Do I need Theology? Part 1

Brad Livingston   -  

Theology – the study of God and of God’s relation to the world defined through scripture.

Honestly, I’ve never truly appreciated the need for healthy theology. I knew Jesus died, paid for my sins, and honestly, I believed that was enough for me. I never realized that having no theology was in itself a theology.

Over the last few years, I have learned one VERY important thing. I have learned exactly how big God is, how small I am, and how much I need it that way! I have realized that God’s sovereignty (being in control of all things) mixed with His omniscience (knowledge of all things) gives him a unique vantage point over my life. I have noticed that God, who is infinite (unlimited) in wisdom and knowledge, is the perfect candidate to be the ruler of my life. Myself, being finite (limited) in both areas, as well as others, makes me the least capable to be in control. Meanwhile, having endured all things God can understand my pain and frustration with such intimacy, such accuracy, and such empathy!

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16

Maybe you are unfamiliar with my story. But, to make a long story short, God saw it fit to take my baby boy, Jabyn, home to Heaven on May 18th, 2018. This was after almost 4 years of suffering from the effects of Batten Disease. Beyond what many of you could imagine (unless you have experienced it yourself), and I pray you never have to, the journey of that disease and the loss of my son rooted deep within my soul pain and bitterness that words cannot explain. This led me to a place that my position on theology had to change. From a place of desperation, I found myself in a unique position. I was going to either lean ON God with everything I had left in me or I was going to fall AWAY from God out of anger. One thing was for certain though, I had nothing left in me and I could no longer stand on my own.
Having no theology is really just our way of saying that we’re good on our own and we only really need God eternally, but not presently!
How wrong could I have been? One thing is for certain though, Life will eventually hand you something that forces you into a place of submission or rebellion to God. In those moments I discovered three things:
1. No theology is a theology…A BAD ONE!
Still, because spiritual maturity requires theological study, there can be no growth without it. Consequently, no believer can (completely separate) the work of the professional theologian from the task of the layperson. Of course, a place exists for scholars who devote their lives to exploring the intricacies of theological distinctions, answering intellectual challenges to the faith, and developing helpful summaries of biblical doctrine for the edification of the church. Nevertheless, every Christian is a theologian, for every believer thinks about the nature of God, the way of salvation, and similar topics, formulating theories about how the Lord works in the world even if they do so informally. We could actually say that every human being is a theologian, for every person ponders such matters, even if they consider God only in order to deny Him. It is impossible to go an entire lifetime without coming to some kind of idea about God, for we cannot ignore the reality of His divine attributes in creation (Rom. 1:18).
Therefore, the real question is not whether or not we are going to be theologians, but whether or not we are going to be accurate theologians.

The goal for every Christian should be obvious: to become a sound, biblical theologian who develops an understanding of doctrine that submits finally to the authority of God’s Word even as it looks to the church’s historical understanding of Scripture for guidance. (Paraphrase from Ligonier Ministries)

2. God doesn’t exist for my praise, my praise exists for God.

That may sound difficult to grasp, but let me explain. God exists for his own glory. God does not need my praise. However, God deserves my praise because my attention needs to constantly be on who he is, what he has done, and why he has done it. This lands directly at the foot of the cross! My praise must exist, not circumstantially, but intentionally. My praise doesn’t just exist because of what he did today for my bank account, doctor’s report, or relationship. We don’t reflect on monetary things, worldly things, tangible things, decaying things and praise God when all of them are aligned to fit my own personal preferences. So often, our praise is in direct response to my current circumstances. When things are going well we praise God, if we even realize that all good things come from the father (Psalm 127, James 1:17), which I still fail at. Sometimes, when things are going terribly wrong, we praise God out of desperation, looking to Him to change our circumstances. But, what if we praised God for one thing and one thing alone? The Gospel!

“For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son, that whosoever would believe in him would not perish, but would have everlasting life.” – John 3:16

God does not need my praise to be God. He was that without my existence, and He will continue to be without my praise. However, is he God to me if I don’t recognize my need to praise Him? Or have I become blinded to His goodness by my own nature?

“From beginning to end, the driving impulse of God’s heart is to be praised for his glory.” – John Piper


Click here to continue to Do I need Theology? Part 2