One of the more interesting observations that I have made from years of counseling is how little I teach people about the truth of God’s Word versus how much time I spend helping them apply the truth of God’s Word.
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What is most instructive about this observation is that many of these counselees have spent a large part of their lives in biblical studies and theological training venues. Some of them have Bible degrees. Most are lifetime Sunday school attendees. They advocate men’s and women’s groups.
I am not saying any of these methods or meetings are wrong, and I’m not on a campaign to dismantle these training opportunities. But something is afoul when our pursuit of knowledge does not translate into an appropriate application of knowledge.
Something Is Wrong!
It is not a guarantee that effective personal transformation will come because you participated in a Bible study. Having someone teach you is not the same as you regularly implementing and practicing what you know to be true. I tell my students,
Be careful about telling those that you are discipling what to do. It is better to teach them how to discover and apply God’s truth for themselves. The person who figures out the truth will remember it, while the spoon-fed Christian will have a difficult time retaining it.
God asked Adam where he was when Adam lost his way. The Lord knew where Adam was, but Adam was not fully aware of where he was. What did the Lord do? He provoked Adam to think and respond rather than spoon-feeding him the answers to the problem (Genesis 3:9).
Telling a child 2+2=4 is not as effective as letting the child wrestle through the learning process. Similarly, sitting in a church meeting soaking up the message will lose its effectiveness if you don’t practically work the sermon into the core of your being (Philippians 2:12).
Every Christian must create contexts and relationships for the application of God’s Word, or the Word preached will lose its effectiveness. For some believers, there is a “mystic reliance” on the Holy Spirit to make the truth real, practical, and useful in a person’s life after he hears it.
Some of the brightest and most knowledgeable Bible students can be no different than the Sunday school novice when it comes to living in the fullness and joy that God offers through the His Word.
If a Christian is not regularly applying the truth, he will not be living a productive Christian life. Countless Bible studies are no substitute for taking one sermon or one lesson and working it into your life practically. Too many studies can desensitize you to the truth you are trying to learn. – Charlie Boyd
In Psalm 103:1-22 David is doing something remarkable; he is preaching to himself the benefits of God. David is taking his soul to task by reminding himself of two specific things:
- Knowledge – What he knows to be right about God.
- Application – How he has personally experienced what he knows to be right about God.
While it is true that faith comes by hearing God’s Word (Romans 10:17), it would be unwise to think that being within earshot of the truth is good enough. David was a student of God’s Word and a man after God’s heart, but he knew that transformation by God’s Word would only come if he worked the truth into the fabric of his soul, which explains why he said,
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. – Psalm 103:1-2
The most profound experience any believer can have with God is his experience of God through the practicalization of the Bible into his life. The Bible teaches us how to have a life with Christ so that we can experience transformation by Him.
Call to Action
- Is your study of the Bible causing practical transformation in your life?
- What contexts do you have to apply God’s Word to your life?
- Do you have authentic, honest, and transparent relationships that help you apply God’s Word to your life?
Also published on Medium.