Sermon series: The Trinity: God the Father
Connection to Unit Theme: Studying theology is only as important as biblical truths about God are important. They are one in the same. The church must study, understand, and live within a biblical theology to glorify God.
There are few words that can send a chill up a church member's spine, scare a Sunday school teacher, or lull a teenager into a deep sleep like the world "theology." Because of boring professors who have taught boring pastors, theology has gotten a bad rap in the church. Theology simply means "the study of God." How could that possibly be nerve-racking, scary, or boring? The church should love to hear deep truths about their infinite God who has made Himself known to them.
Everyone loves a good story, whether it is in a book, a movie, or an old family yarn. The category "biblical theology" is simply the story of God told chronologically by using the entire Bible. At the same time, everyone generally loves either sports or music. In both, there are parts or positions divided up for the purpose of focusing on specific roles. The category "systematic theology" is simply truths revealed in Scripture, but categorized to be studied individually. Systematic theology is not to be feared or belittled, but loved, studied, and lived because it is the story, the truths, and the knowledge of our awesome God.
I. Theology is about faith in God. (v. 1-6)
One of the most popular church fads of our day is to preach with much practical application but little biblical truth. It is only through a knowledge of God from His Word (theology) that we can live obediently (practice). A "knowing God first" mentality protects us from moralism, legalism, and works-based ways of living. Basic points of theology every Christian must know include: the church, the Holy Spirit, eternity, Jesus' Lordship, faith in Christ, believer's baptism, God being one (sometimes called theology "proper", and God being our Father (v. 4-6). These theological truths, believed and applied correctly, result in morals and good works including: walking with God, humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another, and eagerness to maintain unity (v. 1-3). Theology comes first. Practicality always follows.
Application: Read God's Word first and foremost for the truth of knowing your God. Then, watch how the Holy Spirit will apply what you've learned about Him to living for Him. This week, focus on knowing God more deeply, more personally, and more relationally. Trust the Holy Spirit to apply the truths you've learned.
II. Theology is about serving by faith. (v. 7-12)
Paul gave us a biblical-theological storyline of spiritual giftedness in the church. Jesus descended to accomplish His saving work. Paul likened this good news to a king conquering his rival nation, plundering their spoils, and handing all he collected to his citizens for his kingdom's good. Jesus conquered Satan's kingdom and disbursed spiritual gifts to His followers for the service of His kingdom (v. 8-10). Studying biblical theology helps us put the gospel into practice in our churches by serving our Savior-King Jesus! Jesus blesses his church with all kinds of spiritual gifts. He gives gifts to church leaders, who then train the body on how to use their spiritual gifts for the church (v. 11-12).
Application: As you study the theology of the gospel, let its story motivate you to worship Jesus by serving Him in His church for His kingdom. Let His obedient life, sacrificial death, and glorious resurrection inspire you to imitate His example.
III. Theology is about unity from faith. (v. 13-16)
If the point of theology is to know God, and the fruit of the gospel is to serve Him, then the result of theology is church unity as we love and serve God together. God groups His people into gatherings of churches that are to be on mission for His Son and with His gospel. As the church studies the theology of God's Word individually and sits under the theological preaching of God's Word corporately, she can't help but grow tighter together as a body that serves each other and her community. The church that grows together from gospel theology will move in its passion to reach out in mission toward those who have not heard. A theology that is rightly taught, sincerely understood, and truly applied will always result in a church on mission.
Application: Learn to love theology as a church together, but not just for the sake of knowledge. Love theology for the sake of knowing God through the truth of the gospel. Then, learn to love applying theology to your mission. Do not merely ask quizzing questions, but instead ask applicational questions that drive a church to reach the lost.
God is both infinite and knowable. Some may think those are competing qualities, but they actually complement each other. If God is both infinite and knowable, we will never exhaust the truths of God that lead us to know Him more. In other words, God is so infinite that we will be able to spend our lives knowing Him deeper without ever knowing Him fully. God loves for us to do this, because as He pursues us we pursue Him. We will never tire of pursuing Him because what we may come to know has no end. Seeking to know our infinite God will inspire us to serve on mission to the ends of the earth.