The Theological Bullseye
In his book Knowledge of the Holy, AW Towzer opens his first chapter by saying: “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” And yet it is common to hear Christians say, “I don’t really care about theology, I just want to love God.” That sounds nice until you think about about it, because that would be like me saying, “I don’t really want to know my wife, I just want to love her!” I can promise, that will not go will for me, because its impossible to love someone without seeking to know them. Quite simply, there nothing more important or practical to your life than your belief about God.
Believing rightly about God is vital because our beliefs dictate how we live, in order to have right actions, behaviors, perspectives, and understanding, we must have right beliefs, and since all things have their origin and significance in God, a right belief about Him is the most important belief we hold, and the only way we can live rightly in every other area of life.
This is why Paul starts all of his letters to the churches with theology, teaching and reminding the people of the truth of who God is before he tells them how to live and what to do. And 1 Timothy is no different. Here Paul urges Timothy with the task to correct false teachers who were preaching a different doctrine. People were turning from the truth about God and putting their hope in genealogies and their own ability to fulfill the law. And the result of these false beliefs were, “speculation,” “vain discussions,” a lack of “understanding,” and ultimately “shipwrecking” their faith and being “handed over to Satan.” But by giving Timothy the charge to lead the church to believe rightly about God, we’re told of “love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” and a use of the law that doesn’t lead to the self righteousness of trying to justify yourself, but an awareness that you are the foremost of sinners in need of mercy. What right belief about God could lead to love, purity, good conscience, sincere faith, and humble repentance? This:
“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…”
Believe rightly that our God is righteous and gracious. That he gave the law to reveal his righteous standard to show us that we were “lawless, disobedient, ungodly, sinners,” but the “grace of our Lord overflowed for [us] with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus!” He came to save sinners! And as Paul is an example to us, we are an example to others of God’s perfect patience and grace!
What comes into your mind when you think about God? What false beliefs do you often have of God, and how do they affect how you live?
- Why is it good if the law shows you your need for grace? Why is it bad if the law leads you to try and justify yourself?
- What does each of those produce in you?
- How does believing rightly about God let you believe rightly about yourself and everything else?
- What would change about your life if you believed this more fully?
by Brad Snyder