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Christian Theology: How To Know Jesus & His Will For You

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Christian Theology: How To Know Jesus & His Will For You
Christian Theology focuses on Jesus Christ. It is both deep and simple from “Jesus Loves Me” to the 3125 articles of Thomas Aquinas.

Christian Theology: How to Know Jesus & His Will for You

The Bible teaches practical theology that shows us how to live for Jesus.

My definition of “Christian Theology”

This definition is simple and included in the title of this article:

How to Know Jesus & His Will for you.

The noun “theology” is a combination of the Greek words for “God” and “Words.”

The adjective “Christian” limits its focus to the Lord Jesus Christ*.

It is grounded in the Bible and has wide application dealing with its subject, source, method, context, and goal.

Christian Theology is both deep and simple

20th-century Protestant theologian Karl Barth (1886-1968) wrote six million words in his unfinished magnum opus. When asked to summarize his theology, he answered:

“Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

Thomas Aquinas* (1225-1275) put his Christian Theology in his unfinished Summa Theologica, containing 3125 articles that serve as the foundational basis for Roman Catholic doctrine.

Aquinas was also a preacher and humble follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, who appeared to him more than once in what are usually described as “mystical experiences.” In response to a question posed in one of these,

“What reward would you have for your labor?” Thomas replied, “Nothing but You, Lord.”

These two found the object of Christian theology; Jesus and knowing His never-ending love and grace.

Christian theology begins with the Bible

The Christian God is the only God who speaks.

Moses*(1571-1462) writes of this in Genesis, where he tells us that in the beginning, God made heaven and earth.

How did He do this? He spoke. What did He say? Let there be light.

And this is the beginning of Christian theology.

(Names with an asterisk have a short bio in SPIRITUAL LIVES.)

Christian Theology in the Old Testament

But how can this be “Christian” since Christ was not born for thousands of years?

The word “LORD” occurs 7242 times. That word includes the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Even though the name “Jesus”* was revealed only thousands of years later when the Son of God was born of Mary, taking on human flesh, the pre-incarnate Jesus appears in over eighty theophanies in the Old Testament and is referenced or promised represented on every page.

The Old Testament teaches these essentials of Christian theology:

  • God created everything and isall-powerfull.

  • He cares about us and hears our prayers.

  • He hates sin and evil.

  • He fights for His people and punishes wickedness.

Christian Theology in the New Testament

Jesus* came to save His people from their sins. He taught us to love one another as He loves us and gave us the beatitudes, parables, and miracles.

He gave His life on the cross to wash our sins away.

We learn all about Him, how He and His Father are One.

We see Jesus crucified, raised from the dead, and ascended into heaven where He sits on the right hand of God. We learn how He sent the Holy Spirit to build His church, and how He is coming again in great power.

Best of all we hear His Gospel message:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

All of this is practical Christian theology that we learn from reading His Word.

Christian theology in the Epistles

Here we meet the first theologian, St. Paul*(5-67), who wrote 14 epistles in the New Testament. An Old Testament Scholar, he was converted by Jesus Himself, caught up into heaven, and heard revelations too wonderful to speak. Jesus called him to be His servant and to teach His church.

This is an important first in Christian theology, it operates in the context of God’s people, i.e., the Church.

Christian theology helps us to love Jesus more and to know His will for us, and we get there through the Church and fellowship with other Christians.

St. Paul*(5-62) teaches us the importance of the Scripture and the Church in drawing closer to Jesus. He teaches us more about Jesus,

  • how He is the “express image” of God,

  • how He created all things, and

  • is even now building His kingdom and preparing a place for us.

He uses Jesus’ words and amplifies them to let us know we were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world!

But his greatest teaching of all is that we are saved by grace and through faith.
That is the abiding and fundamental truth in Christian theology.

St. Paul* was the first great teacher of Christian Theology, the greatest ever, and he was a scholar and deep thinker. But Christianity has developed on two tracks, the scholarly theologians and the lives and ministries of ordinary people.

Christian theology in the early church

Early theology was led by the ministers of the church. Their monumental contribution was the Nicene Creed (325), developed over hundreds of years by the work of many faithful Christians. Its role has been to bring the Church together and to protect us from heresy, the work of the devil.

