Nov 12 10

Systematic Theology

vmsmith

Each week as we study in the gospel of Matthew, we are invited to enjoy a veritable feast of theology. Christian theology is the systematic study of Biblical truth as it relates to the person and work of Jesus Christ. The right development of our theology of Christ can only come from one source since there is only one historical record of His life. There are no extra-biblical accounts of anything Jesus did, and so to learn about Him and understand who He is, where He came from, and what He did we must go to that one record. To construct a different idea of Jesus from what is given in the historical account, is nothing but foolishness.

Under normal scrutiny and evaluation, this historical record would be believed because eyewitnesses provide the best testimony. For example, when arguing about the veracity of the incarnation of Christ, John says “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands of handled, of the Word of life…that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you…” (1 John 1:1, 3a). John makes this statement so that we know what He is about to write is not based on hearsay evidence, but was attested by the disciples who were present during Jesus’ ministry.

If we are going to learn the truth about Jesus, we can do nothing other than to accept what they saw and heard as they observed His life. This would include, of course, the record they gave of His miracles. They were present when He healed people; they were present when He raised the dead; they were present when He spoke the words “Peace be still” and calmed a raging sea. They saw it and they heard it and they wrote it down. The gospel writers provide this evidence so that we have a clear picture that Jesus was more than just a man.

Is this evidence sufficient enough by itself to cause us to believe to the saving of our souls? Interestingly, we have record of this as well. After a three year period of thousands of miracles, countless acts of compassion, and demonstrations of His deity, Jesus was rewarded with cursing, bitterness, beating, and death. We can develop an evidentiary theology of the person of Christ from His miracles, but we cannot produce a personal practical application of it except by divine intervention. Jesus does not become your Saviour by belief in visible miracles. He becomes your Saviour by His unseen work in the invisible operation of the Holy Spirit upon your soul. Witness this conversation between Jesus and Peter: “And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 16:16-17). Peter was present for many of Christ’s miracles, but his confession of Christ as his Saviour was not from a historical record or even from his personal eyewitness; it came from God Himself.

From passages such as this, we can further develop our theology of Christ. A systematic approach to Bible doctrine leads us to recognize that we are helpless to understand the saving work of Christ and to believe it unless God implants that germ of faith within us. This is a work of the marvelous grace of God that is independent of what we see with our eyes and hear with our ears. It begins before we see and hear, and with the presence of the Spirit, we rightly interpret the audible and visible evidence. Thank God for this wonderful regenerating work, because without it, you will continue to crucify Christ!

Pastor V. Mark Smith