‘’Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You (Jeremiah 32:17).’’
Language is a conceptual system.
To verbally communicate with understanding, it is necessary for speakers to express their thoughts in an orderly fashion. For effective communication, both the speaker and the hearer must know and adhere to grammatical rules of syntax.
Every language must function within the parameters of its own logical system. Languages may be similar, and they may have common parts of speech, such as verbs, nouns and adjectives; they may also have their peculiar idiosyncrasies.
You might say that each language is a complete system based on common understandings of the meanings of words. When words are arranged logically within grammatical contexts they can convey meaningful information from speakers to hearers. Thus parties can engage in discussions for sharing their thoughts.
We use both spoken and written language to express our feelings, our desires, our needs, our displeasures and our loves. Language empowers us. We can use it to speak up for issues we believe in, such as freedom of speech and respect for others.
The Language of Visual Imagery
There’s another sort of systematic language of which we may not be aware. It is the language of communication and persuasion through visual means. Advertisers use it to good effect for encouraging people to buy goods or services. Graphic artists, commercial or otherwise, appeal to our sense of sight. They use colour, texture, shape and form to gain an entrance into our minds.
Without realising it, from an early age, we all learn to ‘read’ and ‘interpret’ drawings and paintings. Each painting or drawing is a system in itself, because it functions by conforming to the rules of a particular format – for example, it may follow the optical rules of impressionism, the illusionary rules of pointillism, or the mind-bending rules of surrealism.
According to our preferences we may be attracted to a particular style of painting; and when we have an affinity for that type, there’s a good chance the artist will successfully communicate his feelings and concepts to us. We’ll like what he has to say, and we’ll probably seek out more of his works for our enjoyment.
So what’s all this got to do with our Christian beliefs?
Tomes have been written on the subject of theological systems based on the Bible. The mainstream ones championed today are: Covenant Theology, Dispensational Theology and *New Covenant Theology.
We can spend precious hours of our life studying these theologies in the hope that we may gain a better understanding of the Bible, but logic dictates they can’t all be right!
There’s no doubt that systematic theologies can be very influential in shaping our interpretations of God’s Word; therefore we must be circumspect, and we must test (1 Thessalonians 5:21) each system for its veracity.
Just as we learn to ‘read’ a painting with understanding and learn to speak a language for expressing coherent concepts, we must read the Word of God with understanding (Matthew 13:23) and speak it to others to the praise and glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).
As we study the Bible we learn that it is far more than a system – It is the very Word of God that gives us a glimpse of Him (1 John 1:1-4). We learn (Acts 17:11 Romans 15:4) that He is our awesome Creator who has brought into being (John 1:1-3) every system, every dynasty, every star, every atom, and the very air we breathe! We learn that all things are under His **sovereign control, and we humbly acknowledge that everything exists for His glory.
*My Understanding of New Covenant Theology
A. Blake White’s ‘What is New Covenant Theology?’
**Freewill and the Sovereignty of God