Music Monday: Before the Throne of God Above

This beautiful rendition of one of my favorite hymns from the Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis.

Let this help you get your week started off well.

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Thoughts and Prayers and School Shootings–What’s the Missing Piece?

Parents on Wednesday afternoon wait for news after a report of a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. (AP Photo/Joel Auerbach)

14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead (James 2:14-17).

I committed to doing a Friday Funny each Friday here at the blog to help us end our week with a smile, but that’s hard given all that happened in Broward County this past week.  An Uber dropped off Nicholas Cruz, 19, off at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, packing a semiautomatic AR-15 rifle. He confessed to shooting students in the hallways and on the school grounds, according to a police report.

Immediately on social media, politicians and pastors, Republicans and Democrats, old and young began to express their “thoughts and prayers” for the victims and their families. Others began to take umbrage with this, saying that this is either not enough or it’s a copout and an excuse for inaction.

As usual, communication broke down. Eric Metaxas expressed what many are feeling right now in how we are communicating with each other:

We live in a culture now where we are talking at each other or past each other and not talking to and with each other.

The Epistle to James is all about a Christian living out their faith and brings together both prayer and action. Yes, James uses the phrase, “faith without works is dead,” which seems to go against what the Apostle Paul told the Ephesians: “By grace are you saved through faith; it is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). James is not talking about a faith-plus-works salvation but a faith-that-works lifestyle of the believer.

Is giving your thoughts and prayers a ‘copout?”  James indicates by the passage up top that seeing the need, praying, and wishing them well without taking the necessary steps to help the one in need is a copout.

Should Christians stop sending ‘thoughts and prayers’ to God on behalf of the victims? Of course not! Hebrews 4:14-16 says:

14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

One of the many benefits for Christians is that we have access to the throne of God. Wickedness has run rampant in this world as we turn more to solving our own brokenness rather than running to the One who can heal our brokenness through the gospel of Jesus.

But as James warns, that’s not enough! God has put us as His church to help our fellow imagebearers in every area of life (Genesis 1:26-31).

Memes abound regarding the cycle here in America:

Let’s cut to the chase:

  1. Our world is broken. Not just those who possess AR-15s and unload their chambers on defenseless school children, but anytime we end up wanting our way over others, and our way over God’s. Proverbs 16:5 says, “Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished.” We all want our own way at times apart from what is right. Think of what would happen to us if all societal and religious restraint were gone? What would we do if we could get away with it?
  2. Prayers and thoughts are needed… As the meme above us rightly notes, we forget quickly. If the issue and the victims are in our thoughts and prayers, we are less likely to forget.
  3. … but action is needed more. Talk to your kids about what happened. Talk to your schools about what’s being done to help. Contact your state and federal representatives. Ask, “Are we doing all we can to protect those that are around us?” If we have different answers to these questions, then can we talk about them without the political inflammatory rhetoric?  Something needs to be done!
  4. Christ is the answer to our brokenness.  As our Creator (Colossians 1:15-17) and our Rescuer (Luke 19:10), Jesus knows how we are wired and how we’ve moved away from the intention of our creation.  We were made for a reason and a purpose, and that purpose needs recovering! Followers of Christ recognize that we are all of value and are made in God’s image (Psalm 139:13-16) and therefore we do all we can to help the defenseless (the unborn, orphans, widows, homeless, and those dead in sin–Psalm 139, James 1:27, Ephesians 2:1-6).

Pray, yes, and don’t be ashamed to say so. But let’s take avenues necessary to do what’s next in loving our neighbor, shall we?

 

 

Throwback Thursday: Telling JW’s about the deity of Christ from their own Scriptures

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[Throwback Thursday reproduces blogposts either from this blog or other blogs I’ve had over the years that may be helpful today. This was originally posted August 23, 2011 at my previous blog.]

One of the more difficult things for orthodox Christians to do is speak with Jehovah’s Witnesses (also known as the Watchtower Society). Their Awake! magazines have a total worldwide printing of 39 million per year. Why do we struggle? For one, we often do not know how to approach them or what to say to many of their presentations (they are very studious, studying hours per day on their own beliefs and countering the beliefs of orthodox Christians). They get more converts from Southern Baptists than any other religious group.

They use a different version of the Scriptures (the New World Translation), have different meanings of salvation, heaven, eternal life, forgiveness. More importantly, they view the Trinity, and especially the person and work of Jesus far differently. To the JWs, Jesus is merely the Archangel Michael in human form—a created being, not the creator and sustainer of all (Colossians 1:15-17).

Options are available as to how to treat them. You can:

  • Slam the door in their faces—not knowing that they believe they have suffered for Jesus in this mode of persecution;
  • You can engage them on the front doorstep with your Bible and them using theirs;
  • You can bring them in, almost assuring they will continue to come back for the next few weeks or so.

A member of my church has engaged in speaking with JWs at her home. They have come back three weeks in a row and are now back for Week 4. Here is some information I shared with her on how to deal with JWs on this particular issue of the deity of Christ from their own Scriptures!

In regards to the deity of Christ, the Jehovah’s Witnesses removed every connection between Jesus and Him being worshiped, since only Jehovah can be worshiped. But even so, you can use their Bible (as deviant and perverted as it is) to show them that Jesus is fully God. The following is something very simple you can do with them when they come by… but first, some ground rules.

  1. They study hours per day not only to help them know what they believe, but to counter any arguments from orthodox Christians, so you will have a hard time (as do I, to be honest) fighting them on their ground. They will bog you down in particulars and get you confused. So going through this stuff with them line by line will not change their minds nor yours.
  2. If you go in there trying to win and be right like I used to, you will risk the opportunity like I did to share the gospel. There’s a difference between proving someone wrong for the win and winning them to Christ.
  3. Keep it simple. Here are some steps using ‘their’ Bible (the New World Translation) that can be used to show them the key to the whole thing: Jesus. They believe he is the incarnation of the archangel Michael rather than the second person of the Trinity.

Let’s begin. First, start with Hebrews 1:5-6 from their version:

“For example, to which one of the angels did he ever say: “You are my son; I, today, I have become your father”? And again: “I myself shall become his father, and he himself will become my son”? 6 But when he again brings his Firstborn into the inhabited earth, he says: “And let all God’s angels do obeisance to him.”

[NOTE: the word obeisance in our Scriptures is worship… this is a passage that says Jesus is to be ‘worshipped’ as God, not simply respected or paid obeisance. They changed the word, but don’t bring that up. Even with this, you can make your case.]

Then go to Luke 4:5-8:

5 So he brought him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the inhabited earth in an instant of time; 6 and the Devil said to him: “I will give you all this authority and the glory of them, because it has been delivered to me, and to whomever I wish I give it. 7 You, therefore, if you do an act of worship before me, it will all be yours.” 8In reply Jesus said to him: “It is written, ‘It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.’”

[NOTE: Jehovah God you must worship. Emphasize that. Tell them they are correct in that. Yes!]

Then go to John 20:25-28:

25 Consequently the other disciples would say to him: “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them: “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails and stick my finger into the print of the nails and stick my hand into his side, I will certainly not believe.”
26 Well, eight days later his disciples were again indoors, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and he stood in their midst and said: “May YOU have peace.” 27 Next he said to Thomas: “Put your finger here, and see my hands, and take your hand and stick it into my side, and stop being unbelieving but become believing.” 28 In answer Thomas said to him: “My Lord and my God!”

[NOTE: They will say that Thomas is not worshiping Jesus, but merely exclaiming an expression like we all do. But note to them that Jesus did not rebuke Thomas for taking His name in vain. He called him ‘blessed’ in verse 29. But keep going…]

Next, go to Isaiah 44:6:

“6 “This is what Jehovah has said, the King of Israel and the Repurchaser of him, Jehovah of armies, ‘I am the first and I am the last, and besides me there is no God.”

