Monday, January 03, 2011

Why Theology Matters

In Hebrews 10, the writer begins to give a lot of commands to his readers as to how they are supposed to live their Christian lives. If we were writing this letter in today's church, we probably would have started right in with the commands of verse 22. We would tell our audience (congregation) that they need to draw near to God and hold on tight to Him, while trying to help others grow in their faith as well. This would be exactly what people would want to hear. They want practical applications for their daily life.

But verse 22 (which begins a section of practical application) is not in chapter 1. It is in chapter 10. Chapters 1 through the first have of 10 deal with theology. They cover subjects like the supremacy of Christ over angels, the supremacy of Christ over the Law, the progressive differences between the Old and New Covenants, the built-in frailties of the Old Covenant sacrifices, how the shadows of Old Covenant worship pointed to the reality of Christ and His once-for-all sacrifice.

The author thought it important enough to have 9 1/2 chapters of theology before getting into any kind of application. Paul did the same thing in Romans. He spends 11 chapters on theology before getting into practical application in chapter 12. So, the biblical writers seem to think that theology is as important as practice, if not more so. Why?

Simply put, right practice comes from right belief. Your actions flow from your beliefs. You cannot live correctly if your theology is wrong. In Hebrews 10, the writer shows this with one very important word. That word is found in the beginning of verse 19. After dealing with how God made promises under the Old Covenant and fulfilled them through the sacrifice of Christ as He brought in the New Covenant, the writer then says, "Therefore..."

I say this is an important word because it tells us how the following information is going to function. What follows are specific commands that detail how we are to live both individually and corporately. But, the word "Therefore" shows us that these commands don't stand on their own. They are a conclusion from previous material. You don't draw near, hold fast, and consider one another for just any reason. THEREFORE, you do these things. In other words, you do these things because of what God has already done for you. You base your actions on trusting in what God has already done and what He is doing. You live your life by faith in what the writer has just detailed in 9 1/2 chapters.

It's very similar to the Great Commission. We all know that we are to make disciples by going, baptizing and teaching. But, what is often missed in the Great Commission is the word "therefore". We are not to go, baptize and teach in our own power and for our own purposes. If we look back to see what the "therefore" is there for, we see that we are to go, baptize and teach because "All power in heaven and earth has been given to [Jesus]." In other words, our practice is based on our theology.

You cannot know how to live or what to do if you do not know what to believe. The Bible is full of theology because who God is and what God does is much more important than who you are or what you do. Spend a little time learning some theology. Once you know God well enough, then you might be able to figure out how you should live.