What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
When you hear talk of theology, the word, “personal” probably does not come to mind. Theology often carries the connotation of dry doctrinal statements and sleep-inducing dissertations on obscure bullet points of religious teaching.
Connotations are one thing. Reality, however, is something else. Take the apostle Paul. When he put pen to paper, Paul articulated some of the most eloquent theology in all of the Bible. Seminaries devote entire courses to digesting his inspired words. But as you read Paul, something else becomes clear. To him, the theology he delivers is not some compelling theory, some intellectually stimulating thesis. For Paul, it’s personal.
To know this, look into one of Paul’s masterworks—his letter to the Romans. Here, the Holy Spirit moved Paul to paint both an intricate and sweeping portrait of Christian theology. But as he did, Paul left no doubt as to what this theology meant to him. In chapter 7, for instance, Paul spoke of his own life—his personal life as a Christian who still struggled day by day with his old sinful self. When you read his words, you can hear the tired frustration in his voice. You can hear his grief over all the ways he continued to stumble into sin. The episode reaches a climax when Paul blurts out, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”
Then comes the answer: “Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” You can hear the relief in his voice, knowing that his Lord Jesus had rescued him from his sin and guilt.
Christian theology is also personal for you and me. True, sometimes we forget this. The temptation can often be great to look upon the Bible as a collection of factoids for reference instead of a banquet of spiritual foods to savor. But when we stumble, when we fall, when we recognize all over again our profound need for Christ, the theology of what he has done to wash us clean at the cross and to cover us in his holy life—that beautiful theology becomes personal once more.
Lord, all the truths you have revealed to me in your Word are beautiful, and they are personal. Glory be to you. Amen.
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