Catechism for Children
What is a catechism? The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as an elementary treatise for instruction in the principles of the Christian religion, in the form of question and answer.
The Bible says nothing about a catechism for children prior to baptism, so this specific catechism is at best merely a tool of Christian liberty and hopefully instructional wisdom. However, our Lord Jesus Christ did require teaching (Matt 28:18-20), faith (Acts 8:37), and repentance (Acts 2:38) before baptism, therefore this catechism has been prepared to assist fathers and pastors in seeing baptisms done decently and in order (I Cor 14:40).
Since baptism is the answer of a good conscience toward God (I Pet 3:21), children must be taught and tested enough to know that their consciences are active, knowledgeable, and voluntarily seeking to be baptized. Baptism is not simply the application of water to someone. It does not have intrinsic sacramental value, but rather depends upon the child's conscience and full compliance with God's conditions. It must be a baptism of repentance and faith (Heb 6:1-2).
The minimum qualifications for baptism are sufficient age and ability to give the answer of a good conscience (I Pet 3:21; Luke 7:29), evidence of true repentance (Matt 3:7-8; Acts 26:20), and the knowledge that Jesus Christ of Nazareth is the Son of God and the only Saviour from sin by His substitutionary death (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 8:12,37).
While it would be easier to restrict baptism to teenagers or adults, there were household baptisms in the New Testament (Acts 16:15,33; 18:8; I Cor 1:16), and Jesus Christ defended young children who believed in Him (Matt 18:1-6). Both fathers and pastors must steer between the irresponsibility of insincere baptisms (Matt 3:7-8) and the danger of discouraging young believers (Matt 18:6).
Therefore, let fathers and pastors alike enter into this teaching and testing process with joy. For the Scriptures declare that the angels in heaven rejoice over one sinner that repents (Luke 15:7,10). And let us wisely presume that this one sinner is the child before us until proven otherwise by their answers or conduct.
The following questions and their answers may be contracted or expanded by the father or pastor to meet the needs of the individual candidate.
What is sin?
Sin is the transgression of God's law (I John 3:4), which is to break any of God's commandments. Adam sinned by eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen 2:17; 3:6; Rom 5:12). Cain sinned by trying to worship God in his own way (Gen 4:3-7). Breaking any commandment is the same as breaking all the commandments (James 2:8-11), for one sin makes a person a transgressor before God as much as multiple sins.
How many have sinned?
All have sinned (Rom 3:23). There is none righteous, no, not one (Rom 3:10). When God looked down from heaven upon all men, He found they were all filthy and there were not any that did good, no, not one (Psalm 14:2-3). The entire human family lives to satisfy their own sinful lusts and obey the devil rather than God (Eph 2:1-3).
How have all sinned?
First, all have sinned in Adam (Romans 5:12-19), for Adam was our representative in the Garden of Eden, and his sin was applied to our account. So we are all guilty of eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Second, we all have chosen to sin ourselves against God's law (Eccl 7:20; I John 1:8,10), which leaves the whole world guilty before God (Rom 3:19).
What does sin deserve?
The wages of sin are death (Rom 6:23), and the soul that sins must die (Ezek 18:4). When Adam sinned, his soul died toward God and became hateful and wicked that very day (Gen 2:17). Then Adam's body died 930 years later (Gen 5:5), which we call physical death. And at the last day, Adam's soul and body will be formally sent to an eternity in the lake of fire, which is called the second death (Rev 20:11-15).
What sins are worthy of the lake of fire?
All sins are worthy of the lake of fire. A description of those in the lake of fire includes those who are fearful, unbelieving, and liars (Rev 21:8). It is important to remember that breaking one commandment is the same as breaking all the commandments, for even one sin makes a person a sinner before the holy God (James 2:8-11).
Who is Jesus of Nazareth?
He is the Son of God, for His Father was truly God, and His mother was truly a virgin named Mary (Luke 1:35). By this miraculous birth, Jesus was also called Emmanuel, which means, God with us (Is 7:14; Matt 1:23). For the Word of God took on a human nature and was the only begotten Son of God (John 1:1,14,18,34). He is truly the One and Only Godman - both God and man (Col 2:9; I Tim 2:5; 3:16).
Why did Jesus die on the cross?
Jesus Christ died on the cross as a Substitute for His elect people (I Pet 2:24). Though He had no sin of His Own, He was charged with the sins of His elect; and for them He died (II Cor 5:21; Matt 1:21; John 6:39; 10:11; I Pet 1:2). Jesus did not die for the sins of all men, for many men will pay for their own sins in the lake of fire with the devil and his angels (Matt 7:21-23; 25:41; Rev 20:11-15; 21:8).
