We might ask ourselves if studying theology really matters. What effect, if any, does studying theology have on our lives? If we’re honest, many of us subconsciously believe that theological studies are reserved for a select group of Christians who “have it all together”. This notion could not be farther from the truth. Theology is for all of those who are in Christ, but what does that look like? Let’s begin by defining theology. Theology, in its most basic form, is the study of the nature of God. A.W. Tozer, a prolific American pastor and author during the 20th century, begins his most famous book, Knowledge of the Holy, by saying,
What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.
If Tozer is correct, then this radically changes our lives. This implies that every aspect of our lives is affected by our beliefs concerning the nature of God. If Tozer is incorrect, then we are forced to answer what the most important thing about us really is. These answers are often full of fleeting identities that merely reflect our current season of life and we will discuss that issue in a later article.
Assuming Tozer is correct, the inevitable result is to take our view of God seriously. Due to this, we must ensure that our view of God is grounded in a firm foundation, rather than on ever-evolving cultural norms or feelings. Our lives need to be grounded in the never-changing, infallible Word of God. In Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts, the late Jerry Bridges wrote:
We must not allow our emotions to hold sway over our minds. Rather, we must seek to let the truth of God rule our minds. Our emotions must become subservient to the truth.
The only way to ensure that our theology is correct and is not corrupted by sin, man-centered tendencies, feelings, political agendas, cultural preferences, or even the Devil himself is to know the Bible and make its teachings the center of our theology. Furthermore, we must not only know the Word of God, but we are to delight in it. In Psalm 1, the psalmist writes,
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.
-Psalm 1:1-2 (ESV)
Not only does this ‘man’ know the Word, he delights in it. His joy is found in the Word of the Lord and it is that joy and satisfaction in Christ which leads him to obey God. We should never apologize for what the Word of God says, rather delight in it. Later in the book of Psalms, the psalmist writes,
Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts. I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word. I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.
-Psalm 119:97-104 (ESV)
All of this allows us to conclude that the author’s correct understanding of God’s nature leads to delight in God (rather than merely in the gifts that come from God), which inevitably leads to a correct expression of praise to God, obedience to God’s commands, and a passion for others to “glorify God and enjoy him forever”. We will discuss these effects in greater detail throughout this series as we continue to dive into God’s Word.
Throughout this series, we will examine a variety of topics such as submission to Christ in both our doctrine and our lives, the nature of God, the nature of man, the Biblical Gospel, differences between theological distinctives and heresies, and, of course, the inevitable effects of theological study. Our hope, in all of this, is that young adults would grow in their desire to study the Word and grow in their awareness of the importance of Biblical discernment. The lack of Biblical literacy, as well as discernment, is a growing issue in the church today and this series is focused on discussing the importance of theology.