Dr. Hiles is a native of St. Louis and Dean of the College of Theology at Grand Canyon University. He studied sculpture, completed an M.Div., and earned a Ph.D. in systematic theology from Southeastern Baptist Seminary before becoming a professor. His interests relate to the doctrines of salvation and the church as well as the intersection of theology and culture.
I am pleased to announce the return of a popular series that has been on hiatus over the summer. Theology Thursday is back! Written by the dean and faculty of the College of Theology, this series is dedicated to faith and the Christian life. This year the series will focus on various aspects of the Christian worldview in order to provide insight into the ways Christians should think and live as they strive to follow Jesus day by day.
Following Jesus is no easy task because it requires conforming to his teaching and example. A helpful discussion of this notion may be found in Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount which appears in chapters 5-7 of Matthew’s gospel. The sermon begins at an early point in Jesus’ ministry in Galilee when he finds himself surrounded by large crowds eager to learn more about this incredible man who is able to heal the sick and comfort the poor.
Matthew notes that the Lord went up on a mountain, sat down and called his disciples to himself (Matthew 5:1). As Christ began to speak, many who were just learning about this great teacher and man of God were listening so he got to his point quickly. First, Jesus pointed out that those who seek the greatest and most enduring blessings that God offers can only find them by living in ways that will seem upside down and inside out from the perspective of the larger world (Matthew 5:2-12). Then, he proceeded to tell everyone that they would need to be more righteous than the most religious people they could think of if they hoped to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven and enjoy fellowship with God (Matthew 5:20).
These points must have been both powerful and perplexing to those who were listening. Matthew notes that the people were “astonished at his teaching” by the time he’d finished. Most likely this resulted from the fact that Jesus spoke in ways that no one else had ever spoken. Whenever he taught he spoke as if he had authority and expertise in telling people how to relate rightly to God. Indeed, Jesus spoke as if he knew God personally (because he did) and as if he could lead others into a personal relationship with God (because he could).
How exactly, then, can someone live in right relationship to God? While I can’t provide a full discussion here, Jesus provided some insight into this at the conclusion of his sermon. After outlining a wonderful vision for life that centers on God, he challenged the crowd with these words: “Anyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 5:24). By contrast with someone who builds on something unstable like sand, the one who builds on a rock-solid foundation will find that his or her house is in a strong position when storms come and the rain and wind begin to beat against that home. But, of course, Jesus wasn’t literally talking about home construction. He was teaching us how to build a life that can endure the trials and tribulations that will inevitably come our way. Those who build foolishly can expect destruction when challenges arise. Conversely, those who build their lives on Jesus’ teaching will weather all the storms of life and enjoy great blessing in this age and in the age to come.
This notion of putting into place a foundation that centers on Jesus Christ is at the heart of the Christian worldview. Much more remains to be said in coming weeks as we explore the Christian worldview in greater depth. At this point it will suffice to note that Jesus commends himself and his teaching as a proper foundation for all of life. Thus, at the outset it is worth asking, what are you building your life on? Are you building on a foundation that is adequate for all life’s ups and downs or will you suffer great loss when trials and tribulations come your way?
By grace alone,
Theology Thursday will be back with fresh content next week – and every week – for the rest of the fall semester. For more information about the College of Theology at GCU, visit our website or contact us using the Request More Information button on this page.