You Cannot Serve Both God and Theology

It’s possible to love what we’re learning about God more than we love God himself.

God,theology,Bible

Photo Churchleaders.com

Jesus himself says, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24; see also Hebrews 13:5). The God of Christianity and the god of money are irreconcilably opposed. They cannot room together in the human heart. If you find yourself serving money—consuming yourself with earning, gathering and spending—by definition you are not serving God.

But is money more spiritually dangerous than theology? The answer may be trickier than we think, especially within the numbing comfort of a proudly affluent and educated American Church. Money is a tangible, countable, often visible god. Theology, on the other hand—if it is cut off from truly knowing and enjoying God himself—can be a soothing, subtle, superficially spiritual god. Both are deadly, but one lulls us into a proud, intellectual, and purely cosmetic confidence and rest before God. Theology will kill you if it does not kindle a deep and abiding love for the God of the Bible and if it does not inspire a desire for his glory, and not ultimately our own.

Good Theology Is the Only Path to God

Now, I love theology, and you should, too. Paul’s one aim in life and ministry was to know Christ and him crucified (i.e., to know Christian theology), and he wanted to know God in Christ as truly and thoroughly as possible, with all of its implications for everything he thinks and says and does (1 Corinthians 2:2). You cannot read this man’s letters and not come to the conclusion that theology was his heartbeat. He lived to know as much about this unsearchable God as possible, and he was ready to die for those truths.

Psalm 119 is a passionate love letter written to the revelation of God in his word. What we know about God from the Bible is unbelievably, inexhaustibly profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, training in righteousness and life (2 Timothy 3:16; John 6:68).

Without theology, you will not know God—literally and spiritually. So, this article is not meant to be a prohibition against theology—God forbid—but a caution and a warning about theology. Knowledge about God can replace an authentic knowing of him to our destruction, especially for the theologically refined and convinced. We all should want our theology to be not only true, but Spirit-filled and fruitful.

The Best Readers Can Be the Worst Listeners

The Pharisees fought Jesus at every turn. They doubted and even hated much of what he said and did, and tried again and again to trap him in a lie or inconsistency. They had read God’s word over and over again. They knew this book really well—or so it seemed—and yet they did not know the Word living, breathing and speaking in front of them—the Word through whom all things were made and without whom nothing was made that was made (John 1:3), the Word who became flesh and walked the earth (John 1:14), the Word who is the perfect picture of God and who upholds the universe with the words of his mouth (Hebrews 1:3).

Mark recounts one of these confrontations between Jesus and the so-called spiritual experts of his day. “The Pharisees and the scribes asked [Jesus], ‘Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?’” (Mark 7:5). We know this was not Pharisaical humility and genuine curiosity (Matthew 12:14; 22:15). This was defiance—an attempt to undermine and shame the Son of God.

They were so confident in their theology that they confronted the Christ himself. They tried to pin him down under the feather-weight and wading-pool-depth of their theology—the One who was the fulfillment and pinnacle of all the pages they had read. They challenged God’s own understanding of God. Their education and pride—their knowledge and confidence in their own system—had blinded them to the very image and voice of God. They knew so much about God, and yet knew him so little.

By Marshall Segal – Read the entire post here – http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/247944-cannot-serve-god-theology.html/2

C.S. Lewis – God as God (2) God’s Love and Do I have a right to be happy?

Read part 1 here – 

God can be no other than what he is: absolute goodness, justice, mercy and love. And he is all of these supereminently, as we have just said.

Being all-sufficient in himself, God still loves into existence the superfluous, since he is almost overflowing with goodness. This is not to be understood in the Neo-Platonic sense, for God is under no compulsion to create anything. He creates and conserves in existence so that he can love all created being.

God’s Love

This brings us into consideration of God’s love. We are not to construe it as something sentimental, or something which excites our feelings. We have a Father in heaven, but not a benevolent grandfather who simply wants everyone to have a good time on earth. God’s love is pure, spiritual and intellectual, and quite unlike the love we generally experience.; there may be almost an element of ferocity about it. In a word, God is exacting in his love, we are happy only insofar as this is compatible with praising, reverencing and serving him. He is not concerned about people’s saying at the end of the day,”A good time was had by all”. He is not to be mistaken for mere kindness, because he has loved us to the utmost.

In The Problem of Pain (Chapter 3), we come face to face with God’s love and human suffering. Each one of us is a divine work of art, and the Heavenly Artist has paid us the „intolerable compliment” of creating us in his image. Nor will he rest until he has accomplished his will, until each of us grows in Godlikeness according to the plan he has laid out for us. We may not altogether like the infinite care and patience which go into our artistry, but Lewis points out that in wishing for a less glorious and a less arduous destiny, we are asking not for more love but for less.

Our God is a consuming fire, a tremendous lover, a passionate seeker after every individual. He is the Lord of the terrible aspect, and to look upon him face to face is to die. We must not sentimentalize this God.

We are not the center of the universe; God is its center and all things- man included- exist for God. Hence God cannot allow us to remain as we are; his love constantly seeks to enlarge the mansion of our soul, for it is in this mansion that he intends to live himself. In answer to the question, Have I a right to be happy/ God replies no. Sin has marred our character to such an extent that God must cajole, woo threaten, refashion, and redesign our inner selves to his satisfaction, not our own. To struggle against this, to throw up blocks, to fail to surrender to the fort, is once again to ask for less love, not for more.

Excerpt from The Theology of C.S. Lewis  (Pleasures Forevermore by John Randolph Willis, Chapter 2)

Related articles

John Piper – Seven great acts of love: God loves us for the glory of God – at Westmont College (Essential sermon)

Pastor John Piper at Westmont College: Why does God perform  all His acts of love for us in a way that reveals He is loving us for His glory?

Why is God so jealous to reveal His love in that way? Let me ask it another way: Why does God make much of us in a way that is designed to make much of Him ultimately.
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John Piper at Westmont College
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There are many people that feel they are not loved. John Piper walks us through the seven greatest historic acts of love from eternity to eternity and he asks us to notice the angle God puts on this as He reveals His love to us.

1) Predestination – Ephesians 1:5-6 

5he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved

2) Creation – Isaiah 43:6

6I will say to the north, Give up,
and to the south, Do not withhold;
bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the end of the earth

3) Incarnation – Luke 2:11,13-14

11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

4) Salvation (the cross) – 2 Corinthians 5:14

4For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died;

5) Sanctification – Phillipians 1:9

9And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment,

6) Propagation – Romans 1:5

through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations,

7) Consummation – 2 Thessalonians 1:9

9They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,

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