My husband purchased me a sweater for Christmas with the phrase “theology matters.” This bold statement has brought conversations with others while I wear it and has also made me think. As Christians we tend to be known for being bold and outspoken for our faith, but are we actually firm in what we believe? Are you confident in your beliefs because of what you have learned through diligent study of the Scriptures or simply because someone you trust has conveyed them to you?
I would encourage us to be like the Bereans. When Paul and Silas traveled to Berea and proclaimed the gospel in the Jewish synagogue, we read, “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so (Acts 17:11).” These individuals heard the Word of God proclaimed by Paul and Silas, but they didn’t simply accept what they had heard, they tested it under the authority of Scripture. May we be of like mind.
Since moving to New England, I have been pressed more by others to understand what I believe and why. For example, I recently had the privilege to sit and chat with a couple Jehovah’s Witnesses over coffee and realized how important theological study is in my life. What I believed was put to the test throughout that conversation and a simple “that’s what I’ve always believed” wouldn’t cut it. I needed to be able to articulate what I believed, why I believed it, and why I thought their views were contrary to Scripture.
When we hear of others’ beliefs and disagree with them, it’s important for us to understand our biblical backing (if any) before engaging in a potential dispute. If this seems daunting, here are two ways in which we can strengthen our biblical beliefs.
Challenge yourself in studying.
Everyone is a theologian. The question is whether we are a good or bad one. It’s tempting to fall into a defeated mindset and believe that theology is too advanced for us or is an area reserved solely for the pastors and seminary professors. However, in Peter’s 2nd letter, he says, “but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18).” This is our calling as Christians. We ought to be continually growing in our relationship with Christ. If you come upon a difficult doctrine, slow down, pray, and search the Scriptures. If you are confronted with a differing belief that you are unable to respond to, it’s okay to say, “I don’t know.” But don’t remain in ignorance. Go back and study the Scriptures. Challenge yourself with hard questions. I will link to some helpful resources at the bottom.
I would also like to encourage you to read differing beliefs. This is beneficial for a couple of reasons. First, it helps you understand why others hold the beliefs that they do. This allows you to be more equipped when having a theological conversation with those with whom you disagree. Second, it can strengthen your position(s) on a particular topic.
Disciple and be Discipled
In his letter to the Colossians, Paul said, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God (Col. 3:16-17). Notice what Paul said: teaching and admonish one another. I believe that we do a great job telling others to make disciples, but neglect the need to be discipled. If you are not being discipled and if you are not discipling others you need to ask the question “why?” Discipling should fuel our study of theology because it forces us to be in the Word. Remember, part of the Great Commission is teaching all that Jesus commanded (Matt. 28:20).
It’s just as important to be discipled as it is to make disciples. We need the body of Christ to help us with our spiritual lives as well. Find someone that can invest in your life as you seek to follow Christ. When you’re struggling with various issues in faith and practice, it’s beneficial to have another speaking biblical wisdom into your situation.
Theology matters. What we believe matters. In fact, what we believe about God has eternal significance. It’s not enough to have beliefs, they must be the right ones. May we be diligent students of God’s Word so that we “may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes (Eph. 4:14).
grab a systematic theology (Berkhof, MacArthur, Grudem, etc.)
Soli Deo Gloria,
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