Christian theology in a Sudanese context
A suggested Catechism providing basic instruction in the beliefs and practices of Christianity.
The purpose of a Catechism is to provide a basic outline of the doctrines of Christianity by means of questions and answers. Although it is important to learn the answers accurately, few, if any, include everything. The parent/child, teacher/church, and individual, should therefore enlarge the answers that have been given. It is at this precise point that the real value of a Catechism is discovered, in that it becomes a foundation from which to discuss and study the principal teachings of the Christian faith. One important and useful feature of this Catechism is that it has been conveniently divided into 12 main sections (by the numbers 1, 2 etc.) and into 52 small units (by means of an asterisk*). This gives freedom to cover the contents of the Catechism in monthly, or weekly, intervals. The reader’s attention is drawn to the passages for study that follow the end of each section of questions and answers. We have deliberately avoided citing single texts of Scripture on their own so as to escape the impression that the doctrines of Christianity rest upon unrelated statements of the Bible. The passages for study provide the basis for a thorough doctrinal study of the word of God.
A WORD OF EXPLANATION In General: It is suggested that the best way to use this Catechism is to read the questions and answers of each section followed by the selected passages from the Bible. Having done this it is important to re-read the questions and try to discover how the answers have been brought out from the Bible. For use by Parents: Parents may wish to break down each section into smaller units, depending upon the ages of their children. An asterisk (*) is given to show where this can be suitably done. It is still advised to encourage the children, if capable, to read the whole section through once, as described in the section above. For use in the Meetings of the Church: A possible way of using this Catechism in the formal meetings of the church is to break down each section into smaller units as suggested for parents, and then give ten minutes to the Catechism at any suitable point in the meeting. It would be good to encourage all ages to participate - in learning the answers to the questions, in reading suitable passages from the Bible, and by asking and answering questions arising in their minds from the use of the Catechism. Care will be needed to adapt these questions and answers to the ages and abilities of the congregation. For use with those who have recently become Christians and/or have applied for membership of the church:
The Catechism should be used as described in the paragraph 'In General’ (above), and each section covered in one meeting a week for twelve weeks. Experience shows that such a meeting would probably need to be one and a half to two hours in length, particularly if a group of people are receiving instruction, rather than an individual. 1. INTRODUCTION: What is it all about? *1. Question: Why does the Bible begin by assuming that God exists? Answer: Because everyone knows it to be true. 2. Q. How can we be sure that everyone knows that God exists? A. All, without exception, are born with an awareness of God, which is confirmed
by the witnessGod has given of himself, in the world in which we live. *3. Q. Why do men and women, with such evidence, deny God or live as if He does
not exist? A. Because they suppress and distort what they know to be true in order to live
their own way. *4. Q. Has God given any other witness to Himself? A. Yes, in the Bible. Here God has revealed all that we need to know about
Himself and all that He requires of us.
PASSAGES FOR STUDY: Genesis chapter 1:1-2:3; Psalm 19; Ecclesiastes 3:1-15;
Romans 1:14-32, 2:12-16; Acts 14:8-20, 17:16-34; 2 Timothy 3:10-17; 2 Peter 1:1-21. 2. GOD.
*1. Question: Who is this God of Whom the Bible speaks? Answer: He is the One and Only God, living and true; a personal Spirit Who is both
eternal and unchangeable, demanding that everyone love and serve Him.
2. Q. What is God like? A. He is holy and majestic, yet good and forgiving which should create both
reverence and joy in the hearts of all people everywhere. *3. Q. Why do we declare God to be our Creator? A. Because He made all things to display His glory, and especially mankind,
whom He made in His own image. 4. Q. Why do we declare God to be our Sustainer? A. Because He is ceaselessly active in His control of all events, guiding every
detail of life according to His plan. *5. Q. Why do we declare God to be our Saviour? A. Because He has provided a salvation for the world, which is entirely His work. *6. Q. Why do we declare God to be our Judge? A. Because at the end of time, He will give to each person according to what
that person has done. *7. Q. In how many Persons does this One God exists?
