The tireless runner is a picture of
what Application should look like in each of our lives...so...brethren,
beloved of God, chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world for so
great a salvation, filled with His Spirit and controlled by the love of
"let us also
lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles
us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us fixing our eyes on Jesus,
the Author and Perfecter of faith" (He 12:1-note,
pressing "on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God
in Christ Jesus" (Php 3:14-note) disciplining ourselves "for the purpose of
godliness for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but
godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for
the present life and also for the life to come." (1Ti 4:7, 8-notes)
dictionary defines application as the
act of putting to use or putting into
operation especially for some practical purpose.
In Bible study, application is putting truth you've discovered
(through observation and interpretation) to use in your life with the
ultimate goal of transformation or life change. Bible study is meant not
merely to inform but to transform and renew our mind. (Ro 12:2-note)
How does the truth of this passage
apply to my life?
Note that the question is not
Is this truth relevant to my life?
The truth of God's Word is always relevant to our life. The more honest
Am I ready and willing believe this
truth and to apply it in my life?
Application is the most neglected yet the most needed stage in the
process. Too much Bible study begins and ends in the wrong place...with
interpretation. Interpretation should build on observation and then
lead into interpretation. It is a means to an end, not an end in
itself. As someone has blunted phrased it "Interpretation without
application is abortion."
The goal of Bible study is not simply to determine what it says and
what it means, but in the final analysis to apply it to one's life.
If we fail to apply the Scriptures, we cut short the entire process and
have not finished what God wants us to do.
Inductive Bible study is...
Not just for
But for transformation
Jesus warned that Bible study as the
end in itself, can be deceptively dangerous declaring to the Jewish
You search the Scriptures, because you
think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear
witness of Me and you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life.
We must never forget
that the ultimate goal of Bible study, whether inductive or otherwise,
is to know God and His Son so that we might have life in Him. Jesus
emphasized this important truth again in John 17 declaring.
And this is eternal life, that they may
know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.
As Dr Roy Zuck points out...
Heart appropriation, not merely
head apprehension, is the true goal of Bible study. Only in this
way can believers grow spiritually. Spiritual maturity, in which we become
more like Christ, comes not just from knowing more about the Bible. It
comes from knowing more about the Bible and applying it to our spiritual
needs. (Basic Bible Interpretation
- also available on
Wordsearch Bible Software)
The Apostle Paul's great passion was
transformed, Christ like lives as he explained to the saints at Colossae
we proclaim Him (Christ in believers
the hope of glory), admonishing every man and teaching every man with all
wisdom, that we may present every man complete in Christ. And for this
purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily
works within me. (Col 1:28, 29-See notes
The basis for
2 Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is inspired by God and
profitable (useful, advantageous, helpful,) for teaching, for reproof, for
correction, for training in righteousness (see notes
2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Teaching shows us what is right. Like a compass, the Bible always points you in the right direction.
(cf Deut 28:13, 14, Joshua 1:7, 8, 9)
Reproof shows us where we are wrong. When we look into the mirror of God's Word, we see ourselves more clearly.
(James 1:23, 24, 25)
Correction shows us how to get right.
Training in righteousness
develops discipline to live right.
Righteousness in simple terms is
whatever God says is right on any subject. The goal is that we live holy,
in conformity to God's will in thought, purpose and action and that in so
doing we are made adequate and equipped for every good ("God") work, which
represents only those works He initiates and empowers. We are His
workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared
beforehand, that we should walk in them. Application brings us into this
sphere of abundant life in the Spirit.
takes place as you are confronted with the truth and you respond to that
truth in obedience (in faith).
Once you know what the passage means (interpretation),
you are responsible to put it into practice in your own life. Accurate
interpretation and correct application rest on the accuracy of your
observations. Therefore, it is vital that you develop observation skills
which might, at first, seem difficult, laborious, and time-consuming.
which then results in being and doing.
It is impossible to study the
Scriptures diligently without running head-on into the need for
"for the word of God is living and active (energetic, effective) and
sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of
soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge (sifting and
analyzing) the thoughts and intentions of the heart and there is no
creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open (the bending back
of the neck thoroughly exposing it to the eye of the skillful surgeon or
the criminal on trial with a sharp dagger bound to his neck with the point
just below the chin, so that he could not bow his head but had to face the
court) and laid bare to the eyes of Him with Whom we must give account." (He
God's Word is the flawless discerner, perfectly analyzing our
every motive, intention, and belief. Practically speaking, when we study "the
word of God" we sense ourselves pierced. The effect of this piercing is to
reveal whether there is spirit or not. The word of God reveals to us our
Are we spiritual or are we natural? Are we truly born of God and
spiritually alive or are we deceiving ourselves and spiritually dead, no
matter how orthodox our profession of faith might appear? Are the
"thoughts and intentions of our heart" spiritual thoughts and
intentions or only natural thoughts and intentions?
