The Joy of Studying God
Does studying God—and doctrine—have to be a dull discipline, or can it be an exhilarating exercise that transforms your life? I believe that theology is the foundation upon which worldview is built. People have good worldviews because they have good theology and bad worldviews because they have bad theology. I say this partly because I can't divorce heart orientation from theology. The word believe in the New Testament (for example, in John’s gospel) stresses belief as trust and submission. This is my approach to theology. It’s not a dried up system of intellectual affirmations divorced from a passion for God; rather, it is a life-transforming belief of both seeing and embracing God’s truth. It is a belief that is a trust—one which permeates your mind and heart and life.
Martin Luther said, “If God had all the answers in his right hand, and the struggle to reach those answers in his left, I would choose God’s left hand.” Why? Because it’s not only truth we want, it’s also the pleasure of learning the truth. God reveals himself to us in the process of our learning, often in bite-sized chunks, fit for our finite minds. The great preacher Donald Gray Barnhouse once said that if he was told he had three years left on Earth, he would spend two years studying and one preaching. Expressing a similar desire, Billy Graham said that if he had his life to do over again, he would study more and preach less.
Jesus said to his disciples, “Learn from me” (Matthew 11:29). On the New Earth, we’ll have the privilege of sitting at Jesus’ feet as Mary did, walking with him over the countryside as his disciples did, always learning from him. In Heaven we’ll continually learn new things about God, going ever deeper in our understanding. But we don't have to wait until Heaven to get started.