TGOC Bible Class Curricula - How To Study The Bible (First Quarter) - Lesson 12 – A Deeper Study Into Application
How To Study The Bible
Lesson 12 – Deeper Study Into Application
We have looked deeper at the first two steps: (1) observation (2) interpretation.
We are going to dig a bit deeper by shifting to the third step – application.
The first two steps are absolutely crucial, and we cannot make appropriate applications of the Bible without them.
But it is not enough to know what is in the Bible and what it means if we do not apply it. We would be no different than the priest and Levite in the parable of the Good Samaritan who knew the law but failed to apply it (Luke 10:25-37). One of the defining marks of the Pharisees was that “they teach, but do not do” (Matthew 23:3).
We are going to look at the importance of application and then at some ways to responsibly cross the bridge from meaning to application.
The Importance of Application
The Bible was designed for application. In 2 Timothy 3:16,17, Paul said that the Scriptures were inspired for these purposes:
(1) Teaching – Instruction is what God wants us to know. The early Christians continued in the apostles' doctrine (Acts 2:42).
(2) Reproof – This is the strong rebuke that chastises us when we are not living according to Divine instruction. This is one of the responsibilities of the teacher of the word (2 Timothy 4:2).
(3) Correction – This is restoration and improvement in response to the reproof. This happens when the reproof occurs in a spirit of gentleness and is met with honesty (Galatians 6:1).
(4) Training – This is guidance for righteous living. God’s Word is one of the ways our Father disciplines us (Hebrews 12:7-8).
It is especially important for those who teach the word to practice it first. Teachers cannot have credibility and will not be taken seriously unless they model what they are teaching. There are several examples such as: (1) Ezra (Ezra 7:10), (2) Paul (Philippians 4:9), (3) Timothy (1 Timothy 4:15-16), and (4) Jesus (Luke 2:52).
This applies to: (a) Parents (especially fathers) who must be the primary teachers of their children (Deuteronomy 6:5-7; Ephesians 6:1-4; 2 Timothy 1:5).
(b) Elders – who are to be men of excellent character as well as teachers (1 Timothy 3:2)
(c) Preachers - who must not only teach but also set an example (1 Timothy 4:11-12)
(d) Older men and women who are to mentor younger men and women (Titus 2:2-5)
The Process of Application
A good way to begin the move from interpretation to application is to ask: “In what ways is the original context of the passage different from my own circumstances?”
One of the most important differences to look for is the difference between the original historical context and our own day.
Israel under the old covenant had certain laws, practices, and responsibilities that are different for Christians under the new covenant.
For example, Christians do not wage wars of military conquest to advance the kingdom of God like the Israelites did in the Old Testament (John 18:36-37).
Christians do not have to offer literal sacrifices on a literal altar in a literal temple as the Israelites did. Christians offer these symbolically. Christians offer up the praise of their lips as sacrifices of praise (Hebrews 13:15). Christians offer up their bodies to God as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2). Christians are the true and living temple of God today (1 Corinthians 3:16,17; 1 Timothy 3:15).
Another important difference is to look for the cultural context.
Some practices in the ancient world belong to a much different cultural context than our own and had a much different significance (always be careful, though, not to impose a cultural issue that would undermine the authority of Scriptures, such as, those who would falsely say today that the reason why the 1st century church did not have women preachers is because women were treated more like property in ancient culture or the reason why the 1st century church did not have instruments in worship is because it was viewed in their culture as an act associated too closely with pagan worship, etc.)
For example, ancient hosts would have their servants wash the feet of their guests as a form of hospitality (and practicality – to clean them!). We do not have the exact same practice in our culture (John 13:1-17).
Another example is found in Matthew 5:23,24. Are Christians to literally leave their gift at the altar in order to facilitate reconciliation? No. Jesus was originally addressing the cultural situation in which Jews were offering sacrifices. The way we can apply this passage today is in cases where we are at odds with our brother or sister in Christ; hence, we must try to reconcile with the brother or sister before the worship service begins.
A good second step would be to ask: “In what ways is the original context similar to my own circumstances?”
In the case of the wars of conquest, we as Christians could find these similarities with ancient Israel. Christians are not to act out carnal warfare, but we are to act out spiritual warfare in that we are to use the armor of God to fight against the devil in this spiritual war - a war for the souls of men and women (Ephesians 6:10-17; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
God has given us promises much like He gave the Israelites promises; we need to exercise obedient faith to receive the promises of God (see Hebrews 4:1-2).
In the case of washing feet: We should be willing to humble ourselves to serve others just like Jesus served the disciples (John 13:12-17). While we may not practice the specific cultural act of washing feet, we can practice the spiritual principle behind it.
Read 1 Corinthians 8:1-13, and consider how to apply this passage by answering these questions: (1) “In what sense is the original context of this passage different from mine?” (2) “In what ways is the original context similar to my own circumstances?”
In American culture, it is very convenient and easy to buy meat. Why would this have been a problem with the Corinthians?
In the first century world, meat was first offered to idols and then it was taken to the marketplace to be sold.
In the privacy of your own home, Paul states that since Christians know there is one God, it is okay to eat those meats.
If a Christian has a weak conscience and can stumble (since the meat was offered to an idol), then the meat should not be eaten by the stronger Christian for love's sake.
“In what sense is the original context of this passage different from mine?”
Meat has not been offered at a pagan shrine in American culture.
“In what ways is the original context similar to my own circumstances?”
Jews have strict dietary laws. If there is a Jew or Muslim who has recently converted to Christianity, it would be important not to offend that brother or sister in Christ at your home. For example, abstain from offering pork on the menu until the brother or sister in Christ gains further knowledge and realizes that it is not wrong to eat such meat.
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