You Need a Strong Foundation built on the Bible and Theology
My university had several majors in the Biblical Studies department. There was everything from missions to Biblical languages. More than a decade later I still remember what one of my professors told our class during my freshman year.
A student asked him, “I feel called to ministry but I don’t know if I should be a pastor, a missionary, or something else. What should my major be?” The professor responded, “Focus on the Bible and theology. Take as many of those classes as you can. The specifics to your profession can be learned along the way, but you need to have a strong foundation built on the Bible and theology.”
Pure wisdom. A pastor learning how to preach matters little if he doesn’t understand the Bible and theology. A missionary learning anthropology matters little if she doesn’t understand the Bible and theology. I want to briefly argue that this is essential, not just for pastors and missionaries, but for every single Christian. I’ve also added 3 books at the end to get you started.
1. The Bible
This part shouldn’t come as a surprise. We know that all believers should be saturated with God’s Word, whether that be from reading, listening, or meditating on it. But why? Why is it important for the average Christian to have consistent Bible intake?
Well for starters, it’s the primary way God has made Himself known to us. He chose to have His words written down so that His followers could read them. Reading the Bible allows you and me, as small and unimportant as we are, to know the God of the universe and His plans for us.
“ All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17
This is a famous passage for a reason. It holds up the awesomeness of the Bible while showing the practical ways it impacts our lives on a daily basis. Paul doesn’t apply this to some group of “elite” believers but as a general truth for every single person who trusts in Christ.
The Bible teaches you about God, mankind, sin, etc. Because it shows you what sin is, it rebukes and corrects you when you are sinning. It trains you in righteousness, the way God wants you to live. These things that only Scripture provides equip you to do the good works that God has planned for you each day.
Knowing the Bible well isn’t something that only pastors and missionaries need. You need it, too.
Every single Christian needs to be a theologian. You may be raising your eyebrows at this point, but hear me out.
What is Theology?
Sadly, the word theology has a bad reputation. I guess it’s usually associated with arguments and snobby philosophers. I’ve heard many people say, “I want the Bible but not theology!” Well, that’s not possible. That’s like saying, “I want to read about God without understanding anything about Him.”
Theology is simply the study of God. So, anytime you read the Bible and say, “God is like…” you’re doing theology. For example, what do you think when you read Proverbs 15:13, “The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, observing the wicked and the good”? God sees everything we do. That’s theology (the big theological word is omniscient) and it’s obviously very practical.
Let me ask you, does that text mean that God has a literal set of eyes in every town in the world? Hopefully, you said, “Of course not!” You just answered a theological question, a question about God.
I hope this makes sense and you understand the real meaning of the word theology. It’s impossible to read the Bible and notdo theology. That means every single Christian is a theologian.
When you think through how to be a godly mom or a Christ-like husband, you’re doing theology. Having a solid foundation on the Bible and theology is crucial for every believer because these 2 things impact your life every day.
The fact that every single Christian is a theologian is a little scary. That’s a big reason why the medieval Catholic church didn’t want the Bible to be translated into the common language. If everyone could understand the Bible, then all kinds of heresies (bad theology or false teaching about God) would start popping it.
The solution? The church. This is one of many reasons to be part of a local church. One of its jobs is to help its members understand the Bible so false teaching won’t enter.
So, if I say to a brother in the church, “I was reading Proverbs 15:13 and I think God has spies watching everyone”, he should help me understand the text correctly. This is the body helping its members be healthy instead of snowballing alone down the hill of bad theology.
If you are a follower of Jesus, you need the Bible and good theology. This is true if you’re a pastor or a single mom working 3 jobs. They allow you to know God and make sense of Him. Regardless of how you are serving the Lord, focus on these 2 things and make sure you know them well.
If this short post has convinced you of the importance of learning good theology, check out these 3 books to get you started. They were written for average people and there’s little academic language so everyone should be able to understand.