This is probably the most obvious of all sources for theology. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that Scripture is useful for “teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.” This is our capitol source. When we want to “do good theology”, we first turn our heads toward the Scripture. For the new converts in Christ, I often tell them to read the Bible at least 30 minutes a day. Immerse yourself in the Bible. It doesn’t have to be King James. If you aren’t used to reading the old English, then by all means grab a version that you can understand. (My personal favorite is the New King James.) What is most important when you’re first starting out is that you pour yourself into the Scripture and into fellowship with other believers. Conform your life to what you read. Seek to understand all that you read. When you don’t understand it, keep reading. When you do understand it, make notes.
Our theology does not matter as much as our relationship to Christ. For the new converts, especially when your background is without any Christian understanding, what is most important is that you continue to learn, you continue to live how you read the Bible telling you to live, and that you continue to search for deeper expressions of love and adoration for your Savior. It is about Christ, and not about our understanding. The only way that you will come to know Jesus better is by reading the Bible and spending time with Him through fellowship of the saints and prayer. Almost nothing else matters.
It is in conforming our lives to the Scripture, and actually living out what we read, that we find the best theology. Why is it that God tells the Israelites not to eat pork? I will ask you, “Have you ever gone without eating pork?” Why does God command that the Israelite men not cut their sideburns? I will ask, “Have you ever grown them out?” If you want to know what it means, and why it would be commanded, whether you believe that God has given us freedom from such commands or not, just do it. What does it hurt you? If it doesn’t hurt you, then why not? This is the way to come to understand – usually quite rudely – why God would command such things. This is the way that we do theology. It is by living the text.
Day and night we should be pouring out over the words of God. If He isn’t speaking to us words, like in an oracle, prophecy, speaking through life events, or dreams, then we need to read the Bible. Even if God is speaking in these means, we still need to read the Bible. If we’re not reading the Bible, we need to be considering the words that are in it. We need to be meting upon them. Everything is consumed in the passages of the text. All of our life, our time, our thoughts, our energy, it is all given over to either reading, debating, discussing, or living out what the Scripture says. If that doesn’t classify your life, then you aren’t doing theology. You are no longer your own. You’ve been bought with a price. Why would you not give everything to know your lover?
They who spend time watching filth, listening to perverted songs, reading fiction books for entertainment, and all such nonsense will one day answer to God. Is it worth it? Is entertainment worth being defiled? Is watching a movie that has no significance on your life worth it? Is watching a television show that has language, sexuality, and other perversion worth the amusement? Are you coming closer to Jesus, or are you being distracted? And if you’re being distracted, from what? From life? From Jesus? From reality? What are you running from? I know what you are running toward. If you pursue ungodly and worldly entertainment, you are running directly into the jaws of the devil. You are grieving the Spirit of God, and you are doing so without even realizing it.
We often think that theology is something for the learned. It is for the scholar. It is actually for everyone. And, I’m willing to bet, the woman who has prayed for decades, diligently reading her Bible and discussing the Scripture with all who she gathers with, is more of a theologian than the most accredited doctorates of the faith. When we get to heaven, we will be utterly embarrassed at what we see. Men with no learning – fishermen and louts – turned the world upside-down. We can’t even find the gumption to turn the television off. Forget about casting down strongholds. Forget about taking every thought captive. We’ve let the devil right into our living room, and we’ve positioned all of the furniture toward the idol for daily worship. And then we want to talk about the deep things of God. Wake up.
The time is coming, and has already come, when the net will close in around Christians throughout the entire world. Those who have been asleep will wake up in prison without the authority to be set free. Those who have been oppressed violently will continue to flee, finding no rest and no peace. These are the two tactics of the enemy against nations. We don’t even know it, because we’ve spent far too long sleeping in the light. We high five one another, bear hug each other’s back, and proclaim blessings upon one another. And then we go home and watch football and speak violence against our brother, simply because they root for the opposing team. Vicious talk is sin – and against a brother is blaspheme. Do you not know that they are the temple of the Holy Spirit? You speak maliciously against the very temple of God. You tear down the very Bride of Christ. And then we want to know what the Bible says. How foolish can we be? What has to take place before we realize that the world is going to hell, people are being oppressed, and many are converting to atheism because of our selfishness?
Our study of Scripture, and the place that it has in the study of theology, is not something that we can simply contemplate theologically. This is authoritative in all aspects of life. If we don’t live it, we don’t know it. If we don’t read it, we don’t know it. This isn’t a halfway thing. Either we read it, and are consumed by it, and we live it, and are taken up with the Way of Christ, or we don’t know the Bible at all. Our theology is a lie. It is either the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, or it is not the truth. If our lives show something contrary to what we preach, then what we preach is not truth. I don’t care how factual the statements are. They are lies. If they don’t cause the heart to worship and live in holiness, then they are not truth. Truth sets free. There are no “buts” in that statement. There is no leniency.
The place that Scripture has in theology is more precious than many consider. Often we think of it as authoritative because it alone is inerrant. This is wrong. It is authoritative because nothing else can demand being conformed to. Our theology, our traditions, our experience, our reason, and even the things that we believe that we have received from the mouth of God through the Holy Spirit must all bow down to the authority of the Holy Writ. In the end, all that matters is whether we have lived as Jesus has told us to live. If we have, then we shall receive honor. If we have not, then we shall receive shame. No amount of theological hoopla can discredit that.
Our study of the Scripture is often pernicious. It is dangerous, because we can often come to high degrees of mental ascent, but we still lack the ability to live it. If we read, and we understand, but we have not the desire to get on our knees and pray to a Holy God to convert our lives to that revelation, then it would have been better to never have even read it. I’ve never seen someone get up front after a Sunday service and weep before a holy God. I’ve only seen people go up front for healing, blessing, and sometimes to socialize. This should not be. Where are the tears? Where is the knowledge that not everything is right? Where is the sobriety? God help us, because we know your Word and yet don’t believe it.
