Category Archives: Theology

“Theology” in the most simple terms means “the study of God”. For the Christian, God has revealed Himself to mankind through the Bible. Therefore, in our pursuit of a sound knowledge of God and His ways, we look to what He has told us about Himself. Throughout the centuries, men and women have gone about this practice in various ways.

One way is Biblical Theology. This discipline involves many facets. For example, a theologian may delve deep into the writings of one particular author. From this we get phrases like “Pauline,” “Luke-Acts,” or “Johannine theology”. Or perhaps the theologian will take a common term, such as “repentance,” “redemption,” or “seed” and trace its usage from Genesis to Revelation to see how new themes develop as God reveals a little more about it at a time through what is called “Progressive Revelation”. Another example of how Biblical Theology plays out is the study of how the covenants in Scripture relate to one another and where the church fits into God’s grand plan of redemption.

Through Biblical Theology, the theologian will approach the study of any text with the passage’s position in the big picture in the back of their mind. They will look backwards to see what God has already taught about certain themes and vocabulary therein, as well as look ahead to see what else God chose to wait to reveal at a later time.

Another way Christians will study the Bible is called “Systematic Theology”. This discipline seeks to study the Bible topically. Rather than starting with a passage of Scripture and digging up all of the doctrines therein, this discipline takes all of the passages on any given topic and develops a sound understanding of it. We can then neatly bring all of the vast teachings of the Bible together to formulate a clear system of belief.

Traditionally the systematic theologian will break up the Bible into the following themes (give or take a couple):

Theology Proper – What does the Bible say about God the Father
Bibliology – …the Bible
Christology – …the Person of Jesus Christ (God the Son)
Pneumatology – …the Holy Spirit (God the Spirit)
Angelology – …angels
Anthropology – …mankind
Hamartiology – …sin
Soteriology – …salvation (the Work of Jesus Christ)
Ecclesiology – …the church
Eschatology– …the last things (future, return of Christ, eternity)

Through Systematic Theology, the student of the Bible will examine a passage in light of the Bible as a whole. They will access the most helpful study tool, the Bible itself, drawing clues from “the analogy of faith”. They will “interpret the unclear with the clear,” using unambiguous passages to aid his or her understanding of more difficult ones. They will seek out every other passage that talks about the same subject. In the end, the believer will have a plethora of cross references and the ability to synthesize all of the data in a well-defined statement of faith.

Having blessed our minds with theology, we now let it flow to our hearts and pour out to others through the way we live our lives. This discipline is known as Practical Theology. Here the Christian allows his convictions to change his attitudes, actions, and worship. After concluding the meaning of a passage, the student asks, “What then shall I do?” He or she will no longer study the Bible as dry facts like any old history book, but will see the ancient words as applicable to their everyday situations.

In this portion of our blog we hope to bless you in your pursuit of studying God. We will continually point you back to His self-revealing Word rather than promoting our own wisdom and opinions. It is our goal to aid you along the way as you develop your own statement of faith, while keeping the big picture of redemption history always before your eyes. We also hope to aid you in living out what you learn and promote Christlikeness in every area of you life.

Enjoy!

What did Peter mean when he said that Paul's letters contain things that are hard to understand​?

Are Paul’s Letters Hard to Understand? Rethinking 2 Peter 3:16

There is a famous go-to verse in Second Peter for those trying to say that Paul’s letters are confusing and hard to understand. Peter’s words are frequently taken to mean that we cannot properly interpret many of the theological discourses in Paul. His statement has often been used as a cop-out in (losing) debates over a Pauline text. But is this really what Peter meant? Is he really telling his audience that they should throw in the towel and give up on Pauline exegesis? I encourage you to read the entire context in which the verse is found (see passage below), and then we will get into reasons why we can still understand Paul, and why this verse does not teach that we cannot: Continue reading Are Paul’s Letters Hard to Understand? Rethinking 2 Peter 3:16

The Shack: A Sub-Christian Explanation for Evil

The Shack, written by William P. Young and adapted to film in 2017 by Lionsgate media, tells the story of a man named Mackenzie who loses his daughter to a brutal murderer. In his grief, he is later summoned to the shack in which his daughter died by the Holy Trinity manifesting themselves as a black woman, a mid-eastern man, and an Asian woman. The film attempts to provide a Christian understanding of how human suffering and evil can exist when an all-powerful beneficent God exists. However, it ultimately fails to provide either a Biblical or comprehensive solution to the problem it addresses.

Continue reading The Shack: A Sub-Christian Explanation for Evil

baptism as a potential sacrament finds middle ground between three views of baptism

Baptism: A Potential Sacrament

The doctrine and practice of baptism is one of the cornerstones of Christian ecclesiology. In the Great Commission, Jesus tells his church to make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Triune God (Matt. 28:19). Jesus could have prescribed any number of things in his final charge to his disciples, but He included baptism. This places baptism high on the Christian’s priority list. Despite its significance, the church at large has not come to an agreement on what precisely baptism is and how precisely we are to perform it.

“What is baptism?”
“What are the key differences between major denominations in their views of baptism?”
“Is there a possibility of denominations coming together in agreement on this doctrine?”

