I began writing a series of posts recently on what a healthy church member looks like, and I have been reviewing Thabiti Anyabwile’s small book on the subject. In the book, he points out that there are ten “marks” or distinguishing characteristics of a healthy church member, and these marks are what I am focusing on in these posts. The second mark of a healthy church member, according to Anyabwile, is that he or she is a biblical theologian.
All of us are familiar with the phrase, “Ignorance is bliss.” In truth, ignorance is dangerous and unhealthy. We live in an information age. Google and Wikipedia have literally put volumes upon volumes of information at our finger tips. On my smart phone, I have apps that include books, articles, and news media from all around the world. What I find amazing is that we have access to so much information these days, but ignorance of what is really going on in the world still abounds. More disturbing than anything else is the lack of Scriptural understanding in the church today. Of course, there is no excuse for this since the Bible is so accessible, be it in the form of translation or a smart phone application. Multiple ministries abound that make it a point to get God’s Word into the hands of people though media and other tools. The problem is that many people within the church are not taking advantage of these opportunities. Ignorance of truth in the church today is not from a lack opportunity—it is from a lack of obedience.
J.I. Packer said, “Ignorance of God—ignorance both of his ways and of the practice of communion with Him—lies at the root of the church’s weakness today…Christian minds have been conformed to the modern spirit: the spirit, that is, that spawns great thoughts of man and leaves room for only small thoughts of God.” The first great calling that every Christian has is to know God through a relationship with His Son as revealed in the pages of Scripture. In his book, Anyabwile states, “Every Christian is meant to be a theologian in the best and most intimate sense of the word. If churches are to prosper in health, church members must be committed to being biblical theologians in whatever capacity they can.” Biblical theology by definition is the study of knowing God as revealed in His Word. The Bible is the self-revelation of God, and everything that God wants us to know about Himself has been disclosed in Scripture. A person who says that they have knowledge of God, but have no knowledge of God’s Word, actually knows very little of God. Jesus is the Word made flesh according to John’s gospel. Jesus said that His disciples continue in His word. The disciple who truly desires to know God reads and meditates upon God’s Word. Disciples do not read the Word of God merely for therapy; disciples read the Word of God for transformation.
Thabiti Anyabwile lists several ways that biblical theology works to promote health in the life of a disciple:
- Practicing biblical theology helps us grow in our reverence for God. When we understand who God is as revealed in His Word, we grow in our love for Him.
- Practicing biblical theology helps us to overcome wrong ideas. There are plenty of false spiritual ideas, but biblical theology will help ground a disciple in God’s truth.
- Practicing biblical theology helps protect the church against doctrinal controversy. It will help unite the church doctrinally and keep it from division.
- Practicing biblical theology is necessary to fulfilling the Great Commission. When disciples begin to see that all of Scripture is the story of redemption that finds it fulfillment in Christ, they will be better equipped to make other disciples.
- Practicing biblical theology deepens our understanding of the gospel. All of Scripture points us to Jesus Christ!