Theology – The study of the nature of God as revealed in the Bible or the science of God.
Why do we need theology? Without theology we won’t lack ideas about who God is or what He does, we will just have a lot of bad ideas, muddled and foggy concepts influenced by the world and society. As the Body of Christ we need to have the clearest and most accurate ideas about who God is. He has made this available to us though His Word.
Experiencing God in the world -vs- Experiencing God in His Word and Church
To understand this, think of it like standing on the seashore. You’re taking in an amazing experience of the ocean. Feet in the water, you can feel the cool ocean breeze on your face and maybe even a hint of saltwater mist. You’re heels are sinking into the wet sand as you hear birds in the distance barely audible above the roaring and crashing of waves. You may feel very close to God in this experience of His creation.
Now compare this to looking at Google Earth. You can see detailed maps of the oceans, you can see the path you would have to take if you wanted to sail from Florida to Belize. You can pin point small islands you could stop at along the way if you needed to restock supplies or refuel. You would also check the weather and see a favorable time of year to make the trip. You would plan to go when the seas are smooth. These are all things you would find out by doing research and relying on work other people have already done.
This is what it’s like claiming to know God by experiencing Him in the world vs experiencing God in His Word and Church. You may have a beautiful and powerful experience of God on the beach. You may feel very close to Him and feel like you really see and understand Him. But all you are really experiencing is tiny sliver of who God is. Just like you are only experiencing a tiny sliver of the ocean. By standing on the beach you don’t become a mariner. I wouldn’t be confident you could navigate a boat to Belize from Florida because of your experience with the ocean by standing on the beach. To gain a full understanding of the ocean you need to research and learn and use all the tools available to you. As Christians we need to research and learn and use all the tools available to us to get a full and complete understanding of who God. That is foremost found in His Word and His Church. Many self-confessing Christians claim they don’t need to go to Church because they already believe in God and love him and they don’t see a need for going. The truth is, a Christian that doesn’t know God in full, may not know Him at all. The only way to know God in full is to know His Word in full and know His Church in full. Anything less wont provide a complete, panoramic view of who God is.
Theology is practical and necessary to get beyond a surface, superficial understanding of God.
When we begin to dig in to Christianity there are three basic concepts that must be understood and laid as foundation before we can do anything else.
Aren’t we already sons of God through creation? In a sense we are, Fatherhood is a central part of who God is- God made us, He loves us all, He looks after us, and He gave us all life. When the Bible talks about becoming sons of God, its obviously talking about something very different.
John 1:9-12 The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming onto the world. He came onto the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.
Galatians 3:26 For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
2 Corinthians 6:16-18 For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.
These verses indicate that our potential adoption into God’s family is based on Jesus alone and our response to Him.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
Jesus Christ is the Son of God, begotten, not created, before all worlds, eternal. This begetting has nothing to do with the virgin birth, Mary and Joseph, Bethlehem, or anything else to do with the birth of Christ on Earth. This happened before the universe existed, before time began, God beget Jesus Christ.
Beget – (Typically of a man) bring a child into existence by process of reproduction. Something of the same kind. Examples- Man begets man, birds beget birds and beavers beget beavers, God begets God.
Create – To bring something into existence to make something. Something of a different kind. Examples- Man creates a house, birds create nests, beavers create dams, and God created mankind.
If it was your job to make or create (not beget) something in your own image, what would you make?
What we create, no matter how well we do, or how skilled our work may be, it will never be like us, it will never be man. It can have our likeness and shape, but it doesn’t have life. What God created, as skilled and masterful as His creation is, it is not God. We have His likeness and shape, but we do not have the type of life God has. That’s why Jesus is called begotten, He is God, beget from God, with the same life God has. He couldn’t be anything but God, fully God.
All of God’s creation has some aspect of Him in it, some element of His likeness.
Examples- Space, the Sun, physical matter, plants and animals.
The life God gave His creation is biological life. This is the life that gives us breath and a heart beat. This is God’s best type and shadow or hint of the spiritual life He and Jesus share. This biological life is not the same as spiritual life, it’s a far cry from the spiritual life Christ refers to in John 3:16 while explaining being “born again” to Nicodemus. In fact, the life we are born with isn’t life at all when contrasted to the eternal life Jesus offers. The biological life we have is temporary and fleeting, fragile and short, its referred to as a vapor . To make it easier to understand which life is which we can adopt the names CS Lewis uses to differentiate between the two. The biological life that we have at birth, the life that requires food and water and air to keep it going will be referred to as Bios. The Spiritual life that God and Jesus share that is eternal and does not wear down is Zoe.
The Bios we are born with is an invaluable gift, its amazing and unique. God knows how to give good gifts. But this life is only meant to be a channel or path to the real gift He has planned for us. The gift of Bios screams of God as creator and artist. All of creation sings Gods praises though this Bios. As great and amazing as Bios is, it isn’t the final gift. God sent His begotten Son, part of Himself, to redeem us from a fallen world that we insisted on. God loves us so much that He would give up a large portion of His nature as God to come be part of this hot mess as a human. He came to reveal Zoe to us. The true gift, the grand finale of His ultimate plan for us. The only way to truly know God is to truly know Jesus and make Him the Lord of our Bios. In return, He takes our Bios and replaces it with Zoe. God’s once spiritually lifeless creation gets the type of life once only known by God Himself. We move from created in God’s image to begotten children of God! By letting go of the amazing and incredible gift of Bios, we receive something so much more amazing and incredible, we become immortals!
As God has made clear in His Word and action, giving up our Bios in exchange for Zoe though faith in Christ is a big deal, it’s literally what Bios is for. The job of telling the world about it has been delegated to us, The Church. We all share that calling!