Being a Biblical Thinker
Today there is a great need to return to sound theological and Biblical thinking. If we are going to have an impact in the earth we must be people of the Word. The Apostle Paul is clear that we need to "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15)." When we hear the word theology we are often driven to the thoughts of religion, but theology is merely the "Study of God." We as believers need to have a clear understanding of what we believe. Paul also says that there is coming a time that men will not adhere to sound doctrine "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires...(2 Timothy 4:3)" If we are going to be effective we need to return to biblically sound apostolic doctrine.
The Three Elements that Establish the General Concept of Theology
(1) Theology is intelligible. It can be comprehended by the human mind in an orderly, rational manner.
(2) Theology requires explanation. This, in turn, involves exegesis and systematization.
(3) The Christian faith finds its source in the Bible, so Christian theology will be a Bible-based study. Theology, then, is the discovery, systematizing, and presentation of the truths about God.
The Keys to Being a Biblical Theologian
A. He Must Believe - Of course, unbelievers can write and study theology, but a believer has a dimension and perspective on the truth of God that no unbeliever can have. The deep things of God are taught by the Spirit, whom an unbeliever does not have (1 Cor. 2:10–16). Believers need to have faith also, for some areas of God’s revelation will not be fully understood by our finite minds.
B. He Must Think - Ultimately the believer must try to think theologically.
(1) Thinking exegetically (to understand the precise meaning)
(2) Thinking systematically (in order to correlate facts thoroughly)
(3) Thinking critically (to evaluate the priority of the related evidence)
(4) Thinking synthetically (to combine and present the teaching as a whole).
Theology and exegesis should always interact. Exegesis does not provide all the answers; when there can legitimately be more than one exegetical option, theology will decide which to prefer.
C. He Must Depend - Intellect alone does not make a theologian. If we believe in the reality of the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit, then certainly this must be a factor in studying theology (John 16:12–15). The content of the Spirit’s curriculum encompasses all the truth, focusing especially on the revelation of Christ Himself which is, of course, found in the Scriptures.
To experience this will require a conscious attitude of dependence on the Spirit, which will be reflected in humility of mind and a diligent study of what the Spirit has taught others throughout history.
Inductive Bible study is a beneficial way to study, but to do it only is to ignore the results of the work of others, and to do it always can be an inefficient repetition of what others have already done.
D. He Must Worship - Studying theology is no mere academic exercise, though it is that. It is an experience that changes, convicts, broadens, challenges, and ultimately leads to a deep reverence for God. Worship means to recognize the worth of the object worshiped. How can any mortal put his mind to the study of God and fail to increase his recognition of His worth?