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Theology Matters: The Fruits of Good Theology, Part 2

Good theology matters. Theology matters because it teaches us about God and applies Scripture to all areas of our lives. Theology anchors our souls to the firm foundation of God’s Word, and it produces spiritual fruit in our lives.
In our last article, we examined two specific fruits that come from good theology. Based on a study of Moses’ encounter with God in Exodus 34, we saw first that good theology leads us to Scripture. When we begin a disciplined study of God, we by necessity become students of God’s Word. Second, we saw that good theology leads us to humility toward God and others. The more we know and understand God, the more we should cultivate humility in our lives. Continuing in Exodus 34:8, we next see that the third fruit of good theology is worship: “Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped.”

Good theology leads us to worship. 

Moses worshiped the Lord on Mount Sinai in response to the Lord’s revelation of all his goodness and the proclamation of his name. When we engage in a disciplined study of God, we become intimately acquainted with God’s character, his divine attributes, his redemptive plan, and his dealings with humanity throughout redemptive history. This knowledge and understanding of God should produce an overwhelming desire in our soul to worship the Lord for who he is and for what he has done. Like David, our souls should cry out,
I will bless the LORD at all times;
          his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the LORD;
          let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the LORD with me,
          and let us exalt his name together (Psalm 34:1-3)!
Good theology leads to doxology.
This principle is demonstrated throughout Scripture. In the midst of Job’s sorrow and suffering, his understanding and knowledge of God led him to worship the Lord (Job 1:20–21). Moses and the children of Israel worshiped the Lord in song in Exodus 15 after they saw the great power that the Lord used against the Egyptians. David wrote psalms of thanksgiving and praise after experiencing God’s deliverance, grace, and forgiveness. Worship was the heart cry of Jeremiah, even as he lamented the destruction of Jerusalem (Lamentations 3:22–24). Nebuchadnezzar worshiped the Most High after God staged an intervention in the proud Babylonian king’s life (Daniel 4:34–37). Upon seeing Jesus as a child, the magi fell down and worshiped him (Matthew 2:11). Each time Jesus revealed more about himself to his disciples, they responded with worship (Matthew 14:33; 28:9; Luke 24:51–52). A deeper understanding and knowledge of God leads us to worship.
The Apostle Paul also models this principle for us in Romans. After writing eleven chapters on how the gospel is the power of God for salvation, both to the Jews and to the Gentiles, Paul concludes chapter eleven with this hymn of praise to God:
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
"For who has known the mind of the Lord,
          or who has been his counselor?"
"Or who has given a gift to him
          that he might be repaid?"
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen (Romans 11:33–36).

Good theology teaches us how to worship. 

This connection between theology and worship did not escape John Calvin. In the first book of the Institutes he writes,
The knowledge of God, which is set before us in the Scriptures, is designed for the same purpose as that which shines in creation, viz., that we may thereby learn to worship him with perfect integrity of heart and unfeigned obedience, and also to depend entirely on his goodness.
In describing how our worship of God should be informed by good theology, H.B. Charles Jr., pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church, comments, “As we rejoice, our worship should not be an emotional response to man-centered entertainment masquerading as worship. As we rejoice, we should recognize the holiness and the sovereignty and the majesty of Almighty God.”
Don’t miss what these men are saying. Good theology not only leads us to worship, but good theology also teaches us how to worship. That was also the point Jesus made to the Samaritan woman:
You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth (John 4:22–24).
Church, good theology matters. Good theology is the key that unlocks true worship of God. It fascinates me when I meet professing Christians who claim to have a great understanding of Scripture and theology, but who engage in corporate worship like curmudgeons. The same is true for professed theologians who spend their time during corporate worship nitpicking the song selection, the instrumentation, the sound volume, or the singer’s voice rather than actually spending their time worshiping the Lord. I know these people personally. Sometimes, one of them is me.
Here’s a challenge to all of us, but especially to those of us who can be crusty curmudgeons or nasty nitpickers: this week, read and meditate on Psalm 103 and Psalm 104. In these psalms, David enjoins his soul to bless the Lord for who he is and for all he has done. When you and I are tempted to grump and complain about something we don’t like, let us instead enjoin our souls to bless the Lord and forget not all his benefits.

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