The Pharisees often get a bad rap, and not without reason. Almost every time they show up in the New Testament they’re either testing Jesus, accusing Jesus, or missing the point of Jesus altogether. But when it came to studying God’s Word, they got at least one thing right: they didn’t stop at learning what it said. They wanted to know how to apply it to their lives and the lives of God’s people.
The same should be true of us. Perhaps the most important question we can ask of the Gospels and the book of Acts is “So what?” Or, to put it another way: What do these books, written almost two thousand years ago, have to do with us today? But since these are God’s books, inspired by him for the purpose of making him known to us, we might think of application in still another way. As Jesus taught in Matthew 22, when we study God’s Word, the question of application really comes down to this: How should what we’re studying impact the way we love God and the way we love others? Let’s apply this principle to the passages we’ve been studying.
How do the observations we made about John 3:16–17 challenge the way we love God? How does it call us to love others?
Look over our observations of Acts 1:8. What does this verse imply about how God loves his people?
What does it imply about how God loves the people who are far from him?
How does what this verse reveals about God’s love challenge the way I am loving God?
How does it impact the way I love others?
These seemingly simple questions, when considered prayerfully and humbly, have the ability to make a world of difference in our lives. They have the power to convert our study from an academic exercise into an affection-shaping, holy discipline. As we allow these questions to permeate our hearts, with God’s help and through the power of the Holy Spirit, they will not only change the way we love God and the way we love others, they will ultimately change us, slowly transforming us more into the image and likeness of God’s own son, Jesus.
May we always dare to ask, so what?