Today we begin a new series through the Baptist Catechism. Unfortunately, when many hear (or, in this case, read) the word catechism they think of Roman Catholics. This, as I said, is unfortunate, for the Church has historically used catechisms to teach children and adults the theology of the Scriptures. (If you are interested in looking into the history of catechesis, I recommend this thesis: “A Historical Review of Catechesis: Development, Use, and Disuse” by John Kidd.)
Catechisms are structured differently. Some catechisms use the question and answer format (e.g., Baptist Catechism and the Westminster Shorter Catechism). Others provide a detailed treatment of doctrine and practice (e.g., Catechism of the Catholic Church). Each week, we will look at one question and one answer (with the supporting Scripture). We will briefly discuss it, and provide a few suggestions for application.
I have a two-fold goal in working through the Catechism. First, I hope to increase our knowledge of the Scripture and the doctrine we derive from it. Second, I hope our lives increasingly conform to the holiness of God as revealed in His Word.
Without further ado, let us begin.
QUESTION AND ANSWER ONE
Question One: Who is the first and chiefest being?
Answer One: God is the first and chiefest being.
Supporting Scripture: Isaiah 44:6; 48:12; and Psalm 97:9
The question and answer provide the starting point for everything. We are introduced to God. He is described as the first and chiefest being. It is from God that everything else flows. Let’s examine this in a little more detail.
God is the First Being
God is the first, meaning He was present before anything else existed. Isaiah 44:6 and 48:12 both convey the same message: God is first and last. He existed before anything else, and He will outlast everything.
God is the Chiefest Being
Psalm 97:9 teaches us that God is “exalted far above all gods” (ESV). There is nothing that comes close to God. We will see the implications of this truth further into the Catechism (questions 47-86).
This short question provides us with much to consider. Its brevity is profound because it packs a tremendous amount of truth into one question and answer (a theme that runs through the entire Catechism).
We can ask ourselves if we truly believe this. How can we tell? Ask yourself the following questions:
· Does my life display that I believe God is the chiefest being? In other words, what do I spend my time thinking about, what do I do?
· Does my life display that I worship Him? If He is the first and chiefest being, anything less than perfect worship and obedience is idolatry.
There are many more questions we could ask, but this is a great way to begin our look at the Baptist Catechism.