Was His death successful?
Yes, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ secured eternal life and guarantees all spiritual blessings for His elect (Rom 4:25; 5:6-10; 8:29-39; Eph 1:3-12; Heb 10:10-14). As the first Adam's disobedience made all men sinners, so the second Adam's obedience made all the elect righteous (Rom 5:19; I Cor 15:22).
How do we know we are one of God's elect?
We know we are one of God's elect by truly believing on His Son Jesus Christ and proving that faith by good works (Acts 13:48; James 2:14-26; II Peter 1:10; I John 5:13). Believing on Jesus Christ is evidence we are one of God's elect, for no others will ever believe on Him; so we should believe on Him with all our heart and cheerfully make profession of our faith (John 1:12-13; 5:24-25; Rom 10:9-13; I Cor 1:18,24; II Cor 2:14-17; 4:1-7; II Thess 2:13).
What is baptism?
Baptism is the answer of a good conscience to God for what Jesus Christ has done for us (I Pet 3:21; Heb 9:14). It separates us from the world and identifies us with Jesus Christ as His children and disciples (Rom 6:3-5; Gal 3:26-27). It shows we believe there is a God to Whom we owe our complete obedience (Luke 7:29-30; Acts 16:33-34).
What is baptism by immersion?
Baptism by immersion is having your whole body put under the water and then raised up again. It looks like a burial in water (Col 2:12; Rom 6:3-4). It can also be called submersion, dipping, plunging, or burial in water. Paul also called it a planting (Rom 6:5). John was called the Baptist, or Dipper, because he dipped people under the water.
How do we know baptism must be by immersion?
We know baptism must be by immersion for it must be a picture of burial and resurrection (I Pet 3:21; Rom 6:3-5; Col 2:12; I Cor 15:29); both Jesus and the eunuch went down into the water and came up out of it (Mark 1:5; Matt 3:13-16; Acts 8:38); and John had to baptize where there was much water (John 3:23).
What does baptism show us in a picture?
It shows us a burial and a resurrection in a symbolic picture.
What three pictures should we understand from baptism?
First, we should understand the burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ for our sins (Rom 6:3; Col 2:12; Acts 22:16; I Pet 3:21). Second, we should understand the burial of our old man to be resurrected in our new man to walk in a new life (Rom 6:4-6). Third, we should understand our strong hope of the resurrection of our bodies in the last day (I Cor 15:29). All three of these burials and resurrections are mysteries of our faith shown in the picture of baptism. They are mysteries for others cannot see them and we only see them by the Spirit's blessing and the Scriptures.
What must come before baptism?
A person must believe the gospel about Jesus Christ and repent of his sins before baptism (Acts 8:37; 2:38; 18:8; Heb 6:1-2), for baptism is the answer of a good conscience (I Pet 3:21). Jesus instructed His apostles to preach the basic facts of the gospel, baptize those who believed this simple message, and then afterwards teach them everything else (Matt 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:37-47).
Who gives approval for a person to be baptized?
The administrator sent from God gives approval for baptism (Matt 3:7-8; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; 19:1-7). The proper administrator is an ordained preacher of the gospel with his authority coming from Jesus Christ and the apostles (Matt 28:18-20; Eph 4:8-11; Tit 1:5). John was the first with this authority from God, but Jesus then chose the apostles who trained and ordained others to our day (John 1:6,19-36; 4:1-3; II Tim 2:2).
Who gave authority to the pastor to baptize?
Jesus Christ gave authority to the pastor to baptize by giving gifts and offices to men (Matt 28:18-20; Eph 4:8-11; I Cor 12:27-31; II Tim 2:2; Tit 1:1-5).
Was Jesus a Baptist?
Yes, Jesus was a Baptist, for He was baptized by a Baptist (Matt 3:1-15). Mary and Peter and all the other disciples were Baptists also. For the same reason John was called the Baptist, Jesus and the apostles were also Baptists. Though the true worshippers of God have been called saints, Christians, and many other names by both friends and enemies, they were Baptists because they baptized the same way as John the Baptist. As he was a dipper, they were also dippers; for they rejected the manmade idea of sprinkling babies.
Is sprinkling a baptism?
No, sprinkling cannot be a baptism, for it was never used in the New Testament and it provides no symbol or picture of anything pertaining to Jesus Christ the Son of God.
Why do so many sprinkle or pour for baptism?
Many sprinkle or pour for baptism because they honor superstition and tradition over the word of God (Mark 7:7-9). No person in the Bible was ever baptized by sprinkling or pouring, and sprinkling or pouring has no picture of burial and resurrection. Yet most so-called "Christians" in the world use sprinkling or pouring. Since Satan does not want any to worship God in truth, he is constantly leading men to change the word of God and invent new practices (I Tim 4:1-3). It is our solemn duty to always search the Scriptures and prove all things by it (Acts 17:11; I Thess 5:21). Since it is more convenient and sophisticated to sprinkle or pour in fancy ceremonies, many pretenders to Christianity have chosen to reject the Bible doctrine of baptism taught by Jesus Christ and His apostles.
Why do so many baptize babies?
Many baptize babies because they falsely think that baptism saves. Satan has deceived them to believe that baptism is a sacrament and the water has saving power in it to regenerate little babies. Because they think that baptism saves, they must baptize as early as possible in case a baby might die in infancy or childhood. They also like to baptize babies in fancy ceremonies because they do not want to humble themselves as fools for Jesus Christ. We do not believe baptism is a sacrament or has any saving power, because it is only a picture or symbol of the mighty saving power in Jesus Christ Himself (I Pet 3:21).
Does baptism wash away sins?
No, baptism does not wash away sins, for it is only the answer of a conscience already made good by the blood of Jesus Christ (I Peter 3:21; Heb 9:14). Only the blood of Jesus Christ washes away sins (Rev 1:5; I Pet 1:18-19). It is a great error to believe that baptism washes away sins in any way but in a picture or symbol, for it leads to many heresies and denies the all-sufficient value and one-time sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Verses that sound like baptism washes away sins are to be properly interpreted by understanding them only figuratively (II Tim 2:15; Neh 8:8).
Must a person be baptized to go to heaven?
No, a person goes to heaven because God elected him, Jesus died for him, and the Holy Spirit regenerates him (Rom 8:29-39; I Pet 1:2; Heb 9:15; 10:10-14). There is not the slightest chance that any of God's elect will not be glorified in heaven by the eternal purpose of God (Eph 1:3-12).
Who went to heaven without baptism?
The repenting thief went to heaven without baptism, for Jesus said he would be with Him in Paradise that day (Luke 23:42-43). His repentance and faith proved his election, justification, and regeneration by God (I Cor 12:3).
How does baptism save us?
Baptism only saves us figuratively in a picture of how Jesus Christ truly saved us by His death, burial, and resurrection (I Peter 3:21). When done sincerely, it is also further evidence of eternal life and the everlasting salvation we shall receive at the final judgment of the world (Mark 16:15-16).
Does baptism make a person a church member?
No, baptism does not make a person a church member. Baptism is an act between a person and God; it does not involve the church. Church membership requires the approval of the whole church (Acts 9:26-28). The Ethiopian eunuch was baptized alone in the desert by Philip, and only later could he find a church and join with them. The idea of joining baptism and church membership came from those who sprinkle babies, for they also believe the heresy that salvation requires church membership. In their doctrine, sprinkled babies are church members.
Is baptism important?
Yes, baptism is very important. Jesus Himself was baptized by John (Matt 3:13-15), though He did not need to show repentance. It was an act of righteousness to obey God. And it was the first thing the eunuch (Acts 8:36), Cornelius (Acts 10:48), Paul (Acts 9:18), and others (Acts 18:8) did to follow Jesus Christ.
How is baptism important?
Baptism is important, because by it we show obedience to God (Luke 7:29), we answer God for what He has done for us (I Pet 3:21), we put on Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour (Gal 3:27), we show our union with the burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Rom 6:3-5), and it is our first act as His disciples (Acts 2:37-38).
Is baptism by immersion foolish?
Yes, baptism by immersion is foolish to the world, for they cannot see or understand its three pictures. Men without the light of the Holy Spirit and the teaching of the Scriptures cannot appreciate anything about true baptism. But baptism is not foolish to the saints of God, for God has shown them the mystery of its three pictures.
Is it good to be a fool?
Yes, it is good to be a fool for Jesus Christ (I Cor 4:9-13). Being a fool for Jesus Christ, we are then given wisdom from heaven (I Cor 3:18). If we try to be wise in this world, God has promised to make us fools (I Cor 3:19-20).
Who had to be a fool by immersion to be cured of leprosy?
Namaan the Syrian had to immerse himself seven times in Jordan to be cured of his leprosy (II Kings 5:1-16).
Why did Namaan not want to dip himself in the Jordan River?
Namaan did not want to dip himself in the Jordan River, because he wanted to have an expensive ceremony with attention by God's prophet (II Kings 5:9-13). He did not want to humble himself and look like a fool in the Jordan River. Yet when his servants convinced him to humble himself and obey Elisha's command from God, his flesh became as a child's (II Kings 5:14).
What feeling does baptism always give?
Baptism always gives the feeling of being wet. Other feelings are not the purpose of baptism, for it is an act of obedience by faith. We are baptized by faith in God's word, whether we get any feelings or not. Because of the three mysteries shown in baptism and it being the answer of our good conscience toward God, we should have great joy to be baptized; yet this joy is the result of faith in Jesus Christ rather than any result from the water (I Pet 3:21; Acts 16:33-34).
What is a disciple?
A disciple is a person who has chosen carefully to follow Jesus Christ in life and in death, regardless of the cost (Luke 14:25-33; Phil 1:21). Most people will not be disciples of Jesus Christ, for they do not want to pay the cost of putting Him first (Matt 8:18-22; John 6:66; II Tim 4:10).
Is baptism necessary to be a disciple of Jesus Christ?
Yes, baptism is the first act of obedience that makes a person a disciple of Jesus Christ. It is not enough to believe on Jesus Christ, if we are unwilling to obey Him in baptism (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:37-38; James 2:14-26).
What is the cost of discipleship?
The cost of discipleship is the choice to obey Jesus Christ in all matters for the rest of your life, regardless of the sacrifices or consequences (Luke 14:25-33). God commands us to love Him and His Son more than anything else.
Does Jesus Christ have many disciples?
No, there are very few who will count up the cost of discipleship and pay it for the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 14:25-33). He said that many are called, but only few are chosen (Matt 22:14). The narrow way of pleasing God is found only by a few (Matt 7:13-14). Many will say they are disciples, but only a few are willing to deny themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow Him (Luke 9:23).
What is a Christian?
A Christian is a disciple of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26). King Agrippa was not a Christian, for he was not willing to be a disciple of Jesus Christ (Acts 26:28). He was almost persuaded, but to please God we must be fully persuaded by faith and then keep all of God's commandments with a cheerful heart (Heb 11:6).
How is baptism only the beginning?
Baptism is only the beginning by being the first act of obedience in a life dedicated to the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt 28:18-20). Rather than thinking of getting our baptism over with, we should consider baptism as the first step in running our life's race for God's prize (Phil 3:13-14; Heb 12:1-2).
Should a person be baptized for their parents?
No, a person should be baptized only to please God. The true disciples of Jesus Christ love Him much more than they love their parents (Luke 14:25-27).
Should a person be baptized for their friends?
No, a person should be baptized only to please God. The true disciples of Jesus Christ love Him much more than they love their friends, and they would never worship God to be seen of men (Matt 6:1-6).
What may follow baptism?
Temptation and persecution may follow baptism. After Jesus was baptized, He was tempted for forty days and nights by the devil (Luke 4:1-2). Jesus promised He would bring temptations and persecutions to test our faith (Matt 10:32-39), but He will never tempt us harder than we are able to bear (I Cor 10:13).
Should temptations and persecutions discourage us?
No, temptations and persecutions should not discourage us. They should encourage us, for they are the evidence of the true followers of God (Matt 5:10-12). The world hated Jesus and persecuted Him, so we should expect the same treatment (John 15:18-20; I John 3:13).
Will all Christians suffer persecution?
Yes, all true Christians who live godly lives will suffer persecution (II Tim 3:12). The world does not know Jesus Christ, so they do not understand our faith or our lives (John 15:19). If we do not suffer at all for our faith, then we may only have a form of godliness (II Tim 3:1-5).
What should a person do after baptism?
A person should join a true church of Jesus Christ after baptism (Acts 2:37-47; 9:18-19).
When does a person get to have communion?
A person gets to have communion after he has joined a true church of Jesus Christ and is living a holy life (I Cor 5:7-8; 11:17-34).
What should I do to be baptized?
You should humble yourself before God, confess and repent of your sins, and believe on Jesus Christ as the only hope of your salvation and the Lord of heaven and earth (Acts 2:38; I John 5:13). You should then tell your father of your desire to be baptized. He will help you understand this catechism and tell the pastor of your good heart and conduct.
How soon should I be baptized?
You should be baptized as soon as your father and pastor say you are ready. David said we should make haste to obey God's commandments (Ps 119:60). If you delay, Satan and the world may steal away your desire to obey Jesus Christ (Luke 8:11-18).