2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.”
It is the duty of the Christian to study doctrine and understand what has been given to us through special revelation, and that we not only be sincere in our faith but match its sincerity with content. It is crucial that we wrestle with Scripture, rather than follow blindly or be led by emotions.
And so, in writing this article, I am not proposing that we neglect the study of theology or the pursuit of sound doctrine, but that we strike a balance between matters of the head and the heart.
If you had told me three years ago that I would be pursuing a degree in theology, I would have most likely laughed in your face. Why in the world would I spend an entire year pouring my time into endless amounts of books written by dead theologians? I went to church every Sunday, participated in youth groups on a somewhat regular basis, sat in on my parent’s small group meetings, and did my devotions every other day.
Long story short, I was comfortable in my walk with Christ, satisfied with leaving many things unknown.
Two years later, I find myself, with tired eyes, reading over four hours of theological books daily, and asking questions I’d never conceived of asking previously. With a deep study of the Word came awe and reverence of the Lord I’d never had before.
But with the countless positive things that come with this study, there is also great temptation.
I had never imagined that there could be a common temptation among theology students– to reduce the study of God’s Word to a mere academic pursuit. There is a danger when we seek after knowledge to an unhealthy degree, and it is much easier than we think to compartmentalize biblical studies and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.There is a danger when we seek after knowledge to an unhealthy degree, and it is much easier than we think to compartmentalize biblical studies and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Click To Tweet
There have been many moments within this year in which I have found myself doing this sort of compartmentalizing. I look around at students who have studied for years, idolizing their knowledge, and selfishly seeking after it for my own gain. It has been in these moments that I have been reminded of my complete inability to do things in my own strength or for my own glory.
The Psalms As Remedy
David was a “man after God’s own heart”, who struggled immensely throughout his life and wrote many of the Psalms, expressing his sorrow, lamenting his struggles, and worshipping the God who had delivered him. Though not exclusively written by David, the Psalms are poetry and are meant to provoke emotion and affect us differently than prose does.
In the first month of my studies, I made it a priority to study through the Psalms in my personal devotions. They express sound doctrine in a worshipful way, which is a reminder of why we spend hours studying God’s Word. Reading about the Psalmist’s struggles reminds us that we are human, finite beings, who are fallen and cannot grasp all knowledge. With thanksgiving, the Psalmists remind us that though we are not perfect, God is and has delivered His people from the bondage of sin.
In 2015, For King and Country released a song called O God Forgive Us, which features KB. In the bridge, he says, “Forgive us / Yes we have ignored You / So busy doing Your work / That we forgot that this was for You.” – What a testament to the moments in which we set out to do something we were called to do and in the midst of our pursuit, we forget our calling and turn things for our own selfish gain.
A balance is required of us – that we seek knowledge, not neglect our personal relationship with Jesus Christ, share the gospel, and care for those around us wholeheartedly.
Drawn To Worship
In our reading of the Psalms, we should be drawn to worship our Creator, to thank Him for His marvelous deeds, and to see His beauty throughout creation. Attaining knowledge for our own gain is self-worship but gaining knowledge in order to grow in our relationship with Christ and awe of the Lord is true worship.Attaining knowledge for our own gain is self-worship but gaining knowledge in order to grow in our relationship with Christ and awe of the Lord is true worship. Click To Tweet
Worship of our Creator doesn’t end when we close our books or finish our daily Bible reading plan. It is a never-ceasing realization that the Lord is in control of every moment. Make it an intentional habit to slow down and pay attention to general revelation, given to us through nature and the world around us. His promises to us are reflected in everyday occurrences, my favorite of which is the sunrise.
Psalm 8 says, “When I look at Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars which You have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You care for him?”
Knowing theology shouldn’t result in textbook knowledge only but in reverence, adoration, and worship of our God.
Excellent, Caroline! Thanks for these helpful reflections, and for the reminder that studying God’s Word must never become a merely academic pursuit. I appreciate your example of spending time in the Psalms during your theological/biblical studies.
Thank you, Pastor Stephen! It’s definitely been a process of learning how to maintain balance, but I’m thankful for the Lord’s provision and guidance through this time. Hope you all are doing well!
Thank you for sharing your heart Caroline as this is a reminder to me to not forsake the application of what I am learning and pay attention to both specific and general revelation which points my heart back to Him!