So before moving on to
the crucial step of application, pause for a time of reflection.
Are you ready and willing for God’s Word to cut deeply into your own life
to lay bare the hidden places of your heart, and to do its work of
convicting, convincing, and converting your mind in any and every area?
Apply yourself to the Scriptures
and the Scriptures to yourself.
The proper spirit
for profitable Bible study is a tender, teachable heart willing to obey
the truth and the fruit of this humble approach is an eternally changed
life lived to glory of God.
Dr. Howard Hendricks remarks that
Observation plus interpretation without
application equals abortion. In other words, every time you observe and
interpret but fail to apply, you perform an abortion on the Scriptures in
terms of their purpose.
The goal of Inductive Bible study
Not to make us smarter sinners
But to make us more like our Savior
Let me ask you a serious question -- How often do you study the Word with
no intention whatsoever of obeying it?
The Pharisees set the standard for
this superficial, hypocritical, self deluding approach. Don't be like the
man who boasted
go through the entire Bible once every year".
Application instead confronts us face to face with the question
many times has the Bible gone through you?"
It's better to live one verse of the Bible than to recite an entire
chapter. You haven't completed your
Bible study until you've allowed the Bible to "study' you
and you respond accordingly to it's teaching (which tells us what
is true and right and so structures our thinking), reproof ( tells
us when we are out of bounds), correction (reveals sin and provides the dynamic whereby you can conform
to God’s will) and training in righteous living
(God’s means of showing you how to live), all in order that we as men and
women of God might be complete or whole and what we were created to be so
that we might be thoroughly equipped for good work (2Ti 3:16, 17-note).
As the devotional writer Matthew Henry prayerfully
that we may love our Bibles more, and keep closer to them than ever! and
then shall we find the benefit and advantage designed thereby, and shall
at last attain the happiness therein promised and assured to us."
We all need to ask ourselves are we
studying the Word that we might be more like Jesus or more like the
Pharisees? Mark it down -- You can measure the
eternal effectiveness of your inductive Bible study by the temporal effect it has on your
behavior and attitudes. Don't be deceived -- Every time we hear the Word
of God, we are either a little closer to heaven or a little further away.
We are either a little more sweetened or a little more hardened. But we
are never just the same. Once we
know what a passage means we are responsible to live it out.
commenting on proper application wrote that...
“We must observe that the knowledge of God which we
are invited to cultivate is not that which, resting satisfied with empty
speculation, only flutters in the brain; but a knowledge which will prove
substantial and fruitful whenever it is duly perceived and rooted in the
James emphasizes the importance of
follow through in inductive study exhorting us to...
(ourselves) doers of the word, and not merely hearers
(the Greek word was used of one who audited a class rather than
taking it for credit -- are you just auditing the Bible or
are you fully enrolled?) who delude themselves. (Self deception is
the worst form of deception and occurs
when we come to believe there is virtue in hearing the truth of God but
failing to apply it.) For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a
doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror for once
he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what
kind of person he was. ((this mirror = God’s Word = unique for it
shows our inner nature as a regular mirror shows our exterior. Both
reflect what is really there. When God’s Word points out something in us
that needs correction, we need to respond. How foolish to look in the
mirror of God's word, see spiritual "dirt" and yet fail to respond).
But one who looks intently (a picture of the man who
-- puritan Richard Baxter said "There must be inward practice by
meditation and outward practice in true obedience.") at the perfect
law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful
hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does."
(The blessing of God is integrally related to your response to the
revelation of God.)
Christian author Jerry Bridges
As we search the Scriptures, we must
allow them to search us, to sit in judgment upon our character and
Oswald Chambers in his typical "no nonsense" style reminds us that...
"One step forward in obedience is worth
years of study about it"
We have to be careful not to deceive
ourselves. We don't really know the Bible unless we obey the Bible
God had a scathing rebuke
for His people Israel through His prophet Ezekiel
"They (the people of
Israel) come to you (the prophet Ezekiel) as people come and sit before you as My
people and hear your words, but they do not do
them, for they do the lustful desires expressed by their mouth and their
heart goes after their gain." (Ezekiel 33:31)
Hearing and not heeding the word is as
foolish as cooking an expensive filet mignon and then not sitting down to
eat it! But this is exactly what happens when we fail to apply what we
have observed and interpreted. Don't be deceived thinking that going to
Precept inductive Bible study will make you more spiritual. To know and not to do is not to know
at all. Such a person is like the church who had a new pastor who
preached the same sermon every Sunday. When people started complaining, he
told the congregation, "I'll preach a new sermon when you act on this
As William Temple
Every revelation of God is a demand and the way to knowledge of God is by
Lloyd-Jones wrote that...
