Welcome to the May edition of Ezer Equipped! This month we are talking about theology and why it matters to our daily life. Theology sounds like something reserved for pastors or academics, but that’s not true. Theology is simply the knowledge of God; it’s the study of his nature and character. The truth is that we are all theologians; the question is, are we good ones?
A. W. Tozer once wrote that what comes into your mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you. It’s a weighty and significant statement that has proven to be true in my own life. What I think about God shapes my worldview, how I view my circumstances, and how I live. We can “know” lots of things in theory, but how we live often reveals what we really think and believe. It reveals our functional faith—what we are trusting in, what we believe about God and what he is doing in the world, how we believe he relates to us, and how we relate to him.
What you believe about God informs not if you grieve, but how you grieve. It informs not if you suffer, but how you suffer. Your thoughts about God are like the undercurrent of your life. They determine how you interact with and love others. They determine whether you act autonomously in self-protection and self-promotion, are ruled by fear and a desire to control, are gripped and embittered by a sense of entitlement, or whether you will have a gentle and quiet spirit, entrusting yourself to God's good and faithful care.
Ultimately, your thoughts about God infect every aspect of your life. So what you think about God is of utmost importance! That’s why our theology matters. But theology or knowledge alone is not sufficient. It must be coupled with devotion, love for God, and a desire to be in relationship with him. As one author says, “Knowledge without devotion is cold, dead orthodoxy. Devotion without knowledge is irrational instability. But true knowledge of God includes understanding everything from his perspective. Theology is learning to think God’s thoughts after him. It is to learn what God loves and hates, and to see, hear, think, and act the way he does. Knowing how God thinks is the first step in becoming godly.”
My hope and prayer are that we would be women who seek to know the truth about God—not who we want him to be or who we “think” he is, but who he has revealed himself to be through his word and through his son, Jesus. And as we come to know him, may we be transformed more into his image, worshiping him in spirit and in truth (John 4:22-24).
Article: Doxology: The Goal of Theology
by: Ligonier Ministries
Theology matters. But if our theology ends with our own personal knowledge then we have not really seen God for who he is. Theology (knowledge of God) should ultimately lead to doxology (worship of God).
“Knowing about the Lord is pointless without worship and praise. After all, the Devil knows far more about God than we do, and yet this knowledge gives him no benefit because he refuses to bow the knee in humble adoration (James 2:19).”
Podcast: Why You Need Theology
by: Daily Grace
The Bible is not about you. From beginning to end, the Bible is about who God is and what he has done and is doing in the world. So when we approach his Word, we need to come with humility, curiosity, and expectancy.
“Theology changes us. As we seek God in His Word, we begin to see God for who he is. And when we behold him for who he is, we are transformed into his image.”
Video: How God Reveals Himself
by: The Village Church
We do not have to wonder who God is. If we want to know who God is, we can look into his Word. He is written all over every page. As Jen Wilkin says in this short video, “Scripture is the mystery of God made known.”
“God is known through Scripture. God is known through Christ. Christ is known through Scripture. The entire point of Scripture is to make God known through Christ.”
We encourage you to use these conversation starters as a means of self-reflection and for discussion within your community.
How would you describe your relationship with God’s Word?
- If you identify as a regular reader, an active reader, or a serious student, take some time to pray and ask God: Has your knowledge and disciplined study made you love him and others more? Has it compelled you to obey him, to serve him, and to move in sacrificial service of others? Or has it made you more proud, self-righteous, judgmental, or self-involved? This would be a good question to ask those closest to you as well.
- If you identify as a casual, circumstantial, passive, or intimidated reader, what steps could you take to become a more regular reader? Who do you know that might be willing to walk alongside you in that endeavor? Take some time to pray and ask God to reveal how your lack of engagement in his Word is affecting your everyday life.
- We become what we behold. We live in an age of endless distraction and entertainment. What you are feeding on? What do you fill your free time with? What are you reading, watching, and listening to? How much time do you devote to scrolling social media? Then ask yourself: Are these things helping me understand and grow in my knowledge and love of God? Inspirational quotes on Pinterest that tell us about our own abilities aren’t going to help us stand firm when the ground quakes beneath our feet. Fixing your eyes on God’s character nourishes you and grounds you in something—in someone unshakeable. If what you are feasting on isn’t pointing you in the direction of God, you need to re-evaluate.