[Emphasis there is no God besides Jehovah–the one who is the First and the Last. Now go in for the true point to all this.

Lastly, go to Revelation 1:17-18:

17 And when I saw him, I fell as dead at his feet.
And he laid his right hand upon me and said: “Do not be fearful. I am the First and the Last, 18 and the living one; and I became dead, but, look! I am living forever and ever, and I have the keys of death and of Ha´des.

[NOTE: Ask them, if it’s true that Jehovah is the first and last and besides him there is no other, tell me: when did God die? Likely, they may stumble for an answer, but they will have none. It is there that you share that Jesus is the Son of God and God the Son who died for our sins. It’s not by what we do to earn favor, it’s by God the Son dying for the forgiveness of sins.]

If they continue to ask questions about this, great. If God is moving, lead them to Christ. Otherwise, I would respectfully suggest that you share the gospel with them as best you can, then say that there is nothing they can say that will convince you to turn from the the gospel you know to be true and ask them not to come back.

What have you used in the past to engage JWs?

What’s Up Wednesday: The Nations Coming to our Cities is an Opportunity–Not a Drudgery

“Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.’ And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others mocking said, ‘They are filled with new wine'”
(Acts 2:5‭-‬13 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/act.2.5-13.ESV).

We come to the point in the book of Acts and see what, to us in 2018, looks like just a very interesting event. But let’s not understate this. Should this rate higher as just ‘interesting’? Yes! Aside from creation and the resurrection, what happened here at Pentecost ranks up there with both of those events in their impact on world history. It is here that a harvest was brought in.

Did God intend this to happen during Pentecost?

Yes. Leviticus 23:15-22 speaks of the Festival of Weeks that took place seven weeks after the “Sabbath,” or after the Passover (or for us in the Christian tradition, Easter). As we see from the map up top, all the nations would come together to celebrate and observe this, making the pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

It’s in verse 22 that’s interesting: “And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.”

So even in the OT, which was geared primarily to the people of Israel, God also gives a glimpse for his heart for those outside of God’s covenant people. But they were to take care of the poor and disenfranchised and those who were not part of the people of Israel.

That’s Pentecost. Hold that thought. Let’s go back to Acts 2. Where the disciples of Jesus “were all together in one place” (v.1) Why? They were waiting for God to fulfill the promise of the Holy Spirit’s arrival (Acts 1:4). But God was about to fulfill that promise by unleashing something (Someone?). A sound like a rushing wind, filling the place. Tongues of fire rested on them.

In Matthew 3:11, John the Baptist, the one who prepared the way for when Jesus would soon show up on the scene, told the crowd, “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11).

Fire! This passage has brought about a lot of confusion. I’ve had very dear friends who have said to me, “The way you know you have a deep walk with Christ is speaking in tongues.” And they reference this passage. But 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12 speak of tongues as one gift among many. Even when spoken of in 1 Corinthians 14, the goal is to build up the church, not simply build up ourselves.

So how does this fit here? Simply put, the purpose here was not for their own personal edification, but to build the church. Jesus made this promise that he would build his church. Do you see?

Go back to Acts 1:8: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” I imagine them sitting there saying, “Jerusalem? Sure. We live here. Judea? Our province–yes, I could see us going there. Samaria? We’ve never gone there, but it’s close by. Ends of the earth? How will we do this? We don’t know any other language. No Duolingo or Rosetta Stone existed. No airplanes or automobiles. It will take us years to get there!

We’ve all had bosses give us projects that seemed impossible to finish on a deadline. But we would work hard and make it happen, or decide to walk away. But this seemed like an impossible task, no matter how much time you would have. But they had faith, God provided the ‘fire,’ and now what.

This baptism of fire is just that. And do you see what happens? They began to think about and move forward toward those who had never heard. Acts 2:5-8 shows the purpose of the tongues and the purpose of this happening at Pentecost: Harvest not of crops, but of souls, right to the edge of God’s field–all the world!

Take a look at the map up top again.

