Martin Luther had this to say about how to become a theologian.
I did not learn my theology all at once, but had to search constantly deeper and deeper for it. My temptations did that for me, for no one can understand Holy Scripture without practice and temptations.... It is not by reading, writing, or speculation that one becomes a theologian. Nay, rather, it is living, dying, and being damned that makes one a theologian.
Jesus said, Blessed... are those who hear the word of God and obey it (Luke 11:28).
Did you catch it? Hear the Word of God and obey it.
We can hear what God’s Word tells us, even understand what God’s Word tells us, but if we refuse to allow God’s Word to transform our lives, we miss out on its message and power.
Blessed... are those who hear the word of God and obey it (Luke 11:28).
Hearing God’s Word – listening to it, immersing oneself in it, memorizing it, contemplating it – is the essential ingredient to the Spirit’s bringing us to faith and growing that faith within us. The Bible insists, Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ (Romans 10:17).
Theologians live the Word
And yet, if we treat the message of God’s intense love for us in Jesus as a theory or a philosophy of life, the gospel is without impact. It’s only when we learn how the truths and promises of Scripture have real-life application that
- our religion about God changes into a relationship with God,
- that head-knowledge about the Bible becomes life-knowledge fueled by the Bible,
- that the cerebral theory of theology becomes the theology of our every thought and breath.
Often the catalysts for this change are the many maelstroms of our existence, the recognition that we a fully damnable by a perfect God, the choke-hold of death around our neck.
Theologians follow the light
When Luther writes that he became a theologian by “living, dying, and being damned,” isn’t he confessing what the psalmist in Psalm 119 explains? In the second section of that psalm the writer describes his commitment to the Scriptures: With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word (Psalm 119:13-16).
But the psalmist’s relationship with the Scriptures was not simply about locking away more Biblical facts and figures in his brain. He begins this section by asking, “How can a young person stay on the path of purity?” The answer: “By living according to your word (Psalm 119:9). By integrating what the Scriptures say into our lives. By turning to that Word as the “lamp for my feet [and] light on my path” (Psalm 119:105) that it is.
Be blessed as you hear the Word of God. Be even more blessed as you obey it. Learn to be a theologian.