God's Value System & Theology Questions and Answers
What is a value system?
A value system is the complete collection of things you care about in life. We have many opinions and preferences. Some we hold strongly, others not so much. Each of these things holds some level of value to us. These values motivate our actions. Taken as a whole, we can call them our value system.
What is God's value system?
God's value system is sacrificial love for the benefit of others. It is an active love. You have this value system only if it changes the way you live.
What is theology?
Theology is the study of the nature of God and of religious belief.
How is theology practical?
Theology's primary goal is to enable us to have a proper relationship to God.
Basing our understanding of theology around God's value system additionally gives us a system of thinking that enables clear and excellent explanations of spiritual concepts. And it makes theology practical for guiding daily living. It enables theology to guide us to having good relationships with God and between people.
All theology is relational. * This relationally-based theology perspective of God's value system synchronizes perfectly with classical Christianity and makes the case for Christianity stronger. So, it makes Christianity much more logical, understandable, and practical.
What is Jesus' Kingdom?
Jesus' Kingdom is a spiritual kingdom in the hearts of His people. It is not an earthly kingdom in government, structure, or implementation. It exists on this earth only in the fact that citizens of His Kingdom are also living on this earth.
Why do we know that Jesus' Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom?
(A point through humor:) We know that Jesus' Kingdom was not of this world because John the Baptist didn't have a shovel! *
John said his job was to get road improvements done as an advance herald of the coming king. (John 1:23 & Matt 3:2-3) If the king was to be an earthly king, John would have been overseeing dirt-moving crews. He never did use a shovel, but Jesus said he got the job done. (Matt 11:7-14) So instead, John's task was to work on the people regarding moral and spiritual issues. Thus, Jesus' Kingdom was not earthly; it was to be a Kingdom in the hearts of His people.
Jesus flatly stated his Kingdom was not of this world (John 18:33-37). Jesus gave evidence to that (his followers didn't fight his arrest). He also stated his Kingdom was not from this world: it was from a different realm.
We enter Jesus' Kingdom by spiritual birth. (John 3:3-8) We entered an earthly kingdom (republic, etc) when we were physically born, but Jesus said we must be born of the Spirit to enter his Kingdom. Therefore, it cannot be a physical kingdom.
The body of law of Jesus' Kingdom is unlike any earthly kingdom. We are to love each other as he has loved us, and therefore we are to forgive as we have been forgiven. Neither of these is an enforceable earthly rule.
How do you get into the Kingdom of God?
Getting into the Kingdom of God is impossible by our abilities. However, God has overcome this problem and prepared a means for us to become a part of his Kingdom. Our part is that we reject our value system, acknowledge Jesus as our king and adopt the value system of God. (See also.)
On our own, it is impossible to do even these steps. Our native (selfish) value system fights against this change. That is why God must transform our self by bringing to life something new in us. This spiritual birth creates a new part of our self that is alive to God, and therefore can have relationship with Him.
What is holiness?
The dictionary defines holy as being completely (wholly) devoted to the service of God. It has the idea of separation (for this service). It also has the concept of moral excellence.
God's value system is His moral excellence. And so holiness means being uncorrupted by, and therefore completely separated from, the (self-centered) value system of the world. This is why God is completely holy.
Since we are under our holy king-representative Jesus, God treats us as holy (positional sanctification). And as we increasingly live God's value system with His help, then we also become holy (progressive sanctification).
What is righteousness?
Righteousness is the doing of God's value system.
What is the glory of God?
God's glory is that he completely does his value system. As we do his value system we also will be transformed to have glory like his.
What is worship?
Worship is sacrificial living for the benefit of others. It is adopting and acting on the value system of God (Rom 12:1). Therefore, it can only be accomplished in community.
What is faith?
Faith is believing the promises of God.
What is belief?
True belief is being so convinced of the truth of a promise that you take action on it. You sit in a chair because you believe it will support you. You drive a car because you believe it is a safe mode of transportation.
Faith and belief in Jesus will inspire a life like His.
What is lying?
Lying is deceiving someone so they believe both individuals share a common value system. The purpose of lying is to gain the benefits of a common-value-system relationship, without actually having that value system in common. This is why we feel so betrayed when we find that someone has lied to us.
Relationships are based on common value systems. When someone lies to you, they are attempting to deceive you about their relationship with you.
Where does conflict in relationship come from?
Conflict in relationship always comes from a difference in value systems.
How can conflicts in relationship be fixed?
Coming to a common value system will eliminate conflicts in relationship.
Our native value systems seek to benefit ourselves and therefore there will be in conflict over the beneficiary. God's value system of sacrificial love for the benefit of others is the only value system that can avoid conflict. However, learning to incorporate it fully into living is a life-long effort.
