Increasing in the Knowledge of God

A good friend of mine, Todd Morikawa, asked me a question that I’d like to reflect upon here.  His question was, “How did you (me) grow in your understanding of theology prior to seminary?”  It was not a question of unbelief, like “You can’t know anything about theology without going to seminary!”  It was the opposite – “You can know something about theology without a seminary degree, and therefore, how does one go about ascertaining a biblical understanding of the things of God?”  The following are brief reflections gleaned from my personal study prior to seminary, and thus, are in no way binding upon you; nevertheless, it is my hope that these and other similar reflections may be helpful to you in Christian education.

1.  Get a study Bible and make use of its notes.  As you read the text, read it as a whole, and then go back and stop at each letter or number that denotes an interrelated passage.  Follow the rabbit trail wherever it leads you.  This enabled me to see the Bible as a related whole, how it fits together, and not as individual texts isolated from a greater whole and revelatory goal.

2.  Read Romans as often as possible – while you’re at it, try memorizing it!  Romans is, quite simply, the most magnificent letter ever written; an exegesis of the Gospel of Christ at its apex.

3.  Make time to meditate on God’s Word.  Meditation sets fuel on the fire of God’s Word.  This discipline runs the Word of God through your heart and applies it directly to one’s own condition.

4.  Make friends with someone who doesn’t agree with you at every theological point.  This person was my wife, originally (though God has graciously refined and closed/ or better yet united what was a significant gap).  God will use this person to humble you, and to set you on a path of intentional Bible study – you will want to know why you believe what you believe, hold what you hold.

5.  On the other hand, have friends that affirm many of the Gospel truths that you have discovered in God’s Word.  These people will also serve to sharpen you and solidify those essential doctrines.

6.  Communicate what you have learned from the Lord.  Many in the world will disagree with what you are saying, if what you are saying is orthodox (not always, but usually), that is, Christ-centered, God-exalting, and man debasing.  Speaking the truth about Christ to the world that hates Christ, the world from which you have been redeemed, brings suffering in various degrees, and God, in His providence, makes use of such incidents to deepen the roots of your faith and theological conviction.

7.  Be intentional about knowing the theological positions of the church you may attend.  As good as seminary has been, the seminary exists because the churches have not all answered the call to “equip the saints for the work of ministry.”  The work of ministry is not just that of the pastor(s).  Their stewardship is to equip “the saints” for “the work of ministry.”  Seek such theological equipment.  Seek churches with sound, biblical, theological teaching; likewise for the content of its music; a church that desires to teach the body of Christ church history, parenting, systematic theology, Gospel basics, biblical manhood and womanhood, Old Testament and New Testament surveys, apologetics, etc. – real Bible classes!

8.  Search for and read great theological books.  You can see my short list in the tab above, or pretty much on any other blog that I have provided in that tab as well.

9.  Journal – that’s right; take pen or pencil and paper, or your computer; set the Bible down beside you and record the thoughts that stream in as you read and consider the text; be sure to set to paper resolutions to do what you have studied.

10.  Pray to the Lord for humility, for God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.  Pride immediately hampers in growth in the true knowledge of Christ our Savior.  Humility pleases the Lord, for it recognizes the Creator – creation distinction and gives Him all the glory, as it manifests our dependency upon Him for all knowledge of Him and the practice thereof.

I am certain that there are others, but these are ten that came to mind as I reflected on the grace of God in my walk with Jesus Christ prior to seminary.  May the Lord give you hope and bless you in your endeavors to increase always in the knowledge of God, in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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9 Responses

  1. On #4, I agree with you, but on #5 I don’t. On #6, maybe, and on #7 a must.

    Now, do you want to start your #4 advice on me. I’ll bet, I will test the theology that you had learned, if you had had learned anything at all from that school of none sense. Just give me a call.

    • I do not understand the second part of the response. I would ask you to re-submit this part with better explanation. I would also encourage you to look at your response and determine whether or not you think that this was written in love with the purpose of edification. If not, I would encourage you to repent, for one who writes with sarcasm in the absence of love is “nothing,” to quote Paul from 1 Corinthians 13. Thus, a final encouragement to you, friend, is to think before you write, to consider the cross of Christ in all that you endeavor to do and say, and Lord providing, that you may find yourself controlled by His love (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). For such a response is indicative of one who has not known the love of Christ (1 John 3).

