“Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” (1 Timothy 4:16)
“Are you a Calvinist? Well, I’m more of an Augustinian.” I had to chuckle when I overheard this conversation at a debate I attended on January of last year. But at the same time, I was concerned that many of us Christians are more concerned with labels and theological terminology rather than the object of our terminology. In other words, do we talk more about God rather than talking to God? Does our theological rhetoric have any impact in our daily walk with our Saviour? I purposely used the pronoun “our” because I have to honestly confess that I am guilty of this as well.
“Theology matters!”, as James White so eloquently puts it. Every Christian is a theologian in some sense. We are always learning more about the Lover of our soul everyday as we fellowship with Him. Our theology will inevitably determine how we view God, ourselves, worship, His Word, the world around us, etc. So if you don’t have a sound, biblical theology and doctrine, then you will miss out on the joy of knowing Jesus Christ more intimately. Moreover, you may end up loving someone else other than the triune God of the Scriptures.
I am okay with calling myself a 5 point Calvinist, Reformed Baptist, dichotomist, etc. But these titles are meaningless if they bear no weight upon my soul. Many have asked me, “does it really matter if you are a Calvinist or not?” I would say it most certainly does! Albert N. Martin wrote a compelling booklet called, “The practical implications of Calvinism”, which you can find and purchase on my recommended books page. He addresses how the doctrines of grace should have a direct affect on a Christian’s every day life. Here is an excerpt, “What is the personal practical effect of the confession of Calvinism in the life of a man? If he sees God, it will break him, and if he understands that God saves sinners, it will make him a trustful, prayerful, watchful person pursuing practical godliness. Is that what these doctrines are for you right where you sit this morning?” (pg.23)
When we study doctrine and theology it should ultimately stir within us a deep longing and desire to love and serve God. So if you call yourself a Calvinist, Augustinian, Arminian, or whatever doctrinal position you affirm, make sure that the doctrines you hold to are manifested in your daily walk with Jesus Christ. So I ask us all one more time, do we love to talk about God rather than talk to God?