Why Study Theology? Part 2
Updated: Jul 1, 2021
In the last article published in this series, we explored why studying theology (the study of God) is important. We referenced three main ideas:
1. To know God is to love God.
2. To know God is to worship God.
3. To know God is to grow in grace.
In short, if you devote yourself to learn more about the God you serve, you will grow in your love for him, in your ability to truly worship him, and in grace.
This article explores point number two: To know God is to worship God.
How do I Worship God?
God prescribes specific ways that his people should worship him, and he takes these prescriptions for worship very seriously.
For example, Nadab and Abihu, both sons of Aaron, the high priest, were struck down dead for offering unholy fire before God (Leviticus 10:1-3).
Some might argue against applying this story of Nadab and Abihu to our modern-day context as the church by saying, “That was the Old Covenant. We are in the New Covenant. There is no judgment, and I can worship God however I want.”
Christian, you cannot worship God however you want. God has not changed, and you must worship him as he has commanded in his Word. Worshipping the God of the universe is not a light matter.
God spent most of the Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible) describing what he expected of his people. As New Covenant believers, we are no longer bound to the law (Romans 7:4-6), but the law helps us understand what God requires. He desires his people to worship him properly and with order - to worship well. We also see this pattern of orderly worship in the New Testament (John 4:24).
As a disclaimer to his instructions to the Corinthian church, Paul writes, “I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me. That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ” (1 Corinthians 4:14-17).
God gave Paul to the Corinthian church as an example of how to live and to explain what proper and orderly worship looks like.
The weekly service at your church matters to God - whether it is a church of 100 or 1,000 people. As Christians we must have:
Reverence for the preaching of Scripture (1 Timothy 4:11-16)
Reverence and joy in the singing of spiritual truths that are in praise and worship (Ephesians 5:19)
Joy in the fellowship of other saints (1 Thessalonians 2:8).
These times with God’s people are meant to nourish and encourage our souls toward godliness as we encourage others in their walks with the Lord.
The corporate preaching of God’s Word is one of the most important hours of your week. For the born-again believer, this is not a light issue. Your church should take the solid preaching of God’s Word seriously. It is a holy time – not meant to be spent mentally distracted by other things. Within corporate evangelicalism, we devote 2 to 3 hours of our week to church and God’s people. The other 166 hours of the week is when “life” happens. Do not expect to be spiritually nourished if you are starving yourself on a mere 2 hours of spiritual food every week.
As important as corporate worship is, the daily nourishment we receive from our own personal
times with Jesus matters just as much and is the fountain from which our times in corporate worship gain depth and meaning.
Partaking in personal spiritual disciplines will not only guide you toward a deeper knowledge of who God is (theology), but it will greatly enrich your love for your Savior. Not that salvation is works-based, but because Christianity is about a person, that relationship needs nurturing.
You never waste your time when you spend it in the presence of your Savior. That deep, inner worship of Jesus that only heaven can see is deeply needed. Your soul will wither up and dry out if you are not regularly drinking from the water that Jesus offers.
Are you daily partaking of the spiritual disciplines for the health of your soul before your God?
These personal spiritual disciplines are just that - disciplines. There are many times when your flesh will loudly rebel at getting up earlier to read Scripture and pray or to attend church. For the health of your soul, do it anyway. Read your Bible even though you are tired, have a messy house, or just want to be alone and do nothing. Do not be afraid to wear out your Bible.
“A Bible that is falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t.” – Charles Spurgeon.
These spiritual disciplines can be challenging – not because they are easy, but because they require self-sacrifice. The benefits of these disciplines are slow, steady, and remain mostly hidden from the outside world. To practice these disciplines with joy and to do them well, you must die to yourself.
You Must Die
Romans 12:1 says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”
Your worship of God includes sacrificing yourself – your wants, desires, dreams, and even how you naturally want to worship God – and placing those things in the offering plate. You must submit your fleshly desires to God. Your natural desires instinctively oppose the commands of God. This is because true worship of him requires putting your flesh to death.
How you worship God, both corporately and privately, matters. Worship of God requires dying to yourself and being continually made alive in God’s Spirit. Participation in the spiritual disciplines (both privately and corporately) is key for worship that stimulates growth. This growth will give way to a deeper knowledge of God (theology), which will give way to a deeper love for God and growth in grace.
1) Is your worship of God based upon your own desires or what God commands in his Word?
2) Are you regularly challenged to die to your own desires and wants in your worship of God?
3) What is currently distracting your heart and mind from worshipping Jesus?
4) Are your personal times with God on a regular basis? Are you daily filled up so that you can pour out for the spiritual benefit of others?
The Valley of Vision is a collection of deeply spiritual prayers written by the Puritans. I have learned so much about having a deep heart-felt love for God and hatred of my own sin through these prayers.
Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Don Whitney. I read this book as part
of my Personal Spiritual Disciplines class for school. Dr. Whitney does an incredible job of going through the various spiritual disciplines and making them extremely practical.
The ESV Study Bible has proved to be an incredible resource in my own reading and understanding of Scripture.
Brittany Proffitt lives in Dallas, TX, holds a BA in Religion, and is a student at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. She is passionate about Scripture and how God’s Word impacts individuals’ hearts and lives.