Why we do Theology? Osseo Community Church Sunday School Lesson - May 21, 2017

How many of you have ever thought of yourself as a theologian before? What if I told you that all of us are. Everyone is theologian. There are just good theologians and bad theologians. One headed in the right direction. Because a theologian is someone who studies God. And this world is the world that God created. We have minds that God created. God created all things. God holds all thing together. Therefore everyone has a has a belief about God, it is inevitable. You can’t get outside of him. Even if there belief is, he does not exist and I hate him. We talked about why there are those who try to deny the existence of God. Ephesians 4:18 says, “They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.” “Why are people darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God?” It’s because of the ignorance that is in them. You see that. Whenever you see ‘because of ‘ it is giving you the reason for something, the grounds for But then. Why are people ignorant?

It is because of the hardness of their heart. You see that … because of the ignorance due to the hardness. Darkened and alienated because of ignorance due to hardness. It all flows back to the heart. So what I am trying to show again, is that belief matters most. It is why anyone and everyone’s only hope is that the Holy Spirit would give new spiritual life … to soften ones heart It is why those who are trying to deny the existence of God can say some of the most idiotic things. Because they are just acting in line with who they are. They love darkness. Their hearts are hardened. They by their very nature are children of wrath. There are two statements we can make. Truth matters most. There are true things and there are false things. But we can also say. Belief matters most. So how can we say at the same time. Truth matters most and also Belief matters most. Well, because the fact of the matter is, truth is truth no matter what. Whether we believe it or not. Donna brought up gravity last week. You can deny the truth of gravity all you want, but if you try jumping off a 10 story building you will find out the truth of gravity real quick. And it’s the same with who God is. But the sad part is, truth only matters most to you, personally, if you believe it. Otherwise you are odds with it. And a true thing still might be true. But if you don’t believe gravity is true, and you go trying to jump off a 10 story building. Your in trouble. Truth is truth, God’s word doesn't change because we believe it or not, but if you are at odds with it, if you hate the truth, if you are darkened in your understanding to it. You, in all reality are no better off than Satan. Satan knows a lot about God. Probably more then we do. Right. We talked about that. And he hates everything about him. And so we need the truth, but we more importantly, we desperately need it to change our heart. But in order for it get to our heart, it has to go through our head first. No information can get to our heart unless we see it with our eyes, and hear it with our ears and think about it with our minds. Do you realize if we are not studying we are just fashioning a God in our own imagination. It’s like last week, at the beginning. Some of the things people say. I don’t need theology. Just give me Jesus. Really, well which Jesus. The one you have made up in your own mind. Because the moment you begin to define Jesus, which you need to do, you don’t want to worship a Jesus of your own imagination, you are doing theology. We can know a lot about God from nature and creation but we can’t learn the most important things. From creation we can know there is a God. And from our conscience we can know we are guilty before God and accountable to him. But without God’s word that is all we have. And the Bible confirms both of these things. But it also tells us how we can be made right with God and live in his presence. And so we need to go to God’s word. But we also need our hearts changed. The truths of God make no difference to us personally unless our hearts are changed to love that truth The beautiful thing is, these two things are not at odds with each other. Because the very basis of truth, the Bible, is also the means by which God changes hearts. It is like we closed up with last week in Romans 5:5, where it says that the love of God was shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirt … and how does the Holy Spirit shed the love of God abroad in our hearts? Through the very word that the Holy Spirit inspired. Romans 10:17 says, “So faith comes by hearing, and hearing from the words of Christ” The word, and the Spirit. It's how God works. And yes, the Holy Spirit lives in each of God’s people. And we will see how theology is a community project. And yes, God can do anything he wants to do, in anyway he wants. But the most common way is the word and the Spirit. And that’s what true theology is. Having a renewed heart from God, being transformed by God - by his word and his Spirit. And so my friends …. theology matters. It matters most. Real truth coupled with real true belief. It is not dead and lifeless. Don’t let any of today’s common misconceptions lead you astray. If we don’t have theology, all we have is activity, whether it is social activity, political activity, or entertaining activity. And activity is good but apart from theology it is useless. Yes, we as Christians care about suffering, we want to help alleviate suffering in the world. Whether it is from drug addiction, bad choices, sickness, oppression, circumstances beyond ones control. Whatever the case. But we especially care about eternal suffering. The main reason we do any of those things is so we can share who God is with people. Think about it, people must know who they are as sinners. People must know who God is. People must know who Jesus is, and what he has done to bridge the gap between sinful man and Holy God. And then we call for people to respond by repenting and believing. And yes my friends that is all very theological. Theology is truth that transforms. It’s about truth for believing, and understanding, and apprehending which results in truth for living. Theology is alive and invigorating, because it is not just information we are studying. But a person. God himself. And his work in the world. That is what Jesus commanded in the great commission. Jesus didn't just say to go into all the world and read your Bible. Jesus said “go into all the world and make disciples, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded.” And so the moment you seek to do more than just read the Bible but also to understand it, you are doing theology, and that is good thing. Because in order to teach it, we must understand it, and once we understand it, we must teach it, with the goal of transforming to observe. Even to say things like, “all we need is our Bible is actually very anti-Biblical”. Yes, it is is true that all true theology is springing from the Bible and for the Bible and to help us understand and observe the Bible. Scripture alone is our battle cry. Scripture alone is authoritative. All of it. But my friends, it is also a community project. It is why preaching is the central part of worship. We don’t get up and read a passage. We preach it. We expound it. Everything in Christianity is supposed to be word centered. Even our worship. Even our prayers. A person said to B.B Warfield once, “Ten minutes on your knees will give you are truer, deeper, more operative knowledge of God than ten hours over your books” He said, “What, then 10 hours over your books, on your knees”