What are we seeing? We are seeing that, as Peter will preach in the verses that come up, they will take the name of Jesus back to their homeland. How amazing is this? This would show that God would empower them to preach, and that He is active in bringing about his own promises and purposes. Yes, they came together. Yes, it may have been unbearable waiting. Yes they may have been scared because Jesus ascended back to His Father and were left alone. They did not know what was around the corner, but they had His power and His promises.

We have lessons for us here, don’t we?

God cares about those who are not here yet, and so should we. When churches start looking at signs and websites and greeter ministries and learning how to share the gospel, it’s a way for us to remember we are caring desperately and urgently for those who are not yet among the people of God yet. The Festival of Weeks brought that to mind. Pentecost in Acts 2 brought that to mind. It needs to be in our minds as well.

God cares about not just our nation, but every nation, and so should we. On whatever side of the political aisle you are when it comes to immigrants and refugees to our cities, remember God brought the nations to Jerusalem for a reason, just like he’s bringing the nations to our cities–as an opportunity to share God’s message of rescue so they could take it to their hearts and then possibly take that back to their people.

This happening at Pentecost was not a coincidence, but a fulfillment of the original intention of that Festival–a harvest of souls into the Kingdom. May that be our heart as well!

Theology Tuesday: What Jesus is Enough Does Not Mean?

Clarity is our friend! I’m leading our church to help all of Denver and the nations believe that Jesus is enough! But some have misunderstood that this means we don’t need to do or say anything else. But that’s not even in the ballpark of what that means. Kevin DeYoung explains how “Jesus is enough” does not mean we run away from theological matters, but that He’s enough to be the doorway to deeper matters of the things of God!

Music Monday: Beautiful Eulogy

You may be surprised that I would listen to hip-hop, but Beautiful Eulogy weaves a tapestry of theological solidity with an amazing grasp of the English language. This is one of their offerings, but my go-to work they have is called “Worthy.” Listen hard to the song “If” … it’s below:

Here are the lyrics:

“If…” (2017)

[Odd Thomas:]
If in one unfortunate moment
You took everything that I own
Everything you’ve given from heaven above
And everything that I’ve ever known
If you stripped away my ministry
My influence, my reputation
My health, my happiness
My friends, my pride, and my expectation
If you caused for me to suffer
Or to suffer for the cause of the cross
If the cost of my allegiance is prison
And all my freedoms are lost
If you take the breath from my lungs
And make an end of my life
If you take the most precious part of me
And take my kids and my wife
It would crush me, it would break me
It would suffocate and cause heartache
I would taste the bitter dark providence
But you would still preserve my faith
What’s concealed in the heart of having
Is revealed in the losing of things
And I can’t even begin to imagine
The sting that kind of pain brings
I would never blame you for evil
Even if you caused me pain
I came into this world with nothing
And when I die it’ll be the same
I will praise your name
In the giving and taking away
If I have you I could lose everything
And still consider it gain

It could mean everything, it could mean nothing
One word makes the difference
It could mean everything, it could mean nothing
One word changes everything
It could mean everything, it could mean nothing
One word makes the difference
It could mean everything, it could mean nothing
One word changes everything

[Braille:]
(Everyone who trusts in you will not be put to shame)
If that’s not what I believed
Then why is that what I proclaim?
If it don’t change how I live
Should I still shout it just the same?
If I shout it as loud as I can
Will blessings shower down
From the heavens and land on my crown
To rinse away all my doubt?
And the grace of God is only sweet
To the ears who hear the sound of it
But that sweetness won’t be tasted
By the mouth of a counterfeit faith
Only the thirsty will drink from the fountain of life and count
Everything as a loss for the sake of being found in Christ
Obedience to God’s word is the safest foundation
A safe haven for saints waiting for the glorious great day when
Our saviour will return
That’s the day of restoration
Those who sleep will be awakened
And we will never cease to thank Him
Singing “worthy is the Lamb to receive glory and honor”
Worthy is the Lamb who reconciled us to our Father
Worthy is the one who gives life without end
But if Christ is not raised then we are still in our sin
If…

