If we gathered together all the greatest false teachers in Church history and in the world today, do you know one of the few things they would all have in common? THEY ALL BELIEVE THE BIBLE!
If we gathered together all the most effective religious cults at work in the world today, do you know one of the few things they would all have in common? THEY ALL BELIEVE THE BIBLE!
And when I say that all these dangerous false teachers throughout Church history and all these cults “believe the Bible,” I mean it! To try to convince you of their false beliefs, they wouldn’t tell you to throw your Bible away. No, they would lead you through the Bible, verse by verse, showing you exactly why Jesus wasn’t really God, why He didn’t really rise from the dead, why God isn’t actually Trinity, and so on.
But it gets worse. These false teachers and cults use the same language as Christians do.
--Do you believe in Jesus? “Yes,” they would say.
--Do you love God? “Yes!”
--Do you believe in Jesus as your personal Savior! Again, most would say, “Yes!”
And they wouldn’t be lying! They believe the Bible, after all, and the Bible says all these things. But what do they mean by “believe,” “love,” and “Savior” and other language? For that matter, what do we mean when we say these things?
In trying to answer these questions (and similar questions), you’re “doing” theology! Theology is really just learning to think the right way about God. Since we all think about God anyway, we are already theologians. So, we might as well be good ones!
You see, theology, rather than harming faith, actually protects it. It helps us determine exactly Whom we are placing our faith in, and if our beliefs about Him are correct. After all, God is a Being completely unlike us or anything else in creation. Furthermore, everything about us – including our reasoning and even “common sense” – have been affected by the curse of sin. We can’t assume that just because it would “make sense” to us that God would be a certain way, or that if it “seems obvious” to us that something must be true about God, that we’re even close to the truth!
This is why part of being a mature worshiper of God involves being a good theologian, too. How are we to worship God in spirit and truth without seriously studying about God through His Scriptures? That doesn’t mean that we have to get formal training at a seminary. Many of you never have, and I never have either. But we are still responsible for being good students of God and His Word – good theologians, if you will.
We are God’s ambassadors to the world. How helpful would an ambassador be who didn’t know much about the person or the nation he or she was representing? Likewise, we who represent God and His coming Kingdom ought to always strive to know Him better – not just by believing harder, but by informing that belief through the practice of theology. Studying things like the nature of God, what it means that the Bible is inspired, why Jesus had to be both man and God, how the OT prophecies are fulfilled in the NT, what happens when we die, what it means to be made in the image of God, what true worship is, what God’s plan is for human history, how people are saved, and how the Holy Spirit transforms us can be hard at times and certainly requires a significant level of commitment. But it is through studying – through theology – that the Church has safeguarded the gospel and its own members for 2,000 years against many who claimed to “believe the Bible.”
Many of us (myself included) may never be formally trained theologians, though thank God for those in our congregation who are! However, you and I are theologians, nonetheless to the best of our differing abilities. It is not enough to say we believe. Let us make sure we know what we believe and why.