The act of Bible study is worth very little until we take the observations and interpretation, and then ask the question:
How should that change my life???
"They should not steal from them but should show their masters they can be fully trusted so that in everything they do they will make the teaching of God our Savior attractive." ~ Titus 2:10
2 “The scribes and the Pharisees are seated in the chair of Moses. 3 Therefore do whatever they tell you, and observe it. But don’t do what they do, because they don’t practice what they teach. (Matt 23:2-3, HCSB)
23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You pay a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, yet you have neglected the more important matters of the law — justice, mercy, and faith. These things should have been done without neglecting the others. 24 Blind guides! You strain out a gnat, yet gulp down a camel!
25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence! 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so the outside of it may also become clean.
27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every impurity. 28 In the same way, on the outside you seem righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (Matt 23:23-28, HCSB)
Too many Bible studies and sermons are happy to end short of the ultimate goal, and thus they hinder the Word of God from having transforming power in our lives: (1) they stop at explaining the text, or (2) they stop at a general principle that we should follow. The most powerful results of Bible study come when we find specific ways that God’s truth can transform our lives. We need to think about ways that God’s truth shows us to:
- · Avoid an action we are considering
- · Stop a bad habit we have formed
- · Form a firm commitment to guide our actions
- · Go and take action on a key thing God brought to mind in our study
- · Form a new habit doing something important for our daily lives
- · Research deeper into a key topic that we have come to see as a weakness in our lives
"The Bible was not written to satisfy your curiosity, it was written to transform your life.” ~ Howard Hendricks
The Great Deception: Great Study is Great Time with God,
But without application, it’s also false spiritual maturity…its being a smarter sinner.
You can walk away having had good time in Scripture and the “warm fuzzy” affirmation of intimate spiritual encounters with God—and think that it was ALL that God desired for your study. You can be praised as a great researcher or communicator without working through application, but all you will make is smarter sinners—yourself and others—because you’ll know what to do, but not how to do it. How is often the part we need the expert to help us with! Application is an indispendible part of Bible study.
For example, in my most recent sermon, I could have ended my progression on anger with my big idea: When anger builds up, it blows up. When anger builds up, it tears down. No one would have probably argued that the sermon was poor or untrue—everyone would have walked away convinced that they needed to stop anger from building up in their lives…but they might not have been able to devote the time and thought to figuring out how to keep anger from building up! I would have left them inspired and informed, but still on the road to harm! They might have stopped at applying this principle to their own lives, when God really wanted them to apply it to their role as parents—to help their kids! I chose to preach the whole section Paul had written in Ephesians, rather than just the first verse, and to make some practical applications of the words: rage and slander.
(Look back at my sermon’s manuscript here if you like)
One more error to avoid: Too many students of the Bible skip this question and jump to the question, how should this change the lives of the people I am influencing? We must make the message work for us, before we try to urge others to make it work for them.
Application Part 1
Application Part 3
Questions that are helpful in creating points of application:
- · How should this apply in my marriage?
- · How should this apply at work?
- · How should this apply to my friendships?
- · Should this change my priorities?
1. Reread and think about Acts 1:8-9. How can you apply Jesus commission to your life? List 5 different ways.
2. Think about my sermon on anger…what application point was most relevant to you? Which one was least applicable? Did I leave out a good application point that you could have used?