Theology Matters 6: Biblical Theology

As we learn the Bible, we learn it’s progression as the unfolding story of redemption. Consider the puzzle as it is comprised of many pieces. Each piece is different, not displaying the full puzzle on it’s own. It may give an idea, but a relatively small one at that. It is vague at best. However, it gradually makes sense when the pieces come together. Upon completion, it is a beautiful masterpiece!

How much more do we see that when Scripture is seen in its fullest ? Every story and every book in the Bible shows continuity and progression. Covenants are unfolded, laws are given, promises are offered, and each points to something greater. Or better yet, Someone Greater. In today’s post, I want to discuss biblical theology and what it entails.

In consideration of biblical of theology, it is imperative to see that Christ is the full picture of Scripture. Christ is the tapestry in which all the puzzle pieces come together. Consider His Words to the Pharisees, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me” (John 5:39).  You can read Scripture all you want, but without Christ as the goal , then you’ve missed the point. You can’t read Scripture without Christ, you can’t know Christ apart from Scripture, lest you make misconceptions.

Christ is the focal point binds Old and New Testament together. Although there is a 400 year gap between both Testaments, The Bible maintains the continuity of God’s redemptive work. For instance, there are foreshadows and typologies that point to Christ before His primary advent. Even in the fall’s aftermath, God promised a “seed” that will crush the Serpent’s head (Gen. 3:15). Or how Christ would be the suffering servant in Isaiah 53? Or how post-Resurrection we see what Jesus does to verify Himself, “and beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was written in all the Scriptures about Himself “(Luke 24:27) .Although there are concepts and precepts, one must always ask- “how does it point to Christ?” He is ultimate hermeneutic.

In understanding biblical theology, one can see that Scripture interprets Scripture. Why do you think we have concordances and cross-references? Scripture is a vast treasure through and through, from Genesis to Revelation and biblical theology is Scripture’s snapshot. It works hand in hand with systematic theology despite their distinct roles. Systematic looks at doctrinal matters, while biblical theology looks at progressive revelation in the Bible. One looks at the progression (Biblical theology), while the other looks at the finished work (systematic theology).  Therefore, both are necessary to know and grow in our theological pursuit.

Next time, the importance of Christian history will be discussion in continuation of the theology matters series. You can read all my posts in the series here.

Additional Resources

https://www.gotquestions.org/biblical-theology.html

https://www.crossway.org/articles/3-ways-to-define-biblical-theology/

https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/need-for-biblical-theology/

 

Theology Matters 5: Systematic Theology

As  we continue in this wonderful series on Theology Matters, today I want to discuss systematic theology and its importance to the church. Normally, systematic theology is reserved for seminaries, when it applies to all Christians.

What is systematic theology? It is looking at the different doctrines of the Bible. It is systematic in the sense in while we categorize teach one. It is not to diminish what Scripture says, but to maximize what Scripture teaches on a given topic how it is used throughout the Bible. For instance, my first post discusses the attributes of God in which all is taught in Scripture. It is not limited to just a passage, chapter or book, but all of the Bible is taken into account.

And since it is all found in Scripture, systematic theology displays continuity. It doesn’t get any better than that. The Bible is ultimately a reliable source within itself. No secondary sources needed. No having to add to the Bible as if there was something missing. Likewise, there is nothing having to subtract from the Bible as if there was something unfitting.  It stands the test of time and eternity!

Therefore, all of God’s people can seek to know God more through the Scriptures in all generations. Additionally other doctrines such as the doctrine of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, man, sin, heaven, hell, church, Scripture, spiritual gifts, the last days (eschatology). The list can go on and on but here are several so that we grow in our understanding. This is more than being informed but being transformed through what we’ve learned. Furthermore, not only do we grow spiritually but we grow in appreciation of who God is; not what we make Him out to be. That also applies to other doctrines in Scripture.

In short, systemic theology ends misconceptions with clarification. And that is something that Christians need as many come in from the world with misconceptions and skepticism. However, that also applies within Christians themselves with their Christian cliches and buzzwords, completely distortion the truth for convenience. The beauty of it all is that it is all found in Scripture. Pray that God would help us in growing in our understanding !

Additional resources

https://www.gotquestions.org/systematic-theology.html

Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem

Systematic Theology by Louis Berkhof

 

Theology Matters 4: Holy Spirit

More than a force, but a Person

Ah the Holy Spirit, otherwise known as the third Person in the Trinity. He is first seen “hovering over the waters” (Gen. 1:2), as well as partaking in the creation of man (Gen 1:26-28). He likewise is seen all throughout the OT in prophets, priests and kings. Also seen in judges, and some of temple builders. He is likewise in the promise of the New Covenant, as He will pay an important role as the Comforter. He is likewise promised through Jesus Christ prior to His death and resurrection (Gen. 16:7). After Christ’s ascension, we see the Holy Spirit poured out to all who belong to God (see Acts 2). He continues His work this very day.