- We cannot study theology and learn about God in isolation. Biblical community is vital to our gaining an accurate knowledge of God—one that is founded upon who he says he is, not on our experiential understanding. Who are you engaging in conversations about God and his Word? Are the voices you are listening to simply an echo of your own? Or are you intentionally placing yourself in relationships with those who will challenge you? Are you surrounding yourself with people who are bearing the fruit of their faith? Are they people you would want to become like?
- Often our beliefs are based on our own feelings. We want a God we are comfortable with, a God we can control. We all bring bias, wounds, and gaps to our reading of Scripture and our beliefs about God. For example, if you grew up in a legalistic home you may be tempted to believe you have to earn God’s favor and have a hard time believing God loves you. Or if you grew up only hearing about how much God delights in you, you may lean more towards emphasizing God’s grace to the exclusion of things like obedience, confession of sin, and repentance. In what ways have your past, your story, your experiences, your hurts shaped what you believe about God?
Scripture warns us to not just be hearers of the Word but to be doers of it as well. All of life is repentance. What is a believable next step God is calling you to take in response to all you’ve learned? Below are some possible options:
Start somewhere! Read the Bible with the goal of learning who God is.
- As you read the Scripture, ask questions. Three good questions are:
- What does this passage say about God?
- What does this passage say about humanity?
- How should I respond in light of what I just read?
Write your observations about God’s character in the margin beside the passage. As you do this over time, you will grow in a robust theology or knowledge of who God is and who we are with and without God’s redemptive work in our lives.
We created a bookmark as a guide to help you remember to ask the right questions when reading Scripture. These will be available at all our campuses at the connect desk if you want to pick one up.
- This simple calendar provides an attribute of God for each day to meditate and reflect on. Each day look at the attribute, read the verse associated with it, reflect on how that attribute of God meets a deep need in your soul, and then thank God for that aspect of his character. If you want to take it a step further, write the verse down on an index card and work on memorizing it.
- There are a couple of other good resources that focus on who God is. First is Jen Wilkin’s book, None Like Him in which Wilkin explores ten attributes of God. Or She Reads Truth provides a study on God’s attributes which can be purchased in book form or is available on the She Reads Truth app at a lower cost.
- There are many reasons why we may struggle to read the Word daily. Children, work, distraction, addiction to our phones, not knowing where to start, lack of desire, and even not realizing our deep need for God are all things that can hinder us from pursuing this vital spiritual discipline. Don’t set unrealistic goals for yourself. If you’ve never really spent much time in the Word, don’t resolve to read through the Bible in six months or even a year. The Psalms are a great place to start. Commit ten to fifteen minutes three days a week. Set a timer. Leave your phone out of reach. Get up earlier than normal if you have to in order to find a quiet spot.
- If you have more time to devote, then pick a whole book of the Bible and read it in one sitting. The advantage of a book over a passage is that you see the whole story in the context of what God is doing. How is he showing himself? How are people responding?
- Use resources from the Grace Church app. The Bible reading plan leads you through passages to read during the week which will prepare you for the message each Sunday. Or listen to any of the eight messages under the Bible Insights section. A good place to start is Chris Curtis’ instruction on three perspectives for approaching the Bible entitled, Window, Picture, Mirror.
- Sign up for Grace Church’s six-week Institute class, Practical Theology. The class will explore several fundamental beliefs of the Christian faith, such as justification, repentance, and adoption, and how these doctrines are critical to life change in a believer. The class begins on Wednesday, June 12 and will run from 6:30-8pm at the Pelham Campus. Click here for more details or to register.
This resource is adapted from our Ezer Equipped monthly newsletter dedicated to equipping our women with content, from both within and outside of our church, to help us continue to grow as disciple and disciple-makers. To subscribe to the Ezer Equipped newsletter, click here.