The real reason for theology

 

Turns out it’s one of his favorite lines: “Theology is for doxology.” I love this constant reminder from J.I. Packer that “the first thing to do with [theology] is to turn it into praise and thus honour the God who is its subject, the God in whose presence and by whose help it was worked out.” (J.I. Packer, “God Has Spoken,” p.7)

 

When theology becomes more about debate than worship, our focus more on knowledge than on love, it’s a good sign that we’ve gone wrong somewhere.

 

“Theologies that cannot be sung (or prayed for that matter) are certainly wrong a deep level, and such theologies leave me, in both senses, cold: cold-hearted and uninterested.” (Ibid)

 

I long for our lives to be places where understanding of God flows over into delight in him. Places where, together, we can enter into God’s invitation given through the apostle Paul, “Be glad in God! . . . Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him!” (Phil 3:1, 4:4 The Message) 

 

It’s becoming my new favorite question: “What, today, have I learned of God that makes me revel in him?”

 

Today, it’s this. “Jesus Christ is alive and here to teach his people himself.” (Richard Foster, Sanctuary of the Soul, p. 9) Pastors and professors, the Church Fathers and writers from throughout the centuries, as precious a gift as they are in helping us hear God’s heartbeat more clearly, do not have a corner on the truth. The One who is Truth is here among us Himself, eager to speak His truth to every one of us. God himself is our teacher! As incredible as it sounds, God opens His heart and mind to us, daring to give each of us direct access to his innermost thoughts, as we, in turn, open our hearts to Him. But let me step back and let Him speak for Himself:

 

“It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.” (John 6:45)

 

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth.” (John 14:16-17)

 

“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.” (Jn 16:13-15)

 

“As it is written:

“No eye has seen,

no ear has heard,

no mind has conceived

what God has prepared for those who love him”—

but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.  For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.  We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.  This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.  The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.  The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment:

“For who has known the mind of the Lord

that he may instruct him?”

But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:9-16)

 

So let’s not be afraid to enter this wonder and ask God to make clear to us the deep truths that He longs to share with us. Then dig into what’s being given and delight in God!

 

God of all truth

who has spoken yourself in your Son

open our hearts to receive today the Word that you still speak

that we may delight in you as you do in us.

Through Jesus Christ, who is the Truth.

Amen.

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