Theology is for Everyone

To most Christians, the idea of learning “Theology” is an overwhelming and daunting suggestion. “I’m not a scholar,” or “I’m not interested in working for a Ph.D” is a very common thought process that shuts the door on the subject.

However, Theology is NOT just a scholar’s domain. The learning and the application of Theology to our own heart, mind, and daily life is of the utmost godly value!

“Theology”—though it does include some branches with extremely deep waters—is basically the study of God: The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit, and how He interacts with humanity. Every believer who is committed to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior needs to know as much as they can from the scriptures about their God.

As attenders of [good] churches, we have a tremendous number of opportunities to grow in our knowledge about God (“Theology”) so that we can also grow in knowing Him personally. Faulty thinking about who God is and how He interacts with humanity leaves us very, VERY susceptible to failures and deceptions.

The writer to the Hebrews (most consider this author to be the Apostle Paul, as do I) was teaching and developing their understanding of God and their walking through life in the Spirit of Jesus. Here is what he summarizes as being the foundation or elementary teachings [of Theology] that every believer SHOULD have well established so they can build and grow the rest of their life.

“Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.”‭‭

( Hebrews‬ ‭6:1-2 )

Unfortunately, there are too many believers who have had their faith in Christ for 10, 20, or 30 years, but their maturity in truly knowing the things of God and living a godly life are at an “elementary” level. Using a school analogy, by now they should be graduates, instead they are repeating the 1st Grade over and over, not having grasped the basics and not yet demonstrated a practical proficiency in godly knowledge, wisdom, and behavior.

To be clear, though I used a school analogy, growing in Theology is not necessarily about formal academics. It is about growing in the personal study of God’s scripture, and the prayerful application of the scriptures to personal and daily life.

“Let us go on to perfection” means to grow in maturity. It means to shed more and more imperfection, and to draw closer and closer to Christ and the perfection He represents.
Most of us will never be “Theologians” in an academic setting with a Ph.D next to our name, but each of us should be growing in our Theology of God. Anything less than our constant growth in our knowledge of God is not part of God’s great plan for our life. Let’s be sure, every day, that we progressively “go on to perfection” in Him.

See you at the altar of Christ as we read the scriptures, pray, and build each other up in the Theology of our great God.

#PastorsTip

Honoring The Voice Of Our Conscience

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English Language Definition of Conscience :

: the part of the mind that makes you aware of your actions as being either morally right or wrong

: a feeling that something you have done is morally wrong

~ Merriam-Webster Dictionary

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Scripture teaches us to honor our conscience. It is an integral part of our being, and though it is not perfect (and can undergo heavy damage during our life if it is unguarded) we need to honor it. Just as we are called upon to honor our parents even though they are human and imperfect, likewise we are to honor our own conscience.

OUR CONSCIENCE + GOD’S TRUTH = GUIDANCE

Developing a healthy knowledge-base [in our heart and mind] of the truth of God through the study of the scriptures (through reading, discussion, and listening to preaching and teaching) is foundational to keeping our conscience healthy. Our implementation of God’s truth into and through our life in agreement with our healthy conscience is critically important.

Living and speaking in truth is then confirmed by a healthy conscience:

“I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit…”

~ Romans‬ ‭9:1

GUARD THE CONSCIENCE OF THE WEAK

Not only should we guard our own conscience, but we should help to guard the conscience of the weak, the young, or the spiritually immature. Their conscience may not be as healthy and discerning of what is right and wrong. They may see you doing something that you have a right to do (according to your healthy conscience) but their unhealthy or damaged conscience may impress upon their own mind and heart that doing that is wrong.

Our appropriate response should not be condescension, but loving and with honor for their conscience. Patiently instructing them and helping their conscience to heal and/or mature is more important than us insisting on our “right” to do whatever unimportant thing we are doing with which their conscience disagrees.

In the early church a question had arisen: Can Christians buy the food (meat) in the local market place that had been used in sacrifices to idols? Paul said yes, there isn’t a problem with the food (because there is only one true God), so you can buy it and eat it with a clear conscience. Eating the food is not a participation with other god’s.

“So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that ‘An idol is nothing at all in the world’ and that ‘There is no God but One.’”

~ 1 Corinthians‬ ‭8:4‬

Though Paul answered this question and made it clear to the church, there were still some whose conscience was not adjusting to the truth as quickly as others. He added this caveat:

“But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.”

~ 1 Corinthians‬ ‭8:7-8‬

Our rights to participate in things that are not foundational to Christian discipleship should be laid down when it will be beneficial to another. This is called… “Love.” Our obligation to love overrides our rights to non-foundational matters in life. Our conscience should first be sensitive to others’ needs before we participate in things that wound our weaker neighbor’s conscience.

“Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols [and thus dishonor their conscience that tells them it is wrong]*?

So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.

Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin [going against their own conscience]*, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.”

~ 1 Corinthians‬ ‭8:9-13‬,  [abc]*  Inserted by author for clarification

When Paul says “I will never eat meat again,” he is not saying he became a vegetarian for the rest of his life. He is not saying that the chutch needs to forever bow to the dictates of the consciences of the immature and the weak. He is simply saying that he will walk in-step with (and not wound) his weaker neighbor’s conscience until such time as they mature and are healed.

GOD IS STILL THE FINAL JUDGE

Even if our conscience approves of something, it does not transform it into a righteous or acceptable something. Right is still right, and wrong is still wrong. Even the Apostle Paul spoke of having been faithful to his conscience, but acknowledged that his own conscience was not perfect and still not the final judge of his life and motives.

My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.”

~ 1 Corinthians‬ ‭4:4‬

FINAL THOUGHTS

Developing a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, reading and studying the scriptures, listening to the church leaders as they disciple us, honoring our own conscience in daily living, and lovingly honoring and protecting the conscience of the weak or broken, these are all components necessary to building, healing, and maintaining a healthy and clear conscience.

Some people choose to accept the “teaching” of the world, and by so doing they wound and twist their own conscience until it is no longer healthy enough to lead them even in the most basic ways of right living. The most basic right and wrong is no longer discernible by their conscience.

Thankfully, Christ offers healing to them, and if that describes your condition, He offers you today a pathway of healing for restoring your conscience to a healthy condition. You can begin the process right now by simply calling out to Him, “Lord Jesus, please rescue me!” and then let the healing process begin…

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#PastorsTip #Conscience #Maturity #Immaturity #Healing #Sensitivity #InnerVoice #Scriptures #Bible #HolySpirit #Jesus #Christ #God