Theology: Not just for Seminary
Let’s start by taking a quiz about faith. Are you ready?
True or False
__ I am a Christian. I said the ‘Sinner’s Prayer’ and would say that I have been born again.
__ The Gospel is mostly for accepting Christ into a person’s heart. After that, the primary goal of a believer is to work on living more like Christ.
__ I’m “not really a reader” and I don’t enjoy listening to sermons. As a result, I do not really pursue Christian topics outside of a small devotional book or daily online blurb.
__ When I DO get the urge to read something Christian, I tend to go to the Christian bookstore and browse the bestseller section.
__ The Bible is primarily about how Jesus came to earth to rescue me from my sins.
__ I have been a believer for two or more years but have not read the entire Bible, start-to-finish.
Please allow me to make a confession- I grew up in the church, yet until about six years ago, I would have answered “True” to each one of these.
Unfortunately, none of these statements actually represents Biblical truth. The more I’ve pressed into God’s Word, I’ve learned that there is a serious disconnect between American Churchianity and Biblical Christianity. And it boils down to who God really is and what He really says.
Theology is just a fancy word for the study of God. Knowing God (who He is, what He’s like, what He’s done) is so important for each believer.
Think of it this way. When a girl falls for a guy, what does she do? She does not watch him at a distance and then tell everyone that she’s his girlfriend (aka creeper). She does not call herself his girlfriend but then only learn about him from other people. And she does not accept his invitation for a date and then change her phone number.
Rather, she seeks to know him better through deep conversations and extended time spent in his company (always leaving room for the Holy Ghost, of course!). She responds to his pursuit of her by also investing in the relationship.
The relationship with Christ is similar. There is no Biblical context for believers who see Christ from a distance and thereby call themselves Christian. I don’t see Biblical grounds for calling myself a Christian just to turn around and neglect spending time with Him through prayer and the study of His Word. Likewise, I can’t solely rely on what other people say about Him as a means for getting to know Him.
What are we afraid of?
Typically, when we’re challenged to pursue Christ in a deeper way, there are several possible objections that arise. It is essential to identify these issues as lies and answer them with Truth.
Do any of these sound familiar?
-I’m already believer. I already know the important parts.
EVERY part of Scripture is important. The Gospel is not merely for salvation, but to point every bit of our being to Christ. As my pastor says, “You never graduate from the Gospel.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says,
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
-I have a simple faith, like a child. I know somewhere it says in the Bible…. (trails off without actually naming book/chapter/verse)
We should come to Christ amazed, like the children who wanted to see Jesus in Luke 18:15-17. This amazement should lead us to delve deeper into the depths of His Word.
In Hebrews 5:12-14, the author admonishes the church for being believers for years, yet their faith has not grown:
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
-What if I uncover part of my life that God is telling me to change (ie. Break up with someone, move to Africa, etc.)?
The God of the Bible is worthy of our trust- don’t be afraid to find out what He really says about Himself and about you. His plans are always better, and the best place for us is in the center of the Loving Father’s will. (If He DOES end up calling you to Africa, you may want to be equipped).
Ultimately, the point is that if you love Christ, you will want to seek out everything you can about Him.
Fine! Now what?!
Here are some helpful tips-
-Read your Bible. Start small. Read the Gospel of John. Then read Acts. Then find a reading plan. Try http://www.esv.org/resources/reading-plans-devotions/
-Don’t allow intimidation to prevail. The Bible is a big book of smaller books. For example, most of Paul’s letters in the New Testament are 4 pages or less. In my ESV Thinline Bible, there are only 233 pages from Matthew through Revelation. Did you know that “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” is 320 pages long? (Didn’t mean to Jesus juke you there… or did I?)
-Utilize resources to help you to dig into your Bible. Check out ‘Christian Beliefs’ by Wayne Grudem and ‘Everyone’s a Theologian’ by RC Sproul. For free books/articles, mine the treasures at DesiringGod.org.
-Get into community with other believers by joining a Bible-believing (and teaching) church. Make sure that the church to which you belong challenges their people to take their eyes off of themselves and, through the Holy Word, wrestle with deeper things such as sin, repentance, Jesus’ sacrifice, and the glory of God.
Truly studying God is the most important and exciting task that we can ever take part in. God has given us all that we truly need to know in His Word. Let’s go on the adventure together to know all that we can about the amazing God that saves us and loves us without limits!
See You In The Round!
“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved."