The Hard Work of Application

According to Rick Warren in his book Bible Study Methods, "Bible study without personal application can be just an academic exercise with  no spiritual value".  It is a simple but true statement that the Bible is meant to be applied.  The eternal word of God is given to us so that we might know God and follow Him.  It is meant to have meaning for us today, and it is meant to be lived out.  We are to be doers not just hearers.  This means that application is an important component of your lesson preparation and your teaching. I offer here four realities of biblical application for you to consider as you prepare to teach your class.

1.  Application and Understanding Always Go Together

It should go without saying that you can't apply the text until you know what it means. We are to rightly divide the truth.  This means we must spend time reading and re-reading the passage, we must pray over it, we must think on it.  Once you have done this, then you are ready for application. On the flip-side of this, you can't rightly understand God's word unless you apply it.  To know God is to know his word and to do what it says.  To study God's word and not apply it makes you a Pharisee.  Understanding and application can never be separated from each other if we are going to faithfully live out God's word.

2. Application is Hard

This is true for a lot of reasons.  First, studying, praying over, and  meditating on God word isn't easy.  It requires time, focus, and energy.  This is the first step in application and it is often the easiest step to overlook or forsake.  Secondly, application is hard because Satan loves to distract us as we are seeking to apply Scripture  Satan is completely happy with Christians who study God's word as long as they fail to live it out.  Lastly, application is hard because it is often introspective.  It causes us to take a hard look at our own lives and make the changes necessary to be more like Jesus.

3. Application Must be Practical

True application of Scripture always leads to action.  It demands that we do something. Application must be practical for our people.  Application helps our people see what it means to live out their faith.  So you could say that application is the day in and day out obedience to the word of God.

4. Application Isn't Always a Physical Action

Here is a caveat.  Sometimes the application of a text isn't to physically do something.  Sometimes Scripture just calls for us to stand in awe of God's power and His grace.  Awe isn't a physical act, but it is sometimes an appropriate response to studying and meditating on God's word.  As God's word sinks into our hearts it motivates us in ways we can't comprehend and it moves us in ways we can't see.  So keep that in mind as you teach God's word to your people and seek to help them apply it.

"How happy is the man who does not follow the advice of the wicked or take the path of sinners or join a group of mockers!  Instead, his delight is in the Lord's instruction, and he meditates on it day and night."  Psalm 1:1-2 (HCSB)


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