I have found this a profound truth.
Too many Christian nowadays have barricaded Christ into a section of their lives. The Bible is only of relevance on Sunday. We have a duty to know what’s in there. It’s what Christians do.
They have lost their mind. Literally. Of particular importance is that theology no longer informs the way people live. One example is the Christian fight for holiness, to overcome sin and temptation.
Christ did not die to give us free license to sin. Christ died to pay the penalty for our sin, that we might no longer bear the condemnation of our past even as we live new lives. He came to give us life, not that we might die all over again, but that we might live it fully for His glory, without the shame of our sin bearing down on us.
This fight against sin, this fight for life, has lost its intensity in the church today. Too many want their ears to be tickled. Let us not mention that horrible word ‘sin’. It’s too negative. We need positive, uplifting messages of hope.
This is simply because Christians have lost their minds. How do you live life when all your decisions are being informed by your own principles? Christ died to liberate us from worldly principles and philosophies, that we might live according to His Law. If you cannot see that the study of doctrine is essential to living like Christ, then the life you live will mirror the person whose principles you’re living by. You will mirror your old self. It is this old self that Paul calls us to put off in Ephesians 4:22. He tells us: “Be made new in the attitude of your minds; put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” The mind is the key to unlocking all of life. We must fill our head with the principles and laws of Christ, that we might live according to His will, and live the life He freed us to live.
Every Christian is called to be a theologian. There are only good theologians and bad theologians. You cannot be a non-theologian. We all live with some concept of God. The question is whether we’ll get to know this God better by serious study of His Word, or will simply be content to live life as we picture it should be lived. If we choose the latter, our truncated theology will lead to truncated lives. And a truncated life is no eternal life at all.
Of course, we can be good theologians, but we can never be perfect theologians. Who can know the mind of God, but God Himself? But if we do not seek to know His mind, we do not love Him as He desires us to. It is a desire to know Him more and do all we can to do so that is crucial, rather than attaining a certain level of knowledge. As Paul says, the man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. A good theologian is one that is never proud, but broken and humbled that God would so graciously reveal Himself to sinners.
We can be good theologians, but be terrible doers of the Word. We must heed the advice of James. Whatever you have heard, put into practice. The reason for knowledge is that our love may abound more and more. Love is about deeds, but is always informed by the truth.
We can be good theologians, and faithfully obey God’s teachings, but not know God. This is why we must pray. The New Testament Christians spoke of a personal God, to whom they talked with and listened to. Jesus Himself modelled this very relationship. God is not content with us loving Him with our minds, but also with our heart and soul. Only biblical prayer engages the heart.
Finally, we can be good theologians, intimately know God and faithfully obey His teachings, yet do not think that we’ll win our fight against sin while we are still clothed in our mortal bodies. As John says, if we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His word has no place in our lives. Far be it from us to make God out to be a liar. Let God be true, and every man a liar. As it is written: “So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.”
May God’s Spirit guide us in paths of truth.