Saturday, August 19, 2017

Studying Theology

June 27, 2011 by  
Filed under Monthly Articles

Studying Theology
June 26, 2011 by Anthony Ingram

For the last few weeks I have spent massive amounts of time studying eschatology or the doctrines of end times. When I say massive amounts, I mean so much time that it has gotten in the way of me doing things I needed to be doing (like writing on this blog, for instance).

Now, having studied a lot of various positions on what the return of Christ is going to look like, I have developed a basic opinion as to where I will personally land, though I am nowhere near competent enough in the subject yet to win debates or give lectures. But at least I am studied up enough to know where I land.

I love to study deep theology. I don’t just want a surface level of understanding, but I really want to comprehend the “why” and “how” behind things. Because of this, I can get lost in study for pretty lengthy amounts of time. Now, although there are many benefits to this, there is one problem that, if you’re like me, can become a great challenge to overcome: God never called us to just know about Him. God calls us to know Him and bring other people into that relationship as well.

So, while knowledge about God is great to have, and is a gift from God to us, knowledge cannot become the end in itself. That knowledge must lead us into deeper worship of the God of the universe. It should strengthen our faith and solidify our trust in who He has revealed Himself to be. And when that comes about in our life, then both the knowledge and the experience of God will lead us to share that with others.

What I see all too often in modern Christianity is that someone will get saved, and they will burn with passion to learn all they can about God. They will devote themselves heartily to spiritual disciplines like study and prayer. And there will also be this overbearing desire for them to share their new-found faith with everyone around them. But then as time rolls on, and some months or years pass, this believer will sit in church, hear the sermons, learn all there is to know in small groups or Sunday school, but they somehow lose their zeal for God and their neighbor. As their heads fill up, their hearts become indifferent.

I don’t know the cause of this problem, but its symptoms have become all too obvious. The result is that we have whole churches that understand the depths of the gospel — that “understand all mysteries and all knowledge” as Paul would say — but it doesn’t cause them to go deeper in their love for God and others, and they are essentially dying because of it. Or, again, as Paul says, they have “become nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2).

Knowledge of God is a platform for Christians to take what we know by faith and make it a reality. To hear the promises God makes and learn about His character; to seek Him and pray, “let it be done on earth as it is in heaven,” and then walk out the door and put hands and feet to that prayer.

The last blog I posted, two weeks ago or however long it’s been, was about what it will take to see a national revival. The prerequisite to all that I said there is that we have to move out of our spiritual complacency, return to our “first love,” and then to actually live our lives dedicated to the mission of God instead of only talking about it.

Now, before this goes too far and someone says, “yea, but I’m really not even into theology and study, so this isn’t my problem;” let me just cut you off and say that not studying theology doesn’t mean that you don’t develop a theology. Whether you study or not, you will formulate beliefs about God, which will then lead to your actions concerning God.

If you truly believe that God is only a God of love and mercy, and never of justice and wrath, then you will never see a need to repent or tell others of the Cross of Christ.

If you truly believe that people are generally good, and it is just that God is too cranky, and out to get everyone, then you will avoid having a real relationship with Him.

If you are a Christian, this is why you must be devoting yourself to exploring the things of God. It is why there are so many scriptures that tell us things like “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), or “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2). The result is that you will be able “to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15).

So, is it important for the believer to invest time studying things like the Trinity, or the “how” and “why” of salvation, or even things like eschatology? Absolutely, yes! But this is the first step, not the last, in growing in Christian maturity.

So what are you studying? How is it leading you in the worship of God? And who can you share it with?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.

_________________
A. Scott Ingram is the Minister of Evangelism for Heart of God International Ministries. Scott will be leading the Men’s Conference in Uganda the first part of July. You are encouraged to follow Scott’s blog at http://anthonyingram.com.

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