I am having more fun and enjoying more peace. I think actually the word “fun” is wrong here it should be joy, an inner delight. I actually love God, I mean from my heart not just acting on a requirement. Why this change in my inner being? I think I can attribute it all to knowing God more accurately.
Most of my life theology was far less interesting than a Louis L’Amore novel. But one miserable day I knelt in despair and cried. As a missionary to shepherds I could not stop doing stupid things, not intentionally evil just not up-to-standard for the excellence required for an experienced Christian missionary. As I petitioned God I “saw” Him sitting on His throne, holding His head in His hands wondering if I would ever get my life under control and get things done as I was taught to do. I was pushing God to despair.
In this state of misery the Spirit suddenly revealed to me that God was sitting there quite calm! He was at peace about my life not because my stupidity and sin didn’t matter but because He knew about all of it long before I existed and His plan was still on schedule. The realization that He was not sitting there watching me destroy His work was transforming. It was a moment that I still consider to be a moment of new birth, salvation, of Steve Kreis. All my life had been based on the concept that God had offered me salvation, I chose it, in contrast to nearly all my school classmates, and I was now to serve God and live for Him. This left the burden of getting it right on my shoulders and that late summer afternoon it had broken me.
That was about six years ago. Since then I have faced financial gain and then financial loss. I have faced my ineptitude and sinfulness. I have struggled but in contrast to the past I have grown in my faith and in my love for my Father. The change has not been based on the miraculous but on theology.
Theology was about as interesting as a cook book before. I would scan it to get some general ingredients and then cook up something with those ingredients (plus some creative ideas of my own) and voilà! I had something inedible or at least tasteless. No longer. The few L’Amore westerns I have are packed away and my cherished volumes are thick and deep in theology.
One of my professors is Geerhardus Vos (1862-1949), former professor of Biblical Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary. In his book, Biblical Theology, he says, “Theology is the science concerning God.” When I hear the word science I think of standing under the stars on a clear, dark night and being enraptured with these great wonders longing to know more and go farther. Apply that to God and you find yourself longing to dig further and know more about Him. In the science of God I have fallen in love with Him. (I will add a side benefit is falling in love with my wife too.)
I have on my Kindle the Inaugural address that Vos gave at Princeton as he took the chair of Biblical Theology, May 8, 1894. It is titled, THE IDEA OF BIBLICAL THEOLOGY AS A SCIENCE AND AS A THEOLOGICAL DISCIPLINE. What an incredible address it is. It is like looking at the planets through the telescope of Mt. Palomar and then riding the shuttle and finally standing on the moon looking back at the earth and then beyond. Let me close with some quotes from the beginning of the address.
“Between God as the Creator and all other things as created the distinction is absolute. There is not another such gulf within the universe. God, as distinct from the creature, is the only legitimate object of Theology.
It will be seen, however, on a moment’s reflection, that Theology is not merely distinguished from the other sciences by its object, but that it also sustains an altogether unique relation to this object, for which no strict analogy can be found elsewhere. In all the other sciences man is the one who of himself takes the first step in approaching the objective world, in subjecting it to his scrutiny , in compelling it to submit to his experiments — in a word, man is the one who proceeds actively to make nature reveal her facts and her laws. In Theology this relation between the subject and object is reversed. Here it is God who takes the first step to approach man for the purpose of disclosing His nature, nay , who creates man in order that He may have a finite mind able to receive the knowledge of His infinite perfections.”
Geerhardus Vos. The Idea of Biblical Theology as a Science and as a Theological Discipline (Kindle Locations 54-56).
I am standing on the moon on the way to Jupiter.