Skipping to the ‘Relevant’ Bits:
Have you ever skimmed Paul’s letters looking for a specific command or encouragement relevant to a situation you or a friend was facing? Have you ever found yourself frustrated or annoyed by the amount of “theology” you had to skip through before you got to the “relevant” bit? The bit that would tell you WHAT to do. I can definitely put my hand up to that and say “guilty”. Why the frustration when we are reading the word of God? Why do we find the discipline of tying theology to actions difficult?
Speaking for myself, I suspect it is because I just want answers…those answers I was speaking of in my last post. The answers which will let me figure out what to do, quickly, without too much effort. We see the Bible as the “Answer” book. The “Cheat Sheet” if you like, which means we don’t have to actually “figure out” the answers. Or perhaps, more charitably, we see it as the “Policy manual”. Look up any specific situation and there is the policy set out clearly for how to react to it.
ALL Scripture is necessary:
In some ways…yes…that is what Scripture is. It does contain the “Answers” and it certainly does contain all we need to know to live godly lives:
But the key to this verse for us is in the word “ALL”. Do you want to be equipped for every good work? Do you want to understand what to DO as we face the decisions and challenges of life? Then we need to take seriously what this verse is telling us. We need to grow more and more in our knowledge and understanding of ALL SCRIPTURE . “Even the long theology bits?” I hear you asking. Yes, especially the long theology bits.
Therefore, For, So, and other key words :
Paul, and other writers of Scripture often use words like “therefore”, “For” and “SO…” in their transition between theology and practical application. In Paul’s mind our actions are merely the ultimate conclusions of what we believe. Paul is not the only one who holds this understanding. When James attacks those who thought they could just “believe things” without it impacting their actions he did not remove beliefs (faith) from the equation. On the contrary..he tied them together tightly.
‘Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,”e and he was called God’s friend.’ James 2:21-23 (NIV)
The Impact of Understanding Theology:
As we grow to understand:
- who God is as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
- who we are
- all God has done for us in Christ
- how He has worked through history to bring this about
- how His spirit works within us, all that He has planned for us in the future
- what He has promised
- and so much more revealed in His Word…
imagine the impact all of that will have on how we live our lives. Imagine what kind of “therefores” we will see. We will no longer rely on others to say, “You have to…” We will say, “If Christ was willing to humble himself in such a way, THEREFORE I can…..” We will say, “If God has promised to supply all my needs THEREFORE I can have peace as I follow this path.”…
We will also recognise when one aspect of God’s character or Word is used to come to a wrong conclusion. “God is love and therefore no one will be judged one day.” Umm..What about God being Holy, righteous, and unable to dwell in the presence of sin? What about the pictures of the “sacrificial lamb? The picture given us in the Day of Atonement? Those “long theology bits” are the bits which help us to come to the right answers, as we understand more and more the whole Word of God.
Hope for when we Fail:
And finally, understanding the whole of God’s word will mean that when we fail on the “TO DO “list, we understand our deep need for help and we know the rescue God has provided for us. It is one thing to know that God wants me to be patient with my children. It is another to understand that when I am not He has provided an answer for me. He has already laid the anger He feels for such a sin on Christ on the cross. He has already offered forgiveness through Christ’s sacrifice. I am purified and declared not guilty as I believe and act on that belief in repentance (both toward God and my child). I can walk forward in faith and dependence that He will give me strength to be patient next time.
Knowing WHAT to do will give me a measuring line to live up to.
Knowing the WHOLE WORD OF GOD will give me:
- the GOAL (that of bearing the image of Christ in all I do and say).
- the MOTIVATION (all the God his, has done and promises to do for me) AND
- the HOPE to face my failures, find forgiveness and peace and continue to walk with the Lord.
THEREFORE… Be spurred on in your own life to study His Word even more diligently SO THAT you are indeed equipped to both apply it in your own life AND walk alongside others to know it better too.
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 (NIV)
Do you skip over the theology bits? Have you discovered the benefits of digging deeper into God’s Word and applying what you have learned to your daily life and actions? I am hoping to spend some time in future blog posts looking at practical ways we can begin to do this more and more. In the meantime here are some posts by other writers which also speak to this topic.
Hugs and Prayers, Ruth
Other Blog Posts which speak to this topic: