What effect, if any, does studying theology have on our lives? Why should we care about theology? If we’re honest, many of us subconsciously believe that theological studies are reserved for a select group of Christians who are academic or “have it all together.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
Why All Christians Should Care About Theology
Theology is for all of those who are in Christ. But what does that look like? Let’s begin by defining theology. Theology, in its most basic form, is the study of God. As A.W. Tozer famously put it, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
If Tozer is correct, and I think he is, then theology affects every aspect our lives. And that means we need to take our view of God seriously. Thinking wrongly about God is spiritually dangerous.
The only way to ensure that our theology is correct and not corrupted by sin, man-centered tendencies, feelings, political agendas, cultural preferences, or even the devil himself, is to know the Bible and make its teachings the foundation of our theology. When we do this, we’ll find that our theology leads us to respond to God rightly. Let’s consider four results of having a right view of God.
1. Theology Leads Us to Delight in God
Theology has a direct impact on our joy. Here’s how John Piper puts it: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.”
Glorifying God and finding satisfaction in him are intertwined. In the words of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”
Joy should not be based on our circumstances. It’s not something that we only experience when everything is going as planned or when we feel comfortable. True joy is evidence that the Spirit is at work in your heart, but it is also a direct effect of the truth found in the gospel. The truth that reveals our depravity, describes the holiness of God, and reminds us that our salvation is not dependent upon our actions but on Christ’s action. This is the root of true joy.
As redeemed sinners, our delight in God is fueled by truth.
2. Theology Leads Us to Worship God
Pastor and artist Shai Linne once said, “All theology should ultimately lead to doxology. If theology doesn’t lead to doxology, then we’ve actually missed the point of theology.”
Too often, theology becomes a mere academic or intellectual pursuit. The reason we study God is to know God. And to know God is to love God.
When we truly come to this kind of experiential knowledge of God, we will respond with an expression of praise. Accurate theology leads to accurate doxology. Or, to put it another way, the praise of God should be informed by the truth of God.
God has not called us to choose between studying him or worshiping him. He’s called us to do both. He’s called us to study him in such a way that leads us to worship him.
3. Theology Leads Us to Pursue Holiness
Although doxology is an important result of good theology, it is not its only effect. Nancy Leigh Demoss notes, “Sound theology should always lead us to doxology and transformation” (emphasis mine). As we study the nature of God, there should be a change in our desires, thoughts, and actions. In simpler terms, good theology should lead to personal holiness.
Charles Spurgeon notes, “If [God] gives you the grace to make you believe, he will give you the grace to live a holy life afterward.” God does not leave us on our own. The same God that justifies us also sanctifies us.
4. Theology Leads Us to Share the Gospel
Theology should not only give us a desire to glorify God. It should give us a desire for the nations to glorify him and enjoy him forever. That is to say, good theology should lead to missions and evangelism.
John Piper points out, “Missions is the overflow of our delight in God because missions is the overflow of God’s delight in being God.” The reason missions exists is that God delights in being God and he shares that delight with us. Now, we get the privilege of sharing this delight with others.
So why should we care about theology? Because theology is vital to our transformation.