Christian Theology in Rome

Augustine of Hippo (354-430) is the next great theologian we meet. His work is saturated with Bible verses that helped him see these important truths of Christian theology:

  • The Fall impacted everyone, and that all have sinned.

  • That Jesus died on the cross to wash away our sin, and

  • Only faith in Him will save.

Christian Theology in the Middle Ages:

During Augustine’s lifetime the Roman Empire was destroyed, and order was restored through the church and the work of St. Gregory the Great (540-604), who John Calvin* called “the last good Pope.”

Gregory was known as “the Father of Christian Worship” for his reform of the liturgy of the Church. His great contribution to Christian theology is that worship is essential to knowing Jesus and His purpose for our lives.

St. Francis of Assisi*(1181-1226) took Christian theology out of the academy and applied Jesus’ teaching to the common people.

Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. – Matthew 10:8

He sold all he had and began to minister to the poor. Soon, thousands joined him in bringing God’s Word and love to the world. Christian theology and ministry were for all who were willing.

If God can work through me, He can work through anyone. – Francis of Assisi

But when Francis died, his ministry did too. In part because it operated outside the church.

Christian theology is always linked to the church, and God raised up a man to strengthen that linkage.

Thomas Aquinas*(1225-1274) wrote 3,125 articles in his masterpiece Summa Theologica that serve as the basis for all Catholic doctrine. Christian theology needs the church as its context, and Aquinas taught believers what they needed to know to draw closer to Jesus and know His will.

For a thousandyears' the Roman Catholic Church really was “catholic,” universal, equivalent to the worldwide Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Millions and millions got to know Jesus there and were exposed to its Christian theology, but that theology was about to change.

That change came when the Bible was translated from Latin into the vernacular, the language of the people. John Wyclif* (1321-1384) and John Hus* (1369-1415) were pioneers in this, Wyclif in England, Hus in Bohemia. Both were vigorously opposed by the Church, and Hus was burned at the stake.

Christian theology in the Protestant Reformation

But their work and belief in the power of the Word of God, inspired two other priests to challenge the Church’s theology. The first of these was Martin Luther* (1483-1546) whose challenge to the Catholic church in 1517 marked the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.

He firmly and famously stated his Christian theology in two words: FAITH ALONE.

He got this theology directly from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans and declared that the Bible was the sole infallible revelation of God’s will and through it, anyone could learn all that was necessary to be saved.

Luther’s teaching had a profound impact on English Doctor of Theology Thomas Cranmer*(1489-1556). Cranmer used that teaching to create the Book of Common Prayer, written in beautiful English including the famous 39 Articles, a summary of the Christian theology of the Church of England.

The greatest blessing of Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer is that it combines Christian theology with prayer, worship, and praise.

It is a book to be lived with and worshipped with. Not a one-time shot, but an ongoing experience.

John Calvin*(1509-1564) was another Roman Catholic scholar who became convinced of the absolute authority of the Bible. From it, he articulated the Christian theology of the Reformed faith summarized as T.U.L.I.P.

  • Total Depravity (also known as Total Inability and Original Sin)

  • Unconditional Election

  • Limited Atonement (also known as Particular Atonement)

  • Irresistible Grace

  • Perseverance of the Saints (also known as Once Saved Always Saved)

Although this doctrine seemed hard to Jonathan Edwards*(1703-1758), it led him to a “born-again” experience when he was 17 years old. He became a pastor and missionary to the Mohican Indians.

He is famous for “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” which sparked the first Great Awakening and a century-long time of revival.

His contribution to our Christian theology is an urgency added to Augustine’s teaching about original sin and a commitment to saving the lost.

Edwards was one of the last contributors to Christian theology to come out of the academic word. With the Enlightenment or Age of Reason (1685-1815), the Bible was challenged as its source of truth.

Christian theology in the Enlightenment

The foremost theologian of this time was Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834) the “Father of Modern Liberal Theology.” His departure from the faith can be seen in a letter to his father:

“I cannot believe that he who called himself the Son of Man was the true, eternal God; I cannot believe that his death was a vicarious atonement.“

Despite this, he continued to be both a pastor and professor, seeking to accommodate Christian theology to the modern ideas of evolution and higher criticism of the text of the Bible. This Liberal Theology soon became prominent in Protestant seminaries and churches.

Christian theology in the 19th and 20th centuries

There were those who stood against this theology and for the Christian theology based on the Bible, Charles Spurgeon*(1834-1834), J. Gresham Machen*(1881-1937), and Aimee Semple McPherson* (1890-1944) *. All three were preachers of God’s Word and stood firmly on the truth of the Bible.

Spurgeon was called “the Prince of Preachers,” and preached to huge crowds in the largest Baptist church in London. He withdrew his congregation from the Baptist Union when it embraced liberals accepting evolution and higher criticism. He published this statement:

Believers in Christ’s atonement are now in declared union with those who make light of it; believers in Holy Scripture are in confederacy with those who deny plenary inspiration;

those who hold evangelical doctrine are in open alliance with those who call the fall a fable, who deny the personality of the Holy Ghost, who call justification by faith immoral, and hold that there is another probation after death…

It is our solemn conviction that there should be no pretense of fellowship. Fellowship with known and vital error is participation in sin.

Others held with him in his defense of Christian theology based on the Bible

In America, the most famous and rigorous defender of the Bible as the truth and authority for Christian theology was J. Gresham Machen*, a Presbyterian minister and professor at Princeton Seminary. He too refused to accept fellowship with liberals.

When liberals were accepted on the Board at Princeton, he withdrew and started Westminster Seminary teaching the inerrancy of the Bible.

When the mission board of the Presbyterian Church sponsored liberal missionaries, he protested and was defrocked. He immediately founded the Orthodox Presbyterian Church standing firmly on the historic Christian theology grounded in the Bible.

Aimee Semple McPherson* opposed the teaching of evolution in Canadian schools and stood firmly on the Bible. She was filled with Holy Ghost and began preaching, teaching, and praying for the sick nationwide.

Starting out in a “Gospel car,” she took the Gospel to people wherever she could, in tents, small churches and eventually founding the Foursquare Church teaching Jesus as

Jesus the Savior, Jesus the Healer, Jesus the Baptizer with the Holy Ghost, and Jesus the Soon-Coming King.

Sister Aimee also established the International Foursquare Church and set up a Bible College to train ministers to share the Foursquare Gospel around the world. As of 2016, there were 1,700 U.S. congregations and 66,000 worldwide with eight million members.

Her contribution to Christian theology was recognizing the Pentecostal revival that she experienced at the beginning of the 20th century in small gatherings of Bible-believing seekers that has now swept the world.

Christian theology continues today

What a wonderful blessing Christian theology is. How it has grown and drawn people to Jesus. It is not over yet. As Jesus' Second Coming draws near, He draws us near and uses Christian theology to reveal Himself to His people. I look forward to seeing His church grow as we build it through studying His Word and using our theology to learn to love Him more and know His will.

I love singing this song of Christian theology by St. Patrick*(415-494)

I Bind Unto Myself Today you can listen HERE

The Strong Name Of The Trinity,

By Invocation Of The Same,

The Three In One And One In Three.

I Bind This Day To Me For Ever,

By Power Of Faith, Christ’s Incarnation,

His Baptism In The Jordan River,

His Death On Cross For My Salvation;

His Bursting From The Spiced Tomb,

His Riding Up The Heavenly Way,

His Coming At The Day Of Doom,

I Bind Unto Myself Today.

I Bind Unto Myself The Power

Of The Great Love Of Cherubim;

The Sweet ‘Well Done!’ In Judgement Hour;

The Service Of The Seraphim,

Confessors’ Faith, Apostles’ Word,

The Patriarchs’ Prayers, The Prophets’ Scrolls,

All Good Deeds Done Unto The Lord,

And Purity Of Faithful Souls.

Christ Be With Me, Christ Within Me,

Christ Behind Me, Christ Before Me,

Christ Beside Me, Christ To Win Me,

Christ To Comfort And Restore Me.

Christ Beneath Me, Christ Above Me,

Christ In Quiet, Christ In Danger,

Christ In Hearts Of All That Love Me,

Christ In Mouth Of Friend And Stranger.

I Bind Unto Myself The Name,

The Strong Name Of The Trinity,

By Invocation Of The Same,

The Three In One And One In Three,

Of Whom All Nature Hath Creation,

Eternal Father, Spirit, Word.

Praise To The Lord Of My Salvation:

Salvation Is Of Christ The Lord.


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