Sound theology and doctrine correlate to sound living. Sound living cannot happen without sound theology. To ultimately bring glory and honor to God, sound living must take place. Therefore, sound theology is paramount. The pursuit of obtaining sound theology aids in recognizing false theology and teaching, as well as rejecting it. For instance, to the church at Pergamum (Rev 2:12-17) Jesus writes, “But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam…. So, also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans (which the church at Ephesus discerned was not acceptable).” The church at Thyatira had a similar issue. Jesus expresses to them, “But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols” (Rev 2:20).
Understand, the practice of teaching, theology, and doctrine is a practice that is performed by all, whether it is shallow, obsolete, or deep or whether the person is a Christian, atheists, agnostic, Hindu, Buddhist, or Muslim. Nevertheless, it is a practice that manifests itself in behavior. Take the church at Philadelphia for instance; Jesus, knowing their works, has no rebuke for them. Commending them he writes, “Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown” (Rev 3:10-11).
However, sound theology should not be divorced from the purpose and pursuit of loving God. Sound theology that is not directed at the pursuit of loving God, knowing him more, and bringing him glory is a theology that may be sound, but, to God, is empty. This lesson is learned from the church at Ephesus. The church at Ephesus was a church who patiently endured trials, rejected evil, and tested the teaching of people who claimed to be apostles and found some to be false. They also hated the works of the Nicolaitans, which were a group of people who had unsound teaching (Rev 2:15). However, Jesus has a rebuke for the church at Ephesus even though they appear to be sound in theology and living; they had abandoned their first love. In other words, they had lost sight of why they did what they did. The church had become a body in pursuit of a religion rather than a relationship.
If we are to please our great God and Savior, we must practice and not neglect the pursuit of sound theology. Sound theology leads and manifests itself in sound and right living. However, sound theology must be accompanied by a relational and intimate love for Christ. Without the intimate relational connection with Christ, sound theology succumbs to being empty religion—a religion that is pharisaic, legalistic, moralistic, and fanatical.
So, how do we pursue sound theology? (some simple points)
– Right relationship with God through faith in Christ
– Power of the indwelling Holy Spirit to aid and guide in truth, as well as obedience to the truth
– A healthy dose and intake of the reading of God’s word (a understandable translation and good study bible will help with intaking Gods’ word)
– Involvement, fellowship, and devotion to a gospel-centered, gospel-proclaiming church body
– A Prayer life that seeks to discern areas that are not right behaviorally
– Commitment to read sound theologians who wrestle with interpreting God’s word correctly, not just ear-tickling authors who write existentially about feelings, emotions, and behaviors (not that there is anything wrong with these types of books)