Kevin DeYoung in his fantastic devotional exposition of the Heidelberg Catechism explains the threefold outline of the Catechism in such a concise and profound way.
Question one of the Catechism shapes our whole existence. The first thing we need to know as a Christian is that we belong to Jesus and not to ourselves. But it doesn’t help much to know all about comfort and joy if we don’t know what is required to live and die in this comfort and joy. Belonging to Jesus and not ourselves means knowing three things: guilt, grace, and gratitude. The rest of the Catechism will follow this threefold outline.
First, we understand our sin. Then we understand salvation. And finally we understand how we are sanctified to serve. All three things are necessary. If we don’t know about our sin – which brings a true sense of guilt – we will be too confident in our abilities to do right and make the world a better place. We will ignore our most fundamental problem, which is not lack of education, or lack of opportunity, or lack of resources but sin and its attendant misery. But if we don’t know how we are set free from this sin and misery – which comes through God’s grace – we will try to fix ourselves in futility or give up altogether in despair. And if we don’t know how to thank God, showing gratitude for such deliverance, we will live in a self-centered, self-referential bubble, which is not why God saved us from our sin and misery in the first place. If Christians would hold all “three things” and not just one or two, we would be saved from a lot of poor theology and bad ideas. – Kevin DeYoung
As I am walking our own children through the Catechism I find myself convicted and moved to worship and the beauty and majesty of the truths it holds. If you are a parent looking for a great devotional check out “The Good News We Almost Forgot.” It is written to be read as a weekly devotional but can be read as frequently as you desire I read it all as quick as I could. Such a great book. Highly recommend it. If you are a fan of the Catechism this book will deepen your love for it. If you are skeptical or new to the Catechism it’s worth checking out.