Is all doctrine practical?
Randy sat in my office to deliver the difficult news. He had just been diagnosed with cancer. He asked that I come to his house to have a devotion with his family after he shared the news to them.
Experiencing theology in life
Randy’s children attended WELS schools and knew all the passages, all the doctrines. They rarely, if ever, missed a Sunday service. They had been prepared for this moment, but you can hardly prepare to hear such devastating news.
Sometimes we can overthink these moments in time. What could someone possibly say that would make any difference for this family? Randy’s family needed to hear what they already knew: the gospel.
As tears flowed down their faces, I shared with them 2 Timothy 3:15, “From infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” This was a family that had known the Holy Scriptures as long as they could remember. But knowledge is an interesting thing. You can possess knowledge gained from taking classes, reading, or talking to others who have knowledge to share. And what a blessing that is. But knowledge is not just something learned on a page; it is also gained through experience. So it is with theology. Theology is not just learned on a page; it is experienced in life.
Seeing God’s grace
I shared with Randy’s family that everything they learned about God and his Word in classes and in their home would suddenly become real—it would be personally experienced. You see, God’s grace is and always will be real with or without our acknowledgement, but God allows times to come into our lives so we can see God’s grace applied to us personally.
For example, the truth of the resurrection of the dead became much more personal as Randy and his family faced the real possibility of death. The truth of vocation became that much more personal as they considered that God would work through the hands of the doctors on Randy’s behalf. The truth of picking up the cross and following Christ became that much more personal when this family saw God’s grace hidden in suffering. God had been preparing Randy and his family for this day for years.
Is all doctrine practical? The answer is a resounding YES! It may seem at times like sitting in Bible studies or catechism classes or listening to sermons is just an academic exercise, but it is so much more than that. In those classes, God drives home doctrinal points to prepare you for that day when the simple truths of the Bible become personal.
With this upcoming series, we want to look at a number of familiar doctrines and ask, “What does this mean for me?” God-willing, you then will be able to apply the truths of God’s Word to your life and to your experiences, knowing that God’s Word is not just an academic exercise. It is a personal gift—for you.
This is the first article in a six-part series on applying doctrine to your personal life. Read the second article here.
Author: Gregory C. Lyon
Volume 109, Number 07
Issue: July 2022