From childhood on people try to figure out life. My kids want to know where all the stuff around them came from. They want to know the “why” to EVERYTHING. As they get older the questions become more mature and complex. What is my purpose? How do I handle evil? Is there a God? What is he like? How can I know Him? Do I have value and why? What is the point of purity? How can I be happy? Is sin really that big a deal?
Our life is written in a divine code that cannot be deciphered without knowing the divine author. This is called “theology,” or the study of God. The more we know about God the more we will know the answers to our questions. He holds perfect wisdom, so the solutions to our struggles are found in Him.
In too many ways we are a stubborn and lazy people. The study of theology takes work and often we do not want to take the time and brainpower to read, think, and pray through some tough issues. Sometimes I wish learning through osmosis really worked. Just lay the Bible under my pillow and absorb it all while I sleep. We often prefer the easier but more dangerous path of living in ignorance.
Many say that the study of theology is the job of the pastor. I have also found that many women give the excuse that it is simply too confusing or hard, leaving the deep stuff to the men or those who went to Bible school. Come now ladies, we can do better than that.
All of this is not only shameful, it is dangerous. If we don’t take theology seriously we will live our lives based on conjecture. We won’t know how to answer many of the question our children or neighbors have and we will inadvertently give false answers.
Deficiencies in our theology will affect our decisions and can lead to indifference, or even anger towards God during times of suffering or hardship.
God has given men, women, you and me, brains, his word, and his Spirit. Good brains that can think, his word which is clear, and the Spirit who teaches, which means we can study and know the things of God.
It’s true, the study of theology can be difficult. Some of it will be hard truth that will put us at crossroads with our faith and feelings. We will encounter truths that will sometimes offend us because it will goes against our selfish and prideful hearts. Some truth will shed light on hidden sins or make us question the way we have thought or have acted in the past.
Why should we study theology? Because God is worth knowing. But there are so many benefits to studying theology I thought I would list a few.
1. We will grow spiritually.
The knowledge of God should lead to the experience of God, and this is transformative. We will fall more in love with God and our spiritual life will be more full and weighty because of it. Elizabeth Elliot said that without theology our spiritual life will be left weightless, without any force that draws us to the center.
We float on feelings that will carry us where we were never meant to go; we bubble with emotional experiences that we often take for spiritual ones; and we are puffed up with pride. Instead of seriousness, there is foolishness. Instead of gravity, flippancy. Sentimentality takes the place of theology. Our reference point will never serve to keep our feet on solid rock. Our reference point, until we answer God's call, is merely ourselves. We cannot possibly tell which end is up.
2. We will be able to share and defend our faith.
We have been saved to proclaim the excellencies of God (1 Peter 2:9). To tell of God’s greatness and share the gospel with others cannot be done apart from having a robust theology.
And Christianity is always under attack. We need to be able to defend the things we say we believe and correct the false notions of God popular in our culture. When we do this we are also defending the name of God. But we need to be able to say more than simply “because the Bible says so.” We must be able to engage in debate that not only shows love but truth, and that these truths are worth knowing and fighting for.
But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
1 Peter 3:15
3. To teach our Children
We cannot pass onto our kids the things we don’t know. My prayer for my kids is that their passion for God and their knowledge of Him will be greater than what I have. I want to be able to sit at the feet of my children one day and learn from them. But this means that I need to be able to teach them all I know now so they can build on that later
[Mothers], our daughters (and this goes for sons as well) will be products of their theology. Their knowledge – or lack of knowledge – of who God is and what He has done for them will show up in every attitude, action, and relationship. Their worldview will be determined by their belief system. We must teach our daughters that their value and identity lie in the fact that they are image-bearers of the God of glory. This will protect them from seeking significance in the inconsequential shallowness of self-fulfillment, personal happiness, materialism, or others’ approval. Our daughters must know the wondrous truth that their overarching purpose in life is God’s glory.
The Good News
God has promised that if we seek Him we will find Him (Matt. 7:7) and when we do so we will be greatly rewarded. Not only are we given salvation but the knowledge of the one who saved us. The more we know God the more we will break the code to life. Good theology leads to a life that is more full of joy, contentment, and passion.
Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”
Jeremiah 9:23-24 (emphasis added)
photo credit - Mark Grapengater