As we you read through these definitions, notice the progression or digression of the concept of theology.

Theology (Encyclopedia Britannica - 1768)
To know God, and to render him a reasonable service, are the two principal objects of religion, the end of every other science is some temporal happiness: theology alone proposes an eternal felicity (happiness); its object therefore differs from all other sciences
Theology (New Century - 1927)
The science which treats the study of God, his attributes and his relations to the universe
Theology (Webster - 1966)
Rational interpretation of religious faith, practice and experience; the analysis, application and presentation of the traditional doctrines of a religion; the study of God and his relation to man and the world.
theology (Webster - 1978)
the study of religious doctrines

What is Theology?

I found it very interesting and disturbing to see the degeneration of the English concept of theology. In 1768, those who compiled the facts and concepts of English speaking people, indicated that the human concept of theology was very close to the Biblical declaration by God Himself in His Word. Even as late as 1927, the human concept was still, that theology was a science dealing with God, his Person and plan. By 1966, the authorities specializing in concepts and trends indicated, by their definitions, that theology was little more than a rational interpretation of religious faith and practices.

In their presentation of the definitions of theology, the 1966 compilers did give token recognition to the possibility that theology could be considered "the study of God and His relation to man and the world". However, this token recognition certainly was not their main definition of theology. Then by 1978, those who claimed to know the trends and concepts of society simply stated that theology was "the study of religious doctrines" (any religion and any doctrine).I would like to say that these compilers of trends and concepts have given Evangelical Fundamentalism a bad rap by their degenerative definitions. That is what I would like to say, but I fear that their definitions reflect only too accurately the general concept of Christendom.

Theology is supposed to be the study of God. The English word itself is not used in the Bible. The two Greek words from which we get theology are: God and the study of, or the science of.

Therefore, theology should be a careful calculating analysis of all the information about God. That analysis should be conducted by means of a rigid system of comparisons and checks. That system should yield a complete and accurate finished product. That finished product should be the description of God, His Person and plan.

Theology should not be just a cold calculating science of facts about God, but should also be the personal acceptance of those facts, and the acceptance of the Person of those facts. The proper knowledge of God always brings change to the one gaining that knowledge. The proper knowledge of God will either:

I don't think we need to review the Biblical evidence of those facts. The Scriptures abound with illustrations of this truth.

The principle subjects of those Biblical illustrations are sometimes human and sometimes angelic. It makes no difference who receives this proper information about God or from what source they obtain it, the proper information will either harden or soften their heart. This fact was and is true in the highest of the angels whose original name was Lucifer, the Son of the Morning. Because Lucifer elevated himself to the position of supreme, he fell to the position of Satan. This fact was true in the highest of the human race, Adam. He too, elevated himself to the position of supreme when confronted with the truth of God and whether he would obediently act on that truth.

The proper information about God will either soften or harden the heart of a sinner or a saint. Therefore, it is important that we accurately study and analyze the facts about God. It is equally important that we remain tender to the Person of those facts, and be ready to receive both the message about the Person of God, and the Person Himself.

Putting God in Perspective

Solomon put theology in proper perspective for us. As we see Solomon's pursuit of theology, we must remember that he had very little of the written Word of God. Solomon's major sources for this scientific endeavor were the Books of Moses, creation and the responses of mankind to life in general.

Today, we have many great advantages for our scientific analysis of the Person of God, His plan and His relationship with mankind. We have the completed, verbally inspired revelation by God of Himself, His plan, His relationship with mankind and our responsibility to all that God is. Along with the supernatural revelation of God, which we call the Bible or the Scriptures, we have computers that can search that written Revelation for any fact or all related facts, and do it all in the blink of an eye. We also have over 2,000 years of the writings by men and women recording their findings in their scientific endeavor known as theology. We live in some of the most exciting days of Biblical understanding since the creation of mankind. At least it should be exciting. However, many are more interested in their emotions than the facts of God.

During these present days, the science of theology should yield the greatest human understanding of God and His plan that has ever existed. However, it seems that the more advantages and equipment we have to search and understand the Word of God, the less we give ourselves to this search, or the personal appropriation of our findings.

As a matter of fact, there seems to be less interest in searching the Scriptures today than there was years ago. There does seem to be far more written material concerning religious things than at any time in history. Some of the writings of the past and the present can and should be a blessing in our examination of the Person and plan of God. Yet, far too often, these writings become a hindrance to our searching, understanding, and obedience to the Word of God.

These writings can become a curse instead of a blessing for several reasons:

With those things in mind, let's see some of what the Holy Spirit through Solomon had to say on this subject.

