Standing On The shoulders Of The Fathers – 12
Theology is broken into two greek words, theos (God) and logos (Word). So then basically theology is the study of a “word about God” or God’s Word or God. You cannot separate the two. Many today will decry the study of doctrine or forming a belief system or knowledge about what and why one believes what they believe about God’s Word.
Claiming all you need are the red letters, or love, or the Bible is forgetting some important truths. Those same red letters, that same Bible says that because of love we should “be aware of false teachers.(Matthew 7:15, Romans 16:17-20, 1 Timothy 4:1-2)” Paul, told Timothy to study God’s Word, so that he would be a craftsmen (2 Timothy 2:15).
The writer of Hebrews challenged his readers to move beyond the, “milk of the Word. (Hebrews 5:11-6:4)” So, to say that doctrine is not necessary is to try to live this life, as though one is building a swingset with no instructions. Ask anyone who has tried such a thing, and they will point out how utterly futile such an effort is.
Yet, the Word of God says something else very powerful, it says that God has given us teachers in order that we might not be carried away with every wind of doctrine, (Ephesians 4:14, Hebrews 13:9). So, to say that we need no one to teach us God’s Word is bound to allow us to begin a slow decent into the land of heresy, off the path of solid truth that keeps us on the right road, taking us beyond the horizon.
Yet, how does one know that how one is interpreting God’s Word or how a particular teacher is interpreting God’s Word is right? One way is by looking back upon historical faith. Historical faith helps direct us toward knowing how to interpret the Bible, application and theological formation, allowing one to know not only how such beliefs one is holding to may have developed, thus helping one better postulate those beliefs.
Historical faith also reveals to us what is important about the faith and how Christ is building His church. It is these, the reason why World Prayr is bringing, “Standing On The shoulders Of The Fathers”. As, we travel through history we will be looking at what various teachers, pastors, writers have had to say through history about God’s Word.
We, pray you are encouraged and blessed by such insights, introductions and teachings.
John Newton 24 July 1725 21 December 1807) was an English sailor, in the Royal Navy for a period, and later a captain of slave ships. He became ordained as an evangelical Anglican cleric, served Olney, Buckinghamshire for two decades, and also wrote hymns, known for “Amazing Grace” and “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken”.
Newton started his career at sea at a young age, and worked on slave ships in the slave trade for several years. After experiencing a period of Christian conversion Newton eventually renounced his trade and became a prominent supporter of abolitionism, living to see Britain’s abolition of the African slave trade in 1807.
John Newton on Suffering
Again, how could we, without sufferings, manifest the nature and truth of the Christian graces! What place should we then have for patience, submission, meekness, forbearance, and a readiness to forgive, if we had nothing to try us, either from the hand of the Lord, or from the hand of men! A Christian without trials would be like a mill without wind or water; the contrivance and design of the wheel-work within would be unnoticed and unknown, without something to put it in motion from without.
Nor would our graces grow, unless they were called out to exercise; the difficulties we meet with not only prove, but strengthen, the graces of the spirit. If a person were always to sit still, without making use of legs or arms, he would probably wholly lose the power of moving his limbs at last. But by walking and working he becomes strong and active.
So, in a long course of ease, the powers of the new man would certainly languish; the soul would grow soft, indolent, cowardly, and faint; and therefore the Lord appoints His children such dispensations as make them strive and struggle, and pant; they must press through a crowd, swim against a stream, endure hardships, run, wrestle, and fight; and thus their strength grows in the using.
By these things, likewise, they are made more willing to leave the present world, to which we are prone to cleave too closely in our hearts when our path is very smooth. Had Israel enjoyed their former peace and prosperity in Egypt, when Moses came to invite them to Canaan, I think they would hardly have listened to him. But the Lord allowed them to be brought into great trouble and bondage, and then the news of deliverance was more welcome, yet still they were but half willing, and they carried a love to the flesh-pots of Egypt with them into the wilderness.
We are like them. Though we say this world is vain and sinful, we are too fond of it; and though we hope for true happiness only in Heaven, we are often well content to stay longer here on earth. But the Lord sends afflictions one after another to quicken our desires, and to convince us that this world cannot be our rest.
Sometimes if you drive a bird from one branch of a tree he will hop to another a little higher, and from thence to a third; but if you continue to disturb him, he will at last take wing, and fly quite away. Thus we, when forced from one creature-comfort, perch upon another, and so on. But the Lord mercifully follows us with trials, and will not let us rest upon any; by degrees our desires take a nobler flight, and can be satisfied with nothing short of Himself; and we say, “To depart and be with Jesus is best of all!”