A. There are Three eternal distinctions within the One God, of an intensely
personal kind, such that we can speak of God the Father, God the Son, and
God the Holy Spirit. PASSAGES FOR STUDY:1 Thessalonians 1:1-10;John 4:21-24; Numbers23:18-24; Deuteronomy 33:26-29; John 14:8-14; Hebrews11:1-3; Genesis 2:4-25; Acts 17:24-28;
Daniel 4; Ephesians1:3-14; John 3:16-18; Romans 2:5-16; Acts 17:29-31;
2 Corinthians 5:6-10; Matthew 3:13-17; John 14:15-23; Matthew 28:16-20; Galatians 1:1-3; Titus 2:11-14; 2 Corinthians 3:12-18.
3. THE BIBLE. *1. Question How has God made Himself known to men? Answer: In the created universe which reflects His glory, and in the Bible. 2. Q. Has God made Himself known to men in other ways in the past? A. Yes, by His spoken word, through His prophets and apostles, and through His
Son the Lord Jesus Christ. 3. Q. Should anyone expect God to make Himself known in these ways today? A. No, because the Bible is God’s sufficient and final word to all people. 4. Q. Does God give us direction in any other way? A. Yes, in ways consistent with the teachings of the Bible, He acts directly on our
lives, since the Bible itself urges us to keep in step with the Spirit. *5. Q. Has the knowledge of God, which we can learn from the created universe, any
value? A. Yes, it leaves all without excuse for their unbelief. 6. Q. Why do we need the Bible? A. Because without it no one could know the Lord Jesus Christ as their only
Saviour, *7. Q. What is the Bible? A. God’s written word, free from all error. 8. Q. Who wrote the Bible? A. Men who were guided by the Holy Spirit. 9. Q. Whose words are we reading when we read the Bible? A. The word of God through the words of men. *10. Q. What is one of the most important things we ought to know about the Bible? A. It is our supreme guide and judge in all matters. PASSAGES FOR STUDY: Psalm 19; Genesis 12:1-9; 1 Samuel 3:19-4:1a; Ephesians 2:19-3:6; Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:1-4; John 16:12-15; Galatians 5:16-26; Acts 8:26-40; Romans 1:18-20;
2 Timothy 3:14-17; 2 Peter 1:16-21; Acts 4:23-31; Jude 1-4; Revelation 1:1-3, 22:18-21. 4. THE FALL OF MAN. *1. Question: In what condition did God make Adam and Eve? Answer: They were created righteous and happy, enjoyingGod and everything
He had made. 2. Q. Did they remain in this condition? A. No, encouraged by Satan, Adam rebelled against God, and so became sinful,
and unhappy. *3. Q. What effect had the sin of Adam on all mankind? A. All men and women are born into the world constantly breaking God’s law in
deed, word, and thought. *4. Q. Does this mean that, since the fall of Adam, no one is made in the image of
God? A. No, everyone still bears God’s likeness, although it is marred by sin. This
explains why all people, sinful in every part of their lives, are yet capable of
actions which are outwardly good. *5. Q. Does any man or woman, of their own desire, seek to love and obey God?
A. No, all without exception are unwilling and unable to seek God as their
highest good. 6. Q. What is so serious about our guilt and corruption?
A. It brings unhappiness and exposes us all to God’s anger. PASSAGES FOR STUDY: Psalm 8; Genesis 3; Romans 5:12-21, 3:9-20; Genesis 9: 1-7; Matthew15:1-20; Romans 8:1-8; Ephesians 2:1-10; Psalm 51. 5. THE PLAN OF SALVATION. 1. Question: When did God plan the salvation of sinful men and women?
Answer: It was in eternity that God determined to save sinners. 2. Q. Why did God plan the salvation of sinful men and women?
