Introduction to the Study of God series

Introduction:

Pictures of money on the screen.

I have heard multiple times that bankers are not taught to recognize fake money, but real money. In other words they know the feel of real money so well that they can recognize fake money. They do not spend a long time teaching them about fake money. Instead they spend time teaching bankers how to recognize real money. If they know real money, they can recognize counterfeit. Do you know real and true Biblical teaching? What is the correct Biblical teaching about God? Do you know truth well enough that you would recognize counterfeit Biblical teaching?

The devil has been trying to counterfeit truth since the beginning of time. In Genesis 3:1 the devil, masquerading as a serpent, questioned, “Indeed, has God said…” Then in Genesis 3:4 the devil said, “You surely will not die.” They died spiritually right away and then later on they died physically. The devil has always distorted truth. The devil has always tried to counterfeit truth. So, I wish to talk about true, Biblical teaching. We call this Theology or Doctrine. I am going to title this series: “The Study of God.” My theme today: Studying God is important.

  1. The strong importance of Bible doctrine
    1. W. Tozer shares in the The Knowledge of the Holy. The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. 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 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. A right conception of God is basic not only to systematic theology but to practical Christian living as well. It is to worship what the foundation is to the temple; where it is inadequate or out of plumb the whole structure must sooner or later collapse. I believe there is scarcely an error in doctrine or a failure in applying Christian ethics that cannot be traced finally to imperfect and ignoble thoughts about God.[1]
    2. It is Christmas season and you are watching your favorite news station, then you hear about a professor suspended from her position because she said Muslims and Christians worship the same God.[2] As you may recall, that really did happen. What do you think? Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God?
    3. Can God be known?
      1. In order to understand current events which, have to do with God, one must understand God. Now, it is so easy to think, “We cannot understand God.” It is easy to think, “God is not able to be known.” If one thinks God cannot be known then he is an agnostic. The term “agnostic” literally means, “no knowledge.” This means we cannot have any knowledge of God. To call oneself an agnostic is to claim ignorance. The Latin equivalent would be ignoramus.
      2. However, I believe God is knowable. It is possible to know God. Yes, God is great, but He has revealed Himself to us in the sixty-six books of the Bible. We cannot know everything about God, but we can know God. We can know God because He chose to make the first move. We can know God because He has revealed Himself to us (Gen. 32:30; Ex. 33:11; John 1:1-14; 1 John 4:19). That is an absolutely amazing truth. Don’t miss that. The God of the world, the God of the universe, the only true and real God revealed Himself to us. Going a step further, if He is God then there is no reason to doubt that He can create the world, or the universe, or time. If He is God, there is no reason to doubt the miracles in the Bible. Believing in God means that logically it makes sense to believe in miracles. Believing in God means that logically there is reason to believe in the attributes of God, such as: He knows everything, He is everywhere and He is all powerful.
    4. So, in order to understand current events having to do with God, one must first understand God. We know about God and what He has already revealed to us. This is in the Bible (Deut. 29:29: the secret things belong to the Lord our God, but what He has revealed belong to us and to our children forever… (NIV), this means that what He has revealed is in the Bible). Moving on then, in order to understand the current events, or history, or fiction, or anything else having to do with God, one must understand God. It is important that one studies God. If one is a Christian, instead of starting with all the religions of the world, start with the Christian view of God. Start with what the Bible teaches about God. Certainly, I believe it is important for the Christian and non-Christian to study the other religions of the world, but the Christian must first know God. That is what this sermon series is about.
    5. Theology means the Study of God:
      1. The term “theology” or “theological” has been mocked, even among pastors.
      2. I once attended a conference where the speaker asked various pastors what seminary they went to[3] and as the pastors would answer the speaker would interrupt them as they said the adjective “theological.” This is because the adjective “theological” is in the name of most seminaries. A pastor could say, “I attended the Southern Baptist ‘Theological’ Seminary.” Another pastor could say, “I attended Asbury ‘Theological’ Seminary.” The list can go on and on.
  • At first, I was not bothered by the speaker’s comment, but as I reflected on his comment, it really bothered me. Theology means the study of God. If a pastor is in seminary, wouldn’t we expect that he or she is studying God? I would certainly hope so. Further, that particular seminar was devoted to the leading of the Holy Spirit and the speakers point was that seminaries do not teach pastors to be led by the Spirit. I would counter argue that the first step in being led by the Spirit is to know God.
  1. If we do not know God, if we do not understand God, then we do not understand whether we are led by the Spirit of God or by demons (2 Cor. 11:14).
  2. Theology is not a bad word, but a necessary practice for the Christian. The noun translated as “doctrine” is used seven times in 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus and these short New Testament letters are about pastoring a church. Certainly, our understanding of God is important just as our doctrine is important for our understanding of God is a large part of our doctrine.
  1. I believe it is important that every Christian is trying to grow spiritually and that begins with understanding who God is.
  2. Let’s try to understand who God is and in doing so, I believe, we will love Him more. Even as I study and preach this sermon series I believe I will grow in my relationship with God. I will realize more of His greatness and more of the awesomeness of the salvation God has graced me with and I will be caught up in God’s love for me. I hope that happens to you also.
  3. Before I move on there is one other important part of Christianity and that is having a Biblical worldview. Everyone has a worldview. When things come up in the news we interpret those events based off of our worldview.
  4. James 4:4 teaches us that friendship with the world is enmity with God.
  5. 1 Thess. 5:21 says to test everything. The point is that the world’s ways, meaning the worldview of the world or the culture, is different than the worldview of God.
  6. This is why we must study God, we must study Theology in order to have a Christian worldview. Let’s study God together. It is my goal that this study is simple and straightforward. I hope not to go too deep. I hope that this gets you into the pool of the study of God, but not into the ocean where you may get discouraged by the big waves. So, please don’t be discouraged.
  1. Think of Bible Doctrine and Theology as “knowing God.”
    1. Jesus prays in John 17:3: This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
    2. How awesome it is that we can know God. How amazing that God has made Himself known to us.
  • Think about Sound doctrine.
    1. 2 Tim. 4:3: For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wantingto have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires
    2. Titus 1:9: holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.
    3. Take from those two Scriptures how critical it is that we assure our doctrine is sound.
    4. By the way, Doctrine means “teaching or set of beliefs taught by a church or institution.” Correct Theology should lead to correct doctrine. Or, the correct study of God should lead to the correct knowledge of God which should lead to the correct beliefs and teachings about God.
  1. How to study Theology (with help from Wayne Grudem’s book, “Bible Doctrine”)
    1. With prayer: Psalm 119:18: Open my eyes, that I may behold
      Wonderful things from Your law
      .
    2. With humility: 1 Peter 5:5: You younger men, likewise, be subject to yourelders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
    3. With reason:
      1. God gave us reason.
      2. God is a God of order. 1 Cor. 14:33: for God is not a Godof confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.
  • God cannot contradict Himself: 2 Tim. 2:13: If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.
  1. With help from others: 1 Cor. 12:28: And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.
  2. Collecting all the relevant passages of a given topic.
  3. With praise: Psalm 139:17: How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them
    !

Conclusion:

By the time this sermon series is over you will know the correct Biblical teaching on several topics concerning God. You may ask, “How do we know it is the correct Biblical teaching?” I am glad you asked, you will know because I will be using the Bible as the source. So, next week we will talk about the Bible and our understanding of the Bible. The Bible is God’s Word, we are studying God, so let’s talk about His Word first. Then we will talk about the broad topic of “Who is God.” Then the sermon series will include: “Who is Jesus,” Who is the Holy Spirit,” “What is the church and who are the church,” “What does it mean to be human,” “Who are angels,” “What is Heaven and what is hell,” “Where did it all come from which will be about Creation” and “the study of last things.” Lastly, I plan to have a sermon on the difference between the god of the Koran and the Lord of the Bible.

Remember, we do not want counterfeit money and we do not want counterfeit Christianity. Please join me for this study.

Pray

Let’s pray.

 

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

 

[1] Excerpt From
A. W. Tozer Books Collection
A. W. Tozer
https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/a-w-tozer-books-collection/id780535142?mt=11
This material may be protected by copyright.

[2] http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2015/december/wheaton-college-hijab-professor-same-god-larycia-hawkins.html

[3] A seminary is a graduate school which specializes in ministry training.

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