Ecclesiastes 1:12-14 I, the Preacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I set my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under heaven; this grievous task God has given to the sons of man, by which they may be exercised. 14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind.

Solomon set out on this God given journey by means of wisdom, and he used every avenue of observation available to him. He was very serious about this task, and he held nothing back of his own or the kingdom's resources.

There was nothing too insignificant or prominent to be investigated, nor was he content to accept the research and findings of others. After exhausting every research mode he could, Solomon gives the results of that investigation in:

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether it is good or whether it is evil.
Hear (Hebrew)
To hear intelligently (or judicially) with implication of careful attention and complete obedience
Fear (Hebrew)
To revere with adoration and awe
Keep (Hebrew)
To hedge about (as with thorns) i.e. guard; to protect; attend to

A Quick Side Note

Hang in there with me. I warned you that we would move from one subject to another in this series, and sometime without a nice smooth transition. The reason for this type of study is that there are a great number of subjects that affect this study of the Believer and Satan. Plus, the information for this study must be gathered while examining other subjects, and the information about Satan will most generally be incidental to the main topic. That information is not of less or no value, it simply is given as part of another Biblical subject.

You also remember that we will need to look at a lot of definitions, and a slug of verses. All of these are needed to establish the facts of Satan vs the Believer. One of the major problems causing misunderstanding of the Scriptures is that we often do not gather and harmonize all the facts of Scripture on any given subject. As we gather this diverse material on Satan vs the Believer, we will learn a great deal about other Biblical subjects, also.

It is necessary to understand what theology is, and what is involved in the study of theology, 
 as well as how we can establish proper doctrines from that study. 

One of the prime and most important doctrines of the Scriptures is the sovereignty of God. If we don't have a proper Biblical understanding of sovereignty, we cannot accurately build or understand any other doctrine of Scripture. Therefore, it is essential that we understand true theology, and the proper process of establishing doctrines from that study. So kindly stay with me, or at least pamper an old man and listen carefully, and you will learn a great deal more that just how can Satan control a Believer.

I could tell you what sovereignty means from my personal study. That would be a lot faster, but then it would not be your personal belief. Just swallowing my definition would be no better than accepting some other human's definition hook-line-'n-sinker. So, I'll attempt to help you through this process, so you can establish your own belief from the Scriptures, as the Holy Spirit teaches you by comparing spiritual with spiritual. That process will be eternally far better than becoming a student of some human Dr. So-'n-so.

Solomon's Conclusion

Now that you know all this running around has purpose, let's go back and see what Solomon had to say. Then, let's compare Scripture with Scripture to make sure that what we thought we saw in Ecclesiastes is established throughout the totality of Scripture. That's fair enough, isn't it? That is not only fair, it is the only Biblical prescribed manner of study. Therefore, we must make sure we do not fall into the pattern of false religious fables, no matter how sincere our motives might be for embracing such religious teachings.

After Solomon had completed his exhaustive study of the information available to him about God and His plan, he says in effect, "Let me tell you about the completion of this theological study." Solomon starts his summation with, "Let's hear the conclusion" By the meaning of the Hebrew word translated in this passage by the English word hear, we see that Solomon was saying far more than, "Fellow country men, please lend me your ears."

Solomon says I will give you the conclusion of my research. But please be more than passive listeners. 
You need to hear this conclusion. 

Look back at the Hebrew definition for this translated word hear. You must ascertain intelligently, or literally judicially with the purpose of obedience, not just a mere accumulation of facts. This must be true, along with the full realization that if you do not obey, then judgment will be measured to you, based on the facts of this conclusion.

The First Principle of true theology: All study and research concerning the Person and plan of God must be entered into with the purpose and intent of full and complete obedience.

That's pretty close to the definition given by the Encyclopedia Britannica clear back in 1768.

Theology (Encyclopedia Britannica - 1768)
To know God, and to render him a reasonable service, are the two principal objects of religion, the end of every other science is some temporal happiness: theology alone proposes an eternal felicity (happiness); its object therefore differs from all other sciences
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether it is good or whether it is evil.
Hear (Hebrew)
To hear intelligently (or judicially) with implication of careful attention and complete obedience
Fear (Hebrew)
To revere with adoration and awe
Keep (Hebrew)
To hedge about (as with thorns) i.e. guard; to protect; attend to

The conclusion of Solomon's research into theology was to fear God and keep His commandments. That seems simple enough. Remember, we are to hear intelligently with the implication of careful attention and complete obedience. To fear God is to revere Him with adoration and awe.

