rights reserved.
Permission is hereby given to download and use copies of this work without cost, so long as the title, author, and this copyright notice are printed on the copies.
Questions for the Instruction of Christians
Q.1. What is a Christian?
A. A Christian is a man, woman or child who truly believes the message of the Holy Bible.
Q.2. What is the Holy Bible?
A.The Holy Bible is the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments directly inspired by God without any error or mistakes, written by prophets and apostles, and providentially preserved by God through the ages.
Q.3. What is the message of the Holy Bible?
A. That there is only one true God who is sovereign over all things and has provided salvation for mankind through His Son Jesus Christ.
Q.4. Why do you say that there is only one true God?
A. Because God has so revealed Himself in His word that He alone is God and that there are no other gods with Him.
Q.5. But why then do some teach that there are more gods than one?
A. Because they are either ignorant or deceived by false teachers, demons, or their own fantasies, and because they have not received God's word into their hearts.
Q.6. What do you mean when you say that the one true God is sovereign?
A. That He created all things from nothing and that everything is under His plan and control.
Q.7. Does God's plan include sin and evil?
A. Though God takes no pleasure in sin or evil and He is never the responsible author of it, He is sovereign over it and will turn it ultimately for the good of His people and to His glory.
Q.8. How can God be glorified by sin and evil?
A. By punishing it in strict justice toward the unrepentant wicked and overcoming it in mercy for the redeemed.
Q.9. Does God's plan include everything that exists and that happens?
A. Everything that exists or that happens comes about as part of His sovereign plan and decree, otherwise God would not be God.
Q.10. Why do you say that God must be sovereign over everything in order to be God?
A. Because if there was anything that is not under His control and power then there would be something that could change Him, or frustrate His purposes in time and eternity, and no such thing can happen.
Q.11. How do you know this to be so?
A. Because God is God absolutely. He has spoken to us in His word, the Holy Bible, and revealed Himself in His works of creation and providence.
Q.12. What has God told us of His works of creation?
A. That He created the entire universe and this earth with everything in it out of nothing in six normal days of light and darkness, and that it was all originally very good.
Q.13. What has God told us of His works of providence?
A. That from the fall of the littlest sparrow to the greatest events in history, God is at work caring for His creation and guiding all things for the sake of His glory and the good of His people, according to His plan and purpose.
Q.14. What else has God revealed about Himself in His Word?
A. That He is one God in essence, but exists in three eternal Persons; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and this truth is known as the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.
Q.15. How can God be a Trinity, that is, one and three, at the same moment?
A. God can truly be one and three at the same moment because He is a different sort of being than any creature and His greatness and being are beyond our ability to comprehend.
Q.16. If we cannot comprehend His greatness and being then why do you say He is one and three at the same moment?
A. Because He has revealed Himself to be so in His Word, and though we cannot comprehend His being and greatness, He knows Himself thoroughly and can tell us what He is, even though we cannot fully understand it.
Q.17. But does not this doctrine of the Holy Trinity then go against human reason?
A. The doctrine of the Trinity is above human reason, not against it; and besides, human reason is fallible, limited, and darkened by the effects of sin and its curse, therefore it can be no safe guide to try and judge God's truth in the Bible.
Q.18. But didn't God give us our reason and minds for a purpose?
A. God has given us our minds and reason, not to judge His word, but that we might receive it intelligently into our hearts in true faith; but we cannot do this unless we are born again by His Holy Spirit.
Q.19. Why must we be born again?
A. Because mankind fell into sin with our first parents, Adam and Eve; and as a result of their fall we are all born into this world guilty, dead in trespasses and sins, under God's judgment, and subject to eternal damnation.
Q.20. What is sin?
A. Sin is breaking any of God's commands, either outwardly in our words or actions, or inwardly in our thoughts and imaginations.
Q.21. What are God's commands?
A. God's commands are all the things He has directed us to believe and do in His word; but chiefly, they are contained in the Ten Commandments and the Summary of the Law, as Christ our Lord taught us.
Q.22. Can you recite the Ten Commandments?
A. "And God spoke all these words, saying: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
I. You shall have no other gods before Me.
II. You shall not make for yourself a carved image-any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down yourself to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
III. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain. IV. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it. V. Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.
VI. You shall not murder.
VII. You shall not commit adultery.
VIII. You shall not steal.
IX. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
X. You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's."
Q.23. What is the Summary of the Law?
A. Christ taught us in Matthew 22:37-40;
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.
Q.24. How do these commandments show us that we are sinners?
A. The Law shows us we are sinners because we do not love God as we should, who is the greatest and best of all beings and who is worthy of all our love, adoration, and service; but rather we dishonor Him by our selfish and wicked actions and deserve to suffer in the fires of hell for all eternity in just punishment for our sins against Him.