A. The plan is entirely the result of His undeserved love.
*3. Q. Who was involved in this plan to save sinful men and women? A. The three Persons of the Trinity were all involved, in planning and carrying out
the salvation of sinners. 4. Q. What was God the Father’s part in the plan of salvation? A. He is the Source of salvation, by setting His love upon sinners, and sending
God the Son to be their Saviour. *5. Q. What was God the Son’s part in the plan of salvation? A. In obedience to the Father’s will, the Son of God became flesh, in order that
as the God-Man He might take the place of sinners. *6. Q. Why did God the Son take the place of sinners? A. So that He could bear the full penalty for their sin, and restore them to a
loving friendship with Himself. 7. Q. How did God the Son pay the full penalty for sinners? A. By giving full obedience to the holy law of God, and by His suffering and
death on the cross at Calvary. 8. Q. How do we know that God the Son was successful in His part of the plan
of salvation? A. Because although the Lord Jesus Christ died and was buried, He rose
again on the third day, bringing everlasting life to all who believe. *9. Q. Where is the Lord Jesus Christ now? A. In heaven, seated at the right hand of God.
10. Q. What is He doing? A. He is ruling over everything, for the good of all believers, and constantly
praying for them. PASSAGES FOR STUDY: Romans 8:28-39; 2 Timothy 1:3-12; 1 Corinthians 2:6-10a; Ephesians 1:3-10; Philippians 2:1-11; 1 Timothy2:1-7; Galatians 3:10-14;
1 Corinthians 15:1-20; Hebrews 1:1-4; Ephesians 1:15-23; Hebrews7:23-27. 6. THE EXPERIENCE OF SALVATION. *1. Question: What is God the Holy Spirit’s part in the plan of salvation? Answer: He is to make the Lord Jesus Christ real and glorious to sinners, so
that in enjoying fellowship with God the Son, they receive the salvation secured by
His life, death, and resurrection. 2. Q. What does God the Holy Spirit do for sinners? A. He gives them new life, so they are able to repent of sin, and believe in Christ
as their Saviour and Lord. *3. Q. What happens to sinners the moment they believe? A. They are declared righteous in God’s sight, remade after the likeness of Jesus
Christ, and adopted into God’s family. *4. Q. Can Christians ever lose their salvation? A. No, but they can be so seriously overcome by temptation as to lose interest in
the Christian life.
5. Q. How are Christians overcome by temptation? A. Although believers possess new life they are still sinners, and sometimes
yield to Satan. He tempts them by using both the good and the bad in the
world, in order that they might distrust and disobey the Saviour. 6. Q. Why cannot Christians ever lose their salvation? A. Because the new life that the believer receives cannot be destroyed. Thus all
who are truly converted, despite times of intense struggle and failure, will
certainly continue in their fellowship with Jesus Christ, and enter finally into
the joys of heaven. PASSAGES FOR STUDY: John 16:5-16; Acts 16:11-15; Romans 3:21-31, 8:28-30; Galatians 3:26-4:7; Luke 22:31-34, 54-62; Psalm 32; Romans 7:14-25; Matthew4:1-11; John 10:22-30;
2 Timothy 4:9-18. 7. THE HISTORY OF SALVATION. *1. Question: How did the world receive Christ’s salvation? Answer: Progressively, first by promise and sacrifice alone, in the days of Adam
to Abraham, to which was added the laws given to the community of
Israel, in the days of Moses, and then in the personal coming of God’s
Son to the earth, to die and rise again. *2. Q. What was the promise of salvation? A. That God would provide a Saviour, Who would rescue people from their sin
and its awful effects.
*3. Q. How were people saved before the coming of the LordJesus Christ? A. By believing in the Saviour to come. 4. Q. How did they show their faith? A. By offering sacrifices on God’s altar. 5. Q. What did these sacrifices represent? A. Jesus dying in the place of sinners. *6. Q. What special promise did God give in the time of Noah? A. God made a promise to the whole earth, that all general blessings would be
secure, so that His plan of salvation could be carried out.
