Using the Bible Practically
Paul Dean Dr. Paul J. Dean's Weblog
- 2005 Jul 05
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, thoroughly furnished unto all good works (2 Tim 3:16-17).
Christians believe the Bible is the word of God. Yet, sadly, most Christians do not realize how applicable the Bible is for our every day lives. Did you know that you can actually know the will of God? Did you know that there are answers to solve common, everyday problems? Believe it or not, in the Scriptures God has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Pet 1:3). Think of the implications of that statement; everything we need for our lives and everything we need to live godly lives is contained in the Bible.
The problem for most Christians is that they can go to the Scriptures to glean facts but they can’t discover biblical answers for specific problems in life. Most get frustrated and see Christianity as something for Sunday with little relevance for the rest of the week. Others, unwilling for their spirituality to dry up, opt for finding answers to life's problems in experiences, hunches, impressions, circumstances, or other means. What can we do? What is the solution?
First, recognize the sufficiency of Scripture in your life. In 2 Tim 3:16 Paul affirms that all Scripture is inspired by God. That means that God breathed out His words to us in the Bible. Based upon this affirmation, Paul gives us four dynamics regarding the sufficiency of God’s word for our lives. It is profitable for teaching, rebuke, correction, and instruction in righteousness. Thus, every time you open your Bible to read a passage of Scripture, you should ask yourself four questions. 1-What is the point God is trying to make in this text? 2-How have I failed in this area of my life? 3-What should I do to correct this failure? 4-What is my specific plan to follow through in obedience?
If Scripture is profitable for teaching, find out what God is saying. Once you know what God is saying you can apply it to your life. Paul goes on to say that Scripture is profitable for rebuke. That means that Scripture points out sin in our lives. When you know the point of a passage of Scripture, don't deceive yourself, we all fail to follow the Lord every day. If you know how you have failed you can work on the problem. Paul says Scripture is profitable for correction. Once you know what God wants you to do you should develop a specific plan to overcome your failure. You can do that because Paul says that Scripture is profitable for instruction in righteousness. In other words, the first step in knowing the will of God is to simply apply Scripture to your life in this fashion on a daily basis.
Let me give you an example regarding communication in marriage. Suppose you and your husband are not getting along. While a host of problems may exist, let's say that communication is the problem. You fight all of the time. Then you come to Eph 4:29 in your Bible study. The text says, "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers." As you ask yourself the four questions listed above, your answers might look something like this:
God doesn't want any rotten communication to come out of my mouth but only that which builds others up that I might serve them and give them grace. Every time my husband is ugly to me I respond sinfully and scream at him which serves to tear him down. God wants me to work on my heart and life regardless of how my husband treats me. So I must react in a Christ-like fashion and respond in a manner of love and self-control that I might build my husband up that he might begin to work on his sin as well. I will memorize Eph 4:29 and study other passages of Scripture that teach me how to respond to people such as Matt 7:1-5. I will ask the Lord to give me a heart of love for my husband and bear all things in accord with 1 Cor 13. The next time he's ugly to me I will pray for God to help me speak as I ought. I will discipline myself to speak the truth in love and leave the results to God. When I fail, I will confess my sins to God and ask for grace to do better next time. I will rejoice as God produces His fruit in me (Gal 5:22). Remember, you can't change someone else, but you can change yourself by God's grace.
Second, recognize the necessity of study in your life. If you apply the Scriptures to your life as we discussed above you will be in the will of God. Yet, what do you do when a problem arises and you don't know where to find the principles in Scripture that would solve that problem? Well, topical Bibles and helps are available, but wouldn't it be better to know where to go to find God's answers on your own? You need to get a general outline in your head of what is in the Bible. Start with the New Testament: it's short and contains most of the practical teaching we need. For example, when a question arises about marriage or divorce you would turn to 1 Corinthians 7. If you need answers regarding communication you could go to Ephesians 4. If you need peace, turn to Philippians 4. If you are struggling with paying taxes you could turn to Romans 13. If you are struggling with depression, read Genesis 4. The point is that you need to familiarize yourself with the practical nature of the Bible.
Let me give you one more example. Are you depressed? We know that sometimes depression is caused by physiological problems. But, we also know that depression is most often caused by spiritual problems. In Gen. 4:4-7 we read this account: "And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?" Now we don't have time to look at this in detail, but, God says if you do well you will be accepted and thus, you will not be depressed.
Obviously, much more could be said and learned. Hard work is required. Yet, wouldn't it be better to spend some time with God that you might know Him better and get a handle on your problems? I promise you, based upon the promise of God, that if you will study with a view toward following Christ as described above, applying His word to your life, with the conviction that His word contains the answers you need, you will have the will of God for your life and everything will begin to fall in place. Meet God in His word today for your sake, for the sake of your family, and for the sake of Christ. You will be blessed as a result. According to Paul in 2 Tim. 3:17, you will be thoroughly equipped for every good work.