Last week I have the opportunity to watch a panel discussion that took place at the 2010 Resolved Conference. One of the big topics that was raised up among these men that I highly respect is how they themselves have grown and developed into the godly and influential men that they are.
One of the particular things that really stood out to me was what CJ Mahaney said about his own position and growth. He pointed out that almost every single thing that he ever says, writes or thinks can somehow be traced back to something that someone else he has read has said or wrote. In other words, practically every aspect of his life and thinking is the result of his standing on the shoulders of the giants that came before him. Solid men such as Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Edwards, Spurgeon, and so on, help shape the hearts and lives of more and more lines of godly men who come after them.
When he said that statement, it immediately burned itself in my memory because it was such a bright and clear articulation of what I have seen so vividly happen in my own life as well. As I examine my own life and mind I see that it is all completely the work of the grace of God through the godly influential men that he has placed into my life, both dead and alive.
Not only that, as I study theology over this winter break it is interesting to see that this is how God shapes and matures the thinking and doctrine of his church over the ages. As we look back into the years of the church’s development of theology there is never one man that we can point to that made all the difference is all the theology of the church. Even as we break theology down into its parts and topics, we can see that each area has been developed as a result of the laborious joint effort of many intelligent and gifted godly men in different places and time periods.
This is how the church grows and develops. We can see a very clear picture of this in the Epistle to the Ephesians. The Apostle Paul wrote to the churches of Ephesus about the fact that the church is a body, that is composed of many interdependent parts who are all dependent on the head – Jesus Christ. He fuels each individual directly, and also through the lives of all that surrounding body parts. It is never all about one amazing person, or even one amazing group. It is about the life-giving grace of Christ that works in and through each person, and thus the glory is always to him alone.
The person who does not show an interest in theology and reading the work of the men that have shaped the life of the church separates themselves from the amazing work of God happening in his church. This person does not adequately understand how God works through the life of his people to equip his people, and to help them more deeply and thoroughly understand his amazing Gospel.