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  • Incredulity of Thomas
Why Study Theology

I have a friend who grew up in this Church. The friend came from what we thought was a very solid Christian family. The friend came from a what we thought was a very solid Christian background. The friend came from a what we thought was a deeply committed life to Christ. The friend had been going to this church since she was very young. The friend was a solid Christian …..or so we thought.

When we got into arguments, this friend always was on the conservative legal side and I always was on the freer, meat to idols sort of side. When I tried to catch my friend on a Bible knowledge question, my friend always seemed to know the answer and the context. This friend was a Christian. Or was she? Or is she?

You see one day my friend became a Mormon.

Now I’m not saying that prior to this incident this person’s friends hadn’t been shunning my friend, because they had. Now I’m not saying that prior to this incident this person’s family didn’t start to break apart, because it did. Now I’m not saying that prior to this incident this person decided that it was time to get married and was overly concerned about this, because she was. Now I’m not saying that prior to this incident this person started hanging around with Mormons, and they lovingly accepted my friend and welcomed my friend, because they did.

And while all these factors did contribute to my friend becoming a Mormon, deep down inside I am convinced that if my friend comprehended who God is, this would never have happened. Because if a person understands truly the nature of God and the nature of man, how could they ever in a million years ever join a religion that believes that God is just a man like you and me? If she really comprehended (to the best of our limitations) who God was, what the constitution of God is, what the nature of God”is, what the power of God is, she could have never ever bought off on the lie that God used to be like you and me and was promoted to God.

Today we are going to start a new series of intense theological study. We are going to go in depth into the Bible

We are going to go far beyond the simple… wonderful…. gospel of Salvation and into the study of the traits of God, into the study of the Sovereignty of God and into the study of the nature & responsibility of man.

“Go beyond the Gospel?” The Gospels simple? Why that’s heresy say some. “He’s a witch, burn Him, how do you know he’s a witch. Because he talks like one.” But let’s see what the Bible says:

Hebrews Chapter 5 verse 11 onwards. Let’s turn there Hebrews 5:11

Hebr. 5:11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. {In case you didn’t catch it, he is saying that Milk is not as good as solid food}

Hebr. 6:1 Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about {what?} Christ {the elementary teachings about Christ} and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2 instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And God permitting, we will do so.

So what he is saying is: Having told you the Gospel, having talked about salvation, and about resurrection, you know all this now, so let us move on to maturity in Christ. Let us sink our teeth into the meat of the Word of God.

For all scripture is …what?

2 Tim. 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness….

And yet despite that admonition by the Bible, at first some of you may say,

“well I don’t see why we have to study theology? How does it affect my daily life. It’s all that philosophical stuff anyway. It’s OK for you intellectuals, but I’m a working stiff, not a philosopher. How does it make any difference when the rubber meets the road. That’s what I want to know. How does it affect the way I am going to do my job tomorrow, how will it help in my relationships, how will it change my life? How will it help me get closer to God.?”

And those are very valid questions and I’m going to tell you just exactly how this theology is going to affect you.

But before I do that I want to tell you about a commitment that I made to myself about teaching. I told myself that I didn’t want to teach if all you wanted to do was rehear the gospel all over again (I will glady teach it as many times as is necessary to those who have never received it). But to those who have already received it, I told myself that I didn’t want to teach, if at the end of my teaching most of you could say: I knew that, he just said it in a different way. When I get to that point, it is either time for me to study deeper or for me to find a new audience.

How many times have you heard a sermon on I Corr 13? Love is ……. Probably a few hundred times. Those of you who haven’t heard one on I Corr 13, don’t worry, you’ll get a chance ….. it just won’t be in this class.

Now I’m not saying that it is bad or wrong to talk about I Corr 13, but I’m just saying that I want you to leave here every Sunday saying,

“You know I never knew that”,

or “You know that is very true and I’d better do some more research on that.”

or “You know that made me understand better where that Hindu or Mormon at work is coming from.”

or, “You know now I can go witness to that guy and be able to defend Christianity as a historically backed religion.”

But I never want you to go away saying, “That was a nice sermon on John the Baptist, I knew all that already but it’s good to be reminded now and then.” There may come a time when we need to repeat some talks, but even then it will be facts that you actively need to know, names, places, dates, not vague concepts that leave you walking away saying, now I know it was a good sermon but I’m not exactly sure what the point was.

Before I start any sermon or lesson I sit down and I first say: What am I teaching on this topic for? What do I want these people to walk away knowing about, when I am done and why? What specific actions do they need to take, having heard the talk? And once the talk is done I ask, did my point come across clearly and fully? If it didn’t I need to learn from my mistakes and apply them to the next talk.

The only exception to this rule will be when we do a series of talks on the same topic, when one talk may lay the ground work for the next talk.

But all in all in general, you must be able to walk away from here with something solid and not something abstract.

Disagreement:

There is an item that I want to emphasize and I will continue to emphasize it over and over in the next few weeks. And that is the fact that during this or any other talk given up here, if you should believe that after analyzing the passages under consideration, that you believe that I am misinterpreting the Word, I want you to know that that is OK. That is OK because it shows that you are listening and that you are thinking.

Have you ever been in a situation where you are in another country and you are lost and are asking someone for help. And you say: I am looking for American Express.” And the local says “Oh yes”, so you say “Is it near by?” And they say “Oh yes” then you say “Where is it? Is it down that street?” And they “Oh yes.” Then you start getting suspicious, so you say. “You are a commie pig dog, your mother was a hamster and your father smelled of elderberries” and they “Oh yes”. So you say “That’s what I thought”.

