Organization seems to be a normal part of New Year’s resolutions. People organize their time by getting a new calendar. They organize their stuff by getting new bins and containers. Christians have also found it helpful to organize our beliefs.
A systematic approach to theology identifies the various subjects addressed in the Bible and sums up the main ideas. This month our elders and deacons began to read through a systematic theology textbook titled Biblical Doctrine edited by John MacArthur and Richard Mayhue. We’ll be at it for a long time. The book is over 900 pages long, and we are discussing it in small chunks at our monthly meeting.
You don’t have to tackle something that big to begin sorting out your beliefs. A good place to start is by simply knowing the basic categories of biblical teaching. The Bible teaches us about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. It explains how God reveals himself. It describes the existence and characteristics of angels and demons, including Satan. It gives us a perspective on human beings and our sinfulness. It explains God’s plan of salvation, and describes the gathering of believers together in churches. Finally, the Bible presents God’s overarching plan for history that includes his promises to Israel, future judgment, and the ultimate establishment of God’s kingdom.
Knowing these categories can help you as you read and study the Bible. When we look at a passage, we begin to notice how these different subjects are developed. This sorting process then enables us to observe the overall worldview that we see throughout Scripture. We can then use this perspective as we consider practical choices in our lives.
May we grow in the knowledge of the truth which accords with godliness (Titus 1:1).
– Bryan Craddock