Finding God's Winning Spirit

Applied Theology

September 20, 2013 | Greg Smith | Theology

Applied theology to me is not an academic body of material, an examination of data or even the translation of fact to practice. It is not about cognitive or intellectual pursuit - it is about living spiritually.  It is not about knowing but rather about doing. It is not the study of why we do what we do (that would be religious psychology) – it is about becoming who we can be. It is not just about knowledge - it is about faith. It is not about what we can prove - it is about what we believe.

We must ask ourselves a couple of questions which are, "Does it make a difference in our lives that we know Christ?” and "Are we more prepared for daily life because we have a relationship with our creator?"  Even though most of my clients answer these questions in the affirmative there tends to be a discrepancy between what they say and what they do. This is the common problem of knowing God's Word but not living God's Word. To apply theology to our daily lives we will need to ask ourselves if we really believe what we say we believe.

Unfortunately, most Christians believe that applied theology means simply applying biblical doctrine, scripture and/or wisdom to given circumstances. Although it is true that this meets the criteria of application of theology to life, it is application in its most basic form. This legalistic or rote attempt to apply God's word to life explains the existence of The Code of Hammurabi (the 1772 BC Babylonian law code) and the Mosaic Law of the Torah which, by the way, were both referred to by Jesus as the attempt to earn salvation through pure obedience to law - works.

Do not get me wrong, living our lives in obedience to God's Word is important but it is the most primitive or elementary level of faith. For example, we tell our children not to touch the stove because it is hot. It is not really important at first that they understand how a stove works – it will suffice for them to simply obey. As they grow older, or as time goes by, they will understand the danger of a hot stove. For us to successfully apply God's Word to our lives we need to move past basic obedience to understanding.

The real secret to applied theology is found in relationship to Christ. It is not simply about doing what God says, it is about understanding and trusting why He says it.  Applied theology means finally understanding how a stove works so to speak – it is the difference between just knowing facts and wisdom. We "love one another" not just because we are told to – but because God first loved us. We are free from “troubled” hearts” not just because John 14:27 tells us not to worry – we do not worry because we believe the Holy Spirit is present to comfort and support us.

I believe that when Jesus said he came "that we should have life and have it more abundantly" he was referring to applied theology.  I believe he was telling us that because of His sacrifice and through the Holy Spirit we could now live each day spiritually.  We could now once and for all see things from His point of view. We could now believe and live from concepts like "all things are possible through Christ, all things work for good and count all things joy". We would not only tell others what we believe but act on these beliefs, we finally would be able to truly love the Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our mind and love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39).

So what difference does it make that we know Christ? It makes all the difference in the world. What does knowing Christ change about us? It changes everything.  It allows us to negotiate this world as transformed individuals, seeing the world and others through different eyes and going through each day as new creations in Christ.

Paul tells us this in Galatians 5, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires" (NIV).

This is Applied Theology.

Very thought provoking. Thanks for sharing.
Posted by John on
I see very interesting way to apply theology of sport. I am according.
Posted by Tomas Bolaño on
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