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Summary of the Westminster Shorter Catechism

The Westminster Shorter Catechism is a summary of Christian beliefs written in the 17th century by a committee of British theologians. The purpose of this catechism is to provide a concise summary of the main beliefs of the Christian faith. The catechism was widely used in the Church of England in the 17th century, and is still used by many churches today as a way to teach and learn the basics of Christian doctrine.

We have updated the original text into modern English for a young audience, paying careful attention to keep as much of the original intent as possible.

We have also provided links to Scripture for each question (called proof texts) to help you dig into the Bible with your family. After all, that’s what this catechism is derived from.

Please use this catechism as a starting point and encouragement to spend more time in the Word with your children during your family devotions.

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

- 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Westminster Shorter Catechism (For Kids)

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The Westminster Shorter Catechism Questions (For Kids in Modern English)

Q1: Why are we here on earth? What's our purpose?

A. Our purpose is to show how amazing God is (1) and to enjoy being with Him forever (2).

(1) I Cor. 10:31; Rom. 11:36

(2) Ps. 73:25-28

Q2: What instructions has God given us so we can show how great He is and experience joy in Him?

A. The Word of God, the Bible, which has two parts - the Old and New Testaments (1), is the only guide that teaches us how to show how great God is and how to experience joy in Him (2).

(1) II Tim. 3:16; Eph. 2:20

(2) I John 1:3-4

Q3: What is the main thing that the Bible teaches us?

A. The Bible mostly teaches us what we should believe about God and what God wants us to do (1).

(1) II Tim. 1:13; 3:16

Q4: What is God?

A. God is a Spirit, (1) infinite, (2) eternal, (3) and unchangeable, (4) in his being, (5) wisdom, (6) power, (7) holiness, (8) justice, goodness, and truth. (9)

(1) John 4:24

(2) Job 11:7-9

(3) Ps. 90:2

(4) James 1:17

(5) Exod. 3:14

(6) Ps. 147:5

(7) Rev. 4:8

(8) Rev. 15:4

(9) Exod. 34:6-7

Q5: Is there more than one God?

A. There is only one God, the living and true God. (1)

(1) Deut. 6:4; Jer. 10:10

Q6: How many persons are there in the Godhead?

A. There are three parts of God: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit. But they are all one God, equally powerful and glorious (1).

(1) I John 5:7; Matt. 28:19

Q7: What are God's plans?

A. God's plans are His big ideas that will last forever, made just the way He wants, to show how great He is. He has already figured out everything that's going to happen (1).

(1) Eph. 1:4, 11; Rom. 9:22-23

Q8: How does God make His plans happen?

A. God makes His plans happen by creating everything and taking care of it all.

Q9: What is the work of creation?

A. God's work of creation means that God made everything from nothing, just by saying it, in six days, and everything He made was really good (1).

(1) Gen. 1; Heb. 11:3

Q10: How did God make people?

A. God made people, boys and girls, to be like Him, with knowledge, goodness, and holiness. He also let them be in charge of all the animals (1).

(1) Gen. 1:26-28; Col. 3:10; Eph. 4:24.

Q11: What does it mean when we say God takes care of everything?

A. God's works of care mean that He lovingly (1), wisely (2), and strongly (3) takes care of all His creations and everything they do (4).

(1) Ps. 145:17

(2) Ps. 104:24; Isa. 28:29

(3) Heb. 1:3

(4) Ps. 103:19; Matt. 10:29-31

Q12: What special way did God take care of people when He first created them?

A. When God first made people, He made a special promise with them. He asked them to always obey Him perfectly and told them not to eat from a certain tree, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. He also told them that if they didn't listen and ate from that tree, they would die (1).

(1) Gal. 3:12; Gen. 2:17

Q13. Did our first parents stay the same as when God first made them?

A. No, our first parents, who could make their own choices, didn't stay the same. They did something wrong against God and changed from how they were when God first made them (1).

(1) Gen. 3:6-8, 13; Eccles. 7:29

Q14: What is sin?

A. Sin is when we don't listen to God's rules or when we do something that breaks God's rules. (1)

(1) I John 3:4

Q15. What was the wrong thing that our first parents did that changed them from how they were when God first made them?

