PRINCIPLES AND METHODS
Inductive Bible study concludes with application.
Not only do we ask, "What does the passage say?" and "What does the passage mean?" but also, "What does the passage mean to me?" We must put legs upon what we study. While we apply scientific principles to the Bible in an honest investigation for specific truth, the Bible is not just another subject to fill up credits at some school. We are never the same person when we spend time in the Bible. Furthermore we are responsible for what we know - in our own obedient walk before God and in our evangelistic obligation to those around us. We can approach this last step by asking a series of questions.
1) What does the Bible teach about my personal faith: e.g., what do I learn about God, the Father? The Son? The Holy Spirit? What do I learn about the salvation story? The cross? Hell? Heaven? Sin? The church? Judgment? Satan? God's will and decree?
2) What about my attitude? How shall I think because of this passage? How does this passage have an impact on my emotions? Fears? Worries? Hates? Resentments? Jealousies? Gratitude? Friendships? For example, in Philippians 4:6-8 notice the word "think" in verse 8.
3) What about my actions? What shall I do because of this passage? Do I change my habits? Do I stop doing something? Do I start doing something? How am I supposed to speak now? How do I handle my time? My resources? Is there some prayer I should make? Verbs in the passage at hand help here, as in Philippians 4:6-7. Notice what you must not do in verse 6 and what you must do in verse 6. What are the results in verse 7?
4) Warnings. What sins are pointed out in my life? What must I do with them? What must I stop doing? What must I start doing? What must I forsake? What must I hold onto? What sins are mine? The church's? Mankind's in general? How will God deal with this sin? For example, Galatians 5:19-26. Notice how strong this is. We are normally more gentle with ourselves than the Bible is.
5) Challenges. Is there some job I must do? To whom is the challenge directed? Are there some foes of whom I must be aware? How can I equip myself to begin? For examples, see Matthew 28:19-20 and I Thessalonians 5:17.
6) Examples. Is there a life I should follow? Not follow? For examples, see Romans 4:12 and Hebrews 12:2.
7) Promises. For what can I thank God? In what can I rejoice? What can I claim as a child of God? Are there any conditions I must meet first? For examples, see Acts 16:31 and Romans 8:38, 39.
To repeat, application means to have the truths of scripture fulfilled in our lives. We must want to do something about what we learn. We don't say when we have learned something from the Bible, "Yes, that's nice; some day I'll write a book about it." But we say, "Lord, help Thou my unbelief" (Mark 9:24).
As an additional thought, it is possible to consider application as a kind of a test. We can ask, "Does my conclusion lead me to live a life that is God glorifying?" If it does, my conclusion could be essentially correct. But experience is a weak test. From our experiences in life we learn about the reasonableness of our own conclusions only. We must not make judgments about Biblical truth based upon our experiences.
While our souls have been saved and are cleansed from sin, Romans 7:24 emphasizes that we still live in a sinful body. We cannot altogether trust subjective opinions based upon our experience. On the other hand, truth is objective. A conclusion is right because it is right, not because we can live with it. Nevertheless, the Bible, being the type of book it is, is meant to edify us spiritually and glorify God through those who trust and obey it. Bad Bible study leads to bad conclusions and bad application. But Bible study conclusions that lead to a God glorifying life are candidates for being correct.
Home Principles & Methods Top of Page Back Next