The Bible is an amazing creation. It is 2,100 years of recorded history where God reveals Himself to humanity. The Bible records God’s thoughts, words, actions and emotions as He works out His Story of Redepmtion. In the Bible, the Wisdom of God is entrusted to humanity, filtered through some 4,000 years of human experience and then handed off to us – time tested, Father approved.
When you think of it, is there anything God doesn’t have an opinion on? He is THE Creator. He has strong opinions on how we should care for and steward His creation. He knows everything there is to know about the workings of the human heart. He knows how to best set up a society/government and how to build the most rich, fulfilling and meaningful relationships of all time. From eating to sex, from economics to politics, God knows how things work best and it is all recorded for us in the Bible.
When we live God’s way it only blesses us. One of the strangest and most amazing commands God gives His people is in Deuteronomy 14:21, ‘Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.” This command has a multitude of meanings for the Jews, but the take-away principle for us is this: something that is meant to bless and strengthen you should never cause you harm.
God’s word never causes us harm when it is applied correctly. In fact, God’s word is a safeguard around our lives, it protects us in unimaginable ways from suffering and pain. However, because God’s word specializes in prevention, we never see what we were saved from, so we tend not to value it. This is a tragic mistake repeated generation after generation. But for those with eyes to see and ears to hear, the Bible is the key that unlocks abundant life and the Kingdom of God.
God’s word never causes us harm… when it is applied correctly. By no means do I have the authoritative word on how to apply the Bible perfectly in every circumstance. What I do have are a few lessons that the Bible and Church history have taught us.
Principles for Applying the Bible to Your Life
(1) We are not Jews
For some strange reason, when I talk about living God’s way and applying His Wisdom to our lives, people start thinking we need to submit ourselves to the Law once again. They start thinking the Sabbath needs to be observed on a certain day or that they need to start eating Kosher. No! Put everything I say (and what every other preacher/teacher says) in the greater context of Scripture. We know that the Law doesn’t save (Romans 3:20) and that no one, save Jesus, was able to live under it without sin (Romans 3:23, Act 15:10,11); so why would we think we need to go back to following the letter of the Law?
There are a great number of pseudo-Christian cults that try to convince Christians to submit themselves to the Law. They sound convincing, even compelling, because their arguments are “biblical.” But unless they take into account the whole counsel of God, especially the freedom we have in Christ, then they aren’t worth listening to. For if we revert to trying to be saved through the works of the Law, then Christ profits us nothing and we reject everything he offers us, including our salvation.
We are not saved by the works of the Law or following the letter of the Law. Does that mean that the Old Testament is worthless? Of course not.
(2) Look for the Underlying Principles
This is exactly what I did when I quoted Deuteronomy 14:21 above. Don’t take everything at face value, dig deeper to find the Principle each law or story is trying to reveal. Very often there will be multiple ways to interpret each passage, so again, put each passage into the whole story of God’s Salvation and Redemption. If one way of interpreting the passage leads to legalism, religion or being saved through your own effort, disregard it. If an interpretation doesn’t contradict the main Truths of Scripture, try it on for size – start living it out and see how it goes.
(3) Look for the Underlying Person
The whole Bible reveals Jesus. It doesn’t matter if it is the Old Testament or New, the Psalms, Prophets or Law – every part of the Bible points to Jesus. Look for how the passage points you to a greater understanding of Jesus. Fall in love with him in a new or deeper way. This is the most important and most powerful way of applying Scripture to your life. If you can find that passage lived out in the life of Jesus then you can bet it will benefit you too.
(4) Just Do It, Even If You Don’t Understand It.
Most people don’t understand why God wants His people to rest one full day out of every seven until they do it. Most don’t understand for the first 6 months. But eventually, through our faith-filled obedience, God begins to reveal His character and His ways. You will begin to understand why He wants you to devote an entire day to rest, relaxation and enjoyment. Your heart will come alive in a new way. Many Truths in the Bible cannot be communicated, they can only be experienced. You will live an impoverished existence if you choose to delay obedience until you “fully understand” something. I don’t fully understand how a combustion engine works, but that doesn’t stop me from driving a car. It is the same way with the Bible. We don’t have to fully understand why God commanded something in order to benefit from it. However, it is glorious to search out the heart of each command and to try and understand why God gave it.
Undoubtedly, there are many more points and sub-points to applying the Bible to your life. However, I think these points summarize the vast majority of what needs to be said about living life God’s way. Take time to meditate on God’s word, not just read it. Dig deep and find those wellsprings of life. Happy hunting friends!