This week our reading plan takes us into the book of Romans where we see the most thorough and clear expression of the Apostle Paul’s theology and explanation of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone. He spends the first 11 chapters discussing theology and the last 5 discussing application. Now, the term “theology” makes most people want to run for the nearest exit as fast as possible. They are imagining a middle aged man with a beard in a brown blazer with elbow pads and corduroys talking endlessly in a monotone voice about concepts that have no seeming application to anyone’s life. However, theology in its most basic form is simply the study of God. We all do theology to some extent. Some do theology better than others, but we all do it.
As Christians, especially Christian leaders, we are charged to guard our doctrine closely. (1 Tim. 4:16) We come to sound doctrine only by way of sound theology. From my perspective I see a general lack of interest (not everyone, but in general) among God’s people to do their due diligence and study who God is and what He does. The Emergent Church is a good example of the lack of doctrinal emphasis in the church. This movement can be characterized in part by a general emphasis on practice rather than doctrine. “Who cares what you believe as long as you are living appropriately” is the sense that I get from the movement. In my view this is directly contrary to the approach of the biblical authors who most often begin with a doctrinal truth then follow it with a “therefore” and further explanation on how we should live in light of that doctrinal truth. So the more biblical approach is to emphasis truth then our proper living should come from our understanding and faith in the truth. In reading through Romans I think you will see this very clearly. Glance ahead to Romans 12:1 and you will see what I mean.
My prayer for our church is that we will grow together into unity and maturity in the faith, using the spiritual gifts that God has given us to build one another up and increasingly become like Jesus. “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” (Eph. 4:14-15)
So please don’t skim the first 11 chapters. They are vitally important!
Here are links to some terms used in this weekends message.