It is a good thing to be a student of the Word, but only in order to be a
practiser and experiencer of the Word.
There should never
be a time when we go to the Scriptures without allowing them to change our
lives for the better. The difference between studying and applying
the Scriptures is somewhat like the difference between drifting in a boat
and rowing toward a destination. To profess great love for God’s word or
even to pose as a Bible student is a form of self-deception unless our
increasing knowledge of the word is producing increasing likeness to the
Lord Jesus. To go on gaining an intellectual knowledge of the Bible
without obeying it can be a trap instead of a blessing. If we continually
learn what we ought to do, but do not do it, we become frustrated and
callous. Also we become more responsible to God. The ideal combination is
to read the word and then heed it expeditiously and implicitly.
King Edward VI of England would
stand while the Word of God was read in worship service. He would take
notes and later study them with great care. During the week he
earnestly tried to apply them to his life. That’s the kind of
serious-minded response to truth application calls for. A single
revealed fact cherished in the heart and acted upon is more vital to our
growth than a head filled with lofty ideas about God.
Samuel addressing King Saul after
his serious "miscalculation" (sin) said
"Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in
obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of
(Cp Ps 51:16,17,
Spurgeon note v16,
note v 17)
We learn God’s Word not to
know but to grow by doing for
Obedience is the mother of true knowledge of God. -- John Calvin
God’s Word can only produce growth in
soil "fertilized" by obedience. Our Lord
taught that those who are
[word study]) are those who hear the
word of God and observe (phulasso
[word study]) it. (Lk 11:28, cp Jn 13:17)
D. L. Moody quipped that
Our great problem is the problem of trafficking in unlived truth. We try
to communicate what we’ve never experienced in our own lives.
Someone has rightly
observed that it is possible to be full of Scripture and full of
carnality. Woe! That's a frightening statement! You haven't really learned the Word
until you live the Word. Too often we come to God’s Word to study it, to
teach it, etc—to do everything in the world with it except be changed by
it! To be sure our first goal should be to get into the Bible and then to allow
the Bible to
get into us. In
we study God's Word,
but in Application, God's Word "studies" us!
Every time we encounter spiritual truth, we need to seek to apply that
truth to our lives. The danger of
Interpretation without application is that we become
hypocrites like the Pharisees,
filled to the brim with intellectual knowledge, but
failing miserably to allow the truth to transform our hearts! Head knowledge
without heart change is not enough and in some ways is even worse than no
knowledge. Greater knowledge should always bring about greater obedience,
enabled by grace not law, empowered by the indwelling Spirit as we learn
to discard self effort and depend on the Spirit.
See related resource:
Relationship of faith and obedience
As Vance Havner
wisely said "It is not the Word hidden in the head
but in the heart that keeps us from sin."
James warned that "to one who knows the
right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin." (Jas 4:17, cp Lk
12:47, 48, Jn 9:41)
Comment: Sins of omission
(failing to do what God wants us to do) are sins just as surely as sins of
commission (doing what God has told us not to do).
The person who knows
the truth but doesn't act on it is not simply making a mistake or showing
poor judgment but he is in sin. In Gods mind, knowledge without obedience
is sin. The religionists of Jesus' day had all of the data. They had
mastered the Old Testament, but they were never mastered by the truth
itself. Did they know where the Messiah was to be born? Absolutely. They
were the local authorities. But when the report came of His birth, did
they go to check it out? No, even though the town of Bethlehem was only
only five miles down the road from Jerusalem. Their righteousness was
external, based on facts and devoid of personal response. Truth revealed
brings responsibility to respond.
J A Bengel
wisely admonished "Apply yourself to the whole text, and
apply the whole text to yourself."
Remember that the more time spent in observation, the
less time you will spend in interpretation, the more accurate the
interpretation and the more appropriate the application. While there is only one valid interpretation
of a passage,
there can be many applications. So before we can apply the truth as God
intended, we need to be certain that our interpretation is accurate, which
in turn hinges on careful observation. Erroneous interpretation can lead
to aberrant application. If our interpretation is accurate, we
at least have the potential to apply the truth appropriately. In sum,
acting on what God has said assumes that you understand what He has said
as illustrated below.
The Other ROAD:
IN THE "FORK" IN THE ROAD
is the result of...
Robert Frost in his poem "Road
Not Taken" writes in his last stanza
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
In an even more famous discourse on
roads taken and not taken, Jesus admonishes those who have an ear to hear
Enter by the
narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad
that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For
the gate is small, and
way is narrow that leads to life,
and few are those who find it.
