How to Study the Bible Session 11

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How to Study the Bible Session 11

Bible Study XI



In the past eleven weeks we have learned the first two steps towards becoming a good student of the Word of God. The first step was Observation (What do I see?). The second step was Interpretation (What does this mean?). The third step is Application (How does this work? or What does this mean for me?)


Application is probably the most neglected yet the most needed stage in the process. Too much Bible study begins and ends in the wrong place: with Interpretation. Every time you observe and interpret but fail to apply you perform an abortion on the Scriptures in terms of their purpose. The Bible was not written to satisfy your curiosity; it was written to transform your life.


Titus 1:1 describes the purpose of Scripture: “the truth that accords to godliness.” The truth should lead to godly living. In chapter 2, verses 9-10 he gives a specific case in point. When we put on the Word of God like a set of clothes, Biblical truth becomes the wardrobe of our souls. It is always in style, it’s attractive, and totally coordinated. I have had people to tell me how many times they have been through the Bible. It is not how many times you have been through the Bible but how many times has the Bible has been through you. We can get mentally excited by the truths of the Bible, yet fail to be morally changed by it. If all you are getting is information from your Bible study, something is wrong. The purpose of the Scriptures is to make us more like Christ. When we get into the Word of God and the Word gets into us, it begins to make a difference in our character and conduct. That is our task in Application.


We make four substitutes for application and every one is a dead end.


Interpretation Substitutes Application. The moment that we encounter truth we are faced with a decision. Are we going to act on it or not? Many of us settle for knowledge rather than application. That is an outrage because to know the truth and not do it is to not know the truth at all. Matthew 13:12 and Luke 6:46 imply “Either stop calling me Lord or start doing what I tell you to do.” What does Matthew 7:23 mean? Did Jesus did not know them? Yes, He knew them cognitively, but He did not know them personally.


The classic illustration of interpretation without application are the Pharisees and the Scribes. Matthew 5:20 reveals that our righteousness has to be internal and external. James 4:17 reveals that knowledge without obedience is sin. If we know the truth and don’t act on it, it is not just bad judgement, it is sin.


Superficial Obedience Substitutes for Life Change. This is where we apply Biblical truth to areas where we are already applying it. The result is no noticeable change in our lives. For example, a man reads Ephesians 4:25 which deals with honesty and he thinks of all the areas where he is already honest: with his wife, with his children, with his co-workers, but he overlooks the fact that he is not honest with his competitors in business. The result? The truth does not affect that area or with nest his life.


Rationalization Substitutes for Repentance. Most of us have a built-in warning system against spiritual change. An alarm will go off and we start to defend ourselves. Our favorite strategy is to rationalize our sin instead of repenting. For instance, April 15 is Tax Day. We are filling out our tax returns and we “fudge on the numbers. We say, “Well, the government has been ripping me off for years. I work hard for my money and 45% of all my hard earned money is going for taxes. Besides they are going to waste the money I give them. I need it worse than they do.” The bottom line is “The Word of God has not made a change in your life.” The

older we get the better we become at doing this.


Emotional Experience Substitutes for a Willful Decision. If all we do is water our handkerchiefs and sob a few mournful prayers and go merrily on our way without changing our behavior, then all we have had is an emotional experience. After a sermon I often hear people say “You really stepped on my toes today,” and then go right on home without making any changes. They have had an emotional experience but no willful change has taken place in their life. We have to be exposed to the Word, convicted by the Word, and changed by the Word. Real change takes place in the will. When you look in the mirror every morning you make some changes, willfully. Your face is dirty, your hair needs combing, your teeth need brushing and you make some changes. That is exactly what must take place in the step of Application.


Next week will look at the four steps of Application. They will help you apply any Scripture to your life.