properly conceived and practiced, theology leads to doxology and devotion. That
is, the study of God is designed by God to evoke awe in our hearts, praise from
our lips, and obedience in our lives. If this fruit is absent or anemic, we
must carefully consider the roots of our study. Why are we engaging in
theology? Are we approaching God as a subject that is to be studied and
mastered rather than the Creator who is to be worshiped and adored? Have we put
ourselves in the place of God or have we taken our place under the mighty hand
week, our TLI team traveled to Sighet, Romania to commence the normal
three-year course of study. Our task therefore is to teach the first course, “The
Attributes of God,” and by the grace of God we have about twenty students who
we divided into two groups. Group one is being taught by Ethan Larson (our team
leader) along with Bob Klint, and group two is being taught by me (Charlie
Handren) along with Greg Ley.
the first session, I led group two to contemplate the glory and the danger of
studying God. The glory is that as we grow in the knowledge of God, the potential
for worshiping God, loving God, and obeying God also grows. The study of God
does not automatically cause worship, love, and obedience to increase, but it
does expand the possibilities. On the other hand, the study of God is fraught
with the danger that as we grow in knowledge we will also puff up with pride.
Theology devoid of doxology and devotion always leads to legalism, hypocrisy,
and idolatry of one sort or another.
we must not allow ourselves to think this a small danger, for Jesus sternly
warned us in the Sermon on the Mount, “Not everyone who says to me,
‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will
of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord,
did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many
mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you;
depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’” (Matthew 7:21-23).
our eyes thus focused on God himself as our prize, we commenced our study and,
over the first two days, contemplated the incomprehensibility of God, the unity
and tri-unity of God, the independence of God, the unchangeableness of God, the
eternality of God, and the omnipresence of God. As day two drew to a close, we
prayed together and I dismissed the group.
before we could leave, one of the older men got everyone’s attention and
insisted that we pause to sing our praise to God. For him, the
long-contemplation of God gave rise to an awe that could not be suppressed or
put on hold. As a worshiper, he had to sing. As a leader, he had to call us to
sing. And so we sang a Romanian hymn entitled, “I Am the Alpha and the Omega.”
We rendered heartfelt worship to the God we had studied. We gave glory to the
Father whose glory we had seen.
we drove back to our hotel, it occurred to me that theology should lead to
doxology and devotion in this way, that is, as a genuine and spontaneous
response of the heart and the will to God. Forced worship is no worship at all.
Of course, personal discipline is part of loving God, for we must daily choose
to read and meditate on his Word, to pray and sing, to trust and obey. But life
with God does not reduce to discipline. Rather, normal life with God gives rise
to spontaneous responses of worship and obedience, and when such responses come
we know that we have entered into the glory of studying God.