7. Q. What are some of these blessings? A. Human government, a sense of what is true, good and beautiful, as well as
numerous gifts such as food, shelter, health, family and friends, which result in
everyone being encouraged to do good, being restrained from sin, and being
helped to perform cultural tasks. *8. Q. Who were the members of this community of God’s people? A. The descendants of Abraham, called Israelites, who professed faith, and their
9. Q. What special ordinances did God give to the members of this community? A. Circumcision in the days of Abraham, and the Passover in the days of Moses.
10. Q. How was the life of this community governed? A. By prophets, priests, and kings. 11. Q. What special promise did God give the members of this community? A. The land of Canaan, in which God lived, would be theirs if they were faithful to
Him. This guaranteed all material blessings such as plenty of food, good
health, and victory over their enemies. *12. Q. What happened when the Lord Jesus Christ came, and the Holy Spirit was
given on the day of Pentecost? A. God created a new community - the local church - of which there are many. 13. Q. Who are the members of this local church? A. All those who profess faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and those alone. 14. Q. What special ordinances have been given to the local church? A. Baptism and the Lord’sSupper. 15. Q. Who manages the affairs of the local church? A. Elders and deacons. 16. Q. Has the local church, like Israel, been given a promise of any land? A. No, the church and state are separate now, since the church is composed of
people from every land. Believers, however, look forward to the day when
they shall possess the whole earth made new.
*17. Q. What is the hope of the Christian, now that the Lord Jesus Christ has come and
secured salvation for His people? A. The Christian’s hope is in the certain return of the Lord Jesus Christ, to complete
the salvation of believers. He will do this by freeing them from all personal sin,
giving them new bodies, and providing a world cleansed form sin and its awful
consequences. PASSAGES FOR STUDY: Genesis 3:15-4:16; Exodus 19:1-24:18; Galatians 3:15-4:7;
Isaiah 52:13-53:12; John 8:48-59; Hebrews 11:1-6; John 1:29-34; Genesis 8:20-9:17;
Exodus 19:1-6; Genesis 17:1-14; Exodus 12:1-13; Deuteronomy 18:14-22;
Numbers 3:1-10; Deuteronomy 17:14-20; Numbers35:33-34; Exodus 23:20-33;
Acts 2:1-14, 37-47; Hebrews 8:7-13; Matthew28:16-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26;
Philippians 1:1-2; 2 Peter 3:10-13; 1 Peter 1:3-12; 1 John 2:28-3:3;
1 Corinthians 15:20-28, 42-44, 50-58; Romans 8:18-27. 8. THE CHRISTIAN LIFE. *1. Question: What are the two great blessings of the Christian life? Answer: The forgiveness of sins, and the possession of new life, which give the
Christian a sense of God’s love, joy and peace. 2. Q. What does it mean to have new life? A. It means God has broken the power of sin in the lives of Christians, and has
given them a desire to glorify Him in the whole of their lives. 3. Q. How do we show our desire to please God in everything?
A. By dying daily to sin as we deny self and take up our cross; and as we live
daily to righteousness by the Holy Spirit, strengthening our Christ-like life. *4. Q. How important are good works for the Christian? A. They are sure to happen as marks of fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ. 5. Q. What is the chief reason for the Christian seeking to please God in everything? A. The Christian lives to please God, out of love for Jesus Christ, Who is his
Saviour and Lord. 6. Q. What are some of the ways in which Christians show that they enjoy
fellowship with the Saviour? A. By daily prayer, study of the Bible, regular fellowship with other Christians and
the sacrificial use of their gifts and possessions, including a home open for
others. *7. Q. What should the Christians’ relationship be to the world in which they live? A. Christians must not withdraw into a life totally separated from non-Christians
since they have a vital role to play in society. Christians must show how to use
and enjoy the good gifts God has given to all people everywhere. 8. Q. What is one important consequence of such loving contact with the world? A. People everywhere will hear the Gospel message and have it given extra
strength by seeing the Christian’s good deeds, and perhaps come to love and
trust the Saviour for themselves. *9. Q. How are we to know what kind of life God wants His children to live?
A. Christian behaviour is governed by God’s unchanging laws - declared in the
Ten Commandments, explained in the Sermon on the Mount and the New
Testament letters, and illustrated in the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. 10. Q. Does God correct His children when they fall into sin? A. Yes, the Bible teaches that God does not let His children’s sin go unnoticed,
but will discipline them if they do wrong.
11. Q. Why does God discipline His children for their sin? A. In order to show that sin in the believer is serious; also to help His children to
grow and mature in the Christian life; and, above all, to show that they do not
belong to the company of unbelievers, who often go unpunished in this life,
but will certainly be condemned forever on the Day of Judgement. 12. Q. Is God’s discipline always related to the presence of sin? A. No. Sometimes His discipline is given so as to prevent sin in His children, and
to help them serve Him better. PASSAGES FOR STUDY: Jeremiah 31:31-34; Romans 5:1-5, 5:20-6:23; Colossians 3:1-17; Luke 9:18-26; Matthew 7:15-29; Ephesians 4:29-5:2; Matthew 6:5-15; 1 Peter 1:22-2:3; Hebrews10:19-31; Philippians 4:10-20; Acts 16:11-15; Matthew 5:13-16; 1 Timothy 4:1-5;
1 Peter 2:9-25; Exodus 20:1-17; Matthew 5-7; Romans 13; John 19:25-27; Hebrews 12:1-12;
1 Corinthians 11:23-34; Psalm 73; 2 Corinthians 12:1-10.
9. THE CHURCH. *1. Question: What is the Church? Answer: The Body of Christ, which comprises all people from every land, and
from all ages, who have been given new life by the Holy Spirit, and
brought to trust in the Saviour. 2. Q. What is the local church? A. The Body of Christ made visible in a particular place. *3. Q. What is the most necessary feature of the local church? A. A community of believers who worship Christ as Saviour and Lord. 4. Q. What are the vital marks of the local church? A. Belief, baptism, life, leadership, teaching, fellowship, the Lord’s Supper and
prayer. *5. Q. What special gifts has the Lord Jesus Christ given to manage the affairs of the
local church? A. Elders, who rule and teach, both in private and to the gathered church;
deacons, who are responsible for all material needs; and evangelists, whose
task it is to preach the Gospel in order to establish new churches. *6. Q. What are the important functions of the local church? A. All Christians are to build each other up, so that the church may be
strengthened in its faith; and all Christians are to share the Good News of
Jesus, so that the Gospel may be spoken to all people everywhere.
7. Q. How is it possible for the local church to work out these important functions? A. It is made possible by the use of gifts, which God has given to each member
through the Holy Spirit. *8. Q. What duty does one local church have for another? A. Each local church must make the spiritual unity that exists between all local
Gospel churches, as visible as possible. 9. Q. For what reasons should local churches confer? A. The definition of doctrine; the exercise of discipline; the fulfilment of
evangelistic enterprise (by finance, prayer, and the use of suitably
gifted people); the training of church leaders; and for social action in the
community. PASSAGES FOR STUDY: Ephesians 5:22-23; 1 Corinthians 16:19-24; 1:1-3; Acts 2:41-47;
1 Timothy 3:1-16; Philippians 1:1-2; 2 Timothy 4:1-5; 1 Corinthians 14:1-17; Acts 8:1b-8,
1 Peter 4:7-11; 1 Corinthians 12:7-11; Acts 15:1-6; 2 John 7-11; Philippians 4:14-20;
2 Corinthians 1:3-11; Acts 16:1-5, 11:19-30. 10. THE SPECIAL ORDINANCES. *1. Question: What two special ordinances did the Lord Jesus Christ give to the
Answer: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. 2. Q. Why did the LordJesus Christ give these ordinances? A. To show that His disciples belong to Him, and to remind them of what He has
done for them.
