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New City Catechism - Question 31
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Posted by Paul Tautges, Senior Pastor


New City Catechism - Question 31


Q1: What do we believe by true faith?

A: Everything taught to us in the gospel. The Apostles’ Creed expresses what we believe in these words: We believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from there he will come to judge the living and the dead. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic [universal] church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

KIDS’ ANSWER: Everything taught to us in the gospel.



Jude 3

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.


ADDITIONAL SCRIPTURES TO READ: I encourage you to read many, if not all, of the Scriptures referenced throughout this blog post and in our church’s Statement of Faith.



Whenever we speak of faith—the faith that saves—we must remember that faith must have an object. In biblical Christianity, faith is in a person, His works, and His words. Our faith must rest in Jesus Christ as the way, the truth, and the life (Jn. 14:6). In other words, faith does not take place in a vacuum. It must have factual content, basis, and a true foundation. For example, when the apostles speak of “the faith” (faith with the definite article the preceding it), they are referring to the body of doctrine which revolves around the gospel. The gospel (the good news about Jesus) is the center of biblical doctrine. That is why the kids’ answer (above) is so wonderfully succinct and true. What must we believe? Everything taught to us in the gospel.


This body of truth, which was first proclaimed by Jesus and then by the apostles is the foundation of the church, the pillar and support of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15). For this reason, one of the most famous historic creeds of church history (2nd century) is called the Apostles’ Creed. I’m not particularly interested in promoting the creed itself, but will, in this blog post, explain why some churches have chosen to recite it publicly in their worship services. I will also try to help clarify its statements for you, in the light of the Scriptures which must always have supreme authority over any creed.


Since the writers of the New City Catechism chose to include the Apostles’ Creed in their answer to this week’s question, it opens a door for conversation, and affords us the opportunity to review some essential doctrines of the Christian faith. These include:

  • The trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). See previous blog post on Question 3.
  • Creation (Gen. 1-2; Jn. 1:1-3; Col. 1:15-16)
  • The virgin birth of Christ (Isa. 7:14; Mt. 1:18-25; Lk. 1:34)
  • The betrayal, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ to the right hand of the Father (all four Gospels)
  • The future return of Jesus to judge the living and the dead (Rev. 19-21)
  • The catholic church. As used in this creed, “catholic” (lower case “c”) is a generic term meaning “universal;” that is, all true believers in Christ throughout the world and the centuries. It does NOT mean the Roman Catholic Church, which continues to hold to, and propagate, a false gospel.
  • Forgiveness of sin in Christ (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:13-14)
  • Future resurrection of the body (1 Cor. 15; Rev. 19-21)
  • Everlasting life for believers (Jn. 3:16; 1 Jn. 5:11-13)


The most confusing sentence of all in the Apostles’ Creed is “He descended into hell.” What does this mean? It does not mean Jesus visited Hell, the eternal place of torment designed for the devil, demons, and unbelievers. The word “hell” here is the place the Bible calls Hades. It is the place of the dead, which includes the place the Bible calls Paradise. The most helpful article I’ve seen recently, which explains the meaning of this phrase, is He Descended into Hell? Please take time to read it.


To learn more about the doctrine of hell, you may also wish to listen to a sermon which I preached years ago, entitled, Hell: A Horrifying Reality.





We believe that man was created in the image of God, but fell into sin, and is therefore lost, and that only through regeneration by the Holy Spirit can salvation and spiritual life be obtained.  (Gen. 1:26272:7223:1-6Rom. 3:9-12,235:12,186:23;  Jn. 3:35-7)


We believe that Jesus Christ is true God and true Man, having been conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of  the Virgin Mary.  He who knew no sin died on the cross a sacrifice for our sins according to the Scriptures.  Further, He arose bodily from the dead, ascended into Heaven, where at the right hand of the Majesty on High, He now is our High Priest and Advocate.  (Is. 7:14Mt. 1:18-25;  Lk. 1:26-36;  Col. 2:9;  1 Jn. 5:20;  Mk. 10:45;  Heb. 2:9;  Lk. 24:23-40;  1 Cor. 15;  Acts 1:1-111 Pet. 3:221 Jn. 2:2Heb. 4:167:25)


We believe that the shed blood of Jesus Christ and His resurrection provide the only ground for justification and salvation for all who believe, and only such as receive Jesus by faith are born of the Holy Spirit, become children of God, and are saved for eternity.  (Heb. 9:22;  Mt. 26:281 Pet. 1:18,19Rom. 3:2425Rom. 5:1,  918Jn. 1:123:16Eph. 2:8,9)


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