Theocentricity : Getting There

“Holy Is The Lord” by Chris Tomlin

Having shared my reason for starting a blog on the Home page and defined what I believe is the biblically supported solution to the problem in Western Christendom on the Theocentricity? page, it only seemed right and logical to provide the practical solutions to move toward being a people correctly and firmly rooted in the Scriptures to the end that the church glorifies God through Jesus Christ.

I ended the Theocentricity? article with a quote by A.W. Tozer in which he stated the problem the church has is its low view of God, replacing the high view of God it once had.  No doubt is raised in my mind when I say the church largely has replaced God with man as its focal point or has become anthropocentric. There are countless people who teach and even more who believe God exists primarily for their self-centered ungodly sakes.  I am well aware the Bible teaches The Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit serves us, but it is never in a way that is separated from His primary will of obtaining glory for Himself, nor makes Him guilty of idolatry. His benevolent service toward us is designed to increase and intensify our service toward and worship of Him. (1 Peter 4:11)

Not to us, O LORD, not to us,
But to Your name give glory
Because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth.
(Psalm 115:1)

Pursue Theology

In order to gain a theocentric perspective or that “higher view of God”, one must first be committed to a life pursuit of theology.  Theology is simply the study of God: His essence and will.  Therefore, becoming a theologian, or one who studies God, is the necessary prerequisite to being comprehensively theocentric. Lest you think being a theologian is reserved for seminary faculty and church leaders, let’s observe a few passages from Scripture that lay the responsibility and privilege on every believer.

5″You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6″These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. 7″You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. 8″You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. 9″You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

(Deuteronomy 6:5-9)

5″Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God and walk in all His ways and keep His commandments and hold fast to Him and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

(Joshua 22:5)

16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…

(Colossians 3:16a)

From these three verses from both testaments, we see the exhortation for every believer to orient his mind and way of life according to the commandments of God.

The Source of Theology

An aged apostle once wrote to his disciple,

“16All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

(2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Though the canon of Scripture wasn’t fully assembled at the penning of this instructional epistle, the sufficiency of the claim is still justified. Remember, at this time the Old Testament had been the primary source of the revelation of God.  Nevertheless, Paul declares all Scripture was profitable for the reasons listed. He also declares all Scripture was inspired by God.  For inspired (depending on your version), he used the word theopneustos. Theopneustos is a combination of two Greek words, theos and pneo. Theos means God and pneo means to breathe.  A literal translation would read, “All Scripture is God-breathed.” God graciously and supernaturally communicated His mind through 40 different human beings on 3 continents, in 3 languages over a period of 1,500 hundred years in 66 books so that we may understand Him and His will, ultimately through Jesus Christ.  If we are to know God and His will, then we must become biblically saturated people.  What a great, great gift we have in His very mind recorded for us that we may know Him!

Bibliology

By God’s grace our faith will be strengthened as He leads us to understand key characteristics about the Bible.  The study of these characteristics are termed by theologians as bibliology.  The foundational characteristics of bibliology that are essential in developing theology are: its inspiration and revelation, its inerrancy or veracity, and its canonicity.  Most of these characteristics are internally supported.

Inspiration / Revelation – When inspiration or revelation is talked about, the origin of Scripture is what is being referred to.  As stated earlier, the Bible is the very word of God and it makes this claim close to 4,000 times throughout Scripture. Other than 2 Timothy 3:16-17, one of the most compelling New Testament passages declaring divine authorship is 2 Peter 1:20-21 which says,

“20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”

Simply put, Scripture is not the invention or opinion of man.  With that said, the charge of religious human bias or cultural collusion can easily be dismissed.

Inerrancy – Though many people have tried to discredit the Bible with claims that it contains contradictions, it has been proven to be truthful.  The only way for the Bible to have true errors would be if it originated from a corrupt source.  But that has been discussed already.  From the original parchments, the only “errors” that have been detected in subsequent manuscripts were scribal punctuation errors.  These scribal errors, having been carefully studied by textual critics, have not changed the meaning of the text. Furthermore, Psalm 33:4a says,

“4 For the word of the LORD is upright,…”

Other factors that solidify the reliability of the Bible are : (1) the number of ancient manuscripts and the various languages of them (2) the timespan between actual events and when they were recorded (3) its geographical, cultural, and political historicity and (4) archaeological evidence.

However, the strongest support of the inerrancy of the Bible is its fulfilled prophecies.  The fulfilled prophecies concerning Jesus Christ alone mathematically are humanly impossible.  We can trust our God!

Canonicity – The 66 books that are contained in the Holy Bible are known as the canon of Scripture or its canonicity. Canon simply means “rod” or a “rule or standard for testing straightness”.  Sid Litke, pastor and Dallas Theological Seminary graduate has provided a concise outline of how the Bible came to be.

Laying hold of the fundamentals of bibliology for sound theology allows us to see the beauty of God much more clearly. Or as Pastor John Piper would say, “Behold, the panorama of His perfections!”

The Charge to the Church

I asked my sister in the faith, Eve, what she perceives as the biggest problem in Christianity in America. She answered, “I think the biggest problem in the American church is the lack of theological education. If I were queen of America, I’d ensure each and every person who calls themselves a Christian (and those entering faith in Christ), knows the essentials of the faith including imputed righteousness, substitutionary atonement, the Great Commission, basic hermeneutics, the centrality of the cross, Christ as the Superior Treasure . . . knows “how we should then live” and knows how to express those essentials.”

Did you catch that? Everything she listed is essential! It is the basic framework of the Christian faith. It is theology!

If you are unfamiliar with terms such asimputed righteousness and substitutionary atonement, make it your priority to understand the treasure of these divine realities of the believer and the grace of God through our Lord, Jesus Christ!

As she noted, there is a lack of theological education. And I strongly agree with her. Since there is a lack of theological education in professing Christian America, that means there is a lack of rightly knowing God, which has severe practical consequences. So if there is lack of theological education, we must question and assess what is being exported in and throughout the church. And not only what, but why is it being exported.

In his last instructional pastoral epistle, the Apostle Paul gave a very stern exhortation to Timothy concerning the importance of staying committed to the gospel. He wrote:

 1 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

(2 Timothy 4:1-4)

Notice Paul’s first command, preach the word. Understanding its veracity and its immutability, Paul made sure that Timothy was to continue in the foundational operation of the church, which is to be rooted in Scripture.

But notice what he warns Timothy of in verse 3. People will actually not endure sound doctrine. In Greek, the word for endure literally means to put up with. So the preacher is not initially in error here, but rather the people will grow weary of hearing about the cross, sin, repentance, sanctification and they will search for people to tickle their ears. Pastor John MacArthur said this,

“Professing Christians, nominal believers in the church follow their own desires and flock to preachers who offer them God’s blessings apart from His forgiveness, and His salvation apart from their repentance. They have an itch to be entertained by teachings that will produce pleasant sensations and leave them with good feelings about themselves. Their goal is that men preach “according to their own desires”. Under those conditions people will dictate what men preach, rather than God dictating it by His word….Within the large framework of professing Christendom a small remnant of true believers eagerly hear sound doctrine.”

It is interesting the word the Holy Spirit led Paul to pen for “sound”.  It is the Greek word hugiaino.  This is where we get our English word hygiene which means healthy.  For those who don’t teach in accordance with sound doctrine, they are teaching myths, fables and doctrines of demons. (1 Timothy 4)  Think about that. Think about how many people you know that are being deceived or have apostasized believing evolution, humanism, religious pluralism, prosperity theology, etc.

I sincerely believe Pastor John MacArthur’s statement is painfully accurate. Much of the professing church refuses to put up with sound doctrine.  Just take a glance at your local Christian bookstore and see what is marketed heavily.  Or view that “Christian” network.  However, there are some who are sincerely not aware of the errant teaching they are sitting under.  And for that reason, we who know the truth, ought to be eagerly willing to help them see the beauty of God in Jesus Christ.

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”

(2 Timothy 2:15)

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