About the author: Karalie Messer lives in Schroon Lake, NY where her husband Eric serves on staff at Word of Life. She is a 2003 alumni of the Bible Institute and a 2006 graduate of Summit University. She is a mom to 3 boys ages 3 and under. In this stage of life, she is seeking to know God and make him known to her boys!
A.W. Tozer opens his book, The Pursuit of God with this statement: “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” What we believe or do not believe about God is not important because it has an effect on God. What we believe or do not believe about God is important because it affects everything about our life: our daily life and our eternal life.
Who Needs Theology?
But does everyone need to study theology? Does everyone need a working, accurate knowledge of God and his word? Isn’t theology a little too serious and controversial for the average Christian? I can think of three reasons you might be the exception to this important discipline.
For the sake of clarity, I will use the definition of theology taken from Charles Ryrie’s book Basic Theology. He writes, “Theology is the discovery, systematizing, and presentation of the truths about God.” From this definition we see theology requires study, logic, and the ability to use what has been learned. The topic of theology is God and the text is His word.
But here are three reasons theology may be irrelevant to you today:
1 | Your life always goes as planned.
One of the greatest truths theology reveals is the way God works even when things don’t go as planned or when humans think they have a better plan. His hand is seen orchestrating events and radically changing the course of people’s lives when they least expect it or when they are running from it. So if you have a guarantee life is going to unfold as neatly and systematically as you’ve written on paper, then maybe you’ve earned a pass.
But if by chance you have already realized, life never goes as planned, then there is great comfort and excitement when you begin to discover truth about God that speaks to your situation. The sovereignty of God, the obedience of Christ, the comfort of the Holy Spirit, the eternal plan of God, are all theological truths we can cling to in times when life throws us a curve ball. In this life the good guy does not always win. The good guy suffers and the villain seems to win. Theology gives context to the work of God in the past, present, and future.
2 | You never encounter hurting people.
If you have found the secret to the perfectly planned life, your contact with messy needy people will most likely be limited. You will probably never run into a friend whose marriage is falling apart, you will never meet someone whose child is suffering with cancer, and you most certainly won’t be co-workers with someone who asks challenging questions about your faith.
But what if it’s your best friend looking for answers? What if you are the one suffering? Are you prepared to minister eternal hope into a situation of deep pain? Do you have a stock pile of truth to fall back on when lies about God consume your mind? Theology gives hope. Theology gives comfort. Theology confronts. Theology answers life’s tough questions. People are always looking for hope, people are always searching for truth. When we commit ourselves to purposeful study we are not only engaging our minds, but also equipping our hearts to deliver light into dark situations.
Theology answers life’s tough questions.
A final reason to skip Theology:
3 | You only live once.
Theology gives life purpose. The mundane becomes sacred. The difficult becomes refining. The joyful becomes worship. An accurate understanding of God and his word places within the heart a vision for eternity. No one really lives once. We were made for eternity and the study of theology opens for us a window into what God really intended. For those who trust in the finished work of Jesus on the cross and resurrection the best is yet to come! But for those who do not believe, this life is the best possible scenario.
The study of theology will not allow you to escape the reality of eternity. People all around us are dying without the knowledge of Christ’s saving work. If you want to ignore the weight of this responsibility, then skip theology. But if you want to run full speed into the battle over the souls of men, arm yourself with a working and accurate handling of God’s word.
If you want to run full speed into the battle over the souls of men, arm yourself with a working and accurate handling of God’s word.
My favorite portion of scripture to renew my love and focus for God’s word has been Psalm 119. Psalm 119 is an entire chapter devoted to the beauty and wonder of God’s word. When I sense my heart has grown lazy or indifferent to the depth of God’s word, I am renewed through the truth of Psalm 119. Regardless of your current life context, consistently reach out for a deepening understanding of God and his word and you will not walk away empty. Read challenging books, participate in a Bible study, take a class. For some it may mean formal education, for others it may be simply putting down your phone and opening your Bible. Figure out what the next step could look like and take it!