Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Theology Three - Soul Food for the Hungry Heart

Definition of Theology
There have been two posts so far about theology and as of yet, no definition given. It is important to put an accurate, but practical definition to this word that so many women find chilling and untouchable.

For that reason, I will not consult a dictionary, but instead a “real theologian”. In reading various books, I have found that the real theologians are in agreement with the definition of “theology”. For instance, Martyn Lloyd Jones defines theology this way:

"As theology is ultimately the knowledge of God, the more theology I know, the more it should drive me to seek to know God. Not to know “about” Him but to know Him! The whole object of salvation is to bring me to a knowledge of God."

Referring to one of the practical ways our theology, our knowledge of God, is demonstrated, Llyod-Jones continues, “If all my knowledge does not lead me to prayer there is something wrong somewhere.” Theology, then, should be leading me somewhere, specifically into a relationship with God.

Theology changes me
As I understand it, theology is a study that produces a profound inward change because of the relationship it leads to. It produces a change in my ideas about God and my inclination toward Him; it also produces a change in my activities, my attitude and my motives. Ultimately, when my body is laid to rest, my address will be changed. My habitation will be with the Lord forever and ever.

But, how does this happen? That's a good question. It happens because theology is a study of God from His own reference guide or autobiography. And in discovering this God - the God of life, love, hope, reality, mercy and grace, I am changed - made brand new. This change will be made more clear as we consider what theology is.

The source of theology is Scripture
Getting back to the source of our study, if I want to get to know God, what better source than His own description of Himself which was given to me for the very purpose of discovering Him? The Bible, in fact, is the only source of truth about God. All other writings about Him either expound on the truth of who He is taken from His word or are vain imaginations founded on "a god" that man creates in his own image.

In His word, as I study theology, I discover Him. And He not only tells me about myself but also what He expects of me - just how I should relate to Him. From the very first page of Scripture, with the very first man and woman that walked the earth, I find that there was communion between that man and woman and their Creator. God created us to relate rightly to Him.

Theology inspires "one thing"
In the book of Luke, I read again about that relationship, this time between the infinite God and two of His finite creatures named Martha and Mary. We see Jesus with them at their home in Bethany. Luke 10:40-42 relates to us a conversation between Martha and Jesus concerning her and her sister, "Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, 'Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.' But the Lord answered her, 'Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.' ”

Mary and Martha were theologians. They were learning about their God. Mary sat at Christ's feet, attentive; Martha, distracted as she was from Him, did go to Him. Though her dialogue was that of a complaint, she addressed it to Jesus who then told her what she needed to hear. She listened and adjusted her relationship with Him.

"To gaze upon the beauty of the Lord is theology"

The one thing that Jesus tells Martha of in Luke, David in the Psalms, hundreds of years earlier, also knew of. That "one thing" is really the definition of theology. "One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple. For He will hide me in His shelter in the day of trouble; He will conceal me under the cover of His tent; He will lift me high upon a rock. And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the Lord." (Ps. 27:4-6)

Theology transforms me from a rebel to a worshipper
To gaze upon the beauty of the Lord is theology. When experienced, this "gazing" renders us worshippers of our magnificent God. That, in a nutshell, is what theology is and the change it makes within us. Gazing upon our beautiful God changes us from rebels to worshippers.

Theology then, is knowing God relationally in such a way as to influence our mindset, our ideas and activities, our wills and emotions. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says that theology ought to result in conversation with God. Theology, properly taken in, should put us at Christ’s feet as disciples, ready and willing to be taught personally by Him and prepared to truly worship Him as a result.

Theology is something that is constantly and consistently changing us as we gaze upon the Lord. II Cor. 3:18 says, "And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit." Theology leads us to be still and listen to God, to discover His will and redirect our whole being to obey, worship, love and enjoy Him when we otherwise would not if we lacked this knowledge that we call theology.

Who then is God? What can we know about Him? How can we know Him personally? And how will this knowledge be a stabilizing anchor in a woman’s life? This study will attempt to answer those questions by briefly exploring two avenues of theology. First, theology proper will give us insight as we look specifically at 1) the personality of God and 2) His goodness. And soteriology, in particular, 3) the believer’s union with Christ, will also help us acquire the life-changing information we seek.

Theology leads us to life and the Lover of our souls
If theology leaves you with only facts about God that could be scrawled on a cold classroom chalkboard, something you can erase, and when erased, forgotten from your mind, heart and will, then your theology is a dead study, and not really theology at all. Theology is unique to all other studies because it leads us to life. It is a living, breathing study that leads to the Giver of Life, the Lover of our souls and the One we bow before because we have actually gazed upon Him. This is theology!

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1 comment:

  1. This is such encouraging material. Thank you, Sharon. The quotes that stood out to me were: “If all my knowledge does not lead me to prayer there is something wrong somewhere.” And "As I understand it, theology is a study that produces a profound inward change because of the relationship it leads to. It produces a change in my ideas about God and my inclination toward Him; it also produces a change in my activities, my attitude and my motives. Ultimately it produces a change in my eternal habitation. I will dwell with the Lord forever and ever. "