Functions in the life of a Believer

Oftentimes, we see many bizarre practices that are attributed to the Holy Spirit. But biblically speaking, it is completely different. This is not to deny the power, but to clarify the function. First and foremost, it gives evidence that one belongs to God. Otherwise you’re not a true believer. This indwelling of the Holy Spirit is part of regeneration. A vessel once used for unrighteousness, is now a temple for God’s Spirit to dwell, and to transform a soul from the inside out. From a heart of stone to a heart of flesh. Friend, if there’s such practices without transformation, have nothing to do with it. It is nothing more than a spiritual high but no change. It wears off like a drug until the next fix. Likewise, emotionalism can be deceptive of transformation. Not to deny we have God-given emotions, but emotions alone do not entail transformation. Likewise, we can say that the outflow of transformation is emotion. In short, no Holy Spirit, no transformation. No other “experience” can do this.

Regeneration is a monergistic work of God, meaning it is a solo act. Only God can do it, not us! However, sanctification is synergistic where God and us take part in which both grow. This is a lifelong process until the next state which is glorification in which we will have new bodies which will be sinless.

As we walk in sanctification, the Holy Spirit teaches and brings to remembrance all the things Christ has shared (John 14:26) , and convicts the world in sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8). And for those who are believers, it confirms that they’re a child of God (Rom. 8:14, 16), that they are sealed for eternity (Eph. 1:13), and spiritual fruit is expected throughout the course of one’s life. (Gal. 5:22-23).

 

Been away for a while, but hope to finish up this series. Check out here for all posts on the theology matters series

No Bible = No Discernment

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” Hosea 4:6

In this day and age, messages across churches today are superficial at best. It is water-less clouds, fruitless and twice dead trees (Jude 12). It is all form; no substance. It is merely a shell without an interior. Yet such messages are preached to the masses weekly! The end result? No true spiritual growth as there is no right dividing the Scripture. For Scriptures is food for the soul, and such nutritious food it is! Take that away, and you’re left with junk that leaves souls spiritually malnourished and theologically deficient.

Spiritual discernment goes undeveloped as there’s no biblical buildup! Thus becoming prone to deception of “every wind of doctrine”. People run to and fro to big name preachers who love to promote their doctrine to the churches “in God’s name” in order to legitimate their message. They run around claiming that the Bible/ theology isn’t enough and that their teaching is exactly what the church needs! “You can’t grow without this message”, they say. Yet such claims bring to mind the words of the apostle Paul,

“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you,  let him be accursed.  As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received,  let him be accursed.” -Galatians 1:8-9

Yet because of no rightly dividing the word of Truth, the sheep are falsely divided in heresy. No true Word , no spiritual growth, no discernment. Destruction awaits.

Theology Matters 3: Jesus

As discussed in my first post, it is imperative in understanding God as the Bible intends. Likewise, it applies in understanding Christ in His person and work. A lack of biblical interpretation of Christ begets many misconceptions of Christ. For instance, Christ is a great moral teacher. Nothing more, nothing less. Some would even take a step further in denying Christ as historical, rendering him as some sort of metaphor or an ideal. Nevertheless, Scripture provides the final say concerning Christ. That should and always should be the case. Remember, the Bible is the inspired Word God in which history is incorporated.

Christ is the one whom crushes the serpents head (Gen 3:15), in which His kingdom will be established forever (2 Sam 7), He is the one who was crushed for our iniquities and our transgressions (Is 53). Prior to His earthly ministry, His coming was foretold in the OT as the Messiah. Moreover, it points to Him (John 5:39). This is essential as it lays a foundation in understanding the Gospel as the a whole. As seen throughout Scripture, Christ is its focal point. Such display is placed on Christ as the Messiah in which we come to know God (John 17:3). Simply put, know Christ, know God; or no Christ, no God. This is the experience of the gospel, to know Christ! He is God’s love on display (Romans 5:8).

Now what has Christ done? Christ redeems us from sin through imputation of righteousness, reconciling us to God. Just as Adam was our representative, now Christ is our representative in  which we become children of the most high God. He offers us the Holy Spirit who convicts us of us, sanctifies us in unrighteousness, and leads us into all truth regarding Scripture, by making us more Christlike in character (Rom. 8:29). Presently, Christ makes intercession for us (Heb. 7:25) as is always with us to the end (Matt. 28).

That being said, we acknowledge Christ as Scripture’s fulfillment. The Bible is not about us, it is about Him. What does that say for us ? That we need Him each and everyday. He is not to be a side character in our story but the focal point in His story through our lives. Furthermore,  that we may spread the message of the Gospel and testify about what Christ has done in our lives.

Theology Matters Part 2: Scripture

In my last post I spoke on the importance of theology because it helps us grow in our understanding on who God is. Today, I would like to proceed by sharing that Theology matters because it helps us improve our understanding of Scripture. In studying the Word of God, one learns that it is a unified, inspired and sufficient work. These I will elaborate in this post. First, Scripture as a unified work. The Old and New Testaments are acknowledged as one big story, both making up the unity of Scripture. Additionally, it displays the story of redemption. Sure many have heard of the cross but what about leading up to it? What about all the types and shadows seen throughout the Old Testament? Or Messianic prophecies? All of these and more find fulfillment in Christ. And because it is a unified work, it is required to understand both. Neither one is more important than the other. To overlook one for the one, renders the unity of the Bible. It is to subject the book God gave to His church to one’s desires. Friends, that is not how the Bible should be treated. Sure it is a large book, but all the more reason to study it and meditate on it. Overall, one begins to see how it is interconnected.

It is amazing how the Old and New Testaments are 400 years apart yet it come altogether. How is this possible? Let us proceed to the 2nd point,

Secondly, Scripture is an inspired work.  

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for instruction, for conviction, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work” -2 Timothy 3:16

“For no such prophecy was ever brought about through human initiative, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” – 2 Peter 1:21

Although written by men, Scripture has a divine touch. In doing so, it indeed becomes the Word of God because God speaks through it. You can even call it a divine dissertation as God ultimately is the author of Scripture. All other books cannot compare regardless of research or eloquence, it does not compare. In doing so, God is glorified as the Author of Scripture. And since God is the author of Scripture, we as His church should seek what our Heavenly Father/Divine Author has to say to us.

Moreover, since the Bible inspired, it is also timeless. Such truths have impacted generations upon generations as it speaks to humanity about who God is and what He has done.

Sufficiency

Lastly, theology teaches us about the sufficiency of Scripture. Going back to 2 Timothy 3:16, we recognize that Scripture is all that we need. It is a means of grace for the church to walk before God. Sadly, this is overlooked. One of the greatest attacks is that Scripture isn’t sufficiency in the eyes of many Christians who rather deviate to outside sources. They’ll say “don’t put God in a box”, yet God has established a foundation in which we can stand on, which is His Word. It is not rocket science nor ambiguous. God has already laid it out for us. Here’s something worth thinking about, since God is sufficient so must His Word! To say otherwise is to render God insufficient since His Word “isn’t enough”.

Theology Matters Part 1: God

                          Theology matters because it teaches us about God.

The above words ring true as that is what theology entails. Theology begins with God and in ends with God. Without a biblical understanding of God, how is one supposed to get an overview of who He is? Moreover, one becomes susceptible to false notions of God. All the misconceptions, myths and distortions are silenced with a biblical understanding of God, also known as theology proper. Without a biblical understanding of God, then it is no longer theology proper. It may sound good to itching ears as it is distorted and manipulated, drifting further away from the truth. It no longer becomes objective, but subjective.

Thus in learning about God, it subjects oneself to objective truth as it concerns The Truth. It silences all misconceptions as well as any false notions of God. In short, theology proper is the undisputed fact of God. And as Christians, it is crucial for us to learn theology as it helps us know God better. As one seems to grew in knowledge of a person they meet, how much more must we grow in the knowledge of God! Of course, this does not mean we will know God fully, as He is infinite. But He has graciously drawn us to Himself so that we may know Him and make Him known! So why throw away the opportunity?

That being said, let us take into account the attributes of God. An understanding of who God is starts with His attributes. Another way of putting it is knowing the characteristics of God. Again, it helps us know God better. So what are the attributes of God? Here’s a list to get us started. God is,

Holy
Just
Omnipotent
Omnipresent
Omniscient
Immutable
Eternal
Spiritual
Self-sufficient
Wise
Perfect
Loving
Good
Truthful
Gracious
Impassible
Sovereign

For a further in depth study of God’s attributes, I would highly recommend J.I Packer’s book, Knowing God. Or if you like a video series, The Attributes of God by Steven J. Lawson. Both are good places to start.

There is much more concerning God such as God’s Providence, God as part of the Trinity, so much more! The attributes are top priority as one begins to see who God is according to Scripture. I believe that it must be taught in churches because so many are uniformed, or worse misinformed. Preacher’s need to get back in His book and make Him known to His people. It can be done in a sermon series or as part of a Sunday school or Bible study. Overall, it should be done continually as we are always learning about God.

So there you have it in this first post in this series, Theology Matters. What did you think? Is this something that you’ve been itching to learn more about but sadly your church does not teach it? Or perhaps you have and would like to share your experience. Would love to hear from you! Let me know in the comments. Next time, we will see that theology matters because it shows us the different doctrines in the Bible. Stay tuned.