By Mary Wiley
Theological instruction within discipleship relationships should be an emphasis within our churches, seeking to build doctrinally sound followers of Christ who both know God rightly and worship God rightly.
Findings in the Lifeway Research 2020 State of Theology study paint a picture of a terribly anemic and atrophied understanding of the truth of Scripture in the United States.
As the view of God’s holiness is shaded by a largely nonchalant view of sin and Jesus’ deity is dismissed, the need for theological teaching becomes terrifyingly clear.
Many of the people in our pews don’t realize they don’t believe the gospel as secured by Christ or the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as revealed in Scripture.
There are members of our churches whose lives aren’t surrendered to the work of a triune God, but who have created God in their own image, allowing their idols to inform their understanding of what’s true.
The solution to this problem is theology—or the study of God—and a continued call to the gospel message of repentance and surrender.
In addition to teaching the cornerstones of our faith like doctrines surrounding the Trinity, Christology, redemption, and Scripture, below are eight additional key terms we should be teaching.
In reference to God’s attributes:
God has all power. He can do anything and is in control of all things. We serve a God who is second to none and who cares for us like only a Creator can.
God is all knowing. Nothing catches Him by surprise. He never sleeps, and there’s nothing He doesn’t know or does not have dominion over.
Knowledge lives at our fingertips today, but only God is all-knowing and powerful enough to do something about all of the public and secret truths He knows.
When global news overwhelms or the hidden elements of our lives are trying, we can rest in God’s omniscience and power over all.
God is present in all places and at all times. This should be immensely comforting for us, knowing there’s no triumph or valley we may walk through without His presence.
In reference to understanding the Truth
4. General Revelation
This is God’s revelation of Himself in creation. This is indirect information about God rather than a clear view of the gospel message.
Although this may lead to a view of God’s vastness or His incredible workmanship, outside of an understanding of Christ crucified and resurrected, this is not salvific revelation.
5. Special Revelation
This is God’s revelation of Himself in the living Word—Jesus and the written Word, Scripture. This revelation leads to a sinner’s need for repentance and salvation, with Jesus as the Messiah who did something about our sin.
In reference to salvation
This is the act of God based on Christ’s death on the cross in which a sinner is declared righteous by the transfer of Christ’s righteousness. This occurs at the moment of surrendering to Christ.
Unlike justification, sanctification is not a single moment, but every moment from surrendering to Christ until you see Jesus face to face.
Sanctification is the process of becoming more and more like Jesus. It is often non-linear, and there can be seasons of feast and seasons of famine, but the general direction of sanctification is growth.
This is the last stage of the salvation process which will take place when Christ returns and our bodies are resurrected, our souls reunited with them, and we are perfected into the image of God.
This is a coming hope of the Christian life, that we will be glorified and in the presence of God perfectly for all of eternity.
The beauty of theology is this: The deeper our knowledge of God and the things of God, the deeper our worship and surrender runs. May we be a people committed to the truth of God’s Word, not only knowing it, but living it.
MARY WILEY (@marycwiley) is the author of Everyday Theology: What You Believe Matters and holds an MA in theological studies from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. She and her husband, John, have two children and live in the Nashville area. She works in publishing and hosts the “Questions Kids Ask” podcast.