Integrating Theology and Life


Following on from my last post, I'd like to think about this division that is sometimes created between a 'burning heart' and sound doctrine. This is, in fact, what Thomas Rees was warning about. He looked at the example where theology was ignored in favour of feeling, yet that is not the only way we can separate between the two. Sometimes it's possible to know all the right theology, and even mentally agree to it, but still have this division in real life. Sometimes we act based on feeling or experience, rather than on the basis of the sound doctrine we know. This creates just as much a division between the 'burning heart' and theology as does ignoring doctrine altogether.
This can be the reality in any number of ways; e.g. when we know the truth of justification by grace thanks to Christ's death for our sins on the Cross, yet allow ourselves to wallow in feelings of guilt and unworthiness - of course we're guilty and unworthy, but as believers we should be living on the basis of God's forgiveness and Christ's righteousness imputed to us. We can never be worthy in ourselves, but we are righteous in Him! As the chorus goes:

He is all my righteousness
I stand complete in Him
And Worship Him

When we beat ourselves up about our unworthiness, we are really looking to our own works for justification, rather than to Christ's finished work. This is a common way we sometimes fail to integrate our theology with our lives.
As a Bible college lecturer, this issue makes me think of my students, particularly the new students. Suddenly they're being confronted with massive tomes of scholarly reading, theories galore, Greek paradigms and debates among theologians. Some might be tempted to make a separation between their academic theological studies and their personal piety; but I hope they don't. Theological studies necessarily involve scholarship and academia, but these are supposed to be aids to the students in their theological development. The details of ancient heresies are not simply taught for the sake of bolstering general knowledge, but to help us learn from the mistakes of the past and teach us the huge importance of the issues in question. The theology taught in class should, hopefully, penetrate the heart. As we learnt from the disciples on the road to Emmaus, it is proper understanding of God's Word that leads to a burning heart.

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The Tenets of the Apostolic Church

The Unity of the Godhead, and Trinity of the Persons therein.

The utter depravity of human nature, the necessity for repentance and regeneration and the eternal doom of the finally impenitent.

The virgin birth, sinless life, atoning death, triumphant resurrection, ascension, and abiding intercession of our Lord Jesus Christ; His second coming, and millennial reign upon earth.

Justification and Sanctification of the believer through the finished work of Christ.

The Baptism of the Holy Ghost for believers, with signs following.

The nine gifts of the Holy Ghost for the edification, exhortation and comfort of the Church, which is the body of Christ.

The Sacraments of Baptism by immersion and of the Lord's Supper.

The Divine inspiration and authority of the Holy Scriptures.

Church government by apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, elders and deacons.

The possibility of falling from grace.

The obligatory nature of tithes and offerings.