Think about that for a moment. Can you explain your personal theology? According to Webster’s Dictionary, Theology is “The science of God or of religion; the science which treats of the existence, character, and attributes of God, His laws and government, the doctrines we are to believe, and the duties we are to practice. . . the science of Christian faith and life.” That’s kind of a long-winded definition to say that theology is what you believe about God; how you define His character and nature; and how you relate to Him. But your theology should be defined by more than that. His “laws and government” should speak to your understanding of the Kingdom of God/Heaven and how it pertains to you. The doctrines you believe need to be carefully examined — are their origins found in the Word of God; or do your set of beliefs come from a man’s teaching, a denomination’s rules, or simply what makes you feel better about your life’s circumstances (with a little bit of all of the above thrown in to make it meet the “religious” test)?
Furthermore, where do your practices and traditions come from? Again, are they taken directly from the Bible, or are you having a hard time knowing exactly why you do the things you do, and believe the things you do. As a Christian, can you explain your understanding of God and the foundations of your faith — and back it up? If not, I’d like to suggest that you have developed a theology that serves yourself and not God. I don’t say that to offend anyone! In fact, my goal is that it will cause you to examine your belief system so that you can discover where you differ with God’s Word and renew your mind and heart so that you are walking with Him in Truth.
I have come to believe that the 21st Century Church is not walking in the same power and authority that the First Century Church did because we do not truly trust or believe what Jesus tells us in the Bible about Himself, or who we are in Him, and how He wants us to live our lives. We have reduced His message down to a goal of being Saved or “born again”. But let me ask you this — how many of you, once you made a profession of faith, were actually discipled? Do you even know what it means to be discipled? You’re probably familiar with the noun form of that word — to be “a Disciple”, or follower of Jesus. But what does the verb form — to disciple — mean? Well, in Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus gave a commandment to all His disciples (including us): All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
We got the part about making them disciples; about getting them Saved so that they can be known as a follower of Jesus. And we sorta got the baptism part down, although some Christians have lessened its significance by saying it’s not an essential part of your Christian walk. But we have dropped the ball on teaching them to observe [comply with; keep; obey] all of Jesus’s commandments. I would add that we don’t even teach them what His commandments are let alone that we are to obey them! And therefore, I would submit to you that we are no better than the Gentiles Paul refers to in Ephesians 4: “They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.”
If a Christian is ignorant of Jesus’s commands, then of what benefit is it to be “born again”? As He explained to Nicodemus in John 3, we have to throw off our old nature [our flesh] and accept a new Spirit. When that happens, we are told to “to be renewed in the spirit of our minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God” (Ephesians 4). The renewal of our minds combined with transforming our lives by following the commandments of Jesus projects the Kingdom of God.
But what happens when we are ignorant of His commands, and who He says He is, and who He says we are to become by transforming our lives? We end up developing our own religious traditions and theologies to explain the state of our lives. For instance, consider the Scripture 1 John 1:5: This is the message we have heard from Him and proclaim to you, that God is Light, and in Him is no darkness at all. So if you have experienced a tragedy in your life such as a devastating illness or the unexplained loss of a loved one, do you tend to explain it as “the will of God” because you have no answers? But how can it be God’s will if He is only Light, and no darkness exists in Him? Because I think we can all agree that sickness, disease, and death are all from the Enemy, and they are Darkness. He comes to kill, steal, and destroy, remember? That’s why Jesus healed people and raised them from the dead — to destroy the works of the devil and because He only did what the Father told Him to do (John 5:19).
So can you see that this is an example of how the Church has compromised the Word of God to fit their own theology? Another similar tradition is that God is in control of everything. So if a tragedy has occurred in your life, or your life is just a mess, then it must be because God is testing our faith or trying to teach us a lesson. Show me in the Bible where it says that!
Kent Owen, at BibleBro.net explains the fallacy of this tradition so well: “God created the world and gave dominion to Man (Gen 1:26). Man sinned and became a slave to sin (John 8:34). Satan is the father of disobedience (Eph 2:2) which is lawlessness, and all lawlessness is sin [death] (1Jn 3:4). Simply put, sinners belong to Satan. God does not own the earth again until He takes it back at the end of this age. Until God takes back the earth, He has empowered His children so that they can “stand against the wiles of the devil” (Eph 6:11). What bad thing does God cause or allow in your life … unless you ask Him through prayer?”
And who is going to pray for something bad to happen to them? If anything bad happens in your life, it’s either because you allowed it by not using your God-given authority, OR you are inexplicably, and tragically, the victim of the devil. Remember, God [and Jesus] are Life; the devil is Death. And he prowls like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. When it is your loved one, it can be hard to comprehend. During our suffering, it can be difficult to grasp that Satan was the one behind the tragedy. Perhaps you can see how we try to explain God to ourselves by developing traditions and theology that make it acceptable to our vision of God. But we do Him a disservice when we fail to give the Enemy credit for His works of lawlessness, sin, and death!
If we’re earnest in seeking God through His Word, we would discern that 1 Corinthians 10:13 is the real Truth of God: No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. God does not tempt (test) you by bringing tragedy into your life! Scripture very plainly calls Satan the Tempter in Matthew 4. It was he who tempted our Lord.
So if your theology tells you that a tragic death or illness is “God’s will” for some unknown reason; a reason that the Bible never proclaims, then how is it any different than a “Christian” with multiple fatal diseases who believes that God caused or allowed his illness sharing his faith with an unsaved man? Wouldn’t that message he is delivering say to that unsaved man, “If you become a child of God like me, God may also give you what He gave me; this horrible disease”?
Can I explain everything bad or tragic that happens in someone’s life according to my image of God? No, because I do not know all the schemes of the Enemy; only that it is his desire to destroy our relationship with God anyway he can. I know that not everyone gets healed or delivered from the devil’s attacks, but I do not want to change the Truth of the Bible [and my theology] to create a false image of Jesus or the Father. And I know that my eternal salvation does not rely on who I am, but on Who He is. Therefore I must be diligent in seeing Him in the Light of His Truth, not through the traditions and skewed theology of man which misrepresents the God of the Bible. When that happens, we have a distorted relationship with Him, and an inaccurate image of ourselves.
My purpose for writing this post today is to ask you to seriously consider your belief system. I do not write it to be condemning, but to exhort you to try to throw off all inessential and flawed doctrine, man-made philosophy, or self-defined tenets of religion. Go to the Word and find out who God is and who you are. See what Jesus says about Himself and the Father, and how He wants us to live out our faith in Him. And then don’t let your theology come between you and God. You need to be settled in your understanding of the God we serve, so that the Enemy cannot mislead you or keep you in bondage to his lies. God’s Truth, as He reveals in His Word, is all we need … and it alone should be enough to form our theology.
Mark 7:8,13 “You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men … thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”