Is the study of Christ important? Some people say we do not need theology we just need Jesus. Yet, when you ask them who Jesus is, they will tell you that He is the second person of the Trinity, the Son of God, who died on the cross for our sin. At this point you can tell them they are doing theology.
Yet, this brings up the question, why is it so important to know the person, work, and gospel of Christ? Obviously, there is a connection with the personal salvation of the believer. However, there is more the believer can benefit from the knowledge of Jesus Christ as taught in the Scriptures. Studying Christ can help the believer better grow in holiness, thanksgiving toward God, and boldness to live in this dark world. As Millard Erickson said when Scholasticism separated studying the person of Christ from the work of Christ, “As a result, Christology was no longer relevant to most believers.” Therefore, one should study the person of Christ alongside of the work of Christ to see the relevance of studying Jesus in the Scriptures. Paul mentions this in 2 Corinthians 3: 18, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (ESV).
The importance of knowing Christology is it helps the believer grow in character, maturity, and competence to fulfill the mission Christ has laid upon the believer.
This will be seen in three passages on Christ and His atonement. The first one will be John 1: 1 – 14, Romans 3: 25 – 31, and Philippians 2: 1 – 11. These passages show knowledge of the person of Christ, as well as the gospel, results in practical principles for Christian living.
This passage says,
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1: 1 – 14, ESV).
Significance of the Person of Christ
The first thing we can see about this passage is Jesus is God. He is God the Son, and though He created the world, everyone rejected Him. God witnessed about Him through the prophet John the Baptist. Jesus overcame spiritual ignorance with truth. Then Christ came into the world in which He created. Yet, the world was blind to who Christ truly was.
However, The second thing we see is, by the will of God, Christ made those who received Him in faith into adopted children of God. D. A. Carson said, “These people enjoy the privilege of becoming the covenant people of God, a privilege lost by the Messiah’s own people.” Being a covenant person of God meant one gets to share the blessings God promised to the patriarch Abraham. That is a spiritual city in which they would get to share in the peace, rich blessings, and covenant love as well as faithfulness of God.
Therefore, a child of God carries certain responsibilities. Saving faith must lead to faithfulness. As Christ was the faithful Son of God who redeemed people for Himself, so we must be faithful sons of God who imitate our Father. John illustrates this in the first chapter of first John,
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1: 5 – 7, ESV).
This passage says,
whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law (Romans 3: 25 – 31, ESV).
Significance for the Gospel of Christ
Here Paul lays out salvation based upon faith. He explicitly states Christ is the blood sacrifice which appeases the wrath of God against the unrighteousness of men. Robert Mounce says, “the Greek term is best understood as the placating of God’s wrath against sin.” This way God is good for punishing sin and can forgive sinners who repent and trust in Jesus Christ.
Christians have no grounds for pride
Therefore, Paul’s conclusion is believers have no foundations for pride in one’s goodness. No one can say they earned their salvation. This shows the doctrine of salvation by faith alone is supposed to keep one humble, which is the foundation for maturity. Maturity involves an attitude of seeking how best to fulfill their divine role in the church for the good of others and the glory of God. An apple tree when it first sprouts seeks only to grow. It is concerned only with the nourishment of itself. Yet, when it is fully grown it provides nourishment in its fruit for the hungry and shade for the weary. So it is with Christians, when they decide to not focus on only themselves they can serve others for the glory of God and the growth of the church. Remembering it is Christ who saves us on the basis of faith alone provides the foundation for the humility which helps us to look to God and others.
This passage says,
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2: 5 – 11, ESV).
Significance of the Humility of Christ
In this passage Paul starts with believers being humble and caring for others for the glory of God (2: 1 – 4). His supporting reason is Christ, though he is God, became a slave, and died with the shameful death of a cross to be obedient to the Father (vv. 5 – 8). This is the reason given for the exultation of Jesus Christ (vv. 9 – 11). What is implied is that God will reward believers for their obedience, even if it leads to their shame in the culture and death.
See how the knowledge of Christ leads to practical principles Christians can follow. If God can become a man for our sake, can we not lower ourselves to help those who we think are lesser than us? I believe we can. We can minister to people in the ghetto, the streets, and other places we think are beneath us. We can do all of this for the sake of the one who lowered himself from the highest position and died for us.
Is all we need is Jesus and not theology? The truth is we cannot know Christ apart from theology. Knowing Christ is not just academic or spiritual, it is practical theology. It is the theology which makes the man the best man he can be. It makes the grandmother the best grandmother she can be to her grandchildren and her children. She will not just give her grandchildren cookies or presents. She will be a model of godly living, holiness, and love. It can lead men to war with the devil, fight against the sinful culture of the day, and save souls from Hell. Let us dive deeply into the scriptures to know and love Jesus more. As Peter says, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence (2 Peter 1: 3, ESV).
If you want more biblical resources on studying the Scriptures, check out the store at strivingforeternity.org/store. There are also a lot of other articles on the website to encourage you to dive deeper into God’s Word. Please also check out Apologetics Live at ApologeticsLive.com, where Andrew Rappaport, Anthony Silvestro, and Justin Pierce answer your questions and teach you how to defend the faith. It is on from 8pm – 10pm EST. Also, do not forget to check out the Rapp Report, where you can hear the teaching of Andrew Rappaport and the Christian Podcast Community. Lord bless you.
 Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013), 617.
 D. A. Carson, The Gospel according to John, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans, 1991), 126.
 Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 117.