A recent study conducted by Lifeway Research and sponsored by Ligonier Ministries produced a report called The State of Theology. This report tells us a lot about contemporary evangelicals and their beliefs. For example, when asked whether God is unconcerned with “my day-to-day decisions”, 8 percent strongly agreed, 12 percent agree somewhat, 23 percent disagree somewhat, 47 percent disagree strongly, and 9 percent aren’t sure.[i] On page 18 of the study, those who participated responded to the following statement, “God has authority over people because He created human beings”.[ii] 36 percent agreed strongly with that statement, 25 percent agreed somewhat, 14 percent disagree somewhat, 14 percent strongly disagreed, and 11 percent weren’t sure.”[iii]
On another part of the study, “God is a perfect being and cannot make a mistake”, 48 percent agreed strongly, 15 percent agreed somewhat, 13 percent disagree somewhat, 10 percent strongly disagree, and 14 percent aren’t sure (20).[iv] Another part of the study considers how God continues to answer specific prayers. In response to this statement, 38 percent agreed strongly, 29 percent agreed somewhat, 11 percent disagreed somewhat, 10 percent disagree strongly, and 13 percent aren’t sure (20).[v] The last part of the study for our consideration considers how God does not determine all that happens, He simply knows it in advance. 22 percent agreed somewhat strongly, 27 agreed somewhat, 15 percent disagree somewhat, 19 percent agree strongly, and 17 percent aren’t sure (21).[vi]
In this issue of Theology for Life, we are seeking to set forth the doctrine of God in all of its beauty and majesty from the Word of God. Along the way, you’ll learn how the doctrine of God is not only under attack, but also how understanding this doctrine can help deepen your Christian life and ministry.
The recent research done by Lifeway highlights the need for this issue of Theology for Life. Some people believe that doctrine isn’t important or that it’s outdated. Doctrine comes from the Bible. God is not unconcerned about our day to day lives. Instead, throughout the Bible, we see how He is invested in and active in them. His grace is strengthening and sustaining us so we can stand fast through the power of the Spirit and be witnesses in the world. God is not only interested in our witness. He is interested in our character.
People responded in the State of Theology study that they weren’t sure about, disagreed, or strongly disagreed that God is a perfect being and cannot make a mistake. As you’ll learn in this issue, God is interested in man. He has made this clear in Christ. Specifically, in this issue, you’ll learn about the character and attributes of God. One example of this is the holiness of God, described by theologians as the controlling attribute of God. When Isaiah saw the holiness of God he understood in Isaiah 6 that he was a wretch in need of the Lord and he threw himself on the Lord. We see this happen over and over again in the Old and New Testaments. People understand who the Lord is and they realize their own insignificance in the light of the glory of God.
Of all the issues under attack by our culture and even in the church today, we must recover a biblical, theological, and practical understanding of the doctrine of God. Doing so will help us provide a foundation for further growth in the Christian life. A solid understanding of the doctrine of God will help us in the face of trials knowing that God is perfect, faithful, and true to His promises. He will see us through every difficulty. His promises are tied to His perfect, holy character. This means we can call on the Lord giving us assurance He will hear us and answer us in His own timing and way.
Whether you are a new Christian or a seasoned saint, there is plenty in this issue of Theology for Life to digest and learn from. As I prepared to write the article on the Providence of God and studied this issue in depth I was deeply encouraged by how God knows the beginning from the end. Nothing is by chance in His sight. Instead, He in His sovereign plan and wisdom has decreed that man know and serve Him. God is not absent in the sky. He is not silent. Instead, He is there. God is sovereign. He is perfect in all of His ways and all of His ways are just, holy, and good.
It is my prayer as you read this issue that your knowledge and understanding of this precious doctrine would grow. May we be as the Bereans were and study to show ourselves approved unto the Lord. As you read this issue let me encourage you to open and read your Bible. There’ll you’ll learn more about our great God, His glory, majesty, along with His plan for our lives.
Executive Editor, Theology for Life Magazine
[i] The State of Theology Theological Awareness Benchmark Study Full Survey and Key Findings 28 October 214, accessed 29 November 2016. http://ligonier-static-media.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/thestateoftheology/TheStateOfTheology-FullSurveyKeyFindings.pdf.
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