When offenses happen between people, restoration of relationship must be made through forgiveness.
What is forgiveness?
Forgiveness is a process for restoring relationship that has four parts in the following order:
- Confession: The person to be forgiven comes to agreement with the forgiver on the offense.
- Repentance: The person to be forgiven changes their mind about about their old value system that brought about the offense; they change their value system.
- Forgiveness: the forgiver forgives the relationship cost of the offense, and then no longer holds the other responsible for the relational consequences of that action.
- Reconciliation: Both actively pursue restoration of the relationship.
The process of forgiveness brings about changes in values system within a relationship. That is why it works. The first two steps of the process are very important for that reason. Many times a description of forgiveness only considers the one step labeled as "Forgiveness". Such a process will ultimately fail because no values change is being brought to the relationship.
The forgiveness process is also an excellent description of the process of becoming a Christian. By confession, we agree with God that our value system is wrong. Through repentance we change our mind about our old value system, and instead adopt God's value system. God then forgives us: He pays the relational cost of our previous actions (the cross), and releases us from our debt of sin. And, he treats us as having a common value system, and therefore, a relationship with him. Then by reconciliation we develop and expand the restored relationship together.
How does God's value system relate to obedience in life?
In the years before Jesus came, God used civil law systems to restrain evil, even though they did not promote good. Paul made this point in Romans; the law shows us our moral failures, but cannot make us good. The most telling of these is the 10th commandment that tells us not to covet. We might satisfy the behaviors of the others, but this 10th one showed us that God's moral standard included our deep values and desires - not just our actions.
When Jesus came, he brought the good news of the Kingdom of God. There was only one rule in the Kingdom. This rule was to love each other as Jesus had loved us. It was not a rule that could be enforced: it had to be voluntary. However, in living this one rule, Jesus also taught that behaviors would well exceed the requirements of civil moral laws (sermon on the mount).
Jesus loved us because of his value system of sacrificial love for the benefit of others, and because He loved God first. He lived his value system. He also brought the good news of the Kingdom of God. To be in the Kingdom, your part was to believe in Jesus as your King, and adopt his value system. It is not possible to be in His Kingdom without a change of values. And new values will bring a change in actions. As citizens of Jesus' Kingdom, we live his value system toward others because we love Jesus. That is the obedience that he asks of us.
Isn't the statement that "We must adopt God's value system" teaching a form of works-based salvation?
No. Ephesians 2:8-10 says: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
God expects us to do good works as a result of the salvation that he prepared for us and gave to us. Only God is good (Mark 10:18), so only actions that come from the same values that motivate God will produce good works. Only by adopting God's value system can we fulfill God's purpose for us. The result of adopting God's value system as our own is that we will be internally motivated to do righteous works because we are becoming like God in his values.
On the converse, if we don't do good works as a result of our salvation, that is evidence that we are not God's workmanship and that we are not saved.
What about other beliefs in Christianity?
Christianity has a long history of complicated theories of theology. However, the most important part of Christianity is the Gospel - the good news of the Kingdom of God. The Gospel is clear and simple; and agreement on the Gospel is the core of Christianity.
Eschatology (the study of events at the end of time) is a example of a topic in Christianity where there is a variety of beliefs. There are many possible interpretations within this one area. And most of those views have no conflict with the gospel. There are many other topics of study that can have similar amounts of variety.
Why does this variety of thought occur? It is a simply a problem that comes from trying to make a comprehensive assembly of knowledge that extends from areas that are well-understood out to areas about which we have limited information. More than one way of structuring that knowledge can be valid and useful. In addition, in areas about which our knowledge is incomplete, we do our best to fill in the gaps so as to bring clarity and consistency. But our gap-filling is our efforts, and they can have errors. Our best understanding is an interpretation based on limited data, and these interpretations become a part of our traditions.
How should we view the variations of beliefs in Christianity?
We have great freedom of belief in our traditions and interpretations with this limitation: these cannot conflict with the Gospel. It is particularly important that we live the Gospel by becoming more like God in sacrificial love for the benefit of others. Our traditions and interpretations must not be divisive.
The purpose of Christianity is to restore relationship with God and between men. However, when some Christians demand that others conform to their own personal traditions or interpretations, it can hurt Christianity and the unity that God intends to come from the Gospel. A key evidence for the effectiveness of Christianity is to be the love that Christians have for each other. Divisiveness hurts this evidence and hurts God's purpose in his Kingdom.
The Gospel guides us to become like God in his signature value of sacrificial love for the benefit of others. If Christians do not lose that focus, these other issues and freedoms in beliefs will not become a problem.
The ideas on this page are based on the work of Darren Twa, author of several books including God's Value System. He is pastor at Life Fellowship. His audio messages teach the biblical and practical basis of God's Value System.