Yeah… those “friends”…
Most of us probably have had such experiences.
Don’t you hate it when that happens to you?
Not sure about you, but most people would be none too pleased, because that’s defamatory.
God hates it too.
See: Matt 7:21-23; Matt 15:7-9 quoting Isa 29:13; Jer 7
Before anyone proudly declares their understanding of God, let us solemnly examine ourselves:
“Are the words I’ve heard from God purely God’s and God’s alone?”
“Can I confidently say that I’ve never once read my own presuppositions into God’s words?”
“How do I know that I actually know God?”
If anyone does so and emerges with a clear conscience, we applaud you, brother/sister. Nevertheless, many of us know all too well that we often fall short of this standard. What we need is better theology.
Originating from the Greek words “
theos” (God) and “ logia” (knowledge), the word “ theology” literally means “knowledge of God”.
As Christians, we already affirm the existence of God. The question is: do we
Every person has an opinion about God – who He is, what He is capable of, where He is, why He does certain things and not other things, what He wants for us, etc. Essentially, that means every person is a theologian!
Well.. I guess if you put it that way…
But surely, God’s characteristics do not depend whatsoever on what we think He is or should be. After all, we are talking about one who said: “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14). He, the self-determining one, is who He actually is, and nothing else. And so, it’s not a matter of whether or not we
should do theology (because we already are doing it), but rather, how well we do it.
Have you noticed that even very basic affirmations of faith — such as: I am a Christian; I believe Jesus is the Son of God; Jesus died to save us from our sins — are full of theology? What is a Christian? Who is Jesus? What is sin? Why did Jesus have to die? What do we actually mean when we say these things!? That’s all theology.
Theology is not merely indispensable to a Christian – it is
inseparable from a true confession of Christian faith.
So… how do we
If, by definition, God is an entity that lies outside the finite realm of our sensory perception – whose thoughts cannot be inferred even by the brightest human minds – can we even know Him through our own efforts?
We have all probably heard the story about the blind men and the elephant. One blind man, clutching the elephant’s tusk, thought it was a spear; another, clutching the elephant’s trunk, thought it was a snake; and another still, clutching the elephant’s leg, thought it was a tree stump. Each had reason to believe what they thought to be true, but because of their blindness, none of the blind men were able to perceive the truth. Wouldn’t it be great if the elephant just opened its mouth and said, “I am an elephant”? Then they would all know!
If we attempt to figure out God and His world with our own (limited) senses only, we would be just like the blind men, each enthralled by their personal experiences without having the capacity to grasp the reality that lay beyond their individual experiences. Wouldn’t it be great if God just opened His mouth and told us who He is? Then we would all know! If only God —
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. — Hebrews 1:1-2 —
— spoke to us… Oh.
We can’t know God unless God tells us about Himself. But He
has told us. Have we been listening properly?
Ever since sin entered into our world through the Fall, our fleshly instincts have been to rebel against God, shut our eyes and ears, and not know Him. By God’s grace, some of us have been redeemed from our darkened and futile ways (Rom 1:21). But even then, sin’s dying grip remains strong, tempting believers to not hear, or – even worse – to twist God’s word and perpetuate the suppression of truth.
Christians believe that the Bible is divinely inspired, and records the revealed word of God – first through the prophets, and then through Jesus, the Son of God. Yet, we live in an era where Bible literacy amongst Christians is at an all-time low. Over the years, reverence for God’s word has eroded to the point that even professing Christians – the very people who should be reading the Bible – may no longer consider Bible reading an essential part of the faith. Consequently, “God’s word” gradually devolved into bastardised Rorschach tests, where they can mean different things to different people, and mean whatever we want them to mean, based mostly, if not wholly, on non-Biblical “God spoke to me” experiences.
A Rorschach test… What do you see? I see… two bears high-fiving… Hmmm…
Less and less people are actually reading and listening
to what God has already revealed about Himself and His will for us. And so, “I AM WHO I AM” has become “he is who I say he is”. This is theology gone completely wrong. What a shame!
“I AM WHO I AM” has become “he is who I say he is”.
This is theology gone completely wrong.
Hosea 4:6 says this: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”. God’s people, we have to put a stop to that, beginning with our very own theology. God has already revealed Himself to us through the Bible. We need a better theology that is founded on the Bible. We need Biblical theology.
Since we believe that the Bible is divinely inspired, it means the authors of each book must have had a specific intention – God’s – in mind when they wrote about God.
Biblical theology simply means understanding and knowing God from the Bible, from the perspective of its authors.
Our challenge is to be as faithful as possible to the authors’ pristine intentions on this side of eternity. While it is unlikely that anybody will ever be 100% right – this is why even people who are convicted of the Bible’s authority will disagree on important matters and birth denominations – we must nonetheless strive to do so if we are to know God and faithfully fulfil the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20). Biblical theology is a compass that will help us interpret the Bible rightly.
“Any Christian… who wants to develop a sound method of approaching
the text of the Bible in order to find out what it really says and means, needs an understanding of biblical theology.” — Graeme Goldsworthy —
From cover to cover, the Bible tells a series of connected and interwoven events, beginning from creation itself until the foretold eternity. Each part relates with every other part, and has its own contribution towards God’s unified story. The Bible records the revelation made by God to man over the years: creation and man’s created purpose, our failure to fulfil that purpose resulting in the Fall, and God’s promise to redeem His people to Himself, which was set in motion even before Adam was sent out of Eden, progressing through Abraham, through David, and culminating in the final revelation and fulfilment found in Jesus, the one called Christ (Matt 1:1).
By understanding the process through which and the context in which God revealed Himself to mankind, we can observe any particular event found in the Bible, relate it to the total picture of the Gospel from creation to consummation, and then relate it to our everyday Christian life now. In other words, Biblical theology is like a map — a good grasp of it enriches our understanding of the world around us, its history, and its trajectory; helps us find ourselves in the landscape of life; and guides us make Godly decisions as we navigate through God’s big story.
Brothers and sisters, if we hear God today, let us not harden our hearts and fall for the deceitfulness of sin (Heb 3:12-15). Let us not be tempted to conform God to our expectations and desires, but instead conform ourselves to Christ.
Let us not take God’s words out of context and misrepresent His character. Let us not continue in the ways of blind men. And let us not treat His revealed word faithlessly and without the reverence it deserves.
Instead, let us be faithful to God. Let us listen to Him who has revealed Himself. Let us fervently press on to know the Lord.
Let us pursue good Biblical theology.
CERC is currently going through a sermon series on Biblical theology entitled “God’s Story”. We encourage all who wish to know God to come join us under the authority of God’s word every Sunday. Our past sermons can be found here , and you can find out more about how to visit us here .