Studying theology is a lot like climbing a mountain. It is an incredible amount of work and effort. I’m not talking about namby-pamby books that are being published by the hundreds these days. I’m talking about men who have sought God’s Word for years and have published works on the character and nature of God. A short list would include John Owen’s Mortification of Sin, J.C. Ryle’s Holiness, John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion and Luther’s Bondage of the Will. All of these books are classics in the school of theology and I wish more Christians would pick up and read them.
First before I venture any further, let me clearly articulate that the believer should not place extra-biblical theological books above the daily reading of Scripture. I believe every Christian should seek the Lord through His Word first and foremost. Let us not be so ignorant though to throw away sound, doctrinal books that are written by men who have studied thoroughly the Bible.
Theology, simply put, is the study of God. Theology is incredibly important in the life of the believer. Knowing who God is and what He is like will provide a source of comfort in the day of difficulty for every believer. Theology should expand our mind and heart and culminate in doxology (praise) to our Savior. I say should because often times theology can lead to a large head with a small heart, which profits no one.
Theology is incredibly important and practical because what we believe about God shapes our thoughts and decisions. The saint who has pierced through the veil of the temple and has gazed intently upon this God will find great help in the day of trouble and instability. In the midst of financial difficulties, the man who has studied the character of God knows His God is sovereign and good, even in a situation where nothing good is happening.
How I view God directly corresponds to my actions in my day-to-day life. Do I see God as loving and kind to His enemies? I will respond in love and kindness towards my enemies. Do I see God as completely sovereign and mighty? I have nothing to worry or be anxious about then. Do I view God as patient and forbearing? In the midst of difficult circumstances with my family, I can be patient with my children. Do I view God as a seeker and initiator of His people? Then I can seek to be the initiator in my home as I engage with my wife. How I view God directly correlates to the way I act.
So brother, pick up and read and labor over a difficult theological book for the benefit of your own soul. As stated in the beginning, reading theological books is often like mountain climbing. It is tiring. You will want to quit. It is difficult. It is work. The reward is at the end. Let me end with one concluding thought. In your attempts to study the mountain of theology, do you negate the ultimate mountain of theology—the Mt. Everest of theology—the mountain of Calvary. For there your Savior took your sins and absorbed it fully. The theos and logos in the flesh, Jesus Christ, was on the ultimate theological hill, paying for your sins so that you may be set free. Believer, seek to climb this mountain daily, the mountain of Calvary.