See despite the fact that they are agreeing with you, you know that they aren’t comprehending a single thing that you are saying.

So if you disagree that is a sign that you are thinking, not to say that if you do agree that that is a sign that you aren’t thinking, let me make that quite clear.

If you do disagree however, it is very important that you sit down and study the issues very carefully and ask lots of questions. I have run into far too many people who believe a certain thing about their Faith and are totally unable to back it up Biblically and what’s worse are unwilling to spend anytime studying and trying to defend their position. But that doesn’t mean that you cannot ask questions, otherwise ,how are you going to learn?

If you disagree with me, don’t switch churches, come talk with me. On this specific topic we may well have an open forum which will allow questions to be asked and answered. Please make sure that you ask them. If we don’t know the answers we will go do more research and get back to you.

Secondly, if you aren’t satisfied come sit with me, I will spend as much time as you want or I will have somebody else work with you to understand just exactly where you have trouble agreeing with and in the end it may be that we learn something from you.

But, now how about those times when you run into a situation where you can’t defend something., where you can’t really put your finger on it, but you just know it is wrong because you “feel” that it is wrong. In that case you need to test your feelings by the Bible, for as we all know as Jeremiah tells us: Turn to Jer. 17:9

Jer. 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

Test your feelings by the Bible, not with your stomach. For the Mormons say that their proof that the Book of Mormon is true is “a burning in the bosom.” That is not a valid test and as we can see it misleads millions of people everyday.

Most of all let me ask you all to care enough to correct me, because I don’t teach this without trepidation. I don’t teach this without realizing that I am responsible not only for what I teach but also for what happens to you as a result of what I teach. And that is true of any teacher up here.

Now, at this point it is important for me to state something: When I first started studying theology there were many things that I did not like, because it did not fit my box that I had put God in. In fact I fought against this particular teaching, like I know (our friend) Sanford did, until at last I had to say,

“OK God, I have to admit, the Bible knows more than I do,

“OK God, I have to admit, that the Bible knows better than I do,

and most of all “OK God, I have to admit, You know better than I do”,

and I had to say. “You are God and I can never comprehend you fully. If this is the way You say things are, then that is the way it is. ” Don’t put God in a box that is limited by your understanding.

So coming back to that earlier question that I posed but never answered. Why are we teaching you this heavy theology?

And that’s a very valid question and I’m going to tell you just exactly how this theology is going to affect you.

There are a few basic and important points that we should realize:

A1. Aberrational teaching breeds Heresy, Heresy Breeds Heresy, and Heresy breeds Damnation.

The Rev. Jim Jones started his ministry as a very valid and Biblically founded ministry. He didn’t all of a sudden say, I am going to teach heresy, it grew slowly and slowly out of some small aberrations until finally it destroyed him and a few thousand people in Jonestown, Guyana. Today the People’s Temple in Oakland serves as a tribute to where Jim Jones started his ministry that walked him directly into Hell.

Those of you who were around when we did the expose on the teachings of Kenneth Copeland and Kenneth Hagin and (Sanford’s brother): Old E.W. Kenyon himself, know how a simple aberrational, seemingly unimportant view that Jesus paid for our sins in Hell and not on the cross, led them and Fredrick Price, Paul Crouch and a host of others into the view that we are little Gods and the damnable heresy that Kenneth Copeland propounds that even he (Copeland) could have saved us from Sin if only he’d known what Jesus had known back then.

There’s a saying in the country where I grew up. It goes like this. Little Leopards grow up to be big leopards, and big leopards KILL. One day I’ll tell you the whole story, behind that saying. But for now let it suffice. Aberrational teachings may eventually lead to death. And Heresy breeds Heresy. I don’t think I need to quote verses from the Bible supporting the fact that we should fight against Heresy. We’ve already covered that.

The second reason why we need to learn theology is because.

A2. How we view God affects everything.

It affects how we view the world, it affects how we approach God, it affects how we approach prayer, it affects how we approach witnessing, life, jobs, every single thing is affected by how we view God.

A3. If your theology is correct then the chances that you will be led astray or go through a season of being away from the body of Christ (that’s the church) will be less.

As I’ve said before if my friend had understood fully the danger of the cults and had fully understood the power and might and awesomeness of who God is, do you think that she would have had the audacity to join the Mormons who believe that God is a man??!!!

The fourth reason why we are teaching solid theology is because:

A4. By being incorrectly founded on God’s Word you can come under condemnation of your mind. By understanding God’s sovereignty you can avoid all that garbage.

How many times have you run into negative Christians, who curse themselves because they can’t be perfect? Yes there is no condemnation to them in Christ Jesus, why?

Rom. 8:1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

A5. By being incorrectly founded on God’s Word you can come under a fatalistic helpless feeling.

How many times have you run into doomsday prophet Christians, “666 is here, burn your credit cards. 88 reasons why God will return in 1988.” I remember while that was going on, I kept singing a song by White Heart. “Maybe today, maybe tomorrow, that’s not the question for me, no matter what time, I’m going to follow, the keeper of all eternity.”

And then of course the preposterous Satan and God are in a life and death struggle and it looks like Satan will win unless we pray more. Balderdash.

But how do you contest that, unless you comprehend the nature of God,

But how do you contest that, unless you understand the Theos – God. But how do you contest that, Unless you study God.

Theology. The study of Theos, the study of God.

-l•o•gy 1. science, doctrine, theory, study of, as zoology

The•o- [< Gk Theos] comb form God. The•ol•o•gy: n (-gies) 1 The study of God, the study of the nature of God.. And that is what we will be spend time on.

 
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