by Martha Grace Curtis (Florida)
“We only know theology to the extent that we live it out,” Eric Smith said.
The subject of Smith’s class was the New Testament, which we had to have read before our first class meeting. We were given two whole days to read the entirety of the New Testament. In the classroom, Smith showed how secular professors teach the New Testament, asked why we have these particular books in the canon, gave a study on Ephesians, and talked through what the New Testament says about sexuality.
Through all the tough subjects and heavy questions, the part that stood out to me was our study of Ephesians.
He chose Ephesians to study because he believes it spurs on questions and begs more study of the New Testament. Smith’s goal was to read the Scriptures and take them as they are. By that I mean he didn’t want us to impose our own theological leanings on it. He took the scriptures for what they are worth and let us wrestle with them.
To start, he had us read Ephesians 1:1-14 and challenged us to list all the things God the Father has done for us. We ended up with:
Blessed us in the heavenly realms, chose us, lavished His grace upon us, gave us redemption, sealed us with the promise of the Holy Spirit, etc.
The list went on and on. We, then, took some time to ask what each of those things really meant and to align our ideas with scripture. He wanted us to understand these because “the preacher you listen to most is yourself”. He asked us to evaluate what we are preaching to ourselves every day.
- Am I speaking truth to myself or do I tear my own person down?
- How differently would I live and approach the world if I really grasped how God lavishes his abundant grace on us?
- How differently would I see myself and others if I truly grasped the fact that we are chosen by the God of the universe?
- How much bolder would I be if I constantly walked with the knowledge of being sealed in the promise of the Holy Spirit?
Eric Smith wanted us to not only know the New Testament well, but he wanted to help us know how to actively apply it to our daily lives. By answering our heavy questions and posing, even more, he did just that.