John Owen’s Shorter Catechism
A Short Catechism:
Principles of the Doctrine of Christ
are unfolded and explained.
Proper for all persons to learn before they be admitted to the sacrament of the Lord’s supper; and composed for the use of all congregations in general.
by JOHN OWEN (1616-1683)
“Come, ye children, hearken to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD,” Ps. xxxiv. 11
Ques. Whence is all truth concerning God and ourselves to be learned?
Ans. From the holy Scripture, the Word of God. — Chapter i. of the Greater Catechism.
Q. What do the Scriptures teach that God is?
An eternal, infinite, most holy Spirit, giving being to all things, and doing with them whatsoever he pleaseth. — Chap. ii.
Q. Is there but one God?
One only, in respect of his essence and being, but one in three distinct persons, of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. — Chap. iii.
Q. What else is held forth in the Word concerning God, that we ought to know?
His decrees, and his works. — Chap. iv.
Q. What are the decrees of God concerning us?
His eternal purposes, of saving some by Jesus Christ, for the praise of his glory, and of condemning others for their sins. — Chap. v.
Q. What are the works of God?
Acts or doings of his power, whereby he createth, sustaineth, and governeth all things. — Chap. vi.
Q. What is required from us towards Almighty God?
Holy and spiritual obedience, according to his law given unto us. — Chap. vii.
Q. Are we able to do this of ourselves?
No, in no wise, being by nature unto every good work reprobate. — Chap. vii.
Q. How came we into this estate, being at the first created in the image of God, in righteousness and innocency?
By the fall of our first parents, breaking the covenant of God, losing his grace, and deserving his curse. — Chap. viii.
Q. By what way may we be delivered from this miserable estate?
Only by Jesus Christ. — Chap. ix.
Q. What is Jesus Christ?
God and man united in one person, to be a Mediator between God and man. — Chap x.
Q. What is he unto us?
A King, a Priest, and a Prophet. — Chap. xi.
Q. Wherein doth he exercise his kingly power towards us?
In converting us unto God by his Spirit, subduing us unto his obedience, and ruling in us by his grace. — Chap. xii.
Q. In what doth the exercise of his priestly office for us chiefly consist?
In offering up himself an acceptable sacrifice on the cross, so satisfying the justice of God for our sins, removing his curse from our persons, and bringing us unto him. — Chap. xiii.
Q. Wherein doth Christ exercise his prophetical office towards us?
In revealing to our hearts, from the bosom of his Father, the way and truth whereby we must come unto him. — Chap. xiii.
Q. In what condition doth Jesus Christ exercise these offices?
He did in a low estate of humiliation on earth, but now in a glorious estate of exaltation in heaven. — Chap. xiv.
Q. For whose sake doth Christ perform all these?
Only for his elect. — Chap. xv.
Q. What is the church of Christ?
The universal company of God’s elect, called to the adoption of children. — Chap. xvi.
Q. How come we to be members of this church?
By a lively faith. — Chap. xvii.
Q. What is a lively faith?
An assured resting of the soul upon God’s promises of mercy in Jesus Christ, for pardon of sins here and glory hereafter. — Chap. xviii.
Q. How come we to have this faith?
By the effectual working of the Spirit of God in our hearts, freely calling us from the state of nature to the state of grace. — Chap. xviii.
Q. Are we accounted righteous for our faith?
No, but only for the righteousness of Christ, freely imputed unto us, and laid hold of by faith. — Chap. xix.
Q. Is there no more required of us but faith only?
Yes; repentance also, and holiness. — Chap. xx.
Q. What is repentance?
A forsaking of all sin, with godly sorrow for what we have committed. — Chap. xx.
Q. What is that holiness which is required of us?
Universal obedience to the will of God revealed unto us. — Chap. xx.
Q. What are the privileges of believers?
First, union with Christ; secondly, adoption of children; thirdly, communion of saints; fourthly, right to the seals of the new covenant; fifthly, Christian liberty; sixthly, resurrection of the body to life eternal. — Chap. xxi.
Q. What are the sacraments, or seals, of the new covenant?
Visible seals of God’s spiritual promises, made unto us in the blood of Jesus Christ. — Chap. xxii.
Q. Which be they?
Baptism and the Lord’s supper.
Q. What is baptism?
A holy ordinance, whereby, being sprinkled with water according to Christ’s institution, we are by his grace made children of God, and have the promises of the covenant sealed unto us. — Chap. xxiii.
Q. What is the Lord’s Supper?
A holy ordinance of Christ, appointed to communicate unto believers his body and blood spiritually, being represented by bread and wine, blessed, broken, poured out, and received of them. — Chap. xxiv.
Q. Who have a right unto this sacrament?
They only who have an interest in Jesus Christ by faith. — Chap. xxiv.
Q. What is the communion of saints?
A holy conjunction between all God’s people, partakers of the same Spirit, and members of the same mystical body. — Chap. xxv.
Q. What is the end of all this dispensation?
The glory of God in our salvation.
Glory be to God on high!