The Contextual “Why” Behind Theological Training in the NLDA

The Contextual “Why” Behind Theological Training in the NLDA

We’re at a pivotal time. We are at a pivotal time for our church and for the Christian church at large in the U.S. It has become virtuous in our society to question everything—especially that related to authority or tradition. There is a sense in which that’s good: authority and tradition have both been heavily abused to coerce or to oppress, to restrain or to manipulate. Thus, it is good to seek to understand what authority is good and which traditions are worth preservation. But casting doubt upon all authority and all tradition is dangerous. We need discernment. Yet we need discernment toward dangers on multiple sides. We need also to know when the Church has abused authority—apart from God’s single, inherent, divine authority—and mandated traditions which serve man rather than God.

Pursuit of God’s wisdom and holiness—and discernment with the truth—this is the responsibility of every Christian. Guidance, or “shepherding,” at this point of discernment is the responsibility of a church’s pastors under the authority of God’s Word. This is where a church’s leaders (under God’s authority) are meant to teach and instruct, and reproduce those who can do the same as the church multiplies. This is where a church’s leaders are called to equip the saints for the work of ministry (Eph. 4:11–15) and to reject false teachings, both from within and from without (2 Tim. 4:1–5, 2 Pet. 2:1–3).

First, we need to know how to sift through societal pressures. In the midst of this societal “cleanse” of all authoritative burdens, Christians find themselves where they always have lived. Christians are now as always seeking to be faithful in mission and Christlikeness while caught in a culture that does not understand them at best, and opposes them at worst. At the least, the culture opposes truths that Christians have always held to be so. Christianity smells too much like authority and tradition, and these are not to be trusted anymore. Many then are confused by this. “I’ve always thought this, and I’ve always been taught this, but is it right?” Who is really to say?

There is comfort for us. There is rest in this confusion for the Christian. God has not only given rest to our souls, but also to our minds. Why? Well, for one, our culture isn’t making any new demands or asking any new questions. We’ve seen this before throughout history. There has always been pressure to refuse or to hide that which God has said. The mode of questioning present today has roots in Enlightenment philosophy and post-modern thinking (“no absolute truth”), which led to movements that have drastically changed our society, like the Sexual Revolution in the mid-20th Century. Such movements have swept through Western societies with questions like “Did God actually say…?” or “Can we actually trust the Bible?” or “Since we can’t trust the Bible, who was Jesus really?” or “Can we even believe that God exists?”

Meanwhile, the Church has always been proving why Jesus needed to come—by sinning, and by putting barriers between other sinners and the grace of Christ. And thus, secondly, we must learn to see through our own cultural inventions and distinguish them from that which God has commanded of the church. What is the Church actually supposed to be and do? How has man polluted the picture God has given in His Word?

We consistently fail in conveying the message we were called to steward—that the eternal Jesus Christ came as a man to save repentant sinners through his perfect life, bodily death and resurrection, and exaltation to the throne of heaven. We deeply fail to live with holiness as is fit for one redeemed by a loving God. We fail to live out the example of a selfless church fellowship prescribed by the New Testament, which is called to glorify God and make Christ known, serving one another with joy-filled gratitude along the way. We create cultures of our own, cultures of religious expectations that steal from God’s glory and place shame upon the very people Christ came for—the broken and lonely, the downtrodden and despairing.

May it not be so for us at New Life City Church! And praise the Lord, I have seen so many instances at New Life of a church who welcomes others, who speaks against shame, and reproduces grace. May we continue to grow in that.

So how do we reinforce such existing faithfulness to not just survive, but reproduce in healthy ways for the long term? How do we continue to reproduce our leaders and multiply our church family out on mission, spending ourselves so that the grace of Christ overwhelms Kansas City, that its residents would respond with faith and a desire for holiness? How do we protect our minds against the pressures of society from without, and from sin within the church?

It all begins with knowing who God is. It begins and ends with Him. When we know Him, we rightly understand who we are. When we know who He is, we rightly pursue understanding and obedience to His Word. When we know who He is more and more, and what He has done for sinners to be at peace with Him and enjoy Him forever, His love will flow through us toward every person we see. Our prayers for others will flow freely and selflessly to a Father who hears and who saves. We will understand why the church is necessary as the design He has given for His people.

The New Life Development Academy exists for the purpose of helping New Life members know God better—that’s what theology is! The NLDA exists to help each of us, through God’s revelation in Scripture, to sift through the errors of our society and the errors we might be prone to within the church. It exists so that we will all be able to aid our minds in finding rest in truth amidst a world which seeks to reject or replace truth. And it exists to help each member know that we all have a role and responsibility to the mission and ministry of this church family.

The New Life Development Academy begins Saturday, January 15th at 7:30AM. For more information, go to our webpage – https://newlifecity.church/developmentacademy/.