This Monday will mark my fifth week of class at Southern. My time here thus far has provided many opportunities for learning both in and out of the classroom. I would like to share several valuable things that the Lord has been teaching me over these past few weeks.
1. Jesus Christ is the Center of All True Christian Theology. This reality has been brought to light primarily in two classes: Systematic Theology 1 and Biblical Hermeneutics. Granted, as a Christian, I implicitly believe and understand this truth, but being shown explicitly—from Scripture—how Jesus Christ is the center of God’s plan for the universe and the centerpiece of the Bible as a whole has been a wonderful and life-giving discovery. It’s all over the place! Ephesians 1:9-10, “making known to use the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth;” Colossians 1:16, “…all things were created through him and for him.” Philippians 2:9-11 tells us that God is glorified specifically through the exaltation and worship of the Son, “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above all names so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Christ is the hermeneutical key to the entire Bible, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44). Keeping Christ at the center of one’s theology is not only being faithful to Scripture, it keeps truth in its proper place and perspective. Truth is personal because Truth is a Person. This has direct impact on the affections.
2. Theological Study for the Sake of Theological Study is Deadly. This is derived primarily from experience, although Scripture itself would testify to this reality as well. Mere intellectual study of Scripture and theology for the its own sake will result in pride, blindness, spiritual drought, works of the flesh, lack of love toward others and a loss of passion for God. It scares me how easy it is to breeze over glorious truths, or to ponder stunning theological realities with cool indifference. If you would pray for seminary students, pray that their studies would always be devotional and for their souls first and foremost. Keeping Christ at the center is certainly an essential part of the remedy, but the Holy Spirit must grant spiritual sight, understanding, and a heart that is receptive to the truth or all efforts will bear little or no fruit. That is why we need your prayers.
3. Bitterness Hinders Spiritual Growth. I am almost daily amazed at how delicate our souls are. A little seed of anger toward the cocky basketball player who took me to school last week, or a hint of condescension toward a particular student, and the weed of bitterness takes root and begins to grow, vigorously choking out spiritual life and health. Without regular confession and repentance of sin, all the study in the world will not make me more like Christ or lead me to true spiritual understanding. There is no room for bitterness in theological study.
Well, those are just a few things I have been learning. I actually had four more areas I wanted to discuss, but they will have to wait for a later post.