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Study theology: Beware or be blessed? Analyze the Bottom Line

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Study theology: Beware or be blessed? Analyze the Bottom Line
We need to study theology to believe on Jesus, accept His salvation, and rest in Him. Avoid theology that disturbs His peace and presence.

Study theology: Beware or be Blessed? Analyze the Bottom Line

We all need to study theology

Everyone needs some theology, enough to believe on Jesus* and accept the salvation He promises. This was all the thief on the cross needed to join Him in paradise. (Names with an asterisk * are part of my book SPIRITUAL LIVES.)

Jesus insisted we must be born again of water and the Spirit to enter His kingdom. But do we need to study theology more than that? Well, yes and no.

Yes, we need more to walk with Him and be a living stone in His church.

No, if the Holy Spirit has already taught us all we need to know and we are resting in Jesus.

Martha and Mary were sisters of Lazarus, the man Jesus raised from the dead. When Jesus visited their home Martha was the “hostess with the mostest,” making sure every amenity was there for their Guest. Mary just sat at Jesus’ feet and silently enjoyed His presence. What kind of person are you? That will determine the way you study theology.

What does it mean to study theology?

The word “theology” itself conjures up images of deep-thinking professors in academic robes pondering existential questions. Such theology is a blessing to those who are called to be ministers of the Gospel or teachers in the church or Christian schools.

Few are called to this deep study, for most of us “theology” simply means “God talk,” i.e., getting to know God better and learning how to live with His truth.

St. Paul* counseled the church at Thessalonica

Make it your aim to live a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to earn your own living, just as we told you before.

In this way, you will win the respect of those who are not believers, and you will not have to depend on anyone for what you need. – 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

Those early Believers had two of Paul’s* letters to study so that they would live a life pleasing to God and be a witness to the world. That makes sense for us today, and we are blessed to have more than just two epistles, we have the Bible in its entirety.

And this is the way we study theology, by steeping ourselves in God’s Word. One uncomplicated way to study theology begins with reading the Bible, asking questions of other Believers, discussing with church leaders, and reading good books.

Study theology to learn how to be faithful where God has placed you:

The Bible has specialized teaching for us at every stage of life:

Senior men and women:

Instruct the older men to be sober, sensible, and self-controlled; to be sound in their faith, love, and endurance.

In the same way, instruct the older women to behave as women should who live a holy life. They must not be slanderers or slaves to wine.

St. Paul* in Titus 2:2-3

We seniors have an important responsibility to teach the next generation what they need to carry on the church. It is due to the faithfulness of those who have gone before that we have the faith and worship we do.

This came not by simply living for the moment. Men and women gave their time and lives to study theology and pass on our faith to those who will take our places.

For young women and men there is other guidance:

train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, and to be good housewives who submit themselves to their husbands, so that no one will speak evil of the message that comes from God.

In the same way urge the young men to be self-controlled. – Titus 2:4-6

The theme here is to take life seriously, not something young people are naturally inclined to do. God’s Word has all the answers on this, but we need to study theology to bring this sound teaching alive.

Study theology to be faithful in the role God has placed you:

We pass through distinct roles and relationships in life, and if we are diligent and faithful, the Bible gives us all the guidelines we need:

For Wives and Husbands

Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband has authority over his wife just as Christ has authority over the church; and Christ is himself the Savior of the church, his body.

And so wives must submit themselves completely to their husbands just as the church submits itself to Christ.

St. Paul* in Ephesians 5:22-23

Wives are addressed first because they have the toughest job. Submission to a flesh and blood husband is a different thing than submitting to the Lord Jesus, the perfect, sinless son of God. We study theology to learn how to meet this standard.

Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave his life for it…. Men ought to love their wives just as they love their own bodies. A man who loves his wife loves himself. – Ephesians 5:25 & 28

Men and women, husbands and wives, have different strengths and weaknesses, and when we look at them from one side or another, we miss the larger spiritual point which becomes clear and powerful when we study theology in its spiritual framework:

for we are members of his body.

As the scripture says, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and unite with his wife, and the two will become one.”

There is a deep secret truth revealed in this scripture, which I understand as applying to Christ and the church. Ephesians 5:30-32

There are not two sides in Christian marriage. There is one only, husband and wife are one flesh in the one church of Jesus Christ where He is the Holy One and we are His Bride.

We study theology to become aware of these truths which we cannot understand without seeing the larger picture theology gives us.

For Parents and children:

In the 21st century, we are witnessing the disintegration of the family. The devil is attacking from all sides because the family is God’s building block for society. When we study theology, we find sound teaching about every person in the family. When we live accordingly, our families will again become strong.

Honoring our fathers and mothers is one of the ten commandments, and children will thrive when they do.

