How must Theology be Studied?
“Who may ascend to the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted us his soul to falsehood and how not sworn deceitfully. He shall receive a blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” – Psalm 24:3-5
As we have begun to take a glimpse at the area of theology, what it is, and how we can grow in our understanding of it, it is vital for us to remember that we are taking the first steps down the road of knowing God more. Because we are finite human beings, we will never fully understand the depths of God (Rom. 11:33). He will always be unfathomable to us! But even though the Lord may be unfathomable to us, we have seen how He has yet made Himself known to us in many ways. Because of the, ‘Revelation of God’ to us, in both general and special ways, we can gain a greater understanding of God Himself.
To think that we can even begin to grasp the concept of who God is should blow our minds away. It should make us bow before Him in humble adoration realizing the grace He has shown us. God, as we know, did not have to make Himself known to us, yet He chose to make Himself known. That is truly a magnificent display of grace!
When we being to open the pages of Scripture, and actually begin to study theology it is vital that we study it in the right way. What do I mean by that? I mean that we must have certain attitudes and actions that are displayed in our life as we come to the Word of God. This is the very Word of God after all and it cannot be treated lightly or with irreverence as it is studied. If we look closely, the Bible itself gives us guidelines for how we should study theology:
(I) We must Study Theology with a Heart of Prayer: The first place to begin, before we even open up the pages of the Scriptures is with prayer. The psalmist writes in Psalm 119:18, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law.” When we study the Word we are to be people who pray that the Lord would help us understand His Word. Studying theology is not merely an academic exercise, it is the pursuit of knowing God. The person who will not ask the Lord to help him in his understanding of the Word will not be blessed in their study of the Word.
(II) We must Study Theology with a reliance of the Holy Spirit: Closely linked with prayer is our reliance on the Holy Spirit. It is through His indwelling that we come to understand the Scriptures. Without Him dwelling within our hearts and lives there would be no way that we could understand and study theology in a correct way. Only the believer can truly grasp and understand theology because he has the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:14-16). The Spirit is the One who leads us in all truth and abides in us (Jn. 14:16-17). He will give us insight to understand and know the Word of God.
(III) We must Study Theology with an Attitude of Humility: Humility is vital for any and every student of the Word of God. 1 Peter 5:5 says, “…all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Only the humble man will be able to gain an understanding of God through the study of theology. It is all too easy, as one beings to study the Bible and gain a knowledge of God, to look at others who know less than you with contempt. How disgraceful it would be to be filled with pride as we study the Word of God, the very thing that should humble us as we realize our inadequacy to even grasp an understanding of God and His Word.
(IV.) We must Study Theology with Help from Others: A natural outflow of studying theology with an attitude of humility will be a desire to seek wisdom and help from those who have gone before us in their study of theology. God has graced many men with a wisdom to know and understand His Word, and this wisdom is readily available to the man or woman who desires to seek for it as they study the Word. Allowing those whom God has placed in our lives to teach us and train us in His Word will bless our study of theology. Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”
(V.) We must Study Theology with Thankfulness and Praise: A heart of thankfulness and praise to God for allowing us to even being to know Him should always be on the forefront of our minds as we study theology. Here we sit, some 2,000 years since God revealed Himself through His Son and His Word and yet we can have His Word with us so that we can understand Him? What a gift from God! What praise must be offered to His holy name for gifting us with His holy Word and preserving it down through the ages that we might even today, come to know Him.
The child of God, as he studies the Word of God should break forth with great joy and praise as He grasps a greater understanding of who God is. We are studying the wonders of the living God when we study theology! We are growing in our love for Him! Therefore we can cry out with the psalmist in Psalm 119:111, “I have inherited Your testimonies forever, for they are the joy of my heart.” May it bring us great joy to study theology, and most of all, may it help us come to know God so that we can worship Him in a perfect and right way.