A. The wrong thing that the first people did was eating the fruit from the tree that God told them not to eat from (1).

(1) Gen. 3:6, 12

Q16: Did everyone fall when Adam first sinned?

A. Yes, when Adam, the first man, broke his special promise with God, it affected everyone. Because Adam was the first dad for all people, his mistake caused everyone who came after him to also break the covanent (1).

(1) Gen. 2:16-17; Rom. 5:12; I Cor. 15:21-22

Q17: What happened to people because of the first big sin they made?

A. Because of the first big sin, people ended up in state of sin and misery. (1)

(1) Rom. 5:12.

Q18: What does it mean that people fell into a sinful state?

A. The sinful state means that people carry the guilt of Adam's first sin, they lost their perfect goodness, and their whole nature became corrupt, which we often call Original Sin. It also includes all the wrong things that people do because of this (1).

(1) Rom. 5:12, 19; 5:10-20; Eph. 2:1-3; James 1:14-15; Matt. 15:19

Q19: What does it mean that people fell into a state of suffering?

A. Because people fell from grace, they lost their connection with God (1), are under His wrath and curse (2), and now they have to face all kinds of troubles in life, death, and even the eternal suffering of hell (3).

(1) Gen. 3:8, 10, 24

(2) Eph. 2:2-3, Gal. 3:10

(3) Lam. 3:39; Rom. 6:23, Matt. 25:41, 46

Q20: Did God let everyone stay in their sad and sinful state?

A. God, out of his own free will, chose some people to have eternal life (1) since the beginning of time. He made a special promise to save them from a life of sin and suffering, and to bring them to a life of salvation by a Redeemer (2).

(1) Eph. 1:4

(2) Rom. 3:20-22; Gal. 3:21-22

Q21: Who is the Redeemer of God's chosen people?

A. The only one who can save God's chosen people is the Lord Jesus Christ (1), who is the eternal Son of God and became man (2). He is both God and a person at the same time, but is still one person forever (3).

(1) I Tim. 2:5-6.

(2) John 1:14; Gal. 4:4.

(3) Rom. 9:5; Luke 1:35; Col. 2:9; Heb. 7:24-25.

Q22: How did Jesus, who is the Son of God, become man?

A. Jesus, the Son of God, became human by taking on a real body (1) and a rational soul (2). He was made in the belly of Mary, His mother, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and was born from her (3), but He never sinned (4).

(1) Heb. 2:14, 16; 10:5

(2) Matt. 26:38

(3) Luke 1:27, 31, 35, 42; Gal. 4:4

(4) Heb. 4:15; 7:26

Q23: What jobs does Jesus do as our Redeemer, the one who saves us?

A. As our Redeemer, Jesus does three important jobs. He is a prophet, a priest, and a king. He did these jobs when he was humble and when he was lifted high (1).

(1) Acts 3:21-22; Heb. 12:25. Cf. II Cor. 13:3; Heb. 5:5-7; 7:25; Ps. 2:6; Isa. 9:6-7; Matt. 21:5; Ps. 2:8-11.

Q24: How does Jesus do the job of a prophet?

A. Jesus does the job of a prophet by using His words and Spirit to show us how God wants us to be saved (1).

(1) John 1:18; I Peter 1:10-12; John 15:15; 20:31.

Q25: How does Jesus do the job of a priest?

A. Jesus does the job of a priest by giving Himself as a sacrifice one time to make things right with God (1), to bring us back to God again (2), and by always interceding for us (3).

(1) Heb. 9:14, 28

(2) Heb. 2:17

(3) Heb. 7:24-25

Q26: How does Jesus do the job of a king?

A. Jesus does the job of a king by making us part of His kingdom (1), by ruling over us (2) and protecting us (3), and by defeating all the enemies that are against Him and us (4).

(1) Acts 15:14-16

(2) Isa. 33:22

(3) Isa. 32:1-2

(4) I Cor. 15:25, Ps. 110

Q27: How was Jesus humiliated?

A. Jesus was humbled or brought low by being born in a simple, lowly place (1), by following all the laws (2), by going through tough times in life (3), by facing God's anger (4), and by dying a cursed death on the cross (5); He was also buried (6) and stayed dead for a little while (7).

