By the Book | Lesson 8

9 Questions to Ask

U.S. Senate chaplain Richard Halverson once said, "People are not particularly interested in our ideas; they are interested in our experiences. They are not searching for theories but for convictions. They want to penetrate our rhetoric in order to discover the reality of our lives.

Earlier when we studied the step of Observation, we said that one of the things to do with any passage of Scripture is to bombard the text with questions. The same is true (if not more so) when it comes to Applications. Here are nine application questions you can ask whenever you come to the Word as you seek to apply it to the reality of your life:

1. Is there an Example for me to follow?
Have you noticed how much of the Bible is biographical? That's not an accident; it's by design. God fills His Word with people because nothing helps the truth come alive the way people do. Draw parallels between your situation and the character you're studying. Ask what would I do? Or, have I done similar?

2. Is there a Sin to avoid?
One of the values of the Word is that it raises your consciousness in regard to moral issues. Before we become believers we do things that if somebody had told us were sin, we'd have said, "You gotta be kidding?!" So after we come to Christ we have to ask ourselves the same sort of questions, "Am I kidding myself? Is this sin? Have I done it?"

3. Is there a Promise to claim?
God's Word is filled with promises made by the Person who does not lie, and who is totally capable of fulfilling them. While we can't claim all the promises made, we can claim the ones made to the church or to the righteous, or to those who believe in His Name.

4. Is there a Prayer to repeat?
Make a study of the great prayers of scripture, Abraham's prayer, David's prayer, Hannah's prayer, Jonah's prayer, Paul's prayers, Jesus' prayers, Mary prayer, and the Lord's prayer. As you study those passages, ask yourself, "what is there in these prayers that I need to be praying?" Truth is, almost all scripture can be prayed.

5. Is there a Command to obey?
The Bible is filled with potent, clear-cut commands. There are 54 in the book of James alone! A wise old scholar was once asked how to determine the will of God? His response was simple and instructive, "95% of the will of God is revealed in His commands. Spend your time attending to those and you won't have much trouble working out the other 5%..."

6. Is there a condition to meet?
Many of God's promises are based on conditions set forth in the text. For instance, Jesus said, "if you abide in Me and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it shall be done for you" (Jn 15:7) But I wonder how many times we want the latter without the former? God's conditions must be met, as well as our prayers sent up.

7. Is there a Verse to memorize?
Any verse of Scripture can be memorized. But some will carry more significance for you than others. To start, develop your own list of verses that have become personal or meaningful to you. Then go after larger or different portions of the Word. The benefits are immeasurable.

8. Is there an Error to mark?
Many Christians have fuzzy thinking when it comes to fundamental building blocks of the faith such as the Resurrection, the Virgin birth, the Inerrancy of Scripture, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. As a result, they are sitting ducks for theological error. Personal Bible study can help turn that around. As you ask the "what?" questions, then ask the "what changes my thinking?" questions.

9. Is there a Challenge to face?
Have you ever read a portion of the Bible and felt convicted that you needed to act on the basis of what you read? The Spirit of God prompts that so you read He will challenge you to respond. THe question is, are you open to such change? And, are you prepared to take on His challenge(s)? Try it, the Spirit won't let you go away disappointed.

Dr. B's Personal Perspective

I've been your Pastor here for 10 years, and I've delivered thousands of Lessons from God's Word. But if all you ever do is hear it without ever knowing how to use it or apply it, then I've failed you and you've missed out on a lot of what God has wanted to say and do in your life. So my recommitment has been that every Sunday to start this year I've provided you a "How to Study Your Bible Better" resource - in hopes that you could understand and apply this powerful instrument better for yourself. We ended last year studying Ezra and talking about getting a "redo" in life. I pray you've embraced that promise from God this year. If not, you can!!

"Does your life tell others everything they need to know about your commitment to Christ and your values and beliefs? The great need among God's people today is to get into Scripture for themselves. And because they are not doing so, they are losing the fizz in their spiritual life. They are flat and lukewarm. Nothing is more repulsive. People are wary of words, but they are starving for authenticity. in Ezra 7:10 we have a model of the value of personal Bibel Study: 'For Ezra had set his heart {to do three things} to study the law of the Lord, and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.' What about you?"

-Howard Hendricks

By the Book | Lesson 7

Many Christians are like poor photographs - overexposed and underdeveloped. They've had plenty of input from the Word of God, but what difference has it made in their lives? Spiritual growth is a commitment to change. And yet, the human heart resists nothing as strongly as it resists change. I want to suggest a means over overcoming the bias toward spiritual inertia. Four principles reduced to four words that are a four-step process to apply Scripture in any circumstance. Not to oversimplify things, but to provide some handles to work with if you want to apply the Bible.

By the Book | Lesson 6

A Far Side cartoon once had a funny put pertinent exchange where the first panel showed a man lecturing his dog, saying "Ok, Ginger! I've had it! You stay out of the garbage! Understand, Ginger? Stay out of the garbage, or else!" The caption read, "What people say." The next panel showed the situation from the dog's point of view, captioned, "What dogs hear." And what did that dog hear? "Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah...!"

By the Book | Lesson 5

A seasoned old preacher was dining in a restaurant when in walked the local atheist, who thought he'd have a little sport with the preacher. So the skeptic sat down, pointed at the pastor's Bible and asked, "Rev, you still believe that book?" "Absolutely," the old gentlemen replied. "You mean you believe everything in it?!" "Every word." "Well," said the atheist, "Is there anything you can't explain?" "Oh there are lots of things I can't explain, " the preacher responded. Then he opened his Bible and showed the fellow all the question marks in the margins.

By the Book | Lesson 4

Have you ever gone to a doctor with a sore throat? The first thing he or she asks you to do is to stick out your tongue. Then they take a glance down your throat and say, “Aha.” Generally right away they know what’s wrong. I could look in your mouth from now to eternity, but it would do no good, because I don’t know what I’m looking for! The same principle applies to Bible study. You could spend hours paging through the Word, but it could be a waste of time if you don’t know what you’re looking for. So here are six clues to watch for in Scripture, ones that’ll help you hit pay dirt every time if you notice them. God has provided an excellent tool to help you remember them—your hand. There’s a clue for each of the fingers, and one for the palm of your hand.

By the Book | Lesson 3

Have you ever closed you Bible in frustration, wondering why you didn’t get more out of your study of the Scripture? You’ve heard others talk about mining the riches there, and you wanted to grab a few nuggets for yourself. But after pouring a lot of time and energy into the process, things just didn’t “pan out.” One of the reasons we fail to hit pay dirt is: we don’t know how to read. Our culture has made a radical shift from a word-based society – to an image-based society. As a result, unlike our ancestors a few generations ago we don’t know how to read and to a large extent last lost that art. Yet the Bible is a book, which means it must be read to be appreciated. Try these strategies to help you better understand God’s Word to you.

By the Book | Lesson 2

The study of God’s Word is kind of like learning to fly. It takes a lot more than just handing the controls to someone and shouting, “Have fun.” Rather it’s a process that can’t happen overnight. Yet that’s exactly what we do when we hand people a Bible, tell them to get into the Word, and expect them to take it from there. No wonder so many people give up in frustration? Instead, effective Bible study involves taking certain steps in a certain order to guarantee certain results. Not just any steps; not just any order; not just any result. The following is a three-step approach for life-change—three crucial steps to carry out in a particular order.