Where are you?
How’s your theology, your doctrine, your orthodoxy, your dogma? We all have these … Christian, Buddhist, Secular Humanist and Atheist alike. Whether or not you attempt to define it, your theology is presently affecting the way you make decisions … for better or for worse. In its simplest definition our theology is what we believe about God AND ALSO how we live our lives based on what we believe. I include the latter part of the definition because truly believing something means we live accordingly; otherwise we don’t really believe it to be true. So what we believe and what we do are determinately linked. In A Pocket Guide to New Testament Theology, I. Howard Marshall writes, “We can say that theology is an expression of what it means to trust in God, and this way of putting the matter does justice to the fact that Christian belief is more than simply assenting to certain statements”
This is an important distinction because we can say that we believe something, but our actions demonstrate otherwise. James said it well (in relation to a confessing faith) in James 2:17 and James 2:20, “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” “Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?
It really matters.
Yes, that’s right, dead, (Gr. nekros), useless, deprived of any life, lacking power, unresponsive, barren, extinct, obsolete … I think you get the idea. If you don’t live it you don’t believe it. The What, the Why, and the How of your life are determined by what you believe no matter what your religious persuasion.
So, whether you are a seminary professor or a new believer, you live out your theology. This is why it is essential for every believer to grow in theo logos: an understanding and knowledge of God. Studying scripture is not just for those seeking a degree or in leadership positions. Right thinking about God is as much an endeavor for every believer as is the practice of living out that belief in every day life. Paul declares that one of the major purposes of Jesus’ gifts to church is that all believers attain to a knowledge of Jesus that results in a mature expression of the stature of the fullness of Christ himself! (Ephesians 4:11ff) The thing I like about this passage of scripture is that the gifts are to equip the whole church, not just the radical ones, or the leaders, but every believer needs to pay attention to their doctrine.