Pin It

Why Lazy Theologians Are Bad Gospel Preachers

A lazy theologian never makes for a good gospel preacher, at least not for long!

I’ve heard it said before that we shouldn’t waste so much time on studying theology, that theology distracts us from our main job of preaching the gospel, that we need to put down the books and instead just focus on preaching the gospel.

IMG_3811-002

I am in full agreement when it comes to the vital importance of proclaiming the gospel clearly and powerfully to the unbelieving world. However, the notion that a deep commitment to studying theology distracts us or somehow makes us less effective in preaching the gospel is both wrong and dangerous!

Without Theology the Gospel Ceases to Be Gospel

It is dangerous to ignore the importance of theological study because, whether we like it or not, the further we remove ourselves from serious theological engagement the more likely it becomes that error will creep into our preaching. It’s a common theme in history that has repeated its self far more times than we should care to mention.

To simplify things the progression often looks something like this:

  1. Preacher starts out solidly on the foundation of the gospel.
  2. Preacher continues with some success.
  3. Preacher slowly gets out of the habit of rigorous study.
  4. Preacher, without even knowing it, starts preaching his own opinion instead of God’s Word.
  5. Preacher moves away from preaching about gospel topics like sin, repentance, hell and salvation.
  6. Preacher begins to focus exclusively on practical matters like marriage, money and success.
  7. Preacher compromises the gospel message in an effort to “win” more people’s approval.

And that’s how we lose the gospel! Yes, there may be other reasons and other ways but that’s a common one that I’ve seen.

Passion for the Gospel Comes from Our Theology

A passion to preach the gospel begins in the mind and heart of the preacher by a careful examination of Scripture and the working of the Holy Spirit to bring personal conviction and belief.

You can preach the gospel with emotion and give it some sense of passion without a deeper understanding of theology but you can only do that for a limited amount of time. If you don’t give yourself to deep, regular, and prolonged study of theology, eventually you’ll find yourself mimicking those passions and emotions like any actor on any stage.

A lazy theologian may be a good actor but he is never a good gospel preacher.

Effective Gospel Preaching Comes from Careful Study

The problem with the lazy theologian is that he loses his ability to think accurately and carefully about current fads of thinking and problems in society.

Let’s not forget that Jesus was a theologian long before he was a preacher of the gospel. We know that even at a young age he astounded his elders by his knowledge and understanding of Scripture. But he wasn’t just answering their questions, he was also listening and learning!

And it happened after three days they found Him in the temple sitting in the midst of the teachers, even hearing them and questioning them. And all those hearing Him were amazed at His intelligence and His answers.
(Luk 2:46-47)

Jesus spent his entire life studying Scripture and theology so that he could spend three years of it in ministry!

Let’s also not forget that besides Jesus the greatest theologian in the New Testament was also the greatest gospel preacher. The apostle Paul wasn’t just a missionary and a tent maker he was also a scholar. He grew up as a Pharisee and thus he was well learned in the Scripture Acts 22:3.

Read his writings to the churches in the New Testament and you will find theology. Paul always lays out the foundation of theology taken from Scripture before he begins to talk about its application and it’s action in our life.

Not only did Paul have a tremendous understanding of Gods Word but he also was well read in the philosophies of other cultures. When he preached the gospel to the Greeks in Athens he even quoted one of their poets (Acts 17:28).

Don’t Be a Lazy Theologian

My advice, if you want to effectively preach the gospel don’t be a lazy theologian!

What does that mean?

First, it means you need to make a commitment to do more than read God’s Word, you need to study it. By study I mean you need to dig in, find the meaning and make the applications. Trust me, it’s work but it’s worth it in the long run.

Second, you need to read. Reading the writings of others helps us to stretch our thinking and expand our understanding. Make a reading plan for yourself and stick to it. Read the classic theologians before you read the contemporary ones.

Third, I highly recommend that you begin writing. Writing has a way of catching certain thoughts and ideas that float around in our heads and do no one any good until they’ve been put into black and white on a piece of paper. Writing will help you make sense of your own theologian. Writing will also help others.

This Is Why I Teach Theology

This is why I am committed to the importance of teaching theology in Ukraine. I know that churches built on solid theology will always produce the best gospel preachers.

I know that the best way to ensure that the gospel is being preached is to teach the depths of God’s Word to Ukrainian believers who can then in turn preach the gospel in their context.

Learn how you can join us through regular support here.

Learn how you can give a special gift here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Join us for news straight from Ukraine!
Get exclusive content and prayer requests delivered directly to you via e-mail!

SONY DSC

I am a pastor, missionary, and preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Ukraine since 2007. God blessed me with a wonderful wife and 5 amazing children!

My greatest passion is to teach, encourage, and exhort others to turn to Jesus, who is Savior, Lord, and God!

  • perhaps you have heard of the latest brouhaha of a prominent young pastor of a megachurch redefining the 10 Commandments as the 10 Promises. Total lack of biblical basis. another word comes to mind: garbage!

    • Bill, I did hear about that brouhaha. There’s no limit to what we can come up with when we lose our Biblical centeredness.

  • Great post, it reminded me of Bonhoeffer. He began as a theologian, that shaped his life and ministry.

    Over and over I keep hearing pastors and those in the church say they hear God calling them back to the foundation of their faith, that we must get back to the basics in order to reach the lost.

    • Isn’t it true TC, there’s really nothing new under sun, we have to come back to the ideas and truths God has given us in his Word.

      • His Word is what will stand. So glad He’s the same yesterday, today and forever! That is where I want to place my hope and trust. I pray I stay close to Him and that other believers will too.

  • Steve Winget

    Amen.

    • Very succinctly said Steve!

  • Perhaps the theology critics should read the writings of Paul and John – they understood that theology mattered!

  • James Oakes

    Great post. This is probably the number one thing that is hurting preachers that I personally know.

  • Ronald Slyderink

    Älthough we cannot argue against knowing ‘correct theology’ (what that means however is not entirely clear and debatable), we have to use caution because God makes it clear from Scriptures that there are many false teachers and without the inspiration of the Holy Spirit all our knowledge even if it is ‘correct’ is in vain. It is the letter that kills, the Spirit that makes alive. We need the Holy Spirit in our lives for conviction and correct leading and teaching – and ministry with power to be and do. Words even those from Scripture can be dead unless the Spirit quickens them to our hearts and mind. Our intellect and knowing and reasoning, our theology isn’t enough. We have many who can quote scriptures and teach the ‘correct’ doctrines but unless the Spirit is in it or behind it, it is dead, and even give us a false sense of the truth and what the Father really wants us to know about his Son and himself and his Spirit. Without doubt, we should engage with and respond to the written and spoken word, but it is the Father and Jesus who stand behind them and beckon us to come to the throne of grace, to the cross and crown, to live in union with God as we submit to him and the gift of the Holy Spirit will change us forever to be a child of the King in his Kingdom. Only when we seek God with all our heart and we have a humble repentant submissive grateful attitude, will God open his Spirit to us and the living Word changes us to be who God wants us to be, redeemed, restored and alive IN CHRIST.

    To your glory and honour dear Lord, we thank you for your great mercy, love, faithfulness and grace.

    • Well said Ronald! For sure we need to Holy Spirit to change our hearts and apply the truths to our lives.

  • Maureen Ray

    Reading through your blogs! Are you an A-millennialist?

    • Maureen I believe there will be a literal millennial reign of Christ.