It could mean everything, it could mean nothing
One word makes the difference
It could mean everything, it could mean nothing
One word changes everything
It could mean everything, it could mean nothing
One word makes the difference
It could mean everything, it could mean nothing
One word changes everything

It could mean everything, it could mean nothing
One word makes the difference
It could mean everything, it could mean nothing
One word changes everything
It could mean everything, it could mean nothing
One word makes the difference
It could mean everything, it could mean nothing
One word changes everything

Throwback Thursday: Before We Debate about the Spiritual Gift of Tongues, Consider This…

Amazingly, while many people speak about the gift of tongues, whether they exist or don’t exist, one aspect we tend to forget is how we use the language (i.e., tongue) that God has given us now.

Jump with me to 1 Corinthians 14:23-25:

23 If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds? 24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, 25 the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.

Tongues, Paul says, are a sign for unbelievers. When Peter, skeptical that God would send his Spirit to all the nations to show them His glory and His work through Jesus, we read in Acts 10:44-47:

44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”

What’s the point? The point is that God used this sign (not the gift, the sign) to show the world that God was moving forward in bringing His message of the Gospel through the Spirit to the whole world. And, friends, we are the recipient of that. God used His messengers through the Spirit and the gifts that He bestowed to take the message of the gospel, of which we are a recipient.

Dear Christians, unbelievers will enter into your life and your church. So how are we using the language God has given to us? Let me show you how some use them. In Romans 1:28-32:

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

How many times have we seen Christians come together, and use their tongues not for the purpose of building up believers in the faith, but to tear down other believers and leaders that God has put in their path? Rather than going and speaking directly to the person, they gossip and slander and become insolent, arrogant, boastful! Many of these sins in place are right up there with the flow of the argument—God giving people over to their desires, their sexual sins.

Alan Redpath calls us to think when it comes to what we’re getting ready to say. It’s an acronym:

T–Is it true?
H–Is it helpful?
I–Is it inspiring?
N–Is it necessary?
K–Is it kind?

If what I am about to say does not pass those tests, I will keep my mouth shut! And it worked!

But really, it’s not just about what we shouldn’t say, it’s about being clear regarding the person and work of Christ both in private, and in this case in public. Prophesy and preaching and teaching about Jesus and His death and resurrection as the only hope for the forgiveness of sins and eternal must be crystal clear. Intelligible. Distinct. Do we have that? When we tell people phrases we’re used to like, “Ask Jesus into your heart” or “Won’t you walk the aisle?”

You see, I fear that many in our churches in America believe that the church exists for them. The spiritual gifts exist for them. God in heaven simply exists to meet our needs. We can only worship if the music is just right, the curriculum is just right, if the money is spent just right. Do you see what’s happening? Everything can come down to the fact that many believe that everything exists for them! But vv 24-25 shatter that. Clarity about the gospel, about Jesus’ person and work will convict as worked by the Spirit. We want to be clear to call everyone to repent and believe the gospel as Jesus said. We want to be clear to our family and friends about the gospel—and that our words and our actions match!

The entire point of 1 Corinthians 14 is that of clarity so that the church would be built up! Outward love toward others always trumps simply building up oneself, whether it’s speaking in tongues or in any other aspect of our Christian walk. But we all speak in a language–how are we using that for God’s glory and building up the church?

What’s Up Wednesday: A Pastor Processing People Leaving Your Church

One of the more painful things that happens to a pastor is someone leaving the church. Now, if someone takes time to speak with you about why, that does help (still painful, though). I confess, when someone leaves the church and just disappears without taking time to explain why–well, let’s just say that’s a mystery that I won’t have solved until heaven. How does one process this, especially as a pastor?

When I read and preached on Acts 1:12-26, I understood that even Jesus understood. After all, one of his apostles left him–Judas. Now, I’m not saying that everyone who leaves a church is a betrayer; I’m not in that lane at all. But the pain that Judas’ death caused not just Jesus but the rest of the disciples was palpable.

