True knowledge of the Bible and God must be more than mere information. It must affect the way we live. A man’s beliefs may be as straight as a gun barrel, but unless he lives out those beliefs, then his spiritual life will be just as cold and empty. We must set our beliefs on fire with a passion for the lost, a love for God, and a desire to share the truth of His grace to the ends of the earth. You must not only know the truth; you must apply the truth. Failure to apply the truth indicates that you don’t truly believe it.
Practical Application from God as Father
So how would a proper understanding of the Trinity affect how we live? I’m glad you asked. In the Trinity, we learn that God acts as the Father. In Scripture we see the following:
- In the Old Testament, God calls Israel “my son” in Ex. 4:22, and refer to himself as Father in Jer. 3:19. God claims to be a “father to Israel” in Jer. 31:9. Isaiah refers to God as “our Father” in 63:16 and 64:8.
- We also see God compared to a father in Psalm 103:13.
- The dominant name for God in the New Testament is “Father.” Father occurs in reference to God more than 250 times in the New Testament and in every book but third John.
- As Father, God demonstrates love toward His Son (John 5:20).
We should apply this by also demonstrating love toward our sons. As Father, God disciplines His children (Heb. 12:7-9, Eph. 3:15).
We should apply this by disciplining our children with justice combined with love and grace showing them in a practical way that right and wrong exists and God will one day judge us all.
As Father, God adopts those who repent and believe as children through His love. We should consider adopting as a biblical picture of salvation lived out through human compassion. (Watch a video on our adoption or read my article in the SW News about adoption) We must begin to understand that earthly fathers demonstrate in a frail and shadowed way the heavily Father and should lead their children toward repentance and faith in God.
Practical Application from Philippians on the mind of Christ
Perhaps you are not a father. Consider what can be learned through Jesus the Son. Philippians tells us about the mind that was in Christ Jesus who considered others before himself when he humbled himself and demonstrated obedience even to the point of death on a cross. So many practical applications can come from such a profound teaching, but let me draw your attention to two.
First, Jesus considered others before himself. In fact, the Bible tells us that He had no place to lay His head. The infinite God of the universe loved you and me so much that He came to this earth in the form of a baby—fully God, fully man. He knew that we would reject Him, spit upon Him, and hang Him on a tree to die. Yet He willingly cared more for us than He did for Himself. In the materialistic driven society of America where you can have it your way now and pay for it never, the practical lesson of considering others before yourself needs to be heeded. We all need a little less immediate gratification and a little more selfless acts of charity.
Second, Jesus demonstrated humility. We live in the world of Twitter and Facebook. We have become our own publicists. We post about what we think as though everyone needs to know and about what we do as though we are the most interesting people in the world. And, if you are good enough at it, then you become successful with an increasing number of followers, friends, and likes. It may be the world in which we live, but parts of it smack against the humility demonstrated by Jesus Christ. The worst parts demonstrate a heart desire for fame and glory, saying to the world that I am somebody and you need to hear my sermon, read my books, or retweet my thoughts. Yes, we must use social media to be light in a dark place, but the practical application from the incarnation challenges us to do so with a humble heart motivated by His glory and not our own.
By studying Systematic Theology, we learn more about God demonstrating our love of Him with all of our mind, which in turn should affect our heart, soul and strength. This results in a life that glorifies God in what we say and do. This is but one motivation for studying Systematic Theology—for ourselves. In the next post, we will look at why we study Systematic Theology for others.
Editor's note: This is post 5 in a series of 12.