Systematic Theology is Important
The term “theology” is used in both narrow and broad senses today. Etymologically, the word means the study of (logos) God (theos). So, in theology, we study God. That study, for the Christian, is the most important study we could ever engage in. C.H. Spurgeon said, “The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls Father.” Theology is important, not for information’s sake, but for the sake of the transformation of the heart of the believer. What we think about the universe impacts our affections, or what we worship and live for which affects our volition, or our will. We decide to do things based on our desires which are based on an understanding of the universe that works a certain way. Without a right understanding of theology, without a right understanding of the creator of all things, we handicap ourselves in the very living of our lives and we sentence ourselves to, at best, blind wandering in error and at worst, eternal damnation. As J.I. Packer put it, “Disregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfolded, as it were, with no sense of direction and no understanding off what surrounds you. This way you can waste your life and lose your soul.” Theology is critically important.
Bibliology is Important
God has spoken. This idea is what drives systematic theology because if God hasn’t spoken, then we are assuming ideas about our lives and about his character that may or may not be true. But, indeed, God has spoken. He has revealed himself in two primary ways: general revelation and special revelation. General revelation refers to al that surrounds us in the created order that generally speaks to the existence of God:
The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard. (Psalm 19:1-3 ESV)
For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Romans 1:20 ESV)
While the created order speaks generally about the existence of God, it doesn’t speak sufficiently regarding right relationship with God. Nature is not enough to save, but more than enough to condemn. We need more specific revelation, or what theologians call special revelation. God gives us the Bible, revealing himself and his plan of redemption or salvation.
The difference between general and special revelation does not primarily consist in this that the latter, in distinction from the former, is in all its parts and in every way strictly supernatural, but more particularly in this that it is a revelation of the gratia specialis, and therefore gives rise to the Christian religion of redemption. It is a revelation of the way of salvation. -Berkhof
Revelation is the interpretation of redemption. -Vos
The Bible, then, as revelation from God, serves as the message of God’s salvific work through Jesus Christ and consequently directs our attention back to God, where it belongs.
In short, the object of revelation -and thus of theology- is God and his works in the unfolding drama of redemption. -Horton
Since God has revealed himself to us in the Scriptures, it is paramount that we understand what the Bible is, how it came to be, and the affect it must have upon our lives. This week we will briefly travel through very important concepts: inspiration, authority, clarity, necessity and sufficiency. I pray that our time together will be encouraging and helpful to you in your walk with Christ.