Respect your father and your mother, so that you may live a long time in the land that I am giving you. Exodus 20:12

As Christians, we have a duty not just to provide for their physical needs, but to love them and raise them to love Jesus and the Bible. This needs to be done lovingly and kindly, not harshly, always keeping in mind how Jesus loved the little children and told us they are key elements in His kingdom

Parents, do not treat your children in such a way as to make them angry. Instead, raise them with Christian discipline and instruction. Eph_6:4

Parents, do not irritate your children, or they will become discouraged. Colossians 3:21

Mothers are particularly important because they manage the household and lovingly care for their husband and children:

She is always busy and looks after her family’s needs. Her children show their appreciation, and her husband praises her.

He says, “Many women are good wives, but you are the best of them all.– Proverbs 31:27-29

Study theology to be a minister of the Gospel

Every Believer has a role in the church and in worship, but those who occupy positions of leadership need to study theology. Theology is an essential and vital part of every Christian leader’s job, from Sunday school teacher to bishop.

Theology teaches how to be good shepherds of the flock Jesus has entrusted to our hands.

The Bible gives standards for such shepherds of Christ’s flock.

Qualifications for Overseers

This is a true saying:

If a man is eager to be a church leader, he desires an excellent work.

A church leader must be without fault; he must have only one wife, be sober, self-controlled, and orderly; he must welcome strangers in his home; he must be able to teach; he must not be a drunkard or a violent man, but gentle and peaceful; he must not love money;

he must be able to manage his own family well and make his children obey him with all respect. For if a man does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of the church of God?

He must be mature in the faith so that he will not swell up with pride and be condemned, as the Devil was. He should be a man who is respected by the people outside the church so that he will not be disgraced and fall into the Devil’s trap. 1 Timothy 3:1-7

The theme here is maturity and good character. Overseers, including bishops and pastors, must study theology to learn their responsibilities for Christ’s church and His people. They are “under-Shepherds” for Jesus.

Qualifications for Deacons

Church helpers must also have a good character and be sincere; they must not drink too much wine or be greedy for money; they should hold to the revealed truth of the faith with a clear conscience. They should be tested first, and then, if they pass the test, they are to serve.

Their wives also must be of good character and must not gossip; they must be sober and honest in everything. A church helper must have only one wife, and be able to manage his children and family well.

Those helpers who do their work well win for themselves a good standing and are able to speak boldly about their faith in Christ Jesus. 1 Timothy 3:8-13

Here the theme is faithfulness to the Word of God, to the theology of the Christian church, and diligence. These helpers need to live lives that will help them witness boldly and lead others to the truth.

All these ways to study theology are a blessing because they are Bible-based and help us be better Christians. A good standard is the one Paul gave young bishop Timothy:

Do your best to win full approval in God’s sight, as a worker who is not ashamed of his work, one who correctly teaches the message of God’s truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

Do not Study theology to win a foolish argument

But there are pitfalls to avoid. Paul* warns Timothy about some:

But keep away from foolish and ignorant arguments; you know that they end up in quarrels. – 2 Timothy 2:23

Some of these arguments and quarrels are about what days to honor (do we celebrate Christmas or Halloween), what to eat (pork or shellfish), and whether to drink alcohol or not.

God has placed each of us somewhere on these issues, and Paul advises to follow our own minds on what we do but always keep brothers and sisters with other views in mind. He puts it like this to the Romans:

All foods may be eaten, but it is wrong to eat anything that will cause someone else to fall into sin.

The right thing to do is to keep from eating meat, drinking wine, or doing anything else that will make other believers fall. Romans 14:20-21

Millions of hours have been spent by those who study theology on Calvinism vs. Free Will, the timing of Jesus’ Second Coming, and the nature of the Lord’s Supper. It is legitimate to study theology to affirm one’s own position on these, but foolishness to argue with those believers who hold the other view.

A famous theologian was taking his son to seminary. As they stood outside the large study hall where the scholars met to debate. The father said,

The students here are debating theological issues I debated when I was here 30 years ago. Do not go in that room. In three years, they will resolve nothing. Instead, go to your room and read your Bible, at the end of three years you will know God.”

That son followed his father’s advice and became a great man of God. He knew theology well enough, but best of all he knew Jesus and walked with him all his life. I pray that will be so for all of us as well. God bless us and send His Holy Spirit to shed His light in our hearts.

Open My Eyes, That I May See listen here:

Open my eyes, that I may see

glimpses of truth thou hast for me;

place in my hands the wonderful key

that shall unclasp and set me free.

Silently now I wait for thee,

ready, my God, thy will to see.

Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit divine!

Open my ears, that I may hear

voices of truth thou sendest clear;

and while the wavenotes fall on my ear,

everything false will disappear.

Silently now I wait for thee,

ready, my God, thy will to see.

Open my ears, illumine me, Spirit divine!

Open my mouth, and let me bear

gladly the warm truth everywhere;

open my heart and let me prepare

love with thy children thus to share.

Silently now I wait for thee,

ready, my God, thy will to see.

Open my heart, illumine me, Spirit divine!

–Clara H. Scott, 1841-1897

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