3. Q. How are these ordinances able to give spiritual blessings? A. Only, as by faith, Christians receive the truths which these ordinances
proclaim. *4. Q. What is baptism? A. The dipping of believers into water, as a sign of being one with Jesus in His
death, burial and resurrection. 5. Q. What is the purpose of baptism? A. To show believers that God has cleansed them from their sins through Jesus
Christ. *6. Q. Who are to be baptised? A. Only those who repent of their sins, and believe in Jesus Christ for salvation. *7. Q. What is the Lord’s Supper? A. The eating of bread, and drinking of wine, to remember the sufferings and
death of Jesus Christ. 8. Q. What does the bread represent? A. The body of Jesus, broken for sinners. 9. Q. What does the wine represent? A. The blood of Jesus, shed for the forgiveness of sins.
*10. Q. How should the Lord’s Supper be observed? A. By using one loaf and one cup. 11. Q. Why is it important to use one loaf and one cup? A. To express the spiritual unity of the local church. 12. Q. Who should take of the Lord’s Supper? A. Only those who are in fellowship with a local church. PASSAGES FOR STUDY: Matthew 28:16-20; Corinthians 11:23-32, 10:1-5;
1 Peter 3:18-22; Hebrews 4:1-2; Romans 5:20-6:4; Acts 22:1-16, 2:32-41; Matthew 26:17-30;
1 Corinthians 10:14-22. 11. THE LAST THINGS. *1. Question: What happens to people when they die? Answer: Their bodies return to the dust, and their souls live on. 2. Q. Where do the souls of believers go at death? A. They immediately enter the presence of Christ. *3. Q. Where do the souls of unbelievers go at death? A. They are cast into hell.
4. Q. What is hell? A. A place of dreadful and endless punishment. *5. Q. Will the Lord Jesus Christ come again? A. Yes, in great power and glory. At the last day He will come personally and
visibly, to judge the world. *6. Q. Will the bodies of the dead be raised to life again? A. At the day of judgement there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of
believers and unbelievers. 7. Q. What will happen to the wicked in the day of judgement? A. The body, with the soul, in being banished from the presence of God forever,
shall be sentenced to the agonies of hell, with Satan and his demons. *8. Q. What will happen to the righteous in the Day of Judgement? A. They shall be perfectly blessed, both in soul and body, and shall live with the
Lord Jesus Christ forever, in a creation purged from all sin, and filled with
divine glory. PASSAGES FOR STUDY: Ecclesiastes 12:1-8; 2 Corinthians 5;1-10; Luke 16:19-31;
Mark 9:42-48; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10; Titus 2:11-14; John 5:16-30;
Revelation 20:11-15; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 2 Peter3:1-13; Revelation 21:1-5. 12. POSTSCRIPT: A defence of the faith! *1. Question: Why do Christians believe in God?
Answer: Because God has given good and sufficient reasons for doing so.
2. Q. What are some of the good and sufficient reasons for believing?
A. God’s world - particularly the creation of man; God’s speech and actions -
especially His written word, the Bible; and God’s Son - the Lord Jesus Christ, in
Whom God came down to earth as Man.
*3. Q. If God has provided good and sufficient reasons for believing, why do not all
people trust and obey him?
A. Every person, in being born without God the Holy Spirit, is taken captive and
blinded by Satan, and thus is not only unwilling to trust God, but also unable to
appreciate the evidence God has given of Himself.
4. Q. What ought all men and women to do then?
A. They must repent, by ceasing to exclude God and His written word – the
Bible, from their lives; and they must trust Jesus Christ, so that their sin of
unbelief may be forgiven.
PASSAGES FOR STUDY: Luke 1:1-4; Romans 1:18-20, 2:14-15;
Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 18:14-20; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; John 1:1-18; Romans1:21-23, 28-32;
1 Corinthians 2:6-16; 2 Timothy 2:22 -26; 2 Corinthians 4:1-6;
1 Thessalonians 1:4-10, 2:13-16; John 16; 5-11; 1 John 5:1-12.
Asking and answering questions was written by
my pastor, Colin Richards, of Scorrier Chapel, Cornwall, England.
It is included here with his kind permission.