How do we get “hard-wired to think we must do something to make God favorably disposed toward us”? For some of us it may be our upbringing. When I was a kid my dad seemed disappointed in me when I didn’t do well on the baseball field. He loved baseball so much and was so good at it, that when I didn’t do well I felt I was letting him down. He wasn’t a Christian then and I’m sure he’d be much different now.Even though I knew better, I still did the same thing to my kids at times. Sometimes when they failed in some way or confessed a sin, my facial expression conveyed that their performance had let me down. I so regret ever doing that.Perhaps we get this self-atonement idea from our society – nothing is free. We have to earn everything we can get. So we’re not used to gifts – everything has a catch. It’s so foreign to think that God loves us simply because he has redeemed us and sees us in Christ and accepts us in him, not because anything we do but because of everything Christ did. Grace is so foreign to us – there must be a catch.
The same humble approach helps when we take up the topic of “staying Christian” in seminary. There is so much (good) advice to be given. There are many experiences to be relayed, warnings to be sounded, commendations to be issued, and commitments to highlight. There are particular truths to emphasize, and practicals to give it flesh.
John Frame defines theology as “the application of the Word of God by persons to all areas of life.”
He defines application as “teaching” in the biblical sense of “the use of God’s revelation to meet the spiritual needs of people, to promote godliness and spiritual health.”
He sees five advantages to defining theology in this way.