How to Study the Bible Session 12

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Bible Study XII

Many Christians are like poor photographs: overexposed and underdeveloped. We have been exposed to the Word of God over and over, but it hasn’t made any difference in our lives. As we said last week, spiritual growth is the goal of Bible study, and application of the Scriptures helps us to grow and mature as the people of God. If you want to learn how to apply the Bible, you must follow a four-step process in your life.

Insight. You must know the text and know yourself. This step involves the correct interpretation of the passage you are studying. If you have the wrong interpretation, you can be sure you are going to have a “skewed” application. If your interpretation IS correct, you are going to have a much better opportunity to make true application of the text. Remember, there can only be one meaning or one interpretation of any passage of Scripture, but there can be multiple applications of that text. Whatever the text means, it means forever. But you will never cease to apply the truth of that text to your life. In short, the better you understand a passage, the better you’ll be able to use it.

1 Timothy 4:16 reveals that we must not only pay attention to the text, we must pay attention to ourselves. One of the main reasons that application is not effective in our lives is because we don’t stop to know ourselves. Do you know what your strengths are? What have you got going for you? Do you know what your weaknesses are? Your limitations? Your assets? Your liabilities? Your assets tell you what God has done for you, and your liabilities tell you what God needs to develop in you. The reason most of us do not grow more is because we don’t know
what we need. Examine your spiritual life, personal life, home life, church life, work life, and community life on a regular basis. This will help in applying Scripture.

Relate. Christianity can be understood as a series of new relationships. The Biblical pattern is found in 2 Corinthians 5:17. Once Jesus moves into your life, He affects every area of life. He strengthens, convicts, renovates, changes, builds, encourages, and renews. He wants control of every area of our lives. Our goal is Christlikeness. To reach our goal, we must be willing to obey the Word of God.

Once we understand that Christ wants to impact every area of our life, we need to look for areas that the Word of God can relate to our life. In observation and interpretation, you are going to discover new insights, things you have never seen before. These new insights bring a series of new relationships. First of all, the Word of God helps to bring about a new relationship to God (salvation). A new relationship to yourself follows. Your life takes on new meaning and purpose. A new relationship with other people results. We discover that other people are not the enemy. He calls you to treat them with Christlikeness. You also gain a new relationship to the enemy. You find out for the first time that you have changed sides in the battle. You discover you are on God’s side, and the enemy is not happy about that.

These new insights that you are gaining from the Word need to be applied to these new relationships. The Word exposes sin, gives God’s promises and commands, and gives examples to follow. Has anyone ever said to you, “You sure are different. You are not the same person you used to be”? When that happens, you can be sure you are relating the Word of God to your experience.

Meditate. True meditation is pondering the truth with a view to letting it help and readjust our lives. Many of us think that meditation has no relevance for our life. Wrong! We have become so busy that we don’t have time to process what is going on around us and what is happening to us. The result is we get overwhelmed. Remember Joshua 1:8 and Psalms 1:1-2? The key to spiritual prosperity is to meditate on the Word day and night. We must ponder on the Word of God all day long. What is the key to meditation? Scripture memory. Memory provides the fuel you need to make meditation profitable. If you memorized just 2 verses a week, you will be meditating on that Scripture all week. Psalm 100.

Practice. If the ultimate goal of Bible study is spiritual growth, then practicing the truth is the strategy to attain that goal. You will not be able to apply every single truth you find in the Word of God, but you can consistently apply something. For instance, Philippians 2:14 is a very convicting verse for me personally. I love preaching and teaching, and that is what I am going to do until God calls me home. You will not hear me complaining about getting the chance to preach and teach or, in fact, getting ready to preach or teach. Complaining poses no problem in this area of my life. But when you get into the area of pastoring, I sometimes find myself
complaining. Being a good pastor involves dealing with people and all of their problems, and many times that is not enjoyable, and so I have a tendency to complain in this area of my life. Philippians 2:14 simply says, “Do all things without complaining.” I don’t have to like it; I just simply have to do it without complaining. As I become more and more obedient to the Word, God changes me and grows me to be more like Jesus. Remember God has given us His Word not to make us comfortable but to conform us to the image of His Son. Begin this four-step process in your life, and application will become a natural thing for you.

Homework – Galatians 5:16-26
Using the four-step process find out what you need to know about this passage, you can relate it to your life, spend some time meditating and memorizing, and discover how you can practice what is being taught.