Applying God’s Word
According to research by the Barna Research Group, 93 percent of all the households in America own one or more Bibles. Yet, of this group, 57 percent do not read the Bible at all during the week. Why is there such a high percentage of neglect in reading the Bible? Most of these people do not feel that the Bible has much or anything to say about today’s world and the challenges we all face every day. After all, wasn’t the Bible written by people who lived thousands of years ago in a faraway land?
It is true that the Bible was written by people who lived a long time ago in a land and culture thousands of miles away. But, reading the Bible is just the first step. What we all need to do is to understand the principles and teachings of the Bible. And here is where we encounter another major obstacle. Some 31 percent of all adults in America say that the Bible is too difficult to understand. What sayeth the Scripture?
1. Are the words of Scriptures difficult to understand?
· 2 Tim 3:15
· Deut. 6:4-8
The scriptures are so simple that even a child can understand and follow them. In every church around the world children have sung the following children’s song---namely, “The B-I-B-L-E, yes, that’s the book for me; I stand alone on the Word of God, the B-I-B-L-E.” Many Christians know something about the Bible, and perhaps know a lot in the Bible. However, they do not know how to take these Bible truths and make applications to their world of school, friends, work, and family. The is an important step to applying God’s word.
2. For what reason are the Holy words of Scripture given to us?
· 1 Corinthians 10:11
· 1 Corinthians 9:9, 10
3. What was Jesus’ teaching regarding how we should receive the word?
· Matt. 13:12-19
4. What reason does the scriptures give for not receiving the word?
· 2 Cor. 4:3, 4
5. What should be the result of reading and understanding the Scriptures?
All these things were written down so that we could be doers of God’s word in this present and final generation. As the apostle Paul wrote: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
There are five simple and necessary steps we should take in studying God’s words:
First, we need to read it.
Second, we need to understand it. We do this by looking up all the significant words and phrases in the passage or passages.
Third, we are to comprehend the principle involved. The time and place may vary, but the principles taught in the Bible are eternal. Once we grasp the principle, we are ready for step number four—application.
Fourth, in the application of the word, we need to see ourselves in the story, or consider how situations today are similar to those of Biblical times. In this crucial step we must ask ourselves, What is God asking me to do?
Fifth, we are to design a plan of action. What will I now do to obey God’s Word?
A.) When I read the Bible do I have a pretty good understanding of the story or lesson?
B.) Do I understand most of the words, facts, and concepts associated with the passage?
C.) Do I look for and readily see the principle involved?
D.) Do I see myself in the passage and readily apply the principle to my own life?
E.) Do I usually follow through with a plan of action in keeping God’s Word?
The answer to these questions will help us to think about how deeply we have gone with our study of God’s Word. We need to think more and more about applying the Word to our everyday life with a plan of action. This plan of action includes the following; (1) who God is, (2) what God has said, (3) who I am, (4) the sinful world in which I live, and (5) the truth that Jesus is coming back very soon!
Practice Story Lesson -- Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23
In studying the parables of Jesus it is most important to follow sound principles of interpretation. These principles may be briefly summarized thus:
1.) A parable is a mirror by which truth can be seen; it is not always truth in and of itself.
2.) The context in which a parable is given—the place, circumstances, persons to whom it was spoken, and the problem under discussion-must be taken into consideration and made the key to interpretation. All this is vital to the application of the lesson conveyed in the parable itself.
3.) Christ’s own introduction and conclusion to the parable generally make its fundamental purpose clear.
4.) Every parable illustrates one fundamental aspect of spiritual truth. Keep in mind that the details of a parable are significant only as they contribute to the clarification of that particular point of truth.
5.) Before the meaning of the parable is the spiritual realm can be understood it is necessary to have a clear picture of the situation described in the parable, in terms of Oriental customs and modes of thought and expression. Parables are vivid word pictures that must be seen, so to speak, before they can be understood.
6.) In view of the fundamental fact that a parable is given to illustrate truth, and usually one particular truth, no doctrine may be based upon the incidental details of a parable.
7.) The parable, in whole an in part, must be interpreted in terms of the truth it is designed to teach, as set forth in literal language in the immediate context and elsewhere in Scripture.
In the parable of the of “the sower and the seed”, we find the example of the reception of truth by different classes of hearer. The soil representing the hear and the seed representing the word of God.
The How To
Before we look at to “how to” of applying Bible truths, we should do little more self-examination. The first set of questions we should settle in our minds is, Am I truly open to the Word of God? If the Bible teaches me something, and I understand it, will I be willing to do it? Do I really want to do what God says? Have I expressed to God my need for change? Have I been open with God about my conflicts at home, school, church, and work? Am I will to face up to my own short-comings and struggles in life? What Bible-study tools will I use to understand God’s will for my life? Will I make use of the Spirit of Prophecy, a Bible concordance, and/or a set of commentaries? And when will I begin to use these tools to help myself understand God’s Word?
Finding the Application
As we have mentioned, we must begin the process of application by first reading, understanding, and comprehending. These three aspects can be broken down further into five P’s:
1.) Identifying the people in the passage. Who are all the people in the passage? How are these people like people who live in this present generation? And, do I see similarities between myself and the people described in the passage?
2.) Establishing the place or location of the action: What is the setting of the significant cultural, geographical, and historical facts? What are the similarities between those times and our present generation?
3.) Ascertaining the plot, conflict, or situation: What is happening in the passage? What is the tension or conflict? How is this conflict similar to events today? What is happening in my own life that parallels these events?
4.) Determining the point or purpose of the story: What was the intended message to the original audience? What was God’s solution to the problem?
5.) Discovering the principle involved: What is the timeless message being taught? What is the moral of the story?
Present, Priorities, and Plan
Having already laid the foundation of application in the five P’s, we can now move into the application stage. We must first bring the newfound principle into the present.
In the home, does this mean that parents should take time to listen to their children, and children to their parents? In the school setting, does this mean that teachers should listen to their students, and students to their teacher, and students to one another? In the work place, does this mean that supervisors should not ignore the voices of their employees, and vice versa?
After identifying our present circumstances, we need to establish priorities to do what God ask of us. How should I adjust my priorities to become the person God wants me to be?
|Heb. 3:7, 8|
For example, you have learned that you should maintain a healthy lifestyle, which includes regular exercise. However, in your typical daily schedule you watch four hours of television in the evening. Now what? What will be your priority? Will you exchange those television-viewing hours with time to exercise? How about giving priority to family time and worship time?
If you have decided that family worship and exercise have priority over television viewing, you will now need a plan to carry out you new priorities. Start by answering a few questions:
|What steps will get me to that goal?|
|What should be my first step?|
|How can I get started?|
|Who will help me in the beginning stages be accountable for my priorities?|
Now plan some simple easy steps: Take your television set to a different place in your house, maybe put it away in the storage room. Place your walking shoes by the door. As soon as you get home from work, change your clothes, etc.