The core message of the “Theology Matters” series is focused on the importance of studying theology, rejoicing in theology, and applying theology. The process begins by studying theology, but I believe the other two steps are inevitable responses of true experiential knowledge.

All of this allows us to conclude that the [believer’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 the proclamation of the gospel. –An Introduction to Theology Matters

In the same way that theology has a direct impact on our joy, it has an effect on our entire lives. This joy-filled, correct theology leads us to doxology, a change in personal holiness, and a heart for evangelism.

In his “Doxology Intro” to Lyrical Theology Pt. 2, Pastor and Christian Rapper, Shai Linne said, All theology should ultimately lead to doxology. If theology doesn’t lead to doxology, then we’ve actually missed the point of theology. Too often, theology becomes a mere academic or intellectual pursuit and we forget the heart of theology. The reason we study God is to know God and we believe that to know God is to love God. When we truly come to an experiential knowledge of God, we respond with an expression of praise. Accurate theology leads to accurate doxology. It is important that our praise to God is informed by truth. It is important that when we worship God, we are declaring truth about him. Linne goes on to say,

So if you have theology without doxology, you just have dead, cold orthodoxy; Which is horrible, right? On the other side, we have people who say: “Ugh! Forget theology; I just wanna praise!” Right? But, if we have doxology without theology, we actually have idolatry! Because it’s just a random expression of praise; but it’s not actually informed by the Truth of who God is.

God has not called us to merely study him or merely praise him. He’s called us to do both. He’s called us to study him in such a way that leads us to praise him. I truly believe that as we dive into the Word, we will see the truths of the gospel clearly and praise God because of the mercy and grace that he has shown on us despite our inherent sinfulness.

Although doxology is an important part of how we apply theology, it is not the only effect of it. At the 2012 TGC Women’s Conference, Nancy Leigh Demoss said, Sound theology should always lead us to doxology and transformation.” Since we have already covered the doxology aspect, we will now shift towards the focus of transformation. As we study the nature of God, there will be a change in our desires, thoughts and inevitably actions. In simpler terms, this is a change of personal holiness. During his sermon entitled Justification by Grace, Charles Spurgeon said, If he gives you the grace to make you believe, he will give you the grace to live a holy life afterwards. God does not leave us on our own. The same God that justifies us also sanctifies us. There is a reason why I said there will be a change in our desires, thoughts and inevitably actions. Unlike justification, this change in personal holiness or process of sanctification is progressive. It takes places over a long period of time, but inevitably the Spirit of God will make us look more and more like the Son of God.

The final effect that I will highlight in this short article is our desire for the nations to glorify God and enjoy him forever. In simpler terms, this is missions and evangelism. If you read my Joy in Truth article or are familiar with the Westminster Shorter Catechism, you will notice that this effect is directly tied to joy. If we have not experienced this joy, we cannot share it. Too often, I have been on mission trips where students, who have not come to an experiential knowledge of the gospel, attempt to share the gospel with others. In the first chapter of John Piper’s Let the Nations Be Glad!, he writes, Missions is the overflow of our delight in God because missions is the overflow of God’s delight in being God. What a profound statement! The entire reason that missions exist is because God delighted in being God and displayed his mercy upon us.

Earlier in this book, Piper writes,

Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever. Worship, therefore, is the fuel and goal of missions. It’s the goal of missions because in missions we simply aim to bring the nations into the white-hot enjoyment of God’s glory.

The truth is that all of these effects are intertwined. We are simply trying to know God, delight in God, praise God, look more like God, while desiring for others to do the same. Missions is not ultimately about missions. It is about God. It is about seeing others delight in God.

The goal of this entire series is that you would realize that theology is not something to be scared of. My prayer is that you would dive into your Bible daily and that you would grow in your knowledge of the nature of God and the nature of man and that all of this would lead to a correct expression of praise to God, a change in your desires, thoughts, and actions, and a desire for the nations to glorify God and enjoy him forever. May God be the center of it all and may his gospel be the cornerstone of your theology.

EDITORS’ NOTE: See also the rest of Cole Shiflet‘s series Theology Matters.

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