Q.25. What else does the Law do?
A. The Law fences us in under God's wrath and judgment and drives us to the only way of escape open to us.
Q.26. What is the only way of escape from God's wrath and judgment open to us?
A. The Lord Jesus Christ, who through His person and work alone can save us from our sins and the damnation we rightly deserve.
Q.27. Who is the Lord Jesus Christ?
A. He is the sinless Son of God, the second person of the Holy Trinity, one in nature and essence with the Father and the Holy Spirit; who in order to redeem His people willing took to Himself a true human nature when He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin Mary, so that He is now for all eternity true God and true man united in His one person, the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Q.28. Why was it necessary for our redemption that one who is true God become a true man?
A. Our Redeemer had to be true God so that His Divine nature could uphold His human nature under the weight of God's eternal wrath when He suffered and died on the Cross, and He had to be a true man so that He could fully represent us in His life and sufferings and thereby make full payment for our sins.
Q.29. Why must the punishment of sin be eternal?
A. The punishment of sin is not measured by the merit of the creature, but by the virtue, dignity, and person of the one against whom the sin is committed; and because God's infinite majesty, honor, and Person are eternal the punishment of sin to be perfectly just, must be eternal also.
Q.30. How did Christ, by suffering in time, make a payment of eternal value for our sins?
A. Because Christ is an eternal person, being true God, He could in His human nature suffer for a period of time in His human body, as a true man, and actually bear for us the pain of eternal punishment while He suffered upon the Cross.
Q.31. How do you know that Christ fully paid for all the sins of His people when He died upon the Cross?
A. Because Christ rose bodily from the dead on the third day. The power of death is sin, and death could not hold Him because all the sins imputed to Him were atoned for by Him. Thus we have the assurance of full forgiveness from God.
Q.32. What is imputation?
A. Imputation is the act of God by which the guilt of our sins was legally placed upon Christ and punished in Him as our substitute, so that we in Him may now appear before God as innocent, righteous, and holy, having the righteousness and death of Christ legally given to us as a gift by God's free grace.
Q.33. How do we make this gift of God our own?
A. We can receive this free gift of forgiveness and salvation in no other way than by faith alone.
Q.34. If it is by faith alone, what then must a Christian believe?
A. We must believe everything that God has said to us in the Bible; and this is summarized for us in the Nicene Creed, where the undoubted articles of our Christian faith are found and confessed by true Christians.
Q.35. Can you recite the Nicene Creed?
A. Yes. The Nicene Creed says:
"We believe in one God, the Father Almighty; Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages, God of God, Light of Light, True God of True God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made; Who for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father; and he shall come again with glory, to judge both the living and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end.
And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life; Who proceeds from the Father and the Son; Who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified; Who spoke by the Prophets.
And we believe one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. We confess one baptism for the remission of sins; And we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. AMEN."
Q.36. Why do you receive these articles as the summary of your Christian faith?
A. Because they are taught in the Holy Bible and have been received by the Church from the earliest times.
Q.37. What does the creed teach about God the Father?
A. It teaches me that He is true God, all powerful, and the Maker of everything that is created.
Q.38. What does the creed teach about the Lord Jesus Christ?
A. It teaches me that He is true God, and not a mere creature; that He for our salvation became a true man to redeem us; that He died, rose again, ascended into heaven, sits at the Father's right hand in heaven, and is coming again in glory to judge the world; and that His kingdom will never end.
Q.39. What does the Creed teach about the Holy Spirit?
A. It teaches me that He is true God and Lord with the Father and the Son and is to be worshiped with them in the unity of God, and that He spoke by the prophets.
Q.40. What is the holy, catholic and apostolic Church?
A. The holy, catholic and apostolic Church is the number of professed believers on earth together with their children gathered in visible local congregations, according to Christ's rule in the Holy Scriptures, in the unity of the true faith, and in submission to the word of God.
Q.41. How are these three marks seen in the Church?
A. The Church is holy because its members are washed in the blood of Jesus Christ. It is catholic because it is not confined to any one nation, language or race. It is apostolic because it is in obedient submission to the writings of Christ's apostles in the Scriptures. These marks are always found in the true Christian Church.
Q.42. Who are the members of this true Christian Church?
A. All those who profess belief in Jesus Christ as their Saviour and Lord, who are baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and continue in the worship, fellowship, discipline and Sacraments of the Christian Church in a local congregation together with their children.
Q.43. How are we to worship God?
A. We are to worship God in no other way than He has command us in His word, because worship is to be done to God's good pleasure and not according to the commandments, dictates or customs of men, whether ancient or modern. Therefore we must worship and pray according to the directions of God's word.
Q.44. What is the form of prayer which Christ our Lord gave to His Church?
A. Though we are commanded to pray without ceasing, and may do so at all times and on various occasions, the Holy Spirit helping us always in our prayers, Christ has given us a prayer that we may daily use in public and in private, commonly called the Lord's Prayer.
Q.45. Can you recite the Lord's Prayer?
A. Yes, it is found in Matthew 6:9-11
"Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours in the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen."
Q.46. What does this prayer teach you?
That I should look to my heavenly Father for every good thing, and seek His help and protection every day, because He is faithful and gracious to all who seek Him through Christ.
Q.47. What is the fellowship of the Church.
A. The fellowship of the Church is the life of the community of Christians as they live their lives helping and encouraging each other upon this earth, serving and worshiping God privately, in their homes and in the public assemblies of the congregations.
Q.48. What is the discipline of the Church?
A. The discipline of the Church is the pastoral nurture and oversight given to the people of God by the pastors and elders qualified for office according to the word of God and called to serve by the common consent of each congregation.
Q.49. What is meant by pastoral nurture?
A. By pastoral nurture the true pastors of Christ's Church build up and guide God's people in their worship and service until they attain spiritual maturity as the bearers of the image of Christ in this world.
Q.50. What is meant by pastoral oversight?
A. By pastoral oversight the true pastors of Christ's Church protect and guard God's people from error, harm and evil doers both within and outside the visible Church, that erring Christians may be recovered, wicked persons rebuked and disciplined, and the Church kept pure in its doctrine and practice. For this reason all Christians must endeavor to be at peace with the pastors of the Church.
Q.51. What are the Sacraments of the Church?
A. There are only two Sacraments appointed by Christ for His Church, Holy Baptism and the Lord's Table.
Q.52. What is Holy Baptism?
A. Holy Baptism is a visible sign and seal of inclusion into Christ and all His benefits to be applied once only to all those whom Christ receives as the members of His visible Church, that is, professed believers and their children, by the application of water either by sprinkling, pouring, or dipping, in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Q.53. What is the Lord's Table?
A. The Lord's Table is a visible sign and seal of the salvation Christ purchased for His people by His shed blood and broken body on the Cross of Calvary, administered by the breaking and eating of bread and the drinking of wine.
Q.54. Who should eat the bread and drink the wine in the Sacrament of the Lord's Table?
A. The bread and the wine should be given to baptized Christians only who personally confess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour, are capable of self examination and confession of their sins, and who are able to discern the difference between the elements of bread and wine consecrated for use in the Sacrament from the real physical body of Christ which was once and for all offered on Calvary, is risen again, and is now in heaven at the Father's right hand.
Q.55. Do the Sacraments actually take away our sins?
A. No. Only the blood of Christ and the Spirit of God can cleanse us from our sins, of which the Sacraments are outward visible signs pointing to the real inward work which God himself does in our spirits by faith.
Q.56. Are the Sacraments then empty signs & seals without any real benefit or necessity?
A. The Holy Spirit uses the Sacraments to direct our faith to Christ and His finished work. Therefore as we trust in Jesus Christ the sacraments have him as their substance and reality and are of great benefit and necessity to the Christian.
Q.57. What happens when a Christian dies?
A. When a Christian dies his or her spirit departs from the physical body into a conscious presence before God in heaven and is perfected in the love of God, with all the redeemed ones who have gone before, where there they await the resurrection on the last day, when their spirits will be reunited forever with their fully redeemed and raised physical bodies.
Q. 58. What happens to the unsaved at death?
A. Those who die in unbelief, still having the guilt of their sins upon them, at death have their conscious souls sent into the torments of the fires of hades, where they begin to suffer punishment for their sins and to await the final judgment day when they will be reunited with their physical bodies to be cast into the eternal fires and torment of the lake of fire, to consciously suffer the just wrath of God against them through all eternity.
Q. 59. What is the resurrection of the dead?
A. On the last day of history the Lord Jesus Christ will return visibly in the clouds and all persons who have ever lived will be raised physically in the same bodies in which they lived, only changed so as never to die again. The righteous will enter into the joys of heaven with all God's redeemed elect ones for ever, and the wicked will then be cast alive into the lake of fire to suffer the just wrath of God against them for ever.
Q.60. What is your assurance that all these things are true?
A. Because they are taught in the Holy Bible and the Spirit of God assures my heart that by true faith in Jesus Christ I am a child of God, a member of His true Church, and a Christian, not in word only, but in truth, by God's sovereign grace given to me in His Son before the world began.
Q.61. In light of these truths and your confession of faith what should you do?
A. I should zealously seek to honor God all the days of my life by obedience, prayer and love to Him, continuing in the fellowship of His Church with my fellow Christians and with a sincere heart seek to prayerfully win others to faith in Christ by my example and words, while I await the full enjoyment of all God's promises in heaven given to me through my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.