Today we’re moving from observation in our Bible study to interpretation. And what better way to do that then to jump into theology?
Please don’t run away. I know theology intimidates a lot of people, but let me assure you that it’s not as scary as people make it sound.
In fact, we’re all theologians, whether we know it or not. Theology is simply the study (-logy from logos) of God (theo-). What we believe about God makes up our theology, and everyone (atheists) included, believes something about God.
In fact, this quote by A. W. Tozer has been so formative in my journey toward developing a personal theology that I wanted to make sure to share it here:
What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. […] Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God. For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous [omnious] fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God.
~A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (emphasis added)
Did you catch that? It’s who we believe God is that shapes our entire lives. That’s huge if you think of it.
Remember that the whole point of reading the Bible is to grow in knowledge and love for God. As you read the Bible, be intentional about connecting what you’re reading with what you learn about God’s character. Here are some questions to start developing a good theology (“study of God,” remember?).
- Does this text tell me something about who God is or how He interacts with people?
- What characteristic(s) of God is (are) evident in this story/text?
- How does this passage portray God?
- Is there more than one viewpoint in the text about God? If so, how do they conflict? What shapes each character’s view of God?
- Is one of God’s names mentioned in this text? What does that name mean?
- How does God’s dealings with people in this story say something about who He is?
- What new facet of God’s character is illuminated by this text?
- If this text is confusing or reflects a characteristic of God I’m not sure of, what other passages can I read to clarify this text?
- Does God’s response to His people in this story indicate any major character traits that are repeated elsewhere (i.e., faithfulness, holiness, love, kindness)? Where else are these characteristics evident?
And because we desire to grow in love as well as knowledge, we take all these things we learned about God and turn them into worship. It’s our privilege to come before this awesome, bountiful, creative God and praise Him for who He is.
Are you ready?
- Begin by preparing your heart with prayer. Ask God to impress not just your mind but also your heart with the greatness of who He is.
- Read John 8. Write down observations as you normally would, but focus your study on God’s character.
- Using the questions above, interpret the passage through the lens of theology. What does this passage teach about God? Write down 3-5 observations in your notebook.
- End your study with worship, praising God for all He is as revealed in today’s passage.
- Share with a friend today what you learned about God.