What do you think of when you think of the word “theology”? For me, thoughts of scholars, books, rich vocabulary, and The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer come rushing into my head. But is theology merely scholarly work? Is the importance of it to have great outwardly knowledge? By no means! Theology is the way in which we know and express God. It influences our relationships, worldview, and our worship.
To begin lets answer the question, “What is theology?” G.K. Chesterton states, “Theology is simply the part of religion that requires brains.” In his book Basic Theology, Charles C. Ryrie writes, “Theology simply means thinking about God and expressing those thoughts in some way.” Because of definitions like these, almost all theology books you will pick up will say that you are a theologian, and that is correct. While I agree that we should express what we think about God, I would add that we already unknowingly express what we think about God. Therefore, theology for those who claim Jesus as Lord is absolutely necessary. We must think about God as the Bible thinks about him. We must express the God of the Bible.
Our theology spills into three areas of our lives.
Our Relationship with God
There is a gospel song we sing at our church. It goes like this,
“When I Think about the Lord,
How He saved me, how He raised me,
How He filled me, with the Holy Ghost.
How He healed me, to the uttermost.
When I Think about the Lord,
How He picked me up and turned me around,
How He placed my feet on solid ground”
I think this song captures exactly what I am getting at in this first point. What is it you think of when you think about the Lord? That question is a key factor that influences your relationship with him. If we are pondering thoughts of how he saved us and worked things out for our good, well then we will respond with the chorus of the song:
“It makes me wanna shout,
Hallelujah, Thank you JESUS,
LORD, your worthy, of all the glory, and all the honor,
And all the praise…”
If we are pondering thoughts that make us want to shout then we are expressing theology, what we think about God. Having this proper theology, taking the song for example, we will enjoy our relationship with God. We will take comfort, pleasure, and peace in our walk with him by knowing about him. Theology has a rich impact on our relationship with God.
Our Relationships with Others
A rich theology that impacts our walk with God naturally spills into our walks with others and the relationships we have. One time I was preaching on joy and how we as believers should express biblical joy wherever we go. One of the students, a girl who is usually attentive and quite started laughing. I said, “What are you laughing at?” and she replied with, “Well my friend today asked me why I am always so happy and I told her that it is because I have Jesus!”
That is exactly what I am trying to communicate. Because she knew God, thought about him daily and studied his word, she knew what God had done for her, and that knowledge enriched her relationship with God, and that rich relationship with God could not be contained and therefore begged the question “Why are you always so happy?!”
Theology helps us communicate God to others and creates deeper relationship with them. Because of proper theology, that student will be know as the joyful, positive, and bright girl… because of Jesus. What are you communicating about God to others? Does your theology communicate joy, hope, salvation, etc.?
When we understand God and how he operates, we begin to understand the world we live in. Let me give an example. I have a friend that I love who is an unbeliever. For years I have preached, shared, and lived the gospel out to him. Many times I’ve said, “What do you have to lose?” and he replies, “Nothing.” Till’ this day he remains an unbeliever.
I used to ask myself why. Why won’t he believe? Who could reject this amazing gift?! Then I discovered the answer in the Bible. People have a curtain drawn over their lives and because of sin we do not desire God naturally. Therefore he must remove the curtain for us. Ah… now I get it, and now I can address this situation in prayer more efficiently.
When we understand simple truths like that through theology we begin to understand the world we live in. When we understand that we can change our world, meaning our direct sphere of influence: friends, family, work, hobbies, etc. We can take God to those places and do it patiently. Through proper theology we can, do, and will build the Kingdom of God.
Simply put, theology gives us the knowledge and ability to explain and defend God. In addition Sam Storms writes, “The ultimate goal of theology isn’t knowledge, but worship.” When we explain, teach and defend the God of the Bible, we are bringing him worship.
Work on your theology. Hold strong opinions. Think about the Lord.