This week I have had several theological discussions. In some of these conversations, people wanted to understand everything about God. God used these conversations to remind me that He is infinite and that I am finite. I will never be able to comprehend the God that created the universe, sent Jesus born of a virgin, loved us so much that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us, raised Jesus from the dead, and will restore His creation one day. Consider the following:
Isaiah 55:8-9:8, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Romans 11:33-34, “33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”
1 Cor. 2:16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?…”
And who can forget God responding to Job in chapters 38 and following, 4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.”
Instead of trying so hard to make God fit into our box created by our own fallen and finite brains, we should worship the indescribable, infinite God revealed to us in Scripture. The God of Scripture won’t fit into our box, and if “a god” does fit into your box, then you have likely created an idol in your own mind. Let Scripture speak and rest in knowing that we serve an incomprehensibly great God.
Discussing our attempts to put God in a box reminded me of a video I produced a couple of years ago in an online Systematic Theology class. I am bringing it out of the archives. I hope you enjoy it. I call it Waffle Iron Theology.
Where Do I Start?
You obviously need to start with knowing the Scripture rather than reading what someone else has said about the Scripture. So first, you should read your Bible. I would also recommend purchasing the Bible on CD. I imported the ESV Bible into my iTunes account and have it on my phone. When I am running, lifting weights or driving for an extended time, I listen to entire books of the Bible to saturate myself continuously with God’s Word. Continue reading
A proper study of Systematic Theology will also show you what matters most and what matters least. While we must seek to obey all doctrines of the Bible, I cannot cooperate with someone believing in works based salvation or that Jesus was created.
I can, however, cooperate with someone who holds to an old earth view of creation or post-tribulation view of the rapture. I have good friends who hold both of those positions even though I disagree. Learning to distinguish the essential or first tier doctrines from secondary or tertiary doctrines comes with proper study of Systematic Theology. It does not excuse you from obeying everything God has commanded you as though you can pick and choose at a theological buffet, but it does provide a framework for cooperation in church matters verses social matters.
Two final examples where theology may apply come in your belief about creation and baptism. Perhaps you have been ridiculed for holding to a young earth view. Systematic Theology will study multiple views, and identify which views will align with Scripture and which ones will not. I believe in six day literal creation.
Consider Mark 10:6, which says,
Mark 10:6, “But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Continue reading
We must defend the Gospel at all costs. Eternal destinies depend upon it.
I want to discuss a couple of false teachings today that pervert the Gospel and leave people destined for a hopeless eternity. The first and perhaps most important would be works-based salvation.
This perversion destroys the Gospel. 1 Corinthians 15:3-5 provides a short summary of the Gospel:
1 Cor. 15:3-5, For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Continue reading
The Gospel doesn’t need you. You need the Gospel.
So don’t misunderstand me. We don’t study because the Gospel is weak. We study because we have been commanded to defend the Gospel. When presented in the power of the Holy Spirit, the Gospel is powerful. Consider our responsibility in Jude 3-4:
Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.