I am currently part of a discipleship class that the church I attend uses to raise up leaders for the church from within the church. I love the idea. So often churches look to fill the role of Elder or other church leader role, by looking outside of their own congregation. Now sometimes that may be what needs to be done, but I believe by looking within their own walls is the best method for a church to adopt. Mainly because that church has already been cultivating a man who already knows and is known by those who make up that local church.
Anyway, we are reading a couple books as of right now. The first is Wayne Grudems "Systematic Theology". I am enjoying the systematic theology, because I do have many questions pertaining to broad topics and have a hard time finding a starting point. It is particularly helpful as it starts off with "Why should Christian's study theology?" In all honesty, that is a question I think many Christians need to wrestle with and come to an answer in their own lives.So many believe that theology is for theologians and therefore leave the difficulty of studying Scripture up to other people. But is that why God has given us the Bible? So that we can, as laymen, sit back on our haunches and expect others to do the heavy lifting?
First, Wayne Grudem states in his preface, "I have not written this book for teachers of theology...I have written for students." I think that is a great starting point of the tome that is "Systematic Theology". We are all to be students of the Word if for no other than the reason that it is what speaks and points us to Christ John 5:39. Now, I am speaking to myself as well, we are to devour the Scriptures, for in them is where we learn who God is. That is what theology is, the study of God, and with that flows all understandings. If you start off with the wrong understanding about God, all other areas of understanding will be off.
Now, don't get me wrong, I am not saying that you should go forth and get a degree in biblical Greek or Hebrew. But Paul states in Ephesians 4:14 that we are not to be like children in our understanding, because it will only lead us into being bashed against rocks as we attempt to navigate the deadly straits of true and false doctrine. Or as Paul also puts it in 1 Cor 14:20 that we are to be mature in our thinking. That can only happen if we feed upon the solid spiritual food that God has provided through His word.
As the book progresses, Wayne Grudem then points to his basic reason we should study theology. On page 27 he reminds us of the words of Christ in Matthew 28:19-20 in the Great Commission when He says that we are to "teach them all to observe what I have commanded you." Teaching, that is why we as Christians are to study theology, so that we may teach others.
This got me thinking of some past statements I have heard. The first being, "your salvation is not for you, it's for those who are still lost." Where that is stated in Scripture I do not know, but it makes sense in light of passages in which Paul speaks of the gifts that have been given to the church, in that they are not designed for our own personal use, but for the building up of Christ. The shepherd, elders and teaching pastors are not given those gifts for their own gain, but for the gain of the local body and consequently the Church Universal.
Now, I know what your thinking, "I have no one to teach. I do not hold a teaching position at church, so how am I supposed to do that?" I know your thinking that because I've thought it, and I'm not that original. You can't tell me you have no spouse/children/sibling/parent/co-worker, who you can expound to things that the Lord is illuminating in your life through holy writ. There is always and I mean always someone who we can teach. If there is not, either you have secluded yourself completely from all human contact, or you are blind to those who are around you. Once again, this is me speaking to me also, so don't take this as one-sided criticism.
I need to go and attend to my family, and read more for my class, but let me leave you with this. I exhort myself and any who may stumble upon this post. Hunger for His Word consume it, but do not withhold it from those you love.
Until next time.
In all things be the glory of God.
John the Lesser.