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“WORDS FOR ALL” – Mar. 22

March 22, 2013

“Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Acts 16:34

1993 reprint of Chafer's Systematic TheologyI love theology.  The study of theology is a wonderful tool to help us dive deeper into the depths of our Lord God.  It was not until I started scratching at the edges of theology that I realized the immense wisdom of God that has been given to us. (1 Cor. 2:7)   I love theology because that is the main tool by which the Spirit teaches me about the depths of God.

However, there is a difference between theologians and those who love theology.  I have found that those who claim the title of theologians tend to speak in a strange and confusing language.  There is a vast array of terms, titles, “isms”, and religious talk in the language of a theologian.  When a theologian speaks in their special language, the majority of the population has no idea of what they are talking about.

I find the language of theologians wearisome.  I often forget what the terms mean.  I get hung up on the words written in Hebrew or Greek, which it is assumed that I know.   The intellectual tone can often be intimidating.  I once subscribed to a theological quarterly journal.  After a period of time, I let my subscription lapse because the authors of the journal articles were clearly not writing for such a person as me.  They were writing for other theologians.  I have no problem with that.  An author has to know their audience and write accordingly.

The problem for theologians, those who love theology, and those who have been in the Church for decades is that we often forget our main audience.   We use this strange language that the vast majority of the population does not understand.  We talk about atonement, redemption, propitiation, pneumatology, born-again, justification, sanctification, eschatology, predestination, ecclesiology, salvation, righteousness, etc.  The majority of the people who we will interact with will not know what those words mean or will not know what we mean by those words.

The language of the religious can become wearisome to the lost.  Our intellectual tone can be intimidating.  We can make some people feel excluded because we are talking to an audience who they are not a part.  We all have a tendency to let the simplicity of Christ be masked by the deeper truths that the Spirit has taught us in the maturing of our faith.

What must any person do to be saved?  This is a question for the masses.  Every person walking the face of the earth has this same question.  I love that God has given us an answer that does not require a special academic background, knowledge of terminology, or intellectual ability.

“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.”

In that one sentence, God has given us salvation; distilled in simplicity so that all of humanity can understand it and at the same time containing a depth to which His followers can spend a lifetime plunging into its revealing glory of God’s secret and hidden wisdom (1 Cor. 2:7).

May we all stand humbled before our Lord; always ready with the clear understandable word of the Lord crafted for the audience our Father has given us.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for making your salvation understandable to me and all of humanity.  Thank you for making it so profound the wisest of men will never comprehend.  Thank you for every trace of maturity that you have provided to my faith.  Father, keep my heart away from any pride that may develop due to any understanding I have been given of your wisdom.  May I never seek to know You more due to a desire to win a debate or to impress others.  May I always seek to know You from the heart of a son who loves his heavenly Father.  Help me to speak clearly and plainly.  Help me to proclaim your salvation in manner that those whom You have given me will understand and be saved for your glory.  Amen

7 comments

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  2. Great post. How oft we present luxurious robes when what is needed are camel’s hair and leather. I love the study of systematic theology, I praise God that He is giving me understanding of it. But oh! I pray that I never loose the plainness of speech that accompanies the straight proclamation of the gospel! Again, wonderful post.


  3. Esoteric, unappealing, sometimes-vague language is also a target of mine. Christianese does us and our nonchurched neighbors a disservice! And I appreciate the “boiling down,” because some things really are a lot simpler than they seem. Ex.: 1) Love God. 2) Love people. Problem is, the desire to boil down the perennial “what must I do?” question is troubled somewhat by the fact that there is more than one answer to that question in the New Covenant writings. In a sense, if one “believes in the Lord Jesus” (or upon, on, at, by him — Gk. prepositions may have varied senses!), that takes care of things, because the one who believes will follow examples and commands found elsewhere. There is no one simple answer in the Acts or in the letters (or in the gospels, for that matter), but I would agree that *if the person is sincere* in wanting to follow God,” belief is followed by obedience and discipleship in all things. Acts 2, Romans 6, Romans 10, and Gal 3:26-29 are just a few passages that speak to initiation and identification with Christ. Gal 5, 1 Thess 4, 1 Timothy, Colossians 3, and Romans 12 are starting points in each of those letters for the living of life. And so many teachings of Jesus Himself should be in this bigger picture of discipleship, of course.


  4. I love your prayer, may I use it at alter call this week? I am a worship leader…
    Blessings,
    Diana


    • Diana – I would be blessed if you felt the prayer went with your time of worship.
      God Bless!
      JD


      • Thank you! Your post just really hit home. We have such “Christianeze” language. And the pride thing, so true, help me Lord to stay humble.

        God Bless you too,
        Diana


  5. I love the post. I too am weary of “labeling”, because the identical label means different things to different people. “Liberal” may be a bad word to some, but to others, it is the measure by which we are to bless one another. Your prayer is right on!



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