I have heard a story of George Fox, the founder of the Quakers. He lived in the seventeenth century. There was a day that it was pressed upon his heart that someone would come to him to debate whether it is possible to live a truly holy life before God. When they came to him, he asked whether they believe the Scripture. They replied, “Of course.” The man then went on to explain how the Scripture tells us we cannot live absolutely holy. After all, did not even Paul say, “That which I desire to do, I do not do, but what I hate I do”? George’s reply was of rebuke. “The Scripture was written by holy men. Do not dare take their words and use them as excuse to live in unholiness!” This happened three times with three different people. Each time, George Fox shut them down, because how can we possibly use the Bible to explain our sin when we commit sin that would cause the apostles to question our salvation?
How can we possibly say we are in Christ and then look at pornography? How can we possibly devote the majority of our time to sports, television, music, moving up in our careers, bigger homes, more cars, or better and faster cars, increasing in things, and all of the like? Is that the logic of love? How can we say that love is even within us when we continue to devote self to such things while people continue to die of hunger, even within our own towns? This is an abomination, and it is not “good theology”. Good theology, based from the Scripture, would drive us to tears. It would burden our hearts with all of the darkness that is all around us. It would cause us to pray, and in praying, to also act.
I would recommend that we all reconsider our identity. I recommend that we all examine ourselves to see if we’re even in the faith. Theology based from the Scripture demands that we live what we preach. I couldn’t tell you how many people I’ve met who condemn sexual impurity, only to then later that night look up pornography on the computer. Then they come, sometimes with tears, to repent and confess their sin to the brothers. They seek prayer and the anointing with oil to be made whole. They seek healing from their sin. We pray, they live a few days free, continue to speak against the sin of sexual immorality, and then fall right back into it. There comes a time when we need to ask whether we’re speaking truth or if we’re only condemning ourselves. If it be self abasement, it cannot bring freedom. But, if it be truth, we shall no longer live in death. This is the affect of theology formed from Scripture.
The concepts of repentance will even be formed from the Scripture to bring freedom. If our repentance from sexual sin is simply because we’ve committed the sexual sin, then we have wrongly assessed our sin. There are deeper roots than that. That is only the outward manifestation, and that is why you continue to perform it. The deeper root, which has other branches formed from it, is not taking seriously the call of God. We have treated Him like an idol, and resurrection like a ‘Jesus’ thing. We’ve read His message, and we’ve even heard it preached Sunday after Sunday, and yet we continue to live in a manner contrary to His Kingdom. What is it that will set you free from your sexual sin? Sell all of your possessions, and follow Christ. Do you find it difficult to watch television without temptation? Smash the television. Can you not be online without it running through your mind? Cancel the Internet bill. Live without television, Internet, video games, smart phones, sexually explicit music, and anything else that might cause for any means of temptation. Then, once you’ve done that, start asking whether you need to downsize your home. How many bedrooms do you have versus how many people live there? How large is the living room versus how often you host people? How many shoes do you own, and do you need all of them? How many coats are in your closet? How much clothing do you have? Do you have stuff that you don’t even use? What is your garage full of? How many cars do you own? How much stuff is in your life that you simply don’t need? That is why you’re hooked on pornography. You haven’t taken seriously the call of God to live simply, and therefore have been living by a wisdom contrary to the Kingdom of God.
In our repentance, we are repenting for the wrong things. How much of your life is devoted to a system of religion that doesn’t even produce fruit in your life? Are you spending hours of your week promoting a church building, church programs, and other sorts of events that are simply a lie? The Church is the people, and anything less than daily fellowship and communion with the saints is not Church. Buildings are not wrong to have. What is wrong is when the building becomes “church”. To perpetuate that lie, and to have some sort of church law that would destroy any “clicks” by separating those who have been able to bond together through fellowship is to perpetuate the lie. When you live in a lie, when falsity is your every moment, that will manifest somehow in some way – probably through cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, or sexual sin. That is your root. In all things in your life, are you seeking first the Kingdom of God, or are you continuing to perpetuate systems that are contrary to God?
Repent for the real issue. The real issue is that you have been handing yourself over to the principalities and powers, and in that have lost all authority against them. Because you’ve willingly put yourself under their government, you find that freedom is not an option. When there is no Body of Christ that has come out from their oppression and began to call the lie for what it really is, blowing the whistle on anyone and everyone who thinks themselves to be doing right by the kingdom of darkness, the spiritual void will be filled one way or another. That void will be filled with Nazism, the homosexual activists, militant atheism, radical Islam, or some other form of severe torture against the people of God. It is our fault, as the Church, that these things have risen to power in modern times. We have not known freedom, and therefore we are to blame for the millions who have died at the hands of such demonic furor. That is what you repent for.
This is what the authority of Scripture reveals. It shows us our bankrupt hearts and abilities outside of Christ. We don’t merely come to Christ for salvation. We come to Him for life. That life is constituted by a different culture. No longer are we of this world, nor the kingdoms of this world, but now are of heaven and the heavenly kingdom. This will look utterly different than anything that we’ve before been a part of. It is a radical call to come out from father, nation, and kindred to go to the land that God will show you. The map to come unto Zion is found in the passages of Scripture. The daily life that we live will be revealed to us when we put into practice the very teachings of Scripture, and we don’t try to interpret these passages away by saying that there was a different cultural context in the first century. The glory that is revealed in the book of Acts stemmed directly from living out what was taught in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. These books reveal the heart of God and His ultimate intention. Anything less than that will result in gross immorality. This is what it means for Scripture to be our primary source.