FAQ'S ABOUT RELIGION
HOW DOES THE BIBLE APPLY TO MY LIFE?
What does the Bible Say about this?
We have previously proven the Bible is reliable (see the Question…”Is the Bible Authentic?”). Among the many characteristics of the Bible, probably one of the most important is that it is a living guide for a good life. The Bible has an inexplicable way of applying great truths through all times. The book named for the author James (Jesus’ half-brother) says in chapter 1, verses 22 through 24…”Do not merely listen to the word, (meaning the Bible) and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, walks away and immediately forgets what he looks like.” (New International Version or NIV Bible). The book of Hebrews chapter 4 verse 12 says…”For the word of God (the Bible) is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (NIV). Also, the Apostle Paul’s second letter to Timothy, chapter 3, verses 16-17 says…”All Scripture is God-breathed (emphasis added) and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…(NIV). The Bible was never intended to be a “rule book” that robs us of happiness or gives “grades” on rule keeping to determine heavenly acceptance. In fact, God gave us his word (which can be tough to accept at times) for our GOOD. Just as a loving parent would want to guide their child on a path that has their best interest in mind (even if that is tough at times), the Bible is God’s Love Letter and reveals a path for all to experience His abundant joy. “And we know that in all things God works for the GOOD of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).Therefore, it is important for us to refer to the Bible for guidance and together with prayer and study of what it says, i.e., weighing the context perhaps by reading verses before and after for additional clarity and then applying it to our culture and our situation, we can come to view our problems and questions with greater wisdom.
What do Philosophers say about this?
Voltaire (1694-1778), a brilliant French Philosopher and Atheist (one who does not believe in God), said in a hundred years from his day the Bible would have passed into the mists of history as people became more liberated and enlightened. Well, it has been 238 years since he died and curiously one of his two homes, the one in Geneva Switzerland, is used to print and distribute Bibles. So much for Voltaire! However, another brilliant philosopher, Emanuel Kant (1724-1804) born in Germany, said…”The existence of the Bible, as a book for the people, is the greatest benefit the human race has ever experienced. Every attempt to belittle it is a crime against humanity.” Thus, Kant could foresee the value of the Bible for each coming age.
What do Americans say about this?
In 2012, the American Bible Society commissioned Barna Research Group to conduct a survey about how the Bible is influential in American society. They found 85 percent of American households owned a Bible. In fact, most households owned more than one with an average of 4.3 Bibles each and that 69 percent of Americans believe the Bible provides answers regarding the living of a good and meaningful life www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/how-does-the-bible-influence-society/.
How do we find the right scripture?
Guideposts, (Carmel, New York, 1996), published a Bible called TouchPoint using the New Living Translation (NLT) which is easy to read in modern language. It has a “Quick Reference Finder” section that lists some 200 topics with scripture references for each. Some examples are…Abortion-Jeremiah 1:5 I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you… Behavior-Titus 2:7 And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good deeds of every kind… Gossip-Proverbs 26:20 Fire goes out for lack of fuel, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops. Prayer-James 5:16 The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results. Another good source for connecting topics to scripture is the web site www.bibleinfo.com which has 339 topics in alphabetic order that are linked to appropriate scripture verses. So, finding relevant scripture has been simplified. Now let’s find how we use the scriptures once they are found.
How to use the scripture and find its relevance to our topic?
Even though the Bible was written a long time ago, the truths contained in its pages apply today as much as they did when they were written. For “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of the Lord stands forever” (I Peter:1:23-25). Our culture has become impatient and most of us seek “INSTANT GRATIFICATION.” However, God works according to His timetable, not ours. He will respond to those who have an “open heart,” which means we must surrender our hearts to him and keep our thoughts on other matters from squeezing Him out of our lives. He expects us to use our brains and use one of His great methods of finding His will for our lives called the Bible. However, in order to do that effectively, we must read the scripture carefully and determine the context in which it was written, that is, the culture at the time, the prevailing religious, political and economic forces then to understand the message for the audience who originally heard it. Then we can seek applications for our situations here and now.
Finding the right application:
Experts tell us that scripture has only one meaning but may have many applications. We must find the right application for us. The NIV Life Application Study Bible has a section entitled “A Christian Worker’s Resource.” It has a very interesting method to apply scripture to today. It is called “The Life Application Pyramid.” There are four steps going up to the peak and four steps going down to the desired finding. Here is an abbreviated description of the steps. Step 1 Up is called "People”-- Who are they in the scripture? Step 2 Up is “Place”-- What is the setting? Step 3 Up is “Plot”-- What is happening? Step 4 Up is “Point“-- What does it mean? The peak of the pyramid is called “Principles”--What is the basic message? Now we step down the pyramid to Step 1 Down is called “Present“-- What is the meaning for NOW? Step 2 Down is “Parallels”-- What is the message for US? Step 3 Down is “Priorities”-- What application is best? Step 4, the final step is “Plan”-- What action is called for? In addition to the NIV study Bible, another detailed description of this method is www.newlivingtranslation.com/01liveitnow/article2.asp . May God bless our reading, study and application of scripture to our daily living presently.