In our day and age where anti-intellectualism runs rampant in the visible church, it is not surprising to see poll after poll verify what students of scripture have known for many years. The visible church does not know much about the scriptures they profess to believe in. This is sad considering many saints during the Reformation period lost their lives for the sake of being able to read and study God's word. Not to mention the many passages in scripture that speak as such:
Isaiah 66:2 This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.
John 8:31-32 Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
Psalm 19:7-8 The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
Psalm 119:9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.
Psalm 119:11 I have hidden Your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.
Psalm 119:103 How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Psalm 119:130 The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.
Psalm 119:162 I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil.
My prayer for these posts is that the people who read them will be encouraged to open their Bible and not just read a verse or two, but learn the scriptures and indeed, be transformed by them. As Jesus prayed, "Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth." (John 17:17). This is my prayer as well.
These posts, for the most part, will be Biblical, systematic and simple in nature, although they will periodically deal with contemporary issues. A number of the posts are taken from the Teachings of Faith class that I am teaching at my church, and we are using Dr Wayne Grudem's excellent book Bible Doctrine. This first post is the basis for studying God's Word in depth and comes from the introduction of Bible Doctrine.
- First reason for studying the scriptures.
o Fulfill the command of Jesus in the Great Commission.
§ We are to make disciples, teaching them to observe what he has commanded (Matt 28:19-20).
- Second, this is the only way of knowing the true God and having eternal life in Jesus Christ.
o John 17:3 – (Jesus) This is everlasting life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.
o John 8:31-32 – (Jesus) If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
- Third, it is essential for growth in the Christian faith. Anyone who does not know the scriptures and doctrines they teach does not grow into maturity.
o Hebrews 5:12-6:2 – He rebukes them for only being able to accept milk & not solid food. They should be teachers!
o Ephesians 4:11-16 – God gave the church teachers so we might grow in ALL aspects of Him and NOT be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine.
o 2 Timothy – The scriptures are good to teach us, reprove us, correct us and train us in right living.
§ They are good for our entire lives!
o Read any epistle and the apostles give right doctrine and oftentimes correct false doctrine.
- Grudem lists at least 3 benefits from studying the scriptures.
o Helps us overcome our wrong ideas about scripture...
§ Because of sin and an incomplete knowledge of the Bible we often have wrong ideas about topics from God to child rearing.
o Helps us to make better decisions on questions of new doctrine.
§ Those who have continually fed their mind and heart with solid doctrine will be better prepared to tackle new issues.
· This doesn’t just include issues relating to the trinity, but to bioethics, economics, etc.
o The Bible gives us principles that apply to every area of our lives.
- Finally, it helps us grow as Christians.
o Grudem – “The more we know about God, about His Word, about His relationships to the world and mankind, the better we will trust Him, the more fully we will praise Him, and the more readily we will obey Him”
How to Study Theology?
- With prayer.
o It is a spiritual activity and we need the Spirit’s guidance to enlighten our minds to understand spiritual truth.
§ Psalm 119:18 Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
- With humility.
o Knowledge of anything can puff you up, but pride has no place in the study of scriptures – see James 3:13,17
§ We must clothe ourselves with humility (1 Peter 5:5)
· Isaiah 66:2 This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.
- With reason.
o There are limits but we should make logical conclusions from the scriptures.
§ We should use our human reason and understanding when studying God’s word.
o He directs us to Jesus and the apostles as examples.
§ Paul reasoned with the Jews in Acts 17:2
§ In Mark 12 Jesus uses Exodus 3:6 to prove the resurrection.
o Grudem points out that our deductions are not infallible.
§ Grudem “We are free to use our reasoning abilities to draw deductions from any passage of Scriptures so long as these deductions do not contradict the clear teaching of some other passage of scripture.”
- With help from others.
o Understanding that God has appointed apostles, prophets, teachers, pastors, etc.
§ It was God’s intent to give certain people gifts of teaching to help others learn and grow.
o One more good point he makes:
§ It also means we should be talking about the things we learn with other believers – Proverbs 27:17
· Theology is not just regulated to the classroom, but should be talked about at church, home, etc
- With collecting & understanding all passages.
o Find all the relevant verses; Read, take notes, and summarize the points of the verses; note your conclusions.
§ Compare with other theologies for sharpening.
o www.e-sword.net is FREE, easy-to-use Bible software to help with studying. If you’d like to purchase software, Logos & Bibleworks are excellent products.
- With rejoicing and praise.
o Grudem “The study of theology is not merely an intellectual or mental exercise. It is a study of the living God and of the wonders of all His works in creation and redemption. We cannot study this subject as if our hearts and lives are uninvolved! We must love all that God is, all that He says, & all that He does. ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart.’ (Deut 6:5). Our response to the study of the theology of Scripture should be that of the Psalmist who said, ‘How precious to me are your thoughts O God!’ (Psalm 139:17). In the study of the teachings of God’s Word, it should not surprise us if we find our hearts spontaneously breaking forth in expressions of praise and delight like those of the Psalmist.”