(Mt 7:13, 14-notes)
Which road will you travel? The road
prepared and paved by careful observation, proper interpretation and
diligent application of the Scripture or the one
wrought by a superficial, inaccurate, irreverent approach? It will make "all
the difference" in this life and the next for as Paul wrote...
godliness (eusebeia) (produced by discipline
and diligent application of God's Word) is profitable for all
things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life
to come. It is a trustworthy (pistos = faithful; cp Paul's 4 "faithful
sayings" - 1Ti 1:15, 4:9, 2Ti 2:11-note,
Titus 3:8-note) statement deserving full acceptance...it
is for this (godliness) we labor (kopiao
= to the point of exhaustion;
= continually) and strive (agonizomai
= as when striving in an athletic contest emphasizing
concentration, discipline, conviction, effort;
= continually)." (1Ti 4:8-note,
1Ti 4:9, 10-note)
Application of God's Word will
not always be "pain free", but it will always be profitable. We will not
fully comprehend the extent of the "return on our investment" until we
enter Paradise and stand before our Lord at His
bema (judgment) seat.
This is a motivating truth that you can trust and which you should welcome
and willingly acknowledge. The old saying regarding application is true
that the same Word that afflicts the comfortable, also provides comfort
for the afflicted!
The growing numbers of sermon-sippers
and seminar-sitters who flit from one doctrinal dessert to another like so
many busy, buzzing hummingbirds are most assuredly deceiving themselves
unless they are also choosing to assimilate (heed) the truth ("honey" Ps
which they have tasted (cp Jas 1:22, 23, 24-note,
Whenever (every time) we read the
Scriptures, the question we should always honestly seek to ask is...
How does the meaning of this text
What does this verse
Scripture reading and Bible study
always represents (so to speak) a "God sighting" ("God speaking") and as
such always applies to us as His creatures. In other words every divine
revelation demands a determinative response. To not respond to
supernatural illumination would be like saying the Biblical teaching on
idolatry is great but it doesn't apply to me and then going off to spend
the rest of the day seeking anxiously to accumulate wealth in this present
but passing (away) world (cp the words of Jesus Mt 6:24-note
and Paul Col 3:5-note).
John Blanchard underscores the
crucial discipline of applying God's Word sounding the caution that
"There is more to Christian growth than
knowing what the Bible says; nobody is ever nourished by memorizing menus."
Yogi Berra's advice is
appropriate at this juncture -- When
you arrive at a fork in the road, take it.
Just make sure it's the one based on careful observation and accurate
As someone has warned...
thought, reap an action.
Sow an action, reap a habit.
Sow a habit, reap a character.
Sow a character, reap a destiny!
John MacArthur argues that...
Studying Scripture without allowing it
to penetrate to the depths of your soul would be like preparing a banquet
without eating it. The bottom-line question to ask is, “How do the divine
truths and principles contained in any passage apply to me in terms of my
attitude and actions?”
Jesus made this promise to those who would carry their personal Bible
study through to this point: “If you know these things, blessed are you if
you do them” (John 13:17, cp Jn 15:14, 14:15, Lk 11:28, Jas 1:22-note,
Bible study is not complete until we ask ourselves, “What does this mean
for my life and how can I practically apply it?” We must take the
knowledge we have gained from our reading and interpretation and draw out
the practical principles that apply to our personal lives.
If there is a command to be obeyed, we obey it. If there is a promise to
be embraced, we claim it. If there is a warning to be followed, we heed
it. This is the ultimate step: we submit to Scripture and let it transform
our lives. If you skip this step, you will never enjoy your Bible study
and the Bible will never change your life. It is not enough just to study the
Bible. We must
upon it. In a very real sense we are giving our
brain a bath; we are washing it in the purifying solution of God’s Word.
J.: The MacArthur Study Bible Nashville: Word)
Jesus explains that relationship
(and importance) between knowing God's Word and doing God's
If (If = 3rd class condition =
possibility / probability but not a certainty! This speak of a personal
choice that must be made) any man is willing (thelo = desires, wishes,
delights [cp Ps 1:2-note],
takes pleasure, is inclined to; the
- speaks of one's general direction of their life) to do (present
- again speaks of one's general habit
of practice = toward obedience not toward disobedience) His will, he shall
know (ginosko = speaks not just of "head" knowing but of an experiential
knowledge, a more intimate knowledge) of the teaching (didache
- word study),
whether it is of God, or whether I speak from Myself. (John 7:17)
As you carry out your inductive Bible study you will find that observation, interpretation, and
application often occur simultaneously. Your Teacher, the Holy Spirit, can give you insights
at any point in your study, so that you need to be sensitive to His leading. When words or
passages make an impression on you, stop and
on what God has shown you or as the great preacher C H Spurgeon advised...
meditate and meditate and meditate