The Second Principle of true theology: All study and research concerning the Person and plan of God must not be entered into until we have holy reverence, adoration and awe for the Person of God.

We could spend a lot of time here, and I fear we would find that we might not have as much reverence, adoration and awe as we claimed during the last testimony meeting, or our last conversation with our impressionable friends. This aspect is very important. However, it does not have as great an implication to our understanding of theology as keeping His commandments. Because theology is the subject of this lesson, we will turn our attention to the last part of Solomon's conclusion.

Generally, when a person reads or quotes this passage, it is with the intent that we should keep or obey the commands of God. Certainly the Bible teaches that we should obey the commands of God, but that is not the main implication of this conclusion of Solomon's. Don't forget to hear intelligently, carefully and obediently. We must not simply assume that because a truth is clearly taught somewhere in the Scriptures, that there are no other parallel, expanding or clarifying truths taught elsewhere in the Scriptures. Remember, the revelation of God is given progressively and is fragmented. This does not mean that God's revelation is less important than some man-made formula that was given all at one time with all its parts cohesive and chronological.

Those facts do mean that one presentation is from a human wisdom and teaching style, 
while the other is from a Divine wisdom and teaching style. 

Acquiring Spiritual Discernment

To understand God's revelation, we must use God's prescribed program. If we don't use God's program, we will have far more than a warning message on the computer screen of our minds, saying Java Script Error. If you try to understand God's revelation through human means, you will have a warning that reads "Holy Spirit script error. Total System Crash, Please restart."

The revelation from God cannot be fully comprehended until it is all accumulated and harmonized by comparing all Scripture with all Scripture. I know you hear those facts over and over again, but for some, the truth of those facts is not yet a reality, and for the rest we forget so often.

One reason we forget so often and have trouble grasping this truth is that this Biblical method is not the way humans teach, but it is the way the Holy Spirit teaches. Look once again at the Theme Chorus of MBF.

1 Corinthians 2:12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. 13 These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Some people think that this spiritual discernment takes place while sitting in the sun for days and eating bird seed, or the such like. That is neither spiritual or discerning.

Some think that this spiritual discernment comes by fasting and prayer. That sounds very religious, but you can't gain spiritual discernment in that manner.

Others think that this spiritual discernment comes by studious academic pursuits and the acquisition of initials before and/or after the name. All of these may have a place, and some are very admirable, but none have anything to do with spiritual discernment.

Spiritual discernment comes only as the Holy Spirit teaches us by comparing all that is spiritual with all that is spiritual. The simplest of humans can have this spiritual discernment. The most intellectual can have this spiritual discernment.

However, both must receive spiritual discernment in exactly the same manner. You speak about equality. You can't make the playing field any more level than that. You see, God can use any human experience for our spiritual benefit. However, no human experience is of spiritual benefit in and of itself.

The Bible clearly states that the highly intellectual and/or wealthy will have a more difficult time discerning spiritually. That is true, not because they are intelligent, educated or wealthy, but because they have a tendency to trust their education or wealth for their discernment. Folks this fact needs some very practical attention, especially for this group of sinners saved by Grace, alone.

Spiritual discernment comes only one way. It is the same way for the highly educated, the wealthy, the peasant, the king or anyone else. Spiritual discernment can only be ours when we cease to trust in any human means, and rely wholly on spiritual means for the understanding of the deep things of God, by the Holy Spirit's teaching as He compares spiritual with spiritual.

May I add, you can't understand the writings of Paul by any other means, either. In the first place, the Holy Spirit was the one authoring the writings of Paul. Paul only followed the direction of the Holy Spirit. The next reason is, Paul says he teaches the same way the Holy Spirit teaches. Read it once again for yourself.

1 Corinthians 2:13 These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

Listen, my friend, if you are not willing to study the Bible or theology by God's method, then you will never understand at least the 13 books of the New Testament Paul wrote. Add to that, the fact that you can't be taught by the Holy Spirit in the other 53 books, either. You could say that is truly being up-the-river-without-a-paddle. Is it any wonder that so many Christians do not understand the Bible, and do not enjoy Bible study?

This is one of the most neglected Biblical principles among good evangelical fundamental Christians. As a result, we have very little teaching or study of the Bible, itself, even though we have a great deal of teaching from or about the Bible. But God said that it is the teaching of the Bible by comparison with itself that brings spiritual discernment, and the day by day assimilation of God's Own Divine nature also come through the written Word of God.

