Knowledge of God in Practice (part 1)
Theology is the study of God. Christian theology is concerned with understanding God who has revealed himself in the sixty-six books that constitute the inspired, inerrant, sufficient, clear, and authoritative Word of God. No theology can exhaust or mine the depths of God because He is infinite and eternal, so any attempt to describe Him will fall short (Romans 11:33-36).
Knowledge of God through His Word and Son
Some people believe theology isn’t important because they think they can’t understand it or that it’s divisive. Theology is to be grounded in the Word and correctly understood from Scripture, which is why it’s vital for the health and growth of the Church.
Theology is concerned with knowing God as He is revealed in the Word of God. Studying theology helps the people of God to know God as He has revealed Himself as the Creator, sustainer, Judge of all things, Alpha and Omega, and the beginning and end of all things (Genesis 1; Hebrews 1:1-2:8; 1 Cor. 2:15; Revelation 1:8; 22:13). In Exodus 3:14, when Moses asked who was sending him to Pharaoh, the Lord replied, I AM WHO I AM.” The name I AM stands for the Almighty, self-existing, self-determining Being with a mind and a will (a personal God) who has revealed Himself to humanity through His Word and by His Son, Jesus.
Theological maturity concerns itself with understanding to whom we belong, and who we are in Christ. Christians can know that the God who has revealed Himself in the Word of God is the same God who is unchanging (Hebrews 13:5; 13:8) and can rejoice in Him (Philippians 4:4) because He is sufficient (Philippians 4:13). Christ, the Lord of the peace who alone is entirely righteous, the Rock of Refuge (Psalm 18:2), and very present time of need (Psalm 46:1), summons the people of God to the throne of grace to find help in their time of need from their High Priest, Jesus (Hebrews 4:16-18). Theological maturity concerns itself with understanding to whom we belong, and who we are in Christ. Click To Tweet
The Christian’s growth in the grace of God is connected to growing in the knowledge of the character of God in the Word of God. After all, the Christian faith is founded on sound doctrine from the Word of God. Hebrews 11:1 teaches that faith is not a leap in the dark nor keeps its head stuck into the mud, but is deeply connected to assurance and conviction. Faith stands on the theological feast provided in the Word. The more that Christians feast on the Word of God which tells them of the story of the finished and sufficient work Christ, the more assurance, conviction, and faith they will cultivate.
In 1 Timothy 4:16, Paul says, “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” Paul is telling his protegee in the faith that growth in discipleship includes an intense study of the Word of God to handle it properly (2 Timothy 2:15).
Knowledge of God Authenticates and Fuels Worship
Christians do not believe in a vague God but in the Triune God who has revealed Himself in the Scriptures. If we have wrong views of God or about the work of salvation, for example, we are in mortal danger of not genuinely knowing God as He has revealed Himself. Theological robustness, precision, and maturity are not only for pastors or professors but for every Christian. Every Christian is a theologian, and our theology is disclosed in our marriages, prayer, spiritual disciples, speech, witness, and worship of God.
Christians are worshipers, and what God wants His people to be is those who worship Him in Spirit and Truth (John 4:23-24) because He is full of grace and truth (John 1:14). As the truth of Scripture pierces our hearts through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, God will change our convictions from the Word resulting in our thinking and behavior changing. Romans 12:2 says, “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.” The transforming being described here is a renewing of our minds and then our lives.
Purposeful theological study of God, as revealed in the Word, is an expression of love for God, which will deepen the life of the Christian. The more Christians read, study, meditate on, and prayerfully apply the Word of God, the more they will worship Him in Spirit and Truth.
The Goal of Theology
Sometimes theology professors get a bad rap because they are in the ivory tower of a seminary, and it appears they don’t care about the local church. But inherent within the role of a professor is the care of students. Being a Christian professor doesn’t mean he or she doesn’t care about the local church and the people of God. Since the goal of theology is to know God and to love Him (Matthew 22:37-40), we also have to say professors are to love God and love people. Real theology doesn’t stay in the books but works itself out in love for God and people. All of this is why formal scholasticism or dry intellectualism isn’t what Christian theology is about. Professors and every Christian are to love God and love people by engaging in the study of theology.