    • If a school that unapologetically stands on God’s inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word continuously teaches Christ crucified, risen, and reigning and therefore continues to pursue the purity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in all that it does….If this type of institution is deemed nonsensical, then sign me up and put “MDiv in Nonsense” on my degree! For as Paul states in 1 Cor. 1, that “God was well pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.” I can only hope to learn and be conformed to more and more of this “foolishness” everyday…

  2. Brianrmahon,
    yes, I wrote it with love and compassion.It’s up to you to discern . You used to be fooled by beautiful speeches of other people, but isn’t it about time that you’ll encounter also someone whose words are so frank and sometimes with sarcastic intonation but posses with love and compassion?
    For what purpose? To save those who are not so well verse of the bible from the claws (doctrines) of the self appointed pastors of our time. That’s why I told you to use the #4 on me. Show me the doctrine, the belief of the congregation you belong to. Who knows maybe, we will learn from each other,and the readers may learn also, after this discussion.
    But let us stick to the bible. Be it Protestants bible or Catholic bible.

  3. Patrick,
    Do you posses a master degree in Divinity from that school, which I called a “school of none sense”?
    If you do, …gosh, you had just wasted a lot of your time for nothing.
    What you should had done, is to have blog site of your own, and then browse to any web site that discusses about: God, bible, Jesus Christ, faith, etc. and then type: HELP!!..Is there anyone out there who can expound to me the bible, or the words of God? about salvation?
    If there is a reply to your blog, all you have to do is use the verse in I John 4:1. That is all you should had done. then maybe, just maybe, that the Holy Spirit will guide me to your blog site , and I can show a path, an old path, which you have to walk therein.
    See, that is all you should had done.

  4. Friend,

    Let me say that I appreciate your earnestness; I in no way desire to douse your zeal, but zeal without the knowledge of the love of God in the Gospel is a vain zeal; the Jews in Paul’s day had a zeal for God but not according to knowledge, a zeal for God but they went to hell with a zeal for God for they did not embrace the Messiah that God had sent, namely, the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 10:1-4). With that said:

    First, I am unaware of how you might know me, sense you find it appropriate to say, “you used to be fooled by beautiful speeches of other people…” – I am uncertain as to how you can in truth ascertain this assertion.

    Second, sarcasm has no place in biblical truth or biblical love, much less, “truth in love.” It appears, dear friend, that your “frankness” thus has digressed from that principle of Christ-centered, God-glorifying love. You ask for my discernment – it is this, dear friend, that you may write with what you believe to be the “tongues of men and of angels, but have not love,” and thus, what you so passionately seek to communicate is no more than “a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” (1 Corinthians 13:1)

    Third, one must wonder why you so adamantly demand my doctrine, but see no reason to make plain your own. Thereby conversation is hindered that might otherwise lead to a knowledge of the truth and repentance.

    Fourth, to the doctrine – God created all things (Genesis 1-2) for His glory, in particular mankind (Isaiah 43:7); He created us in and with original righteousness, free from sin, in perfect communion with Him, giving to us a specific purpose, that we should have servant-dominion and spread His fame all over the world (Genesis 1-2); but we fell in Adam’s sin from our state of original righteousness into a state of sin, that is, a state of spiritual inability, depravity, degradation, death, separation from God, condemnation and a just wrath – we thus are all born into sin and need a salvation that no man can accomplish by any of his own devices (Genesis 3, Romans 1-5, Ephesians 2:1-3, etc.); But God – had promised a salvation (Genesis 3:15, 12:1-3, 15:17-18, Deuteronomy 9, Deut. 17, 2 Samuel 7, Psalm 2, Isaiah 7, 9, 53, etc., Jeremiah 31:31-40, Ezekiel 34, 36:16-38, Daniel 7:13-14, Malachi 4:5-6) such that the Old Testament expectation was that only Yahweh could save, and would do it through His Messiah, and God faithfully honored and accomplished His promise in sending His only Son from glory to earth in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin (Romans 8:2), he lived the perfect, sinless life in full accord with the righteous requirement of the law of God, the life that no human has or can live, and He, this Jesus, died in our place on His cross, we nailing Him there, He became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21), then died, was buried, and on the third day rose again in accordance with the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-3), triumphant over sin, death, hell, Satan, and ascended to the right hand of the Father in power, where He received the promised Spirit, such that He pours Him out upon all those who repent of their sin and embrace Christ alone for their salvation (Acts 2), a repentance that God now commands all men everywhere to do (Acts 17:30) – thus, in Jesus, we become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21) and on that basis alone, we are saved and are being renewed in our inner man day by day in eager expectation of that glorious day when we shall be like Him even as He is (1 John 3:2). This is the glorious Gospel of God’s grace in the face of Jesus Christ, and it is the power of God for the salvation of sinners. And Christ shall return and complete what He has begun – He will bring in the new creation, the kingdom of God that He in His first coming inaugurated – all to the glory of God! The Gospel, Christ and Him crucified, this is my doctrine, this is the doctrine of my school, this is the doctrine of my church, this is the hope of glory.

    Fifth, I believe this is “sticking to the Bible” – as has been thoroughly evidenced.

    Sixth, dear friend, what Protestants hold in their hands as the Bible, that self-attesting Word of God, is different than what any Catholic would hold as the Bible; furthermore, Protestants are Bible “only” people – all things – whether experience or tradition are interpreted by the Bible, not vice versa, that is, the Bible being interpreted by experience and tradition.

    Seventh, your comments to my dear friend, Patrick, a man of God, a man growing in godliness, a man whom the Lord has plucked out of the fire and saved, a man studying to know the Lord and to make Him known amongst all nations, a man biblically loving His wife and in great anticipation of their first child, a true gift of the God, a man who loves with the love of Christ, – your comments to this man, whom you know not, are quite presumptuous, ill-colored, and simply, not of Christ-like love. To the point, he does have a blog, but I am ill-advised to offer it to you here, lest you should change your tone and the tenor of your conversation.

    Lastly, I do hope, dear friend, that I am not found by you to be unloving; for I desire that the truth should be known and discussed in love, with the goal of seeing Christ formed in the one’s discussing and reading – nevertheless, this will not be accomplished by the manner in which you write and I do fear for you that the love of Christ is far from your intentions; to that point, I want to encourage you to sit back, breathe, and ask the God of the Bible alone, revealed in Jesus Christ alone, to grant you to see in your heart, to think, to live through the lens of Christ, in a manner worthy of the Gospel. I beseech God’s sufficient grace to be upon you, and His love to comfort you, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

  5. Brian,
    You are the one who gave the #4 advice to use it. So, what I’m just trying to say is to use that on me, instead of just your wife. Let me examine your doctrine, your belief, and let us see, if it will stand cross-examination. If you are not up to it, well good. That mean that your #4 advice is just a figment of your imagination. Just like the rest of the doctrine that you embrace, which you will try to preach it to hapless people, who are ignorant of the bible or of salvation.
    Good day

    • Friend,

      I have complied abundantly with your comments – my doctrine has been set forth, but you withhold; you have missed the point of the post in its entirety, straining at gnats, and yet in a desire to converse with you, I have set forth my words with the utmost love; at this point, I only wish to state the fourth recommendation correctly as was intended and subsequently abused by you – it is good for believers to have edifying, loving, evangelical, Christ-centered discussion with both those who disagree with them on points tangential to the Gospel itself, and those who are of a like mind on such minors of theology, important though they may be, and to do this as believers in general, that is, not exclusive to pastors or seminarians, etc. With that said, I pray that God would be pleased to change your heart on these things, especially towards the Gospel itself and the love of Christ. From this point moving forward, seeing that your language has become harsh and unedifying both for you, me, and any other reader, I will disapprove of any further comments on this site. Nevertheless, if you desire to pursue this further, feel free to email me at brianrmahon@gmail.com. I would love to continue, with great humility, this discussion concerning the doctrine that you submit is unbiblical (though I provided several biblical proof texts), and non-salvific (though this was the aim of the doctrine set forth in previous comments).

      • Brian, thank you for your absolute Christ-like example in your responses to dove124. I pray with you for his heart to change toward similar Christlikeness in the gospel– the good news that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, saving them by a sinless life, substitutionary death, victorious resurrection, and glorious ascension to the right hand of the Father.

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