(1) Luke 2:7

(2) Gal. 4:4

(3) Heb. 12:2-3; Isa. 53:2-3

(4) Luke 22:44; Matt. 27:46

(5) Phil. 2:8

(6) I Cor. 15:3-4

(7) Acts 2:24-27, 31

Q28: How much was Jesus lifted high or honored?

A. Jesus came back to life on the third day (1), He went up into heaven (2), He is sitting at the right hand of God the Father (3), and He will come back to judge the world on the last day (4).

(1) I Cor. 15:4

(2) Mark 16:19

(3) Eph. 1:20

(4) Acts 1:11; 17:31

Q29: How do we get to share in the rescue that Jesus bought for us?

A. We get to be part of the redemption that Jesus bought for us when (1) it becomes real in our lives, and this is done by His Holy Spirit (2).

(1) John 1:11-12

(2) Titus 3:5-6

Q30: How does the Holy Spirit make the rescue that Jesus bought for us real in our lives?

A. The Holy Spirit makes the redemption that Jesus bought for us real in our lives by helping us to have faith (1) and by joining us to Jesus when He calls us (2).

(1) Eph. 1:13-14; John 6:37, 39; Eph. 2:8.

(2) Eph. 3:17, I Cor. 1:9.

Q31: What is effectual calling?

A. Effectual calling is when God's Spirit (1) helps us realize we've done wrong and feel sorry about it (2), helps us understand more about Jesus (3), and changes our hearts (4), so that we can say yes to Jesus who is freely given to us in the good news of the Bible (5).

(1) II Tim. 1:9; II 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

Q32: What benefits do those who are effectually called receive in this life?

A. People who are truly called get to experience being made right with God (1), being adopted into God's family (2), and becoming more like God, along with many other good things that come from these (3).

(1) Rom. 8:30

(2) Eph. 1:5

(3) I Cor. 1:26, 30

Q33: What is justification?

A. Justification is when God, because he is gracious, forgives all our wrongdoings (1) and sees us as good in His eyes (2). This happens only because of the righteousness of Jesus that is given to us (3) and we receive it by faith alone (4).

(1) Rom. 3:24-25; 4:6-8

(2) II Cor. 5:19, 21

(3) Rom. 5:17-19

(4) Gal. 2:16; Phil. 3:9

Q34: What is adoption?

Adoption is when God, because He is so kind (1), invites us into His family and gives us the right to enjoy all the good things that His children get (2).

(1) I John 3:1

(2) John 1:12; Rom. 8:17

Q35: What is sanctification?

A. Sanctification is when God, because He is so kind (1), changes us completely to be more like Him (2), and helps us to say 'no' to doing wrong and 'yes' to doing right more and more (3).

(1) II Thess. 2:13

(2) Eph. 4:23-24

(3) Rom. 6:4, 6

Q36: What are the benefits that come from justification, adoption, and sanctification in this life?

A. The good things that come with being made right with God, being adopted into His family, and becoming more like Him in this life are being sure of God's love, peace of conscience (1), joy in the Holy Spirit (2), an increase of grace (3), and perseverance until the end (4).

(1) Rom. 5:1-2, 5.

(2) Rom. 14:17.

(3) Prov. 4:18.

(4) I John 5:13; I Pet. 1:5.

Q37: What good things do Christians receive from Jesus when they die?

A. When believers die, their souls become perfectly holy right away (1) and they go straight to heaven (2). Their bodies stay connected to Christ (3) and rest in their graves (4) until the resurrection (5).

(1) Heb. 12:23

(2) II Cor. 5:1, 6, 8; Phil. 1:23; Luke 23:43

(3) I Thess. 4:14

(4) Isa. 57:2

(5) Job 19:26-27

Q38: What good things do believers receive from Jesus when they are raised from the dead?

A. When believers are raised from the dead, they will be lifted up in glory (1), they will be openly seen and declared not guilty on the day of judgment (2), and they will be perfectly happy enjoying God (3) forever and ever (4).

(1) I Cor. 15:43

(2) Matt. 25:23; 10:32

(3) I John 3:2; I Cor. 13:12

(4) I Thess. 4:17-18

Q39: What does God want people to do?

A. What God asks people to do is to follow what He has told us He wants. (1)

(1) Micah 6:8; I Sam. 15:22

Q40: What was the first thing God showed people as the rule they should follow?

A. The first rule that God showed people to follow was the moral law. (1)

(1) Rom. 2:14-15; 10:5

Q41: Where is the moral law summarized?

A. The moral law is summarized in the Ten Commandments. (1)

(1) Deut. 10:4

Q42: What is the main point of the Ten Commandments?

A. The main point of the Ten Commandments is to love God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. (1)

(1) Matt. 22:37-40

Q43: What is the introduction to the Ten Commandments?

A. The introduction to the Ten Commandments is, "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery." (1)

(1) Exod. 20:2

Q44: What does the introduction to the Ten Commandments teach us?

A. The introduction to the Ten Commandments teaches us that because God is our Lord, our God, and the one who saves us, we should do what all His commandments say (1).

(1) Luke 1:74-75; I Pet. 1:15-19

Q45: What is the first commandment?

A. The first commandment says, "You should not put anything else before me as your God." (1)

(1) Exod. 20:3

Q46. What does the first commandment ask us to do?

A. The first commandment asks us to know and accept that God is the only real God and He is our God (1), and to worship and glorify Him in the right way (2).

(1) I Chron. 28:9; Deut. 26:17

(2) Matt. 4:10; Ps. 29:2

Q47: What does the first commandment tell us not to do?

A. The first commandment tells us not to ignore (1) or not to show love and respect to the real God as God (2) and our God (3), and not to show that love and respect to anyone or anything else but Him alone (4).

(1) Ps. 14:1

(2) Rom. 1:21

(3) Ps. 81:10-11

(4) Rom. 1:25-26

Q48: What special lesson do we learn from the words "before me" in the first commandment?

A. The words "before me" in the first commandment teach us that God, who sees everything, notices and is not happy when we treat anything else like it's our God (1).

(1) Ezek. 8:5-18

Q49: Which is the second commandment?

A. The second commandment says, "Don't make any statues or pictures of anything in the sky above, or on the earth below, or in the waters under the earth. Don't bow down to them or serve them, because I, the Lord your God, am a God who wants all your love. I will punish the children of those who hate me for the wrong things their parents did, up to the third and fourth generation. But I will show kindness to thousands of generations of those who love me and follow my rules." (1)

(1) Exod. 20:4-6

Q50: What does the second commandment tell us to do?

A. The second commandment God gave us tells us to follow and respect all the special ways He told us to worship Him in the Bible (1).

(1) Deut. 32:46; Matt. 28:20; Acts. 2:42.

Q51: What does the second commandment say we can't do?

A. The second commandment tells us not to show our love for God by making or using pictures or statues of Him. (1) It also tells us that we should only show our love for God in the ways that He has told us in the Bible. (2)

(1) Deut. 4:15-19; Exod. 32:5, 8

(2) Deut. 12:31-32

Q52: Why do we have the second commandment?

A. The reasons for the second commandment are because God is in charge of us (1), He made us (2), and He really wants us to worship Him in the right way. (3)

(1) Ps. 95:2-3, 6. (2) Ps. 45:11. (3) Exod. 34:13-14.

Q53: What is the third commandment?

A. The third commandment is, "Don't misuse the name of the Lord your God: because God won't let anyone who uses His name wrongly get away with it." (1)

(1) Exod. 20:7

Q54: What does the third commandment ask us to do?

A. The third commandment asks us to use God's names (1), titles (2), qualities (3), special rules (4), words (5), and actions (6) in a respectful and special way.

(1) Matt. 6:9; Deut. 28:58

(2) Ps. 68:4

(3) Rev. 15:3-4

(4) Mal. 1:11, 14

(5) Ps. 138:1-2

(6) Job 36:24

Q55: What does the third commandment tell us not to do?

A. The third commandment tells us not to be disrespectful or use wrongly anything that shows us who God is (1).

(1) Mal. 1:6-7, 12; 2:2; 3:14