Such questions are at the heart of this study. I wish to navigate between three different positions on baptism (Memorial Sign, Regenerative Sacrament, and Covenantal Sacrament), and show how baptism is both a sign and sacrament.  Continue reading Baptism: A Potential Sacrament

Did the Fall Ruin God’s Plan? Sin, Suffering, and the Sovereignty of God

“God not only foresaw the fall of the first man, and in him the ruin of his posterity; but also at his own pleasure arranged it. For as it belongs to his wisdom to foreknow all future events, so it belongs to his power to rule and govern them by his hand.”-John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (3:23:7)The above sentiment is not popular today. If I say, “The fall was part of God’s plan the whole time!” or, “This world of sin and suffering was Plan A,” then immediately people will retort that such a view removes free will from the picture, and accuse me of making Adam a robot. Continue reading Did the Fall Ruin God’s Plan? Sin, Suffering, and the Sovereignty of God

He rescues us from this present age

Jesus Delivered Himself to Deliver Us (Galatians 1:4)

“[Jesus] gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age according to the will of God our Father.”

The statement is at the introduction of Paul’s letter and seems to simply be an outburst of doxology. He is overwhelmed at the tremendous mercy of Christ. However, from verse 6 of this chapter we can glean that Paul is not merely rejoicing in this faith. Rather, he is strategically stating the true gospel right out of the gate. You see, the very next thing Paul mentions after this work of Christ is that the Galatians are falling into a different gospel. Thus his statement in verse 4 is that real, saving gospel from which the Galatians are deviating. They had lost focus of the cross. Continue reading Jesus Delivered Himself to Deliver Us (Galatians 1:4)

How the cross carries us down the chain of Salvation

The Cross and the Golden Chain of Salvation (Romans 8:31-34)

In our original post on the Golden Chain of Salvation we looked at Romans 8:30 as our key verse. There we examined each stage in the process (predestination, calling, justification, and glorification) and concluded that, by God’s power, the links of the chain cannot be broken. If one part of the chain applies to somebody, we know the rest will too.

Now we will continue on in Romans 8 where Paul elaborates upon and solidifies what he has already said about the golden chain. Bringing up Christ’s death and resurrection Paul shows how our security is rooted in God’s justice (vv. 31-34), and in His love (vv. 35-39). Christians are hammered with opposition and trials in this life, but because Jesus died for us we can rest assured that nothing can “unlink” us from the chain of salvation. Continue reading The Cross and the Golden Chain of Salvation (Romans 8:31-34)

sin spreads from Adam to all human beings it is universal

Is Sin Universal? Answers From Romans

Sin absolutely is universal. The Bible gives us a clear answer to this inquiry: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). In its original context, that statement comes after Paul spells out the doctrine that all humans, whether Jew or Gentile, are under sin. This has been the point of his letter since the end of the introduction. This letter is all about the gospel, and one cannot understand salvation without a knowledge of sin. Further, when we grasp the universality of sin our worldview will be better equipped to interpret the evil and pain in this world. Continue reading Is Sin Universal? Answers From Romans

World Peace

There has been war throughout human history. Where does war come from? How will they end? Is there hope for world Peace? These are questions in the hearts and minds of people throughout the world. The United Nations was even founded in an effort to maintain and seek world peace. After the Second World War its purpose was stated in its charter: ‘We the peoples of the United Nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind,…’ (http://www.un.org/en/sections/un-charter/preamble/index.html)

Continue reading World Peace

Died Jesus die for the world

16 Arguments for Limited Atonement: A Summary of John Owen’s Thoughts

I recently posted about the Top 10 Best Books on the Atonement. There I mentioned my favorite book outside the Bible, The Death of Death by John Owen. This is Owen’s treatise on Limited Atonement. The entirety of the third section (book) is devoted to 16 arguments in support of Limited Atonement. Now each one may not be sufficient by itself (although some are) to prove the doctrine, but by the end we see that the overarching theme traced throughout the whole Bible is undeniable. Below is my summary of them. As the title implies, I’ll try to keep with Owen’s thought and Bible references, although I may at times fall for the temptation to add my own take and flare. All page numbers are from the 1983 reprint by Banner of Truth. Again, there is a free PDF version on CCEL

Continue reading 16 Arguments for Limited Atonement: A Summary of John Owen’s Thoughts

God's Golden Chain of Salvation is described in Romans 8:30

The Golden Chain of Salvation, Romans 8:30

These whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified” (Romans 8:30).

Paul had just said that God is working all things for our good (v. 28), and that we will be conformed to Jesus’ image (v. 29). Continuing that thought, he explains that the plan of salvation is secure, and how God brings us into that conformity. The teaching in this sentence has rightly been called The Golden Chain of Salvation. Nobody can be at one link in this chain without all of the others being true. Anybody who is justified before God is so because they were first predestined by God, and because God followed through with His purpose to save them by also calling them. Anybody who is justified will by no means fall away, but God will complete their salvation and bring them into eternal glory. The verse could have the same meaning if it had only said, “all whom He predestined, He also glorified. Continue reading The Golden Chain of Salvation, Romans 8:30