Jesus Died to Save Us From Our Theology
Does theology ever make you miserable? Torn between the poles of opposing positions where biblical and historical evidence seems to lie on both sides. Should I believe that the miraculous gifts have ceased, dying out as the apostle John yielded up his last faithful breaths? Or should I believe that those gifts have continued and the ghost-town nature of modern faith in such has stymied the miraculous? Should I believe that the spikes and the nails and the full cup of the Father’s wrath was poured out upon the Son for the elect only? Or did Christ offer himself as a sacrifice for the entire expanse of the human race, but applied only to those who turn in humble belief in their own ability to save themselves? And what do we make of the wonderful and labyrinthine words of the Apocalypse of John, scene upon scene that bedazzles and befuddles? Is Jesus coming back to rule for a thousand years? Or is the millennial kingdom marching forward towards completion as you read this?
These are hard questions, questions that I myself often struggle to answer. The texts and philosophies and hermeneutical models stack up in convincing piles, only to be countered by the next view in rational and compelling ways. In an environment where theology is valued, where careful analysis of the text is prized, it is easy to begin the ever-so-subtle drift of heart from worshiping Christ for who he is to worshiping Christ for the theological system his death and resurrection created. If we’re miserable when we wrestle through theological questions, it’s because we’re worshipping systems instead of a Savior.
Christ died to save us from our theology. And the misery we often feel as we pressure ourselves to “get it right” is a product of us finding our identity in theological perfectionism rather than the perfection of a Person who is our intercessor. I believe in believer’s baptism. I could be wrong. I believe that miraculous gifts have ceased. I could be wrong. I believe that believers will go through the tribulation, after which the millennial kingdom will begin. I’m praying that I’m wrong. But my identity before the men and before the Lord is none of these things. My identity is Jesus Christ crucified. Not my theological system.
Who do we run to when the well is dry and the heavens are as brass? The Valley of Vision, or Psalm 42 and Ezekiel’s Valley of Dry Bones?
When the money flow ebbs and the pressure mounts what path do we trod? Psalm 23 or the Gospel According to Dave Ramsey?
When someone dares reproach our treasured doctrine of election who is our chief advocate? John Piper or Ephesians 1?
Too often we trade the gasoline for exhaust and then grow angry when the car of our delight in God won’t start. All of these men have wise words, words that comfort and teach and correct. But all their words are exhaust, by-products of a heart consumed with the God revealed in Scripture. Why are we content to trade the white-hot flame of a heart fed by Scripture for the wheezing engine trying to run off the passion and joy of another man? Enough of the pre-processed. Give us the raw meat of the Word of God, and let us prove our doctrine by our Scriptures.
If we ignore our Bibles for the sake of words about the Bible, we will grow miserable. The heart will be consumed by what its time is spent imbibing. A boat always takes on the water it’s floating in. I pray for you and I pray for myself that as our time is spent reading wonderful things about the Bible – history, languages, nuances, hermeneutics – they wouldn’t become our pagan gods. No matter how pure my theology is, it will never reconcile us to God. Only one man was perfect. And our identity rests in him and him alone.