How Well Do We Understand Our Doctrine?
Those within the Reformed church love to study doctrine. We often gather together in one setting or another, open the Bible, and explore the wealth of wisdom that we find. We open some crusty old tome written long ago and let the breeze of ages past blow through our minds. Whether we study Scripture or learn more about theology, we love to hone and tune our orthodoxy. What is a problem, however, is that we can make good discussion when it comes to doctrinal issues. But all too often we demonstrate that we do not understand our doctrine as well as we might think in our every day life. In other words, we talk the walk but do not walk the walk.
Consider for a moment the doctrine of God’s Omnipresence. We understand the doctrinal truth that God is in all places at all times. We read passages of Scripture like Psalm 139.7-8 that speak to this doctrinal truth: “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.” We intellectually assent to this truth and speak about it with conviction. Yet a person demonstrates that he does not truly understand this doctrine when he sins behind closed doors when others are not around. Wilhelmus à Brakel, a 17th century Dutch theologian, writes that when “the presence of people serves as a restraint against the commission of many sins, and if the presence of God does not accomplish the same, one reveals himself as having more respect for people than for the majestic and holy God.” If we wait until the doors are closed and then sin because no one is watching, we only reveal that we do not understand the doctrine of God’s omnipresence at all.