Why should we turn from God when we turn to our books, or feel we must turn from our books to turn to God. It’s like a recruting officer disputing whether a soldier should have a left leg or right leg. And so we have bible translators, linguist, pastors, prayer warriors, stay at home moms, go to work moms, fathers and students of all ages - all doing theology. Seeking to understand God and his word, so as to communicate him to others…. it’s our goal …. it’s our mission. All the people of God working together so that we can understand everything that God wants us to understand and then live accordingly. And yes there are bad examples …. many bad examples … for every good example - there is probably 100 bad one. Because we live in a fallen world. But that doesn’t mean we quit doing these things. No it just means we strive all the more to be faithful. “This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. (1 Corinthians 4:1-2) Sometimes I think God doesn’t mean us to do theology alone for a reason. I mean, think about it, we are finite beings, with limited minds, and we are trying to grasp the infinite. To not seek as much help as we can while trying to do this is not too bright. Just think about how far God had to bend down low to communicate with us. It is a miracle that the God of the universe became a man. But it is almost more of a miracle that the God of the universe could communicate with us. Could translate from his language into ours. And what exactly is his language. I mean I know there are over 7000 languages in the world. But which one is his? We are trying to grasp the infinite. We need all the help we can get. And second. Because God desires to have a people. Yes. He saves individuals. And your salvation is not someone else’s salvation. And yes, you can read your Bible alone. But you also must realize you are not alone. And so one of the other main reasons I think the mission of God, that is theology is more of a corporate effort and not so much an alone thing, besides the fact that we are trying to understand an infinite God is also because God is saving a people not just individuals. You see this so well in 1 Corinthians 12:12-20 … how can the eye say to the You can see this work itself out in individual churches and you can see it work itself out in the Body of Christ as a whole. I was just given a book a couple days ago. It’s called “Reading the Bible Supernaturally” I was reading it last night. And one of the things it says in the Preface at the very start fit so well with what I was trying to say here that I just had to use it: "To write a book that you hope will help others see more of God in the Christian Scriptures is to acknowledge that God intends that a reader of his word understand it and enjoy it with the help of others. Writing books, teaching lessons, preaching sermons, raising children “in the instruction of the Lord”—all of these imply that God has planned for us to understand the Bible with the help of human teachers.

The New Testament shows repeatedly that Jesus Christ gives teachers to his church “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:11–12). Those teachers do not replace the Bible as God’s inspired word. They help us understand it. In fact, the aim of human teachers is to help all believers grow to the point of being teachers themselves—not necessarily in an official capacity, but at least having the ability to use the word of God for both oneself and others."

Therefore, we must see ourselves as one small part of that which makes up the Christian community. It is why you can read a Bible, like any translation, or even the Geneva Bible or King James Bible translated by people 400 yrs ago in a different country. There is no argument that God has called us to do theology… and that we are called to do it together. That’s the great commission. It’s God plan. All of God’s people, going into all the world, and teaching, that also infers we will be learning, to observe all that he has commanded. Some people are called to do translating work. Others are archeologist. Or apologist, or discernment ministries, or professional theologians, or pastors, or evangelist or missionaries Not everyone is called to spend most of their time doing these things. And that’s a good thing. Otherwise the world we live in would be kind of difficult, without businessman, and doctors, and bankers, and police officers, and garbage men, and gas station clerks and so on. There are many things we can do without this book. There are many things this book will not tell us how to do. But there is nothing we can do rightly without starting with this book. And the more we come to understand this book, the more rightly we are doing whatever we do. The main goal in life is to glorify God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” And so in order to do that, we must start with this book. In order to be mechanics to the glory of God, we must start with this book. In order to be doctors to the glory of God we go to this book. In order to be fisherman or crocheters to the glory of God we go to this book. We don’t go to the Bible to learn how to be mechanics or any of those other things. But we do go to the Bible to learn how to be all those things to the glory of God. So the argument is not that we should not do theology. No. We should. In fact, we have to.

To not do so is to be in rebellion. The only argument is what is good theology. And the only reality is that there are people who have been called to spend more of their time doing these things so that it can be a benefit to all of God’s people. Because the goal for all of us is to glorify God. And he has given us a way to do that. Through the great commission. So that is what we are after. It’s not just, me, my bible and the Holy Spirit. It’s us, our Bibles, and the Holy Spirit. No, just, us four and no more. No. It is us, and all of the people of God throughout all of history, and the Holy Spirit. It’s ok to speak Christianese. I remember one time I was asked to speak to a group of mostly immigrants from Asia and Africa. Who were mostly not Christian. It was an outreach. The guy who put it together was Chinese. As I wrote my testimony out and got prepared. I sent it to him to see what he thought. He wrote back, and said you have way too much Christianese in here. Much of this stuff they will not understand. And it’s funny I knew who I was talking to, so I tried to use as little Christian lingo as possible. I guess a little slipped in. Anyway, he highlighted and explained, and sent it back. And I did my best to adjust. I mean after all this was an outreach. And it’s good to do that. We have to contexualize. We don’t change the message … that is the content … but we change how we present it, so the people we present it to understand. It doesn’t make sense to purposefully communicate to people in ways they don’t understand. And that is the goal of theology. But also the goal of theology, the great commission, is not to leave people at a level of nominal understanding. No, that is not the goal of making disciples. Listen to what Paul had to say in Colossians 1:28, “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.” The goal of the great commission is to raise levels of understanding. To purposefully speak in such a way that people understand more and more. To present everyone mature in Christ. Don’t let the world shame you into thinking that being a Christian is stupid. No. No. No. The things of God really do speak to the issues of life, and touch all things at their deepest levels. The other day I listened to a debate between a Christian apologist James White, and a leader of group from the Philippines called the I.N.C which is actually a cult that denies the Trinity among other things. Much like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons do. And the theme of the debate was, “Who is God?” But more specifically they were debating the doctrine of the Trinity. And what I appreciated most was James White’s approach. He didn't see it as an argument to be won but he saw it first and foremost as a God who deserved to be glorified and souls that needed to be saved. Even the guy he was debating. You could see he was trying to care for him. And it was so profound how he closed up his second round of the debate: Why is this topic so important? Why should we be passionate about it? Oh there is scary stuff going on in the world tonight. Did you know that? I don't know about you but North Korea gives me the creeps. And here we are, 100's of us in this room talking about theology and Greek manuscripts. Yeah. You know why?

Because the only message that's going to change this world. The only message that can change the hearts of stone of Isis fighters. The only message that can change the hearts of stone of North Koreans who are torturing Christian believers, even right now. The only message that can give hope to the next generations is not a message of a non-divine savior. It's of a savior who truly was divine and who truly accomplished perfect peace in his self giving. Yes. He was specifically talking about the doctrine of the Trinity here. But really he was talking about theology. The most important thing in the world is, even in the midst of all these uncertainties, is, who God is, what he has done in the world, what he is doing, and what he will do. Yes, my friends, theology matters. Obey God, and leave the consequences up to him. Go into all the world, make disciples, teaching and learning, to observe all that he has commanded. Social involvement will not change the world, nor give people hope for the life to come. But theology will most assuredly do both. Godliness is profitable this life and the life to come (1 Timothy 4:8) What is godliness? Godliness is understanding who God is and living for him. That my friends is why we do theology. Don’t be afraid of it. It’s what we are called to, when we are called to Christ.

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