Why It’s Never About “What Does This Mean to Me?”
If you missed Monday’s important introductory note about the upcoming change regarding Time With God, please see it here: http://twg.austinridge.org/sola-scriptura.
There are two well-meaning questions on most of our minds as we read and apply Scripture: “What does this mean to me?” and, “What does this passage teach about what I am supposed to do?” Yet, if we try to apply the Bible only in these ways, we are missing Scripture’s intended purpose. From Genesis to Revelation, Scripture’s design is to reveal our spiritual brokenness and point us to Christ (Hebrews 4:12-16). This redemptive focus isn’t about merely changing our behavior; it’s about changing our heart. The end goal of Bible study is Christ-centered application so that we might become more like Jesus, day by day, little by little.
- How do you practically apply what you’ve read in Scripture to your life?
Read the Word
Hebrews 4:12-16 (ESV)
12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
(NOTE: These are all application questions for today’s study.)
These are the timeless truths to which we will anchor our application (see Tuesday’s post for previous study of this passage):
- This passage points out spiritual brokenness, in that people are naked and exposed, weak; they sin when tempted; they need mercy and grace; they are needy (vss. 13,15,16).
- This passage points to Christ, in that he is the Great High Priest and the Son of God who can sympathize with weakness; he has never sinned even though he was tempted; he allows us to draw near to his throne of grace; he gives mercy and grace; he offers help to the needy (vss. 14-16).
- How do you share in the spiritual brokenness pointed out in this passage? (See the first bullet point above and choose the ones that resonate with you today.)
- How does this passage point you to a redemptive solution that God provides? (See the second bullet point above and choose the “solution” that Jesus offers for the “problem” of your sin and brokenness.)
- Based on who God is and what he’s done in this passage, how does God want you to respond to him? Is there something to believe? A sin to confess? An attitude to change? An ethical response that you can live out?
- Even though God’s Word exposes me completely, I don’t have to fear. I can draw near to the throne of grace with confidence. Why? Because Jesus sympathizes with my weakness. He’ll give me grace and mercy. This gives me strength, in turn, to sympathize with the sins and brokenness of others, and to respond to them with the grace and mercy that Christ has given to me. What about you? How do need to respond to and live out God’s grace in this passage?
Respond to God
Bible study isn’t solely about me or what I think a passage means. It’s not about gaining more information or knowledge – the end goal is application, so that we might grow in heart-rooted holiness. Applying what we’ve learned is how we cooperate in becoming more and more like Jesus. Application must always be anchored in the timeless truths of the passage. It must first be rooted in the work of Christ and the grace of the gospel. Application is our response to who God is and what he’s done for us. We draw strength to live out our response from Christ alone, in the power of the Holy Spirit.
- Pray that you would be a doer of the Word and not just a hearer.
- Pause and pray that the Spirit would lead you to intentionally respond to the Word each time you open its pages.