Theology and the Church

Ephesians 4:11-13 tells us certain gifts Christ has given to the church for the purpose of ministry, training and maturity.  From the very beginning we see the church is built through those who have been gifted by God to teach, train and disciple.  In other words, doctrine (teaching) and theology (the study of God) is a crucial part of God’s concept for His church.  Thus, those within the church ought to crave doctrinal teaching and theological study.  One does not have a meaningful relationship without knowledge.  Doctrine and theology is how we gain knowledge of God which leads to a deeper and more personal relationship.

A cursory knowledge of the New Testament cannot help but to lead the conclusion that the teaching of sound doctrine is a key component of any church. However, what about those who teach doctrine and engage in theological study?  While they are needed in the church, do they themselves need the church?  There seems to be students who have so immersed themselves in serious theological study that they have abandoned the local church.  Some may use the excuse that their study of the Word is superior to that which they would receive in the average assembly.  Others may not abandon attendance but lose any sense of commitment to the church as they continually seek to find an ideal church that has kept pace with their academic development.  Still others simply find themselves so lost in the world of academia that they have little time for anything else.

Teachers and theologians need the local church.  First, the local church is needed as an outlet.  Teachers must teach.  God has granted gifts, not merely for personal use, but for the benefit of His church (I Corinthians 12:7).  Second, the church is needed for accountability.  Paul tells us the Church is the ground and pillar of truth (1 Timothy 3:15).  Truth and knowledge are not merely obtained through research, but we have also be given pastors, teachers, and a body of historic orthodoxy constructed by those God has gifted in the past.  Finally, the church is needed for edification.  Though a particular pastor may not be as educated as others, if he is preaching from the Word the Holy Spirit will still work.  It is the height of arrogance to think you have nothing to learn from one of God’s servants.

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