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Should I Study Theology?

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Welcome, Young Believer!

These last couple of days we've been talking about subjects that make many Christians groan in agony remembering boring lectures and stressful tests from their high school and college days. Especially if you've attended a Christian school or Bible College at some point in your life, you've probably been required to take at least some classes regarding church history and theology. Now some of you got very lucky and had excellent teachers who brought these subjects to life for you, but many more of you were not so fortunate.

I love how Ligonier Ministries defines theology, "The study of God as He has revealed Himself in His Word."

With that in mind let's talk about whether or not you should study theology. The easy answer is, yes! Absolutely every Christian as they grow in maturity should be committed to learning more about God and what He has to say about Himself in His Word. However, perhaps the better answer is this: if you're a baby Christian start by simply creating a habit of daily reading God's Word... as you read you'll have questions, and when you have questions seek out answers from a trusted mentor. One day you'll be a mentor to another young believer and they may ask you questions that you've never thought about before, then seek those answers again both in God's Word and from trusted sources. You do not have to start by taking an in-depth theology course about all of the doctrinal disputes that the church has studied and resolved over time, although as you mature you may find yourself interested in knowing these things, especially if you're constantly finding yourself at a disadvantage in a debate where an atheist seems to know more about what you believe than you do.

It might shock you how many Christians don't know even basic theology. What won't shock you is how divided and seemingly confused the Church is today and it's no wonder when some churches are now teaching that the Word of God is not necessary to be a Christian it's just a book of nice moral stories and suggestions. When you're asking how you can discern false teaching, my first question would be... do you know what right teaching is to make a comparison?

Paul in his introduction to his letter to the Colossians says that he prays constantly for them that:

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:9-14 (emphasis my own)

According to Paul being filled with the knowledge of God's will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding enables us to live our lives in a way that is pleasing to God. Knowing God better helps us to bear good fruit. As we bear good fruit our desire to know God better grows even more.

Think of it this way: you find someone that you really like and they ask you out on a date. The person is super cute and the activity they've invited you to sounds fun. While on this date you actually find that there isn't much time at all for a conversation, you might as well still be strangers at the end of the date but you agree to go out again. Imagine the second date is even more awkward, you go to a restaurant for dinner but your date talks about themselves all night at the end of it you're frustrated saying, "Don't you want to know anything about me?" That person is probably not getting a third date.

Now, you have at least a basic knowledge of God enough to know that He loves you and He sent His Son to die for you. You've even accepted that sacrifice on your behalf and now you're trying to live a life that is more honoring to God... but you regularly miss church, your Bible is extra dusty, and those big words like theology make you break out in a cold sweat. You're basically saying, "I know all that's relevant to me about God, but I don't need to know anymore." If it doesn't fly on a date, why do we so often treat God this way? We should have a desire to know Him better!

One of the best points that Fervr gives for why we should study theology is that what we believe affects how we behave. The way we view God dramatically changes how we relate to Him, how we behave toward others (whom we also believe He created and loves), and how we view ourselves both our identity and our purpose. Knowing God shifts the foundation upon which we build our lives.

Studying theology also helps us to parse out what we think we know about God and what is actually true about God. Our culture in America was founded in Christianity, while much of our culture has now moved far away from those principles there are thoughts and ideas about God that we learn instinctively from this culture from childhood even though we may not realize it. Only by studying what God has to say about Himself can we sort through how much we think we know is actually true and how much is actually keeping us in bondage to our old sinful view of God before we were saved.

The article I've included from the Atlantic below is actually written by an atheist who argues that not only believers should study theology but secular people too and interestingly enough they did not list one of the reasons for this as to better dissuade superstitious religious people. This student wasn't seeking a better understanding of God but actually a better understanding of the people across time who have believed in God and wrestled with their knowledge of Him. If a person who doesn't believe in God at all is willing to study theology to better understand the Church, perhaps we should consider that it is doubly important for Christians to study theology so that we may better understand ourselves!

One point I hadn't thought of before comes from Michael Horton, we need to know God, what He has done for us, and why in order to worship the correct God and to worship Him properly. what makes this point so profound is where the church finds itself today. Have you ever heard someone say, "Well that's not my God." in an argument? You may have even thought this as someone expresses some belief in an aspect of God's character that you don't agree with. But why does it rub you the wrong way? How do you know you're right? You may have also heard someone claim that a teacher is proclaiming a "false Christ" or "false Gospel." How are they distinguishing those things from the true Christ and the true Gospel? Theology helps you to answer these questions giving you certainty in the God you serve and what He requires of you.

Here at Equipped for the Kingdom, we believe that studying theology is central to our lives as Christians because knowing God from His own Word is what equips us to live each day honoring Him and to accurately pass on the truth of His love and grace for us to others.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

If you have more questions about studying theology please place those in the comments. We would also love to hear about the work you're seeing God do in your life! I also highly recommend, as always, that you find a mentor in the faith that will help to walk you through these issues as you grow in your faith. This is one journey you were never meant to take alone!



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