True knowledge of the gospel is not measured by the number of facts that we have accumulated about the gospel of Christ, but by our conformity to the Christ of the gospel. Like all theology, true gospel study is a devotion, an act of worship, resulting in transformation. John Owen wrote: “Knowledge of political theory is not the same as statesmanship, nor does a keen study of Cicero’s Laws and Plato’s Republic automatically produce good citizens. By the same reasoning, a Christian theologian is not a man with some superficial knowledge or slight grasp of a technical scheme of theology and its scientific terminology. If he bears no mark of a true disciple of Christ, then he is no theologian, but rather remains a miserable sinner, standing self-condemned. Such scholars were well described long since by Philostratus, ‘If what we teach is contradicted by our own behavior, then we are shown to have been speaking in an unnatural manner, merely making sounds like a flute player’” (Biblical Theology, p.619) “Let us proclaim it boldly—the man who is not inflamed with divine love is an outsider to all theology! Let him toil long and hard in the arming of thorny questions; let him be the most avid devourer of theological books in existence; if he has this and nothing else, it is but the stronger proof that the natural beauty of God’s truth has never penetrated through even the smallest chink into his mind. He is not on fire with love of divine truth, nor carried away with admiration of her beauty.” (Biblical Theology, p.XLVI) John Owen’s exhortation can be applied to all categories of theological thought, but how much more to the gospel—the Everest, the acropolis of all theology? Let us study with earnest longing and many prayers to know Christ and be transformed by His gospel! And let us measure our knowledge of the gospel by the transformation it has wrought in our lives.
Paul is the founder of HeartCry Missionary Society and currently serves as its missions director. He also ministered as a missionary in Peru for ten years. He has preached hundreds of sermons and has authored a dozen published works. Paul lives in Radford, Virginia, with his wife Charo and their four children: Ian, Evan, Rowan, and Bronwyn.More By Paul David Washer