Thursday, March 21, 2013

Do We Need to Know?

Do we really need to know what and why we believe? Cannot this best be left to professionals, and the rest of us simply get on with living the life? But how can we go on with living the Christian life if we do not know what the Christian life involves. Would you ride in an airplane built by someone who knew nothing of aerodynamics? Now there is a danger of having knowledge that is totally theoretical and never applied. You also would not want to trust an airplane builder who had only read about building one in books and never actually done it before. But it is hard to apply something we do not already know. Scripture calls us to be both knowers (2 Timothy 3:16,17; Jeremiah 9:23,24; Hebrews 5:11-14) and doers (James 1:21-27; John 13:17; Titus 2:11-14). And while I do not want to minimize the assistance of other believers, there is no place in Scripture that indicates that someone else can live the Christian life for us (Hebrews 12:1,2; Philippians 2:12-16; Romans 6:12-14).

Nor can we merely ignore the question of why we believe what we believe. I am convinced that there are good reasons for believing Christianity is true, and we need to understand and know them. We live in a hostile culture. We need to have reasons for what we believe, or we will be blown over by the opposition or even by tribulation and strong temptation. How can we stand for something in the midst of difficulties if we have no idea why we believe it? Also, it tends to make our faith something that is superficial and not quite real if we do not know why we believe it. If this does not cause us to question our faith, we can at least end up watering it down to fit the opinions of those around us.  Also, if we want to communicate what we believe to others, we need to know why we believe what we believe (1 Peter 3:15; Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:18-20).

Now it needs to be noted that Christian truth has, in many cases, been encumbered by technical language. Some terms are necessary for understanding the basic concepts. But others of these are unnecessary technicalities and should be dispensed with. I would suggest starting with the Bible itself and aids that will help you understand the Bible and working from there. There are some hard ideas simply because the truth of God goes beyond our human understanding and also because some concepts clash with our current culture. But if we throw out all the hard concepts, we are left with simple moralism and have no real message. Christianity is not simply about our moral improvement, but about God invading history and invading our lives to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. And if we are to live in accordance with that, we need to understand it and know why we believe it.

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