In 1517 Martin Luther posted his 95 theses and the protestant reformation was underway. I believe the visible church has forgotten that there was a reformation and there was a need for it in the first place. The reformation produced several confessions and creeds that were wonderful teaching aids, instructing adults and children in a proper understanding of sound biblical doctrine.
It is my contention that most of the visible church is in the condition it is in because it has strayed far, far, away from the basis of the protestant reformation. Most do not even realize these confessions and creeds, and catechism exist. That is a shame and I believe it shows in the lack of biblical knowledge most church members have. I believe we need to return to these confessions that were put together to help people come to an understanding of sound biblical doctrines as opposed to the rituals and man made practices that had become the Roman Catholic church. So, I will utilize Anderson Bible Study as a way to help us grow in sound biblical doctrinces by placing excerpts from these confessions here.
Im sure you will be able to tell that the church has been at a loss by not using them as a learning aid.
Lets look at what the Westminister Shorter Catechism (1647) has to say about Soteriology: The Doctrine of Salvation. (These usually are constructed by asking a question (Q) and giving an answer (A) with scripture references.
Q. 29: How are we made partakers of the redempton purchased by Christ?
A.: We are made partakers of the redeption purchased by Christ, by the effectual application of it to us (1) by His Holy Spirit. (2)
(1) John 1:11-12
(2) Titus 3:5-6
Q. 30: How doth the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?
A.: The Spirit applieth to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us, (1) and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling. (2)
(1) Eph. 1:13-14; John 6:37, 39; Eph. 2:8
(2) Eph. 3:17; 1 Cor. 1:9
Q. 31: What is effectual calling?
A.: Effectual calling is the work of the Holy Spirit,(1) whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery,(2) enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ,(3) and renewing our wills, (4) He doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.(5)
(1) 2 Tim. 1:9; 2 Thess. 2:13-14
(2) Acts 2:37
(3) Acts 26:18
(4) Ezek. 36:26-27
(5) John 6:44-45; Phil. 2:13
This is a wonderful way to learn the word of God. As you read the scripture references you can obtain a view of the whole of scripture, you can see how parts are linked together forming the whole.
Lets see what the Heidelberg Catechism (1563) has to say about Saving Faith.
Q. 20: Are all men then, as they perished in Adam, saved by Christ?
A.: No; only those who are ingrafted into Him,(1) and receive all His benefits, by true faith.(2)
(1) Matt. 1:21; Isa. 53:11
(2) John 1:12-13; Rom. 11:20; Heb. 10:39
Q. 21: What is True faith?
A.: True faith is not only a certain knowledge, whereby I hold for truth all that God has revealed to us in His Word, (1) but also an assured confidence,(2) which the Holy Ghost(3) works by the gospel in my heart,(4) that not only to others, but to me also, remission of sin,(5) everlasting righteousness and salvation(6) are freely given by God, merely of grace, only for the sake of Christ's merits.(7)
Westminister Shorter Catechism (1647)
Q. 33: What is justification?
A.: Justification is an act of God's free grace, wherein He pardoneth all our sins,(1) and accepeth us as righteous in His sight,(2) only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us,(3) and received by faith alone.(4)
(1) Rom. 3:24-25; 4:6-8
(2) 2 Cor. 5:19, 21
(3) Rom. 5:17-19
(4) Gal. 2:16; Phil. 3:9
Source used: "Reformed Confessions Harmonized" Baker, Edited by: Joel R. Beeke & Sinclair B. Ferguson
Any aid that causes us to open the Word of God and read and ponder it is a blessing and these confessions and catechisms do exactly that.