Theology; November 12, 2018


Colossians 1:23 This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

Sometimes Paul writes stuff that makes Quantum Mechanics look simple by comparison! The section ahead of this is a good example of that. That’s why theologians have argued down through the centuries, and why there are so many different denominations. Even Peter acknowledged that Paul could be hard to understand! (2 Peter 3:16) That’s why it is significant that a famous theologian, Karl Barth if I recall correctly, when asked what was the deepest thing he had learned in all of his studies, replied, “Jesus loves me. This I know for the Bible tells me so.” There is indeed infinite depth to the study of God, because He is infinite, but the gateway to all of that is so simple that even a little child can grasp it and enter in. We tend to complicate that, trying to make all of God fit into our systems and schemes, and in the process drive people away from God, or at least refuse to let them enter in. To go back to the analogy of physics, if you were to require that someone grasp String Theory before they were taught the rules of Newtonian physics, action and reaction and the like, you would get absolutely nowhere. At one point, at least in some churches in Japan, it was felt that the harder a sermon was to understand, the better it was, because it meant the preacher was more intellectual. What rot! Jesus said that we have to become like little children to enter His kingdom. (Luke 18:17) This is not at all to say, “Everybody’s OK because God’s real nice.” Even little children can grasp sin and responsibility and forgiveness; my mother did so at age five, and proved it was real by going on to become a missionary. It’s also not to say that deeper points of theology are unimportant; different denominations have brought out important facets in the wealth of God’s truth. However, if in our pursuit of “deeper truth” we lose our mooring in John 3:16, we have lost everything.

As a preacher I tend to presume too much foundation in my hearers. I don’t chase theological fads, but I don’t always help my hearers get their foundations right, either. I need to ask and allow the Holy Spirit to help me put God’s truth in terms my hearers can understand and receive, so that they may indeed be set free from the lying traps of the enemy. (John 8:32) When I teach pronunciation to speech therapists I point out that it does little good if they speak beautifully but are unable to help someone else do likewise. That would make them a good speaker but not a speech therapist. Exactly the same thing may be said of me as a pastor. I can have a marvelous, intimate relationship with God, but if I can’t lead someone else to have the same, I’m not much of a pastor. Frankly, I don’t think that was touched on much if at all when I was in seminary, and that’s very sad. The Coaching movement that I’ve recently been exposed to makes the very valid point that we aren’t told to make converts, but disciples, and it proposes coaching techniques as a way of doing that. I’ve got a lot to learn! I must not succumb to the foolishness of thinking intellect is a substitute for intimacy and obedience. God wants to use me, and I am to rejoice to allow Him to do so.

Father, thank You for what You are doing in me in these days. Keep me from getting down on myself, but help me hear You accurately and obey You fully and promptly. Thank You for calling me to fast today. It’s been quite a while since I have done so. May this day be spent exactly as You intend, accomplishing Your purposes on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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