"Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
Keith Johnson believes the practice of theology takes place as an act of discipleship to Christ. Thus, it is critical to think accurate thoughts about God because personal discipleship will mirror what one believes about him. Describe the importance of knowing God's word for the purpose of participating and partnering with Christ.
When it comes to commands left by Jesus Himself; few ranks higher in importance than discipleship (Matthew 28:16-20). As a matter of fact, only loving God and our neighbor rank above that of discipleship (Matthew 22:36-40). When we achieve love for God, our neighbors, and ourselves the most important element in order that we might practice discipleship is to gain an understanding of theology. If we proceed in ministry, specifically discipleship, our theology is passed down whether accurate or not (2 Timothy 3:16). One slight change in theology can have a long-term impact. Denominational splits, the founding of cult-churches and dead churches most all have resulted from differences in theology away from mainstream Christianity. There are times when change is good, but only if it upholds the truth of God’s Word.
In order to understand exactly what is meant by “accurate thoughts about God ,” we need to determine the definition of proper theology. Our lecture for the week states, “Whether one considers theology as a broad investigation about God, or whether one thinks of theology as an in-depth search of God's revelation concerning himself (both general and special revelation), theology is first and foremost a quest to know God.” A minister who hopes to perform discipleship should always be on a “quest to know God.” In order for us to truly “know God,” we must intently study Him. To accomplish this we must study the best evidence of who He is outside of the Spirit that dwells within us, this requires the examination of His Word. God’s infallible, inspired, and inerrant Word provides us with all the accurate theology one would need in order to understand Him. Nothing would be considered greater than this beside His personal presence, which no current man has lived to witness. It is as if God had left a journal which was intended to give direction and instruction for the whole world. Some elderly or sick loved ones often leave final wishes in preparation and instruction for their family so that they won’t have to guess how that family member would like their funeral services to be performed. Similarly, God has left us a holy instruction for how to live and serve until His second coming, when Christ will officially reign as the true authority on Earth (Psalm 119:105; Revelation 20).
When we “participate” and “partner” with Christ; we allow ourselves to be led in the proper way, direction, and timing. When all things are done according to the Lord’s will, these works will always produce the best fruits. As ministers of the gospel, it is not only essential that we are connected to the Lord Himself, but also to His accurate teachings. By partnering with Christ, we can be assured by His convictions that we are heading in the right direction. When we act upon the instructions and commands of His Word, it pleases God. Accurate theological understanding helps to prevent many hang-ups and accidents associated with the misunderstanding of His Word. In reality, Johnson is correct to “believe the practice of theology takes place as an act of discipleship to Christ,” due to the interconnected pieces of both theology and discipleship. Johnson admits the reasoning for this conclusion saying, “He shows us the truth about God and his plan for history by making us participants in God’s wisdom and partners in this plan. The practice of theology is one form of this participation and partnership. The act of learning how to think and speak rightly about God is an act of faith and obedience that involves our participation in the mind of Christ and our partnership with Christ by the power of his Spirit.” I can surely say that I am very comfortable agreeing with this assessment. May we all share in this “partnership” with humbleness, love, grace, and compassion.
 Grand Canyon University, “Integration of Theology and Ministry” (lecture 1, Practical Theology, Grand Canyon University, 2016). https://lc.gcu.edu/learningPlatform/user/users.html
 Johnson, Keith L. 2015. Theology as Discipleship. Downers Grove, IL: IVP. ISBN-13: 9780830840342, 37.
1 Corinthians 9:19-22, Paul sought to become like several groups of people in order to win them to Christ, his mission. There are some human and wise limitations to becoming like others. How can we best follow Paul's example in order to reach our mission?
1 Corinthians 9:19-22 KJV
19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.
20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;
21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.
22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
To put these verses of Scripture into perspective, Paul is simply stating that he is willing to do anything within the will and grace of God to reach out to the lost and dying. To get the gospel into some of these cultures and people, he had to place himself into some different situations and adapt to that culture. To many times today, before we reach out with the love of Christ, we want that person to fit into the culture identity that we are comfortable with. This is not what Christ was modeling with the Samaritan woman in John 4. Jesus went out of his way to interact with this woman who was both different in culture and a fornicator. I have touched on this in the previous posts, but our lecture gives us the best advice stating, “One important and early lesson of missiology is the goal to communicate effectively the message of the gospel, not convert people to one's culture.” Jesus had essentially ignored the cultural customs of the Jews in His day to cross over the boundaries in order that someone might believe and be saved. However, the results were not only her salvation, but an explosion of faith within that community.
When we are willing to cross cultural and racial boundaries for the sake of the gospel, God works miracles. The fruits of our labor are tremendous in eternal reward. Due to the type of dedication and work that this type of witnessing requires, many choose to forgo this route, even though it is what we are commanded to do as part of our faith. James 2:14-26 tells us how these types of works are necessary not only for our faith, but for the up building of God’s Kingdom. Who knows, the next person you witness to may go on to be the next Samaritan woman who runs into town to tell everyone of the gospel. That small work may have exponential results. God works in ways such as that and it results into an eternal impact. Although it is rewarding to be a servant in heart, it requires us to get some dirt on our hands. Going into the most gospel deprived places, even within the awesome U.S.A. can be a dirty job. You may encounter drug addicts who are diseased, homeless who haven’t washed, prostitutes, the dying, the hurting, foul-mouthed individuals, and even criminals. Serving those in need in these conditions does feel risky and uncomfortable, but God is with us each step of the way.
There are limits however that we must keep in mind. There must be personal (Titus 2:12), safety, and spiritual limits (1 John 2:15-27; Romans 12:2) that we must set ahead of time. As a lady, you may not feel comfortable going into a man’s area alone, in which case I do not blame you. As a believer, you should not be entering in establishments that promote sin and wrong conduct. Personally, you may not like going to speak to a family who have visible food on their furniture and roaches crawling before your eyes. I have personally seen all these things which is why I can speak from experience. There was one instance that I was alone at a home with a man who began to clearly show signs of both mental health and drug addiction. I tried my best to always remain near the door for safety and sanitation reasons. He was surely interested in showing me his old record collection of Elvis Presley and other oldies music, on record none the less. I said what I needed to, sowed that seed, and got out of there! We must remember to keep God’s Word in our hearts and share His compassion with others, even when it can cost us our comfort. This is the only way that the gospel will reach the ends of the earth.
 Grand Canyon University, “Global Christian Leadership” (lecture 8, Best Practices In Christian Leadership, Grand Canyon University, 2016). https://lc.gcu.edu/learningPlatform/user/users.html