But do you remember in the Upper Room when Jesus and his disciples were observing the Passover? Jesus said, “One of you will betray me” (Matthew 26:21). Each of them looked at the other and said, “Lord, is it I?” This small exchange gives us such a wonderful glimpse into the heart of Jesus. Jesus knew that Judas would betray him, but he still showed such love to him that the rest of the disciples did not see any difference in his love for Judas. If I knew someone would betray me? Let’s just say I marvel at Jesus.

But I know from the New Testament that Jesus lives in me and I am in Jesus. Therefore, no matter what happens, even having people (and more so, even friends) leave the church, because of Christ each of us can still exhibit that love and care. Whereas there is a question of whether Judas repented, the case for others moving from one church to another does not change the fact that we are still siblings in Christ!

Open the door for future conversations by expressing your love for them and how you will always see them as family. And should they decide to come back and worship at your church, the door is always open. Either way, we will all be worshiping together at the throne of Jesus eventually, right?

Hershael York, pastor of Buck Run Baptist Church in Frankfort, KY, writes so well on Saying “Goodbye” with Grace. It’s worth your time to watch this. But more than Dr. York helping us understand, we know that Jesus is enough to help us navigate through the waters of having to part with fellow believers who leave your church.

Revelation 19 tells us about the marriage supper of the Lamb, and there we will all worship together forever. No more sorrow, no more parting! An eternity of worshiping Jesus!

May this promise help you process something that can be painful!

Jesus is enough!

Theology Tuesday: What is Theology?

Dry academia? A mere seminary discipline? A practice for the intellectual elite?

Theology does not have to be like this! Theology is the study or the doctrine of God. In its truest form, it’s a way for us to get to know our God better. R.C. Sproul helps us out:

The word theology shares a suffix, -ology, with the names of many disciplines and sciences, such as biology, physiology, and anthropology. The suffix comes from the Greek word logos, which we find in the opening of John’s gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). The Greek word logos means “word” or “idea,” or, as one philosopher translated it, “logic” (it is also the term from which we get the English word logic). So when we study biology, we are looking at the word or logic of life. Anthropology is the word or logic about humans, anthrōpos being the Greek word for man. The primary part of the word theology comes from the Greek theos, which means “god,” so theology is the word or logic of God Himself. (1)

Sadly, this term is misunderstood as being the cause of division in our churches. “Why can’t we just love Jesus and love people and be done with the theological debates?” On this topic alone we see the need for us to pursue theology, that is, to understand God Himself. Who is Jesus (fully man, fully God, lesser god, great prophet, teacher)? What happened at the cross? Why did He need to come to earth to begin with? Did He really rise from the dead–and does it matter if he did or didn’t?

You see, all of these questions need answering–and this is just about Jesus! The joy of getting to know not just about God but to know God is an incredible endeavor. We get to know Him in the inspired Word that the Holy Spirit preserved for us. He has given us His church that Christ Himself built in order to hear the Word, to fellowship with fellow believers, and to be sent to our respective mission fields.

What does this have to do with our day-to-day life? J.I. Packer in his book Knowing God says this:

How can we turn our knowledge about God into knowledge of God? The rule for doing this is simple but demanding. It is that we turn each Truth that we learn about God into a matter for meditation before God, leading to prayer and praise to God (2).

Theology leads to doxology–that is, a right thinking about God leads to a right praise before God. Theology fueled from the Scriptures must lead to not only praise, but right living and practice (that is, orthodoxy leading to orthopraxy).

Satan has won a great victory by putting the notion in the minds of many sitting in our churches that theology is a class in seminary or simply for the spiritual and intellectual elite. As the book from which the original quote was taken tells us, “Everyone’s a Theologian.”

Yes, that includes you! Let’s get to know our God better through Jesus!

(1) R.C Sproul, Everyone’s a Theologian: An Introduction to Systematic Theology, 4.

(2) J.I. Packer, Knowing God.