In approaching any passage of Scripture, we must first observe what the text says. If we’ve had a keen eye, we can move on to interpret what the author meant. We’ve allowed the passage to lead us to Jesus so we could see his beauty and glory and mercy. We’ve discovered the main point that the author wanted to communicate.
Now we’ve come to the threshold of Application. We’re ready to take what we’ve learned and put it into practice.
The biggest problem is…we don’t know how.
We see people do it all the time. Maybe you’ve got a friend who always seems excited by the Bible. She’s often quoting verses and sharing what God is teaching her. She makes connections you wouldn’t have dreamed of making. She’s delightful to learn from. But you’ll never be able to duplicate her success…
Maybe you have a favorite preacher whose sermons you download onto your iPod. You can’t get enough of this great Bible teacher, because he’s just so good at making the text sing. When you hear him preach, your awareness sharpens and your conscience springs to life. You’re motivated to make changes, and you’re captivated by a vision for God’s glory. But you just can’t stimulate those same feelings in your personal Bible study…
I’m writing this post to encourage you.
Although rich application is a serious art, and some people are just natural at it, it is also a muscle that anyone can exercise and shape. If you are a Christian, you have the Spirit of God (Rom 8:15), who is able to help you understand God’s words (1 Cor 2:12-13). The Spirit glorifies Jesus (John 16:14) and brings conviction of sin (John 16:8-11). The Spirit empowers you to obey Jesus and make significant changes to your life (Eph 3:14-21).
You are able to learn how to apply the Bible in exciting ways. Over the next few weeks, we’ll unpack some specific steps, but here’s a quick overview.
We can apply a Bible passage in two directions: inward and outward. In other words, we can change our own lives to be more like Christ (inward), and we can become influencers who help others learn how to change to be more like Christ (outward). We are both slaves and ambassadors to King Jesus.
We can apply a Bible passage to three components: head, hands, and heart. In other words, a passage can address any or all three areas of conviction/doctrine, competence/skills, and character.
While a passage likely has only one main point (although there’s almost never one “right way” to phrase it), it can have almost an infinite number of applications. Since the Bible applies to any person living in any place at any time, it must be pretty versatile when it comes to specific application.
What do you find most difficult about applying the Bible to your life?