2 Peter 1:-43 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

Keeping God's Commands

When will I stop reviewing these Biblical facts? I am following the command of God, and the example of Peter, and Paul, and James, and

2 Peter 1:12-14 Therefore I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know them, and are established in the present truth. 13 Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, 14 knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me.

Therefore, I will stop reviewing these facts only when we all are totally and actively engaged in the using of these truths at all times, or when the Lord takes me home to Glory. I'm quite certain that the last will happen first.

We can learn many facts about the Bible through various means, and that is good. But we cannot learn the truth of the Word of God or the deep things of God any other way. Don't forget, I didn't write it. I just read and expounded it. So, if that is true, and it is, then we must apply it to our present situation in Ecclesiastes to understand how we are to keep His commandments.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether it is good or whether it is evil.
Hear (Hebrew)
To hear intelligently (or judicially) with implication of careful attention and complete obedience
Fear (Hebrew)
To revere with adoration and awe
Keep (Hebrew)
To hedge about (as with thorns) i.e. guard; to protect; attend to

The Hebrew word translated to the English word keep, in this passage, does not have as its primary meaning to obey. Instead, it means to protect by putting a hedge of thorns about God's commands to guard them, and to give continual attention to these commands for the purpose of protecting them. Obviously, if we are giving that kind of attention and protection to the commands of God, we will also have the desire to obey those commands we're protecting. As a matter of fact, one of the most effective means of protecting the commands of God is to obey them, and teach others to do so.

If we are to have the primary meaning of the whole duty of man, then we need to follow the primary definition of keep throughout the Word of God.

Does the Bible teach that we should protect the commands of God by guarding them and 
putting a hedge of thorns around them so they cannot be altered, 
and so those commands remain true to God's intent? 

Yes, we are instructed to do that very thing, over and over again. This should be one of the major functions of any Christian and especially those who claim to be theologians. We should not spare any effort to keep the commands of God from being corrupted by human opinion.

A chemist would not be much of scientist, if he did not make sure, without question, which elements and if the proper elements were placed into the compounds being examined by him.

A theologian is not much of a scientist, if he does not make sure of the Biblical accuracy of the facts and doctrines being examined

Over and over again, we are instructed both directly and indirectly to give ourselves to the task of keeping the commands of God, The Commands of God. We are not to allow the teaching of fables based on the commands of God, but altered by human wisdom. We are to keep the commands exactly as given by God in all their intent.

Jude 1:3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.
Common (Greek) shared by all
Contend earnestly (Greek)
To struggle in a contest to win or protect
Once (Greek)
One time; the original
Delivered (Greek)
To surrender; to give as a trust; to deliver to one something to keep, to take care of or manage
2 Timothy 1:13 Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. 14 That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.
Hold fast (Greek)
To have in hand; to wear; to be with child
Pattern (Greek)
A die; a stamp; the first draft of a painter; a sketch or concise representation or form
keep (Greek)
To watch; to be on guard to preserve; to obey

We will have to leave our study right there, and pick it up next lesson. The passages in Jude and 2 Timothy are only two of many commands to protect and keep the Word of God pure. We will briefly look a few of those passages next lesson.

No, I haven't forgotten about the sovereignty of God, or the third principle of true theology. However, before we attempt to establish, from Scripture, what sovereignty is and God's method of fulfilling His sovereign will, we needed to establish the rules for how we go about finding, from Scripture, those needed facts.

There are two basic systems for establishing a doctrine of this nature:

Bible Ping-Pong

The rules for Bible Ping-Pong are a little vague, but basically the first player finds a verse or part of a verse that supports his view. Then that player hits the verse over the net to his opponent. The opponent, in turn, finds a Bible phrase or verse that supports his opposing view and hits it back to the first player. This continues with each player trying to put enough spin on their verses so the other player will miss. When one player misses often enough the other player wins, and a doctrine is established.

This is the most popular form of establishing victory in the game of doctrinal formation. The problem with Bible Ping-Pong is that nobody wins as far as knowing the Person and plan of God, nor will they ever comprehend the deep things of God in this manner.

A far better method of establishing Biblical doctrine, such as sovereignty, is:

Bible Paint by Number

In this game, no one is trying to defeat the other. Instead, each is trying to find or discover from Scripture, by comparison, where each color goes. When this game is completed, each player is a winner, because all can see and enjoy the picture of God and His plan, as directed by God, Himself.

You may choose your game, but if you are going to follow these studies, you'll have to learn to play Bible Paint by Number.

If we really truly want to know the truth of Scripture, we will not be disappointed when we find, from Scripture, that our opinion is wrong. If we are trying to defend our opinion, then we will never discover the deep things of God.