You Can Understand Deeper Theology
Have you ever been to a Bible study with other Christians and wondered what in the world they’re talking about? The questions we drill ourselves with can be overwhelming. Understanding the Bible, church history, and theology is intimidating for many Christians. God is so complex and there’s already so much going on around us. Where’s the time for more?
It’s much easier to shrug our shoulders and say, “Theology is for the pastor, not me.”
Now, I understand we are all busy and don’t have the energy to study deep theology, but theology will help you in every area of your life. Proper theology seems unimportant and unnecessary, I know, but it can help you in so many ways.
Where do we start? How do we learn about this? Do we need to attend a special school?
What does the word theology even mean? Well, the one word to sum up its meaning is the word, study. Theology is the study of God and the religious faith. It contains theories and systems of knowledge to understand God (in part of course).
“For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away” (1 Corinthians 13:9-10).
There is no end to knowing God. No Christian in the history of the universe has fully arrived at knowing God on this side of eternity. We can’t! However, we can know him a little.
I hope this encourages you right off the bat to know it’s impossible to “arrive” at full understanding until we are in heaven.
Though, to say theology is only for the pastor is like saying the pastor is the only one who needs to know God. You need to know God, yourself. Please hear me on this—don’t take your teachers at their word; test them in the Word.
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).
How can we know God for sure? How do I know what I believe is true? Where does God explain himself?
God has revealed himself to us specifically through Scripture. This is vitally important to understand and accept.
Now, it’s clear that God reveals himself through other means, such as creation (cf. Romans 1:20). However, any means God uses to reveal himself to us must be compared to the Scriptures because God cannot contradict himself. If we can find one definite means (such as the Bible) then we can use it to test the other means.
This is important because this is how you can understand deeper theology. Read your Bible more than anything else. We have to read the Bible more than we read about the Bible. Otherwise, how do you know what they’re saying is true?
Since the Bible is a pretty big book, it’s much easier to let its size intimidate you out of reading it. However, if you approach the Scriptures and pray to God for understanding of his truth, he will give you understanding.
“Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything” (2 Timothy 2:7).
Too often, I meet with Christians who are simply intimidated by the idea of theology that they never try to discover theology. However, I would submit—we all have a theology; it’s not always true theology. You have beliefs, but are they right?
So, you’re saying there is wrong theology? How can you say my theology is wrong? Who are you to say?
I’m not to say your beliefs about God are wrong, but the Bible can say you’re wrong. If we believe something the Word of God is against, then it’s wrong. It may seem harsh, but it’s true.
For instance, if I believed Brad Pitt and Beyoncé were Jesus’ parents, you can say that’s wrong by showing me the Bible says Mary and Joseph were his parents.
Teachers, pastors, and ministry leaders have been given the responsibility to lead the church to what God has revealed. What the Bible says is super important and it must be followed. If a belief is against what the Scriptures teach, that belief needs to be eliminated. That’s what God told leaders to watch for.
“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15).
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires” (2 Timothy 4:3).
“These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you” (1 John 2:26).
If the Bible includes something against your theology, then your church family has the obligation from God to lovingly show you what is true. This isn’t to beat you down, but build you up.
Where do I start? Which book of the Bible do I pick first?
I hope this article has been compelling enough to begin working on your theology. And our theology must derive most importantly from the text of Scripture than anything else. If you want to begin seriously reading the Bible, I would suggest reading the New Testament first, specifically the four Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
Why? Here is something helpful I heard Dr. John MacArthur say in one of his sermons (found here).
Now somebody might say, “Well isn’t this backward? Aren’t you doing this in reverse?” Well the answer is no and I’ll give you a simple illustration. My grandkids like to play a game called “Where’s Waldo,” do you know that game, Where’s Waldo? Waldo’s this goofy-looking skinny guy, funny clothes in a kind of a peppermint cap and you have to find Waldo in this mass of people and things in a picture. You have to find him there. If you don’t know what he looks like, you will never find him. If you have a sort of passing idea of what he looks like, you may find him but it’s not likely. But if you know exactly what he looks like and you have studied him carefully enough, if you look long enough, you will find him.
The four Gospels reveal Christ plainly. We can see what he said, where he went, and who he spent time with. Once we know what he clearly looks like, and said, then we can spot him elsewhere.
You can understand deeper theology. It just takes some effort. God has given you the capacity to understand him in part.
Most Christians never put in the effort to read the Bible because it seems overwhelming and intimidating. We’ve got to be reading the Bible for ourselves. Most of the time, a shallow or wrong theology doesn’t exist because its too hard to understand Bible verses, but there was simply no effort involved.
There will always be room to go deeper! There’s always more about God to learn! And if you make the effort to seek God, he will show up and give you understanding. Theology isn’t just for fun. It is rather entertaining to me! But the purpose isn’t for entertainment; it’s about knowing God.
Thankfully, we aren’t left in the dark. God has shown himself to us through the glowingly bright Scriptures. We can have confidence in our theology if it comes from the Bible. Understanding and applying what God has spoken to us will help us in every area of life and deepen our